Wheels of Time



I would love to call this post 'my personal revival of interest in sub-cultures', but well, it would not justify the cool quotient of the facts below.

Recently, a bike-crazy friend of mine introduced me to his current project topic- The cafe racers. Since then I have been obsessed with finding out more about these underrated rebels and/or revolutionaries. Already a 50's fanatic, I was shocked that I did not know about this underground movement. So let me briefly introduce you to the Cafe Racers, The Rockers and The Mods. I hope this little info will ignite the same amount of curiosity in you, as it did in me.


The café racer movement may have been born in London in the 1950s, but it has developed into a subculture encompassing a desire for speed, a love of rock and roll, and ultimately an enduring love for a motorcycle that’s being revived worldwide.

One of the birthplaces of the café racer was London’s Ace Café. The Acewas one of many cafés that provided a gathering place for teenagers and their motorcycles in the 1950s and 60s. Avid motorcyclist Mark Wilsmore, who reopened the Ace Café to its former glory in 1994, says that rock and roll helped spark the subculture known as “ The Café Racing.”


“The term café racer came from what’s actually a derisive term used to describe kids who hung out in cafés and raced fast. They would hang out in transport cafés and wait until somebody else came by on a fast bike and challenged them for a race, and they all rushed outside to see who gets up the road the fastest. When they get back to the cafés, which were often occupied by long distance truck drivers, the truck drivers would laugh and say, ‘You’re not a real racer, you’re not Barry Sheen, you’re just a café racer! And the kids thought, ‘Well you’re damn right I’m a café racer!’ So they would race to the next café, and then to the next one as fast as they could, and the name stuck; they embraced it despite the fact that it was a derisive term,” he said.



While 'The Rockers' enjoyed Rock and Roll, and their style consisted of jeans, boots and leather jackets. The Rockers were a British version of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang. They wore black leather and studs, had anti-authority beliefs, and projected an easy rider nomadic romanticism. The Rockers lived for the present, with a scruffy, masculine, ‘bad boy’ image.
The Rockers were essentially from the working class and despised any fashion. They each had the same hairstyle, shaggy with a bit of slick to it. The Ace Café was the hangout of the Rockers for the greasy foods and jukeboxes. Riding motorcycles was of the upmost importance, so they kept away from drugs and alcohol. 




'The Mods' on the other hand, were essentially from London and the South East and were complete followers of the latest fashion. They consumed purple hearts (a mixture of amphetamine and barbiturates).  They rode scooters as part of their stigma that connected them to being a Mod, either a Vespa GS 160 or a Lambretta GT 200.

Like most gangs of their time, The Mods had a very distinct, yet common interest in music. While the Beatles were enjoying immense popularity and success among Britain's mainstream society in the early 1960's, the first-wave of Mods pursued a different sound. They adopted modern jazz, which was a style of music originated in Black America. 
The most popular and revolutionary band who could be labeled as Mods themselves were the High Numbers, later renamed The Who. They wore Mod outfits, had Mod hairstyles, and sang blues-based songs about being Mods, such as "I'm the Face", and "My Generation". 


I say, those were the days my friend.