“Cafe Racer” was unexplored grounds for Indian motorcycle enthusiasts, until Royal Enfield revealed their new model Continental GT at the 2012 Auto Expo at Greater Noida. The search engines were buzzed with “cafe racer's” from then. For most of them it was just another motorcycle with an out of box design and styling. Even though, a 535cc engine powered Continental GT from Royal Enfield was not a success story in Indian market. The core reason may be the lack of knowledge about the character of this motorcycle.
The cafe racer resembles 1960's Grand Prix road racing motorcycles. As the term “Cafe Racer” denotes, this was a motorcycle just used to race between the cafes in early 1960's. These are associated with “Rockers” a gang of young Rock n Roll rebels. They customized their motorcycles into a distinctive way inorder to go faster at the motorways. They also started racing from one cafe to a predetermined point and race back to the cafe within a short time. A subculture was also emerged in Europe with cafe racers, as because they have their own identity and separate looks.
Actually these are light weight and lightly powered motorcycles (below 600cc) meant for covering short distances at minimal time. Cafe Racer's can be custom built, if we have the perfect weapon (you know what i means). The most basic ingredient is an engine below 600cc. As it is a low cc engine, it does not require a huge frame or beefy gearbox to balance the engine. Low slung racing handlebars, elongated fuel tank and those race oriented saddles are the prominent features of them. This would allow the rider's knees to grip the tank in order to maintain an aerodynamic position.
The drop down and forward position of the rider reduces the wind resistance. The rear-set footrests and foot controls are another peculiar feature of cafe racers. The styling of the motorcycle is minimal and engine is tuned to achieve maximum speed rather than comfort. Many custom built cafe racers are combination of engine and frame work from different brands. For example Triumph Bonneville engine is used with Norton's featherbed frame.
Royal Enfield Continental GT and Triumph Thruxton are the two ongoing production models available in India. As we all know Thruxton is a renowned classic model of Triumph and it is the best selling cafe racer in Europe and Asia. Continental GT in India has managed to sold reasonable amount of units in 2015. But it has declined two digits in the initial months of 2016. Most of the people still believes Continental Gt as a failed model for RE, but there is no other motorcycle brand in India from where we could expect a cafe racer like this.
Some of the distinctive features and stories behind the Cafe Racers
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