Cafe Racer, the gods of speed and the brands that chased them
Cafe Racer, the gods of speed and the brands that chased them

Undoubtedly, British brands realized the growth of the Café Racer phenomenon and, faced with the prospect of attracting part of these users, they got down to work with their own interpretations of what a Café Racer was. Unfortunately for themselves, their Café Racer were no more than existing motorcycle versions, suitably made up. A bad approach if you want to attract people who like performance, you cannot give them conventional motorcycles in disguise.

And worse idea if you have preparers like Dunstall, Harris, Rickman, Seeley or a long list full of names that almost all of us are familiar with. They were all people who were first experienced in racing as private riders and who little by little made a name for themselves as trainers, chassis and / or accessory manufacturers to customize and extract the maximum of its benefits from any motorcycle.

For instance Paul dunstall At the age of 18, he started running a Scooter shop that financed the races on a Norton Dominator. They say that having on the shelves of the store some exhausts that had been manufactured as a replacement for their Norton, when people began to ask him about them, he decided to sell them. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Dunstall's preparations is that motorcycles could legally circulate during the week and on Sunday they were capable of winning races. The next step was to collaborate with the Japanese brands, although these bikes were more focused on street use than on circuits, they were capable of running at more than 240 km / h like the Suzuki GSX1100 prepared. In the 1980s Dunstall decided to abandon the motorcycle market.

Rockers and Café Racer

Another interesting example is that of Rickman, a couple of brothers who began in the fifties to manufacture chassis for field bikes on which they came to win the British MX championship and finish third in the world championship in the same category. But what achieved their success manufacturing chassis for motorcycles such as the Honda CB 750 or the Kawasaki Z1. In this way they managed to transform Japanese superbikes, which were famous for their flimsy chassis, into authentic sports bikes. Unfortunately the Rickman brothers were also victims of the recession of the 1980s.

In the first article of this small series, bkr_man told us that one of Cafe Racer's fathers was Dave Degens, a name that unlike the previous ones does not seem to sound much. The thing is, Dave Degens was the name behind Dresda Autos, a brand specialized in manufacturing Triton that thanks to its good work has earned the reputation of being the most authentic Triton on the market. Due to this, a scrupulous method that was able to replicate what was done in each and every one of its fabrications. The legend also helped to increase the two victories that Dengers obtained in the 24 of Montjuic over his own motorcycles. Another contribution Dengers made was the rectangular section swingarm with improved pivot axis. Although in the words of Dengers himself this improvement did not have a technical basis, but simply looked good. In the 1970s Dresda Auto adapted to the market and began to manufacture chassis for Japanese mechanics, and in the mid-1980s it resumed manufacturing Triton, a business that continues to operate today.

Ducati 750 SS 1

And what happened in the rest of Europe? Mainly in Italy they understood the game of sports bikes, and brands like Ducati or Moto Guzzi fully entered the competition against British brands. But I think they knew how to play with better cards than they, for example Ducati, through Engineer Taglioni they hired Colin Seeley to make chassis for their 500 and 750 cc racing bikes. Chassis for which they paid four hard and that later ended up replicating in street models such as the Ducati 750S 750 SS or the Ducati 900 SS. Again, a powerful mechanic was united with a chassis suited to the power of the engine. The result was exceptional motorcycles that are still among motoring legends today.

Years later he would follow this same philosophy Bimota, and it seems that today the business of combining engines from different manufacturers with their own chassis that improve the originals is not so bad. The other Italian brand associated with Cafe Racer is Moto Guzzi, which made a name for itself with the Moto Guzzi V7 Sport that led to the Moto Guzzi Le Mans. Motorcycles for which the lack of renowned sporting successes did not promise much future, but they earned a place in the popular imagination thanks to their pure performance.

Does any of this sound familiar to you today, chassis or engine manufacturers that combine different components to improve what already exists by lowering development prices? Then they will tell us that it was a great idea, and it turns out that it already occurred to a group of young people back in the fifties to simply get to the corner cafe faster before a song is finished and your girlfriend is "lifted".

To be continue…

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