Cafe Racer: Speed & Agility Meet Style

A motorcycle is rarely just a mode of transportation. It is a status symbol, a means to express style, and a way to feel the euphoria that only speed and the freedom of the open road can give. A bike is about feeling something while celebrating flawless design and styling. In our last blog post, we discussed the bobber and it’s classic, timeless style. The bobber is all about stripping away the unnecessary. A cafe racer, on the other hand, whether it is new or vintage is also a stripped-down bike designed for speed, agility, rather than comfort.

A History Lesson

In many cases, the modifications to bikes of the past, were less about style, and more about function, and so it is with the original cafe racer bikes. Most Britons post-war could not afford a car; cafe racers were an affordable and convenient alternative. These bikes were designed to be lightweight and a means to maneuver busy streets from cafe to cafe. However, it wasn’t long that these bikes became symbols of a dedication to the “religion” of speed and rebellion.

The Ton-Up Boys & Their Bikes

Also known as Rockers and Leather Boys, Ton-Up Boys are responsible for changing the attitude towards the cafe racer: to them the bike was less about convenience, but all about speed. They got their name from their desire to do “the ton” which meant going over 100 miles per hour. By today’s standards, that seems like an easy feat. However, during the 50s and 60s this wasn’t so easily accomplished. Extensive and strategic modification was required to achieve high speeds and this meant the elimination of all unnecessary parts. Comfort was an afterthought. Parts that were usually taken off included mirrors and pipes were underswept to reduce drag. A standard seat was replaced with a single seat and the handlebars were always low.

The Cafe Racer Lifestyle

The Ton-Up Boys could be found tinkering with their bikes, at the Ace Cafe listening to rock ‘n roll on the jukebox, or hanging out with clubs like the Fifty Nine Club. It wasn’t just their bikes or the places that they went that defined the Ton-Up Boys. It was also their style. A Ton-Up Boy could be easily spotted: a motorcycle jacket decorated with pins and metal studs, engineer boots, and a pompadour. Like other members of the counterculture at the time, they rebelled against social norms and disregarded the mainstream in the name of individuality and speed.

The Modern Ton-Up Boy Style

The modern pompadour is a classic style that is sophisticated while being badass and effortless. If you want to embrace this look, you can easily do so with Chopperhead’s men’s hair care products. Our products were created by chopperheads for chopperheads and anyone wanting to embrace their masculine, rock ‘n roll style. We offer hair pomade, traditional hair wax, aqua wax, matte wax, fiber gel, grooming wax, strong fixing gel, and modeling gel and other styling products. To learn more about our men’s hair care product line and for a dealer’s application, visit our website.