The most famous café racer Harley Davidson
Courtesy: Harley Davidson

The legacy of Cafe Racing, The Rockers and Elvis

Cafe Racer was a term that was coined in the 1960’s for the street racers that would tend to hang around coffee bars and cafes. These street racers preferred a particular type of bike design.

A light and a slightly powered bike with an elongated fuel tank, often with dents to allow the rider’s knees to grip the tank, low slung racing handlebars, and a single-person, elongated, humped seat.

They were called Café Racers because these bikes were used to race between one café to another. Most notable among these cafés was the ACE Café which would be open 24 hours and was the meeting place of the Rockers or the Tons. Cafes of that era played only rock music – Elvis, Eddie Cochrane, etc. hence the term “rockers”. Black leather jackets, blue jeans and strong shoes – the rocker’s mark was visible aplenty.


Britons fastest 250
Courtesy: Royal Enfield

Around this era, there were numerous bike manufacturers that made Café Racers, most notable were Harley Davidson XLCR, Suzuki S40 and the Honda CB400. And the bikes that lead the revolution in 1961 was Royal Enfield Meteor followed by The Super Five, one of the first production motorcycles with a 5 speed gearbox.

In 1963 came the Continental GT Café Racer, a bike that at that time was BRITAIN’S FASTEST 250. Sadly after a few years the motorcycle industry faced a slowdown and café racers were stopped.


The first 5 speed royal Enfield meteor
Courtesy : Enfield

In 1985, Café Racers were revived and dealers started offering “clubman” kits to make ones café racer even more powerful, with 350cc and 500cc, with Royal Enfield leading the show as the only café racer available.

It took time, but finally after many years Royal Enfield reintroduced the café racer Continental GT, with a bigger bang 535cc Fuel injected more powerful and faster bike, continuing the legacy of the Café Racers.