Two Wheels to Move the Soul

Writing about my motorbike rides and other motorcycle related stuff


May 2013

Visit to the Ace Cafe London – the once Mecca of Cafe Racers, now general hangout for Bikers and Hotrods

Had the good fortune to be in London and could take some time out to visit the Ace Cafe in London. Mentioned it my previous post, this is kind of where that Cafe Racer movement started.

Excerpts from the history section of their site – would recommend you visit the site and read it all and see the lovely pics. If you love Bikes you will absolutely love looking at the pictures and the site. 

“The original Ace Cafe opened in 1938 on North Circular Road in London. Planned as a transport cafe for truck and lorry drivers, it quickly became a place where motorbike riders gathered. An icon to English motorcyclists, it also has a significance for bikers elsewhere in the world”

“Driven by a passion for bikes and rock n’ roll, Mark Wilsmore started planning in 1993 to re-open the legendary cafe. Twenty five years after the cafe closed, the first Ace Cafe Reunion was held in 1994, attracting 12,000 people. The following annual Reunions, known as “Ace Days”, took place on historic ground: Brighton’s famous Madeira Drive. The original Ace site couldn’t accommodate the steadily rising numbers of visitors. Over 25,000 enthusiastic riders celebrated Ace Day in 1997.”

“We got the planning permission, and ACE CAFE LONDON bought the original Ace Cafe site. Finally, after a complete rebuild, September 2001 saw the Grand Opening of the famous bikers haunt. The Ace Cafe is back and is here to stay!”

Today at the cafe (pronounced Caff ) there were some vintage cars that had come in, gorgeous ones, all Bristol make cars. 
Bristol – Lovely car
There are always bikers there I was sure, today was no different. There were quite a few street bikes parked and a few cruise bikes as well. Inside there were plenty of leather jackets hanging about with sundry pony-tails and all kinds of tattoos. 
Your truly of course took the opportunity to get hold of an Ace Club London tee 🙂 
Yours Truly with the T-shirt proudly proclaiming Ace !
Inside the cafe were a few bikes standing on a little podium, each of these was a modified cafe racer. The Triumph Thurxton took the cake but there was another one – a mean custom job with the most amazing silencers, lovely single hide seat and leather bags. Gorgeous ! Look at the picture below. 
There was one red colored cafe racer, looked almost like the prototype of the one RE have been promising us. And there was an original British made Royal Enfield and with twin cylinders to boot. Guys at Eicher RE please take note, lets get that one out of the woods and in to production. I bet it will be awesome a twin cylinder model with about 800 – 1000 CC. Rocking! 
The first bike in the pic is a Royal Enfield – with twin cylinders

This is a complete custom job, look at the seat and the silencers !!!

Thruxton- Beautiful Beast !

A BSA sitting on its own – looks like a classic bullet with a single cylinder

The perfect Cafe Racer
The walls of the cafe are full of event notices and  pictures

History of the Cafe – read it on their site

About Rockers ! Check that  riding position on a Racer.

Other Vintage Bristols

Bikes Galore

The Bar !

A Triumphant Beast – it was the Rocket I think

A most satisfying evening. The only thing missing was my own Classic beauty !

The Cafe Racer !! We are still waiting…

So, RE are teasing us with the Café Racer or what is now being called the Continental GT. 
C’mon guys that is the name of a Bentley for crying out loud. Please change the name or go back to plain simple Café Racer.
So, I looked up café racers and report here. Should be illuminating if you don’t already know what it is.
The term started out as a slightly derogatory one for guys who had these racing type motorcycles but did not really race but merely parked them outside Cafés to look the part. Therefore these were called Café Racers.
But this then went on to become quite a phenomenon, lending itself to modified bikes made with low handle bars, lower than the tank, tanks would be longish allowing the rider to lean low, tanks would also be cut out to let the rider grip them with their legs, seats positioned to keep the rider profile low, everything to make them faster. 
These bikes would participate in drag racing where the riders tried to reach 100 MPH, which earned them the nickname Ton-up boys and girls. (Ahem! My Classic 500 still doesn’t L)
Typical races would involve riding from one café to the next and back before the juke-box finished a song. Others involved just riding from one café to another.  
A very 60s 70s theme really and one that is undergoing some revival of interest now.
Picture from the Aussie website. 
Personally, I think these bikes are so damn good looking with that retro look. I want to wear a floral shirt, swing a muffler around my neck and ride on this one singing “yeh jawani…”
And in case you want to get in to it too, there is quite a café racer renaissance going on, there is a TV show, a magazine, a forum for cafe racers,  there is a site dedicated to showing café racer designs and an Aussie website about Café Racers (with some interesting videos). The one with the best pictures I thought was the Return of the Cafe Racers.

Benji is selling cafe racers for those interested, some really nice ones on the website.
The killer line I take-away from the video, where a chap is talking about riding a bike being therapeutic, “you never see a bike parked outside a shrink’s office” J
I looked at some of the pics of Café Racers and found this one – Whoa!! What a looker. This one is a triumph engine in a custom built bike.
Triumph Cafe Racer with loads of oomph !!

Then, one needs to know about Ace Café in London where Café Racers were all the rage. This is where the ton up boys and girls got their monicker as they raced. These races would typically be from this café out and back.
It is still active and here is their site. It is a veritable mecca with bikers and bikes of all ages, shapes and sizes hanging out over there.
The name continental GT of course comes from the Royal Enfield bike of 1964, the GT 250 Continental. The fidelity of the current design to the original is quite amazing, almost 100%. Here are a couple of pictures of the original. I couldn’t resist including one of the newspaper adverts images as well. Classic.
So, coming back to the issue at hand, what about apna home grown café racer. Well looks like RE have managed to actually put one together. Mr. Siddhartha Lal, lucky chap, took one out for a spin recently. NDTV had a photo feature on that. – link here.

He seems to have enjoyed the ride quite a bit and says the bike did quite well. 

Eicher Motors Ltd. CEO Siddhartha Lal on the Cafe Racer.

Well…one might tend to think he is a little biased, but then he is also a bike enthusiast, so I am sure it was a good ride.
In a nutshell, we still don’t have a date on when they are coming out, it is a vague towards end of 2013. 
However, Royal Enfield of Fort Worth, US has been taking bookings for this bike from Nov 2012 onwards, talking about the popularity of a bike still months away. 
But here are the specs from what I garnered.

Royal Enfield Continental GT Café Racer highlights:

  • Fuel Injected 535cc, air-cooled single, unit construction engine. Higher revving due to re-mapped ECU and lighter flywheel
  • The Continental GT will be the fastest and most powerful production Royal Enfield motorcycle
  • 15 Kg lighter than the Thunderbird 500
  • Improved handling as a result of new tubular steel double down-tube and cradle design for the chassis
  • Chunky Paioli developed gas shocks at the rear with Pirelli tyres
  • Serious stopping power with Single full-floating Brembo front disc and ByBre single disc at the rear
It is looking like one helluva machine. The Aussie café racer site have already reviewed it from the debut at the expo in 2010 and have said it looks like one of the best café racers to be factory produced, bearing in mind that these days anyone who needs a café racer has to modify.
So, well, the wait goes on, for what is likely to be one of India’s most sexy retro motorcycles.
The RE Continental GT – set to blaze the streets sometime in 2013
Will keep you posted till the time we get these on to our roads. 

Two interesting updates on the Royal Enfield front

So, two interesting news items in the last 10 days for the tribe. The first one is that the Bullet has a new brother, another 500 cc variant called, very creatively, the Bullet 500.

It is the same engine as the classic 500 but has carburetors instead of fuel injection. Here is some detail on carbs and what the difference is in reality.

This is a pretty good quick high level explanation.
There is a video on youtube if you are interested. This one was more detailed and quite effective too.

In a nutshell, carburetors are mechanical devices and Fuel injectors are electronic. The FI actively manages the amount of fuel flowing in to the combustion chamber actively and therefore will give you a much better mileage, the carb is set to a particular level and will continue at the same level.
At the same time you can tinker with the carb engine and make it suck in more air and fuel thereby increasing the performance of your engine with a negative impact on the fuel efficiency.
Of course like all electronic and mechanical things, the mechanical one is cheaper to maintain and replace and the FI is more expense. But all the FI ones need to remember, you have to service your bike regularly or it might get choked.
Now coming to the bullet itself. There are some changes made to the bike, most noticeable is the seat, profiled and with a backrest for the pillion. There is also a new grab-rail for the pillion. Nice. The best thing I like about it is the colour of course. Forest green. Very very nice.

The price point at 1.5 lakhs also makes it very attractive. Hopefully the wait time on this one won’t be too bad and if you want one you should be able to get one soonish without too long a wait time.

This brings us to the second piece of interesting news. Royal Enfield’s new plat at Oragadam has finally started sending bikes out of the door.

Two articles point to this news item
article 1
article 2

The second one is from Money Control and talks about the improvement in quality of bike production. 
Quoting from the ToI article (not linked here) – “Lal reckoned the new capacity will help bring the wait down to 6 months though he admitted the company was taken aback by how sharply demand has grown in the past 24 months. RE has gone from around 20,000-25,000 units a year just five or six years ago to 1,13,000 units (including 3,500 exports) last fiscal. It’s current monthly capacity of 12,000 units a month is far short of what the market wants and it needs to crank up engine supplies to 1,75,000 units this year and 2,50,000 next. 

So there is hope yet for new Bullet owners, you might get yours in less than 6 months unless you live in Rajasthan or Orissa where you could always get it in 3 months.

It was good to read that RE have set up a modern plant and are looking at seriously ramping up their production.

There was no mention however of where the Café Racer will be produced. That one I have my eye out for very sharply. Will report anything I hear in that space immediately. 

That’s all folks ! Thump on !

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