Café racers weren't just about a style of motorcycle. With the machines came a lifestyle, replete with its own language, dress, ride routine (a ride was called a 'burn-up') and of course, people. Folks named ‘rockers’, known for their slicked-back hair, leather jackets, scarves and denim.
Cult of the Racer
Café racers earned their moniker because the machines went from one transport café to another along Britain's motorways, rockers astride them. Café racer motorcycling burgeoned into a full-fledged sub-culture in the '50s and '60s. To this day, its cult has endured, drawing riders from across the world to share and endorse its unique perspective on motorcycling.
When and Why
Café racers and the rockers who rode them were a by-product of Britain's post-war cultural and social milieu. By the 1950s, as motorized transport became affordable, young people took up motorcycling for leisure by the thousands. They rode their fast machines in groups, styling themselves after anti-establishment heroes made famous in American movies of the time. The period between the '50s and '60s was the heyday of café racer culture in Britain.
The Rocker Life
More than black leather, plenty of pomade, spare, simple café racers and an abiding hatred for Mods (a rival motorcycling culture), the rocker life was about a distinct attitude. Rockers rode in a group, challenging one's mates to burn-ups between one transport café and another. They 'did a ton' - their parlance for hitting a hundred miles an hour on a motorcycle. They listened to 1950s English and American rock'n roll and famously clashed with scooter-riding Mods on bank holiday weekends at popular English seaside resorts . With trademark styling, longstanding loyalties and indeed, a way of life, being a rocker wasn't about half-measures. You either were one or you weren't.
Royal Enfield's Café Racers
The first Royal Enfield café racer rolled out from its Redditch plant in 1964. Dubbed Britain's fastest motorcycle at the time, the Continental GT 1965 had classic café racer qualities-being light, fast and eminently customizable. Almost half a century later, Royal Enfield built upon its café racer credentials, launching the new Royal Enfield Continental GT in 2013.
Our Continental GT range is inspired by classic café racer motorcycling gear and styling. Every item has been crafted from Royal Enfield rider experiences, in collaboration with veterans of riding apparel. In their detailing, we pay homage to time-honoured rocker staples. Each article has heritage you can see and performance a rider can't do without. Quality and function have been fine-tuned to provide the ultimate in comfort and protection for the road. The collection includes vintage leather jackets, riding trousers, helmets, gloves, tees and everything in between.