Why are Classic bikes so popular?
Given the field of watered down, forgettable options available to new riders it’s no real surprise that the classic styles of Café racers, Scramblers, Trackers and Bobbers have been making big waves in the motorcycle community in recent times. In this post I’ll give you my take on why that is.
I’ve been around loud 2 wheeled machines since I can remember. They came in various shapes and styles but in the end, they’re all motorcycles. When I wasn’t riding them I was fixing them, and when I wasn’t fixing them I was thinking about them.
My progression went from dirt to road as soon as I was old enough and shortly after my licence went goodbye. I was a 17 year old kid, riding illegally on a bike that could hit 130km/h in second gear. I didn’t have a choice. Let me tell you why.
I already had a dirt bike, CBR250RR’s from the 80’s and 90’s were quick but weren’t cool enough. Anything newer than that I could legally ride was about as thrilling to ride as an empty bath tub. So I risked a run in with the boys in blue and got myself a GSXR600R. 2 driving factors lead me to this bike;
- It would make my mates jealous.
- It was an absolute blast to ride.
This is why you get into riding when you’re young, motorbikes are rad, your mates love them, it’s an adrenalin rush and people see you riding while sitting in their cars and wish they were on that bike!
Enter the resurgence of classic bikes. Sure, they are slower and don’t handle as well compared to newer motorcycles of the same capacity. The defining factor in their popularity I believe is this; They are raw.
Classic Motorbikes from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s weren’t made to run slower than they could or had been governed down to comply with local laws. For better or worse they are what they are. Find a dusty old heap in someone’s shed, buy it, restore it or modify it to your taste. Small modifications are easy to do on older bikes, and can yield big results if executed well. The engines are simpler (for the most part), easier to maintain and deliver enough power to head out to the hills with your mates or just cruise around town.
All of these factor’s along with the history and style that come with buying yourself an old café racer or bobber project contribute to a huge amount of appeal for young and old riders alike. You can still ride a bad ass bike, with a bit of personality and it doesn’t need to be able to hit 300km/h or cost you a huge amount.
There has been a great growth in the counter culture and the encouragement within the groups is great. The get in and have a go attitude has sparked passions in a lot of people and inspired many to have a go at building their own bike. As always there will be opposition to a trend, especially a new one. Guys telling you not to ruin it, or making bets on how far some will get before giving up, take it with a grain of salt and search “unfinished chopper project for sale”. You’ll soon see that the issue of finishing what you start isn’t restricted to the Café Racer or Scrambler crew.
2 things I would urge you to do. 1 is a little research, if you’re going to dive head first into old motorcycles take some time to learn where they came from and how the culture came about. Café racers, Choppers, Bobbers, Scramblers, Trackers, each with their own history and back ground. All of them as equally as interesting. 2 is to respect a classic, these bikes hold a long history (and value) if the bike is in good condition. Always consider a restoration over a chop job. That said, I’m not your real dad. Do what you want.
That’s my take on the reason behind the huge resurrection of the café racer culture, it definitely isn’t what it used to be but what is any more? Take it for what it is. No matter what you ride or attempt to build, we are all just kids at heart wanting to look good and go fast.