British Café Racers by Uli Cloesen
Much has been written about the lean, purposeful species of motorcycle known as café racers (see links below for more reading on the subject).
To many, both the genesis and on-going spirit of the café racer culture lies principally with British bikes and bike builders. While most books and magazines devoted to café racers include British bikes, Uli Cloesen’s new book, British Café Racers, deals almost exclusively with them. I say “almost” exclusively because Cloesen did include a Harley-powered machine built by Peter Sutton and Andy Marsden.
In his fast-paced seven chapters, Cloesen takes the reader through a stunning alphabet soup of some of the best café racers built around British brands in the world. I say alphabet because he literally organized the narrative and book’s excellent 250 color images alphabetically, from AJS and BSA to Velocette and Weslake. It makes searching the book for your favorite marque easy so it makes sense.
True to the original nature of the café racer, most of the machines are original designs hand-built around classic, high-performance engines on a one-off or very limited edition basis. However, Cloesen does include some present-day mass-produced models that fit the category, as well, such as the Royal Enfield Continental GT and Triumph Thruxton 1200R.
The book covers the range of café racer designs from lean, mean and super-clean to the jaw-dropping double engine Tri2Ton. That machine, built by Peter Andrews, is powered by two Triumph 650 Bonneville engines wedged into a Norton wide line frame that had been modified for drag racing. The massive machine is the only registered, road-legal double engine 1300cc Triton in England!
Cloesen includes such hybrids as the Triton, Tribsa, Norvin, Noriel, Velton and others and a range of true high-performance road legal bikes and some racing bikes, as well. One of the most interesting specials featured is the Carberry Enfield V-twin built by Australians Paul Carberry and Ian Drysdale.
It is the combination of two 500cc Royal Enfield singles into a 55 degree OHV 1000cc V-twin. Originally launched in Australia with the intent of building complete motorcycles with the engine, the operation has since moved to India for eventual mass production.
If you’re thinking about a café racer of your own, are already into café racers or just enjoy the lean, purposeful lines of the bikes, Cloesen’s book will be one you’ll go back to again and again.
- Title: British Café Racers
- Author: Uli Cloesen
- Published: 2016 Hardcover. 128 pages. Measures 9.75” x 9.75.”
- Publisher: Veloce Publishing, Parkway Farm Business Park, Middle Farm Way, Poundbury, Dorchester, DT1 3AR, England
- Distributed in North America by Quarto Publishing Group, firstname.lastname@example.org 1-612-344-8100
- ISBN: 978-1-845848-96-5 MSRP: U.S. $49.95 U.K. £30 CAN $64.99
Other books on Café Racers you can read about on Ultimate Motorcycling:
- Rider’s Library Review: How to build a Café Racer by Doug Mitchel
- Rider’s Library Review: Café Racers Speed, Style and Ton-up Culture