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Coffee & Counterculture: The History Of The Café Racer

In the same way that a surly chopper is to the hulking, tattooed bikers of gangs like the Hells Angels, the café racer is to leather jacket wearing figures of a more James Dean/Marlon Brando aesthetic. The café racer is a bike of a casual coolness, not as barrel-chested and brawny as Steve McQueen, not in the same quintessential English dorky dapperness of the Beatles – like a leather jacket with a pocket protector – but somewhere in between. The café racer has a rawness that’s likable because it isn’t an affectation, it’s authentic. It’s a beatnik bike, definitively rebellious but not contrived. There’s also a certain je ne sais quoi that’s very British. Though it is an emblem of the counterculture, that’s one reason it didn’t see Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper riding café racers in Easy Rider. The café racer is a very British bike – though its origins were heavily rooted in American culture… read more >

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