Original cafe racers from the 1950s and 1960s were typically backyard-built creations combining the best engine with the best handling frame and suspension its creator could afford. Ariels, BSAs, Nortons and Triumphs and the best of Britain’s golden era of motorcycles were all stripped down, tuned up and ready to race for bragging rights between transport cafes around London’s outer fringes.
It paved a way for a counter-culture revolution, and is possibly best-known today for the infamous Rockers (cafe racers) versus Mods (scooterists) battle at Brighton beach, England.
The 1970s saw the wave of Japanese motorcycles – including the hugely popular Honda CB and Kawasaki Z ranges – trump the Brits with vastly superior performance, technology and reliability. The British motorcycles are now in the realm of collector status, as are Japan’s early game-changing models.
Today, there are millions of motorcyclists who want a friendly, feel-good motorcycle. The manufacturers have locked on to this and the rising popularity of the custom motorcycle scene, and have gone to great lengths to cash in on the craze. Enter the explosion of modern-retro machines as a new, thriving segment of motorcycles. These are classically styled motorcycles that place fun before fast and come with modernity and reliability straight off the showroom floor. And, for the increasingly inclined, a massive range of accessories to choose from to make it your own.
In fact, the whole after market accessories is seen by marketing and accounting departments as the new sliced bread, with plenty of dough.
Yamaha has been doing this for some time with its humble SR400 for customizers to tinker with, but there are many more to choose from now-a-day. Many retro bikes, like the Triumph Bonneville, for example, are ready to go as is, whereas some companies, like Ducati, actively encourage customers to make it their own via a range of ‘inspiration kits’ to choose from for the Ducati Scrambler. Even BMW admits it’s joined the party with its RnineT heritage range.