The café racer is a genre of sport motorcycles that originated among British motorcycle enthusiasts of the early 1960s in London. Café racers were standard production bikes that were modified by their owners and optimised for speed and handling for quick rides over short distances. Café racers have since become popular around the world, and some manufacturers produce factory-made models that are available in the showrooms.
Noted for its visual minimalism, a 1960s café racer would typically be an English parallel twin motorcycle with low-mounted clip-on or "Ace" handlebars with rear-set footrests. Items considered "non-essential" such as side panels, rear chain enclosures and voluminous mudguards were replaced by lighter items, or dispensed with altogether.
Café racers were particularly associated with the urban Rocker or "Ton-Up Boys" youth subculture, where the bikes were used for short, quick rides between popular cafés, such as London's Ace Café on the North Circular ring road and Watford’s Busy Bee café. In post-war Britain, car ownership was still uncommon, but as rationing and austerity diminished, by the late 1950s young men could for the first time afford a motorcycle. Previously, motorcyles (often with voluminous sidecars) provided family transport, but the growing economy enabled such families to afford a car and dispense with a motorcycle at last. Young men were eager to buy such cast-off motorcycles and modify them into café racers, which for them represented speed, status and rebellion, rather than mere inability to afford a car.
The ton-up boys would probably turn in their graves at the thought of our Ryca Rat (the number plate is actually BRAT which is even better). Rather than being an old British Bulldog, it’s actually a big Japanese single cylinder thumper. Rycas are based on the Suzuki Savage. A bike that I personally think is ugly. The Kit makes it look like a completely different beast though. This one sat around as a project for a few years and it’s finally on the road blessed with the company colours of Drive Wild Horses and Rat Riders.
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