'Vintage reborn' is the theme of Cafe Racer, a 13-episode television series that explores the craft and lifestyle of a motorcycle subculture.
In the popular TV series, 11 motorcycle builders spread between Manhattan and Los Angeles salvage, cut grind and weld their own cafe customs while keeping in mind the movement's post-war British roots.
With Billy Joel and Jason Lee guest starring and motorcycle icons Ben and Eric Bostrom as test riders of these two-wheeled classics, season one of Cafe Racers pulls the forgotten machines of this lost culture out of barns and junkyards and on to the roads of the 21st century.
- Episode 1 – Revisit the origins of the fast, customised street bike through eyewitness accounts of the Rockers and ton-up boys themselves. Café Racer visits Mark Wilsmore of Ace Café, London, for some historical perspective on the early days of the scene, complete with rare, historical footage from the 1950s and ‘60s. Veterans of the mods and rockers dust-ups from British beaches tell their tales; Café Racer gears up for a look down the road at the coming trends, machines, events and builders keeping the ton-up tradition alive today.
- Episode 2 – Join Largo, Florida’s Dime City Cycles in their search for the perfect project bike in a junkyard bristling with two-wheeled treasures; Brian Richardson, a sheep farmer and country lawyer from the wilds of Bluegrass, Virginia, launches his quest to build the world’s first electric-powered Norton café racer; Dallas does it up big with their annual Mods and Rockers rally while music legend Billy Joel rides with Café Racer and recalls some of his favourite fast bikes.
- Episode 3 – Meet J&B Moto Co., a café emporium located in the heart of Harley-Davidson country; Florida’s Dime City Cycles tear into their project bike to find some good, and bad, surprises; After 35 years in the red, England’s Norton Motorcycles make a comeback and invite Café Racer to test the new 961 Commando; Virginia farmer Brian Richardson faces off against some of the big guns in road racing on his barn-built Norton Electra, zero-emissions café racer.
- Episode 4 – Café Racer travels to the cornfields of Davenport, Iowa, where former chopper builder Greg Hageman unearths a project bike in his family’s barn; York, Pennsylvania’s J&B Moto Co. attempt to build a café racer version of the world’s most famous road racing motorcycle; Café Racer magazine road tester Blake Kelly moves from illegal to legit as he switches careers from stunt rider to road racer; Dime City Cycles complete their project bike and hand it over for testing to a classic road racer.
- Episode 5 – Café Racer makes a visit to the annual Mods VS Rockers rally in Chicago, the nation’s longest-running café event; Davenport, Iowa, builder Greg “Doc’s Chops” Hageman completes the rebuild of his barn-find Honda CX 500 V-twin while we meet Long Beach California’s Jay LaRossa, a former hot rod car designer whose turned his attention to Japanese café bikes from the 1970s; meanwhile, the crew from Pennsylvania’s J&B Moto Co. hand their Yamaha XS 650 monoshock custom over the pro-road racers Eric and Ben Bostrom for a high-speed test ride.
- Episode 6 – We meet Yoshi Kosaka of California’s Garage Company as he sets out to build a 1965 Triumph motorcycle in Los Angeles; across the Golden State, Jay LaRossa tears into a Yamaha SR 500 single, making the machine a thing of speed and beauty; not to be outdone is Greg Hageman who sits back to watch as Ton-Up Chicago founder Larry Fletcher tries to coax the ton from Greg’s CX 500 Honda.
- Episode 7 – The Café Racer crew packs its bags and travels to London’s Lewis Leathers, the world’s oldest motorcycle gear manufacturer; Alan Bernard of Florida’s Santiago Choppers switches from choppers to ton-up machines as he sets out to build a wicked, Kawasaki custom. At Garage Company, Japanese expat Yoshi Kosaka’s team shows us speed and efficiency as they reconstruct their Rickman-Triumph special and it’s test and tune time for Long Beach custom king Jay LaRossa and his Yamaha SR 500 single when it runs head on into the Boz Brothers in the California canyons.
- Episode 8 – If you dig café bikes that are raw, gritty and quick, New York’s 6th Street Specials is the place to be this week as owner Hugh Mackie searches for parts to build a vintage BSA twin; Sparks fly and all the rules get broken as Santiago Choppers wades into their Martin-chassis Kawasaki 1000; “My Name is Earl” and “Memphis Blues” star Jason Lee visits Lossa Engineering in Long Beach to check out what may be his next custom café ride and Garage Company’s Yoshi Kosaka shares his Rickman special with the Bostrom Brothers in his final test ride.
- Episode 9 – New York’s XPO Streetfighter show the historic links between futuristic streetfighters and café racers as they start a 919 Honda project bike; In Manhattan’s Lower east Side, 6th Street Specials’ Hugh Mackie and tuner Fumi start rebuilding a 1958 BSA twin; The best of America’s custom streetbikes is profiled in the second instalment of Café A La carte and Florida’s Santiago Choppers places their Martin-frame Kawasaki 1000 in the hands of rockabilly motorheads the Psycho Devilles for a full-speed test.
- Episode 10 – In Chicago, the husband and wife team of Chad and Bee McDade begin a Norton Commando project with lots of hidden surprises; XPO Streetfighter brings in its best technicians to transform their 919 Honda naked roadster into a Café-Fighter; We point our cameras towards Milwaukee for the annual Rockerbox street festival where the café racer is king; New York’s 6th Street Specials test their BSA café racer on the road with a test riders too young to remember when motorcycles had kick-starters.
- Episode 11 – Delaware’s Loaded Gun Customs turn their gaze from custom hot rods and drift cars to a Triton café bike; Ace Motorcycle and Scooter begin rebuilding their 1970s Norton Commando in Chicago; Meet legendary Vincent tuner “Big Sid” Biberman, America’s foremost expert on making British V-Twins go fast; Pro-road racers Eric and Ben Bostrom pit their skills against XPO Streetfighter’s 110-horsepower Honda 919 Café-Fighter. Café racers; Sid Biberman, an 80-year-old motorcycle customiser is interviewed. LA’s Garage Company has their motorcycle put to the test.
- Episode 12 –Loaded Gun Customs finds that building custom Triton café bikes may be the hardest job for their hot rod shop so far; aAfter watching the best custom café builders in the world creating one of a kind, motorcycles, can two unskilled riders do the same for just $1,000 and in under 12 hours? Join Café Racer at the AMA’s Vintage Motorcycle Days swap meet to find out; Norman Hyde is England’s most famous motorcycle drag racer and now he’s created the Hyde Harrier Jubilee, a customized, modern Triumph Bonneville with some serious performance; Chicago’s Ace Motorcycle and Scooter race to complete their Norton Commando project bike in time for the Café Racer crew’s test ride. Now, if only Mother Nature would play along….
- Episode 13 – The crew at Delaware’s Loaded Gun Customs hands their Triton hybrid bike over to pro-road racers Ben and Eric Bostrom to see whether the combination of Norton handling and Triumph power still holds up to the legend. While the clock ticks down the remaining hours of their Mid-Ohio Vintage Motorcycle Days challenge build, Ben Freidman and Mike Seate try and make their custom café racers a reality for just under $1,000; and we head back to Oyster Bay, Long Island, to catch up with café racing Piano Man Billy Joel as he joins us for a ride.