Is this Yamaha MT-07 really a Café Racer?
That’s the big question…Before you make your own
Post WW2 Britain was a bit of a bleak place. Unlike the USA where the average person had a pretty comfortable life, London and the other big cities directly affected by the war struggled and money was short. (My own Grandmother told me that food rationing was still in effect in Manchester until the early 1950s). In the 1950s cars were not easily afforded by the average young person, but bikes were. Bikes became seen as a cheap alternative to cars, and were (to some extent) looked on as a “poor man’s car”. By the 1960s, living conditions, the economy, and life, in general, had improved, and now the average man could indeed afford a car.
“The term Café Racer was developed among British motorcycle enthusiasts of the early 1960s from Watford and London”
By the early
The term Café Racer was first coined by these Watford and London
“Rockers” outside the Busy Bee Café in Watford
These dudes back in 1960s England were tuning their bikes for speed rather than style. The epitome of cool for these Café Racers was the Triton. A Triumph engine swapped into a Norton frame (Triumph Norton). The idea being that you could take the best parts of both manufacturers, combine them, and make something better. The Triton’s were usually home brewed projects, but certain motorcycle dealers in London, namely Dresda Motors, actually built and sold them as complete bikes.
More fuel for the fire (Expecting flames in the comments section)
So, where was I? Oh yeah…We now know where the term came from, and what these chaps were
In the past few years there has been an insurgence of Old School Cool. The Ducati Scrambler and Yamaha XSR to name but a few of the marques using marketing jargon like “Neo-Retro”. Personally, I’m all for a bit of retro styling. As you can see from my bike, I ditched the factory headlight for a 7″ round headlight. If you ride a naked bike, I see no reason for anything other than a round headlight. It should be the law!
The retro comeback is all well and good, BUT, and here comes the big buts (I like big butts and I cannot lie)…
- Café Racers should be built, not bought!
- Buying a Café Racer doesn’t instantly make you the authority on motorcycles.
- If you don’t actually ride fast, then it’s not really a racer
isit? Maybe “Café Poser” would be a more accurate nomenclature. Double Cream Mocha Frappucinowith Cinamon topping anyone?
- Hipsters can fuck off. Just because!
So I’m opinionated…Apologies in advance. I respect everyone’s opinions and the right to do whatever they want. Dress however they want, grow any kind of beard they want, style their hair however they want, ride whatever bike they want. That’s freedom baby and I’m all for freedom. I just don’t like how some people think that they are better than another person because their bike is a “Real” Café Racer. Don’t get me wrong. I like all types of bikes. I’ve owned Sports bikes, Off-road bikes, Supermoto’s, Cruisers, and presently my Work-In-Progress Yamaha MT-07. If it has 2-wheels and an engine I generally speaking will like it.
Do I think my bike is a Café Racer?
The reason is simple; It’s modified (by me) to go faster, I drink a shit-ton of coffee (black), and I like to ride pretty hard on the streets. The only thing that differentiates me from the original London racers is time. In the 60s they worked with what they had available to them and I’m doing just that in 2019. The aim with my project bike isn’t to copy some guy with a super-hard-to-understand cockney accent from 60 years ago. My aim is to improve an already decent factory motorcycle both in performance and looks and to enjoy the fuck out of it.
Thanks for reading guys. Be sure to check out my YouTube channel and Instagram pictures.