It’s a long time that fashion evolves in multiple trends running in parallel, not as a unique way to dress for one season or two. Same for the custom motorcycle scene. After an overdose of new too long radical choppers being almost the only type of bike being built between 1999 and 2004, since then, board trackers, bobbers and dressers have re-emerged almost as the same time as the preferred styles to be built, rebuilt, customized and ridden. The reasons of such different bikes being simultaneity cool again are multiple: opportunism of some builders (looking to build and ride something different), socio-demographic (getting older), economic (tighter budget) nostalgia (the style of my youth), etc… or all of the above.
After all, the essence of custom bike building is to build and ride only what you like, not what is imposed as the new motorcycling fashion statement. After a discreet return during the last 2 years, Cafe Racers are now back in force and will almost certainly be the new big trend to join the others in 2011.
And I think that this new trend has a lot traction: increased interest in vintage motorcycles in general, post world war II nostalgia for baby boomers, symbol of counterculture, can be bought, built or re-built for a reasonable price, fast and good handling susceptible to attract youngsters whose goal may be a good road racer, not necessarily a sport bike riding at 140 mph.
The success of the late Triumph models and the return of the Norton brand in the US with their very appealing Commando models will be a big help to make Cafe Racer styling very popular again. In 2011, look for a new generation of motorcycle designers and builders to use this style as a fresh alternative to what has been built during these last years. (Top & bottom pictures: Cafe Racers by Santiago Chopper, top Kawasaki to be auctioned in Orlando Jan. 26-30, 2011 to benefit Curing Kids Association)