Ton-Up Exhibition. Speed, Style And Cafe Racer Culture Exhibition At The Sturgis Buffalo Chip

tonup5tonup1tonup8An exhibition focusing on the origins of the Cafe Racer movement is certain to draw huge crowds. Especially it is organized by internationally renown photographer Michael Lichter. Mike’s 2013 Sturgis Buffalo Chip exhibition to celebrate motorcycles as art is called “Ton Up – Speed, Style and Cafe Racer Culture.” Co-curators Michael Lichter and historian Paul d’Orléans have assembled a comprehensive display of 35 machines from 12 makes and 6 decades. Included in the show are original or modified machines by BMW, BSA, Ducati, Honda, Harley Davidson, Moto Guzzi, Norton, Rickman, Triumph, Vincent and Yamaha.

In addition the exhibition features never-published photography from the original café racing scene in 1960s England to the present, paintings by Triumph ‘resident artist’ Conrad Leach, images from the Ace Café Collection, vintage leather ‘Rocker’ jackets from the Lewis Leathers archive, the “One-Show” 21-helmets display of custom painted helmets, paintings by Andrea Chiaravalli and photography by Erick Runyon with other artists to be announced.

tonup7tonupsmall3.tonupsmall2.Each year, the “Motorcycles as Art” exhibition garners tremendous media coverage from around the globe and last Sunday 4th, a record breaking of over 1000 members of the industry attended a media reception offered by Michael, Paul and their sponsors – Hot Leathers and Keyboard Motorcycle Shipping. This not-to-be missed exhibition is now open for the public to view free of charge until Saturday August 10th at the legendary Sturgis Buffalo Chip.

tonup6tonupsmall6.tonupsmall7.This year’s exhibition will get even more recognition as it will live on in the coffee-table book “Ton Up – Speed, Style and Cafe Racer Culture,” published by Motorbooks International. Michael Lichter will photograph all the motorcycles in his Sturgis studio for the book, which will also include the jackets, artwork, and photographs from the exhibit.  Paul d’Orléans’ is writing a comprehensive history of the Café Racer movement for the book; from its deep origins in speed-modified road bikes from the ‘Teens, to the ‘classic’ period in England in the 1950s/60s, through its various resurrections in the 1970s, 80s, and especially, with the advent of Internet motorcycle blogs, TV shows, and ‘Café Racer’ magazines, the explosive popularity of the style in the 21st Century.

tonupsmall4.tonupsmall5.Among the featured builders: Herb Harris (Harris Vincent Gallery), Yoshi Kosaka (Garage Co), Mark Mederski (National Motorcycle Museum), Gordon McCall (Quail Motorsports Gathering), plus Willie G Davidson’s #0001 1977 XLCR, and machines from Alain Bernard, Arlen Ness, Bryan Fuller, Brian Klock, Dustin Kott, Giuseppe Carucci,  Greg Hageman, Jason Michaels, Jay Hart, Jay LaRossa, Kevin Dunworth, Ray Drea (Harley-Davidson design director), Roland Sands, Skeeter Todd, Steve “Brew Dude” Garn, Steve “Carpy” Carpenter, Thor Drake, Vincent Prat (Southsiders MC) and Zach Ness.  Included in the show are original or modified machines by BMW, BSA, Ducati, Honda, Harley Davidson, Moto Guzzi, Norton, Rickman, Triumph, Vincent and Yamaha.

People. Paul D’orleans with Michael Lichter. Willie G. Davidson. Cyril Huze and Paul D’orleans. Bryan Fuller, Fuller Hot Rods.

18 Responses to “Ton-Up Exhibition. Speed, Style And Cafe Racer Culture Exhibition At The Sturgis Buffalo Chip”

  1. 1 Burly Brand Aug 6th, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Incredible event put on by great people.

  2. 2 highrpm Aug 6th, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    thanks for the great coverage.

  3. 3 Rodent Aug 6th, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    Without being there, I assume it was the best show in Sturgis. It would be the ideal show to bring to Hollister next year during the Independence Day Weekend at the Birthplace of the American Biker.

  4. 4 John E Adams Aug 6th, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Looks like an amazing display, thanks for the peek and background. Very cool pic of you and Paul Cyril, the two top Bike bloggers on planet together -;0)

  5. 5 James just another crazy Kiwi Aug 6th, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    The motorcycles in that display would make a fantastic book…hint hint

    I would buy that book now !!

    Why do Egli Vincents make me hyper ventilate……..the Doc did warn me about “those” pills mind you

    Cafe racers are such a special blend of beauty and speed
    Just add a pinch of adrenaline, some castrol R…bellowing megaphones…and …..MAGIC

  6. 6 James just another crazy Kiwi Aug 6th, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    So when will the book be released ??

  7. 7 cbarter Aug 6th, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    .”….the explosive popularity of the style in the 21st Century.” is owing IMHO to people’s wish to own a motorcycle that actually looks like a motorcycle rather than a garishly painted, car radiator wearing power rangers/angry insect as much as anything else.
    Thank god for the return of classicly styled bikes with exposed air cooled engines and organic lines like the Thruxton, Bonneville, W800, CB1100, Moto Guzzi 7 and Royal Enfield 500.

  8. 8 nicker Aug 6th, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Ah yes “… the ‘classic’ period in England in the 1950s/60s…”

    A time when motorcycling once again became a wellspring of innovation and home-spun engineering not seen since “a certain ilk of people” started stuffing IC engines into bicycles at the turn of the century.

    Lets hope all this new hype doesn’t turn those fond memories of a misspent youth into a morass of TV instigated caricatures promoted by the likes of the History Channel and populated by an as yet undiscovered army of “new-vo-Rockers”….. 🙁

    But the. up side is that (as opposed to simply cursing) it takes real riding talent to put one of these old beasts through its paces as they were intended. Not a health environment for posers.
    But certainly interesting as a spectator sport………….. 🙂


  9. 9 Mike Greenwald Aug 6th, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Celebrities? Celebrities as actors? Actors as celebrities? Politicians as celebrity actors? ad nauseum? Will it be on DIscovery, History or FX?

  10. 10 Terence Tory Aug 6th, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    James just another crazy Kiwi,”Egli copy” Vincents are great to gawk at and waffle endlessly about,or park inside next to the pool table.As a bike to own or ride they are a bit junk.The one I saw last week on the bench with a grenaded gearbox cost the poor rube 120K to buy and the tranny needs about 20K spent on it.A guy said to me twenty years ago the guys that knew how to make Vincents go fast have been dead for twenty years.Grab a calculator and a calendar and add the years up.The current café racer trend is a breath of fresh air,but the builders of the slammed café pretenders somehow forgot along the way they should have handling,speed and cornering clearance.Plenty of these faux café racers would be beat around corners by a fat Korean girl on a Ninja 300 with a laundry basket tied on the back.Looks like a good show though.

  11. 11 roscoe Aug 6th, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    You are aware that the pic from Hollister “the birthplace of American biker” was staged, right?
    That, IMO, tarnished the whole event.

  12. 12 Jezza Aug 7th, 2013 at 3:04 am

    I grew up in England in the 60s and 70s when there were still plenty of the old cafe racers running around, Triumphs Nortons and BSAs mostly. All the Vincents were at the back of someone’s garage covered in a tarpaulin or in museums by the 70s. The bikes at Michael Lichter’s show do a lot of justice to them stylistically and if cafe racers are back in style, that’s a trend we should all welcome. Bikes that look like real bikes. What’s not to love?
    The silver Triumph built by the Klock Werks team is a thing of beauty. Modern, functional, and restrained but oozing style. Love it!

    BTW props to Rodent for saying something positive for once. You sure you’re feeling OK dude?

  13. 13 James just another crazy Kiwi Aug 7th, 2013 at 3:07 am

    Geez 20K on a gear box over here you could have one built for less than that.
    Most of the Egli Vincents are copies .Bugger all were originaly built.
    Still very beautiful if well built.
    I see they make 1600cc Vinny engines in Aus.Mind you the original engine designer was an
    Aussy…probably why they are unreliable…well ..while we are insulting
    Tritons, pre unit with Alloy tank are just hot,fun to ride nice and light…
    Cafe Racers must be light, tight, nimble and good looking…like a California gal
    I dont know any Korean girls but I’m sure there are some nice ones.
    Bet all the North korean girls are slim….
    Better go before I get someone in trouble.

  14. 14 Steve The Producer Johann Aug 7th, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Great Job guys!

    Sorry I couldn’t make it this year. Hopefully Quint has come by and gotten and few interviews for the show. We will make sure to get both of you back on the show once the book is ready.


  15. 15 Blackmax Aug 7th, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Would’ve given my eyeteeth to have been there
    Sure it is an OUTSTANDING display on a very interesting & polarizing subject

  16. 16 nicker Aug 7th, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    “…Will it be on DIscovery, History or FX?…”
    Gawd i hope not…… 🙁

    One-a my tribe is on the board of the armature rocket association.
    Before their last meet he got a call from the TV guys wanting to know if he was planning to attend. His reply was “not if you guys show up.”

    When asked why, his response was: “When TV shows up all sorts of people appear who don’t normally attend, who aren’t really interested in rocketry, creating a fiasco in which safety becomes an issue.”

    He told me that in previously televised events, the TV types would try to instigate the sort of antics we’ve seen on Biker Build-offs. Apparently drama is the only way they know how to capture an audience. Apparently TV is willing to sacrifice any venue for the sake of ratings. Sort-a like attending someone else’s party, trashing the place, and leaving the faithful to sort out the mess.

    I guess there was a reason the SCTA kept TV out of their events for so many years.


  17. 17 nicker Aug 7th, 2013 at 9:45 pm


    “…You are aware that the pic from Hollister ……… was staged, right?….”

    The “event” was the competition being held there.
    What was “staged” was the picture of the drunk surrounded by beer bottles.
    All blown way out of proportion by “The Media” (again) for readership numbers.
    And as you say they did “tarnish” the event.

    So, now,
    “are you aware” that the term “booze fighters” is not about getting drunk and brawling…”right?”
    Back then it refereed to those who were actually trying to stay on the wagon, as “fighting off booze.”
    When that club was looking for a name someone suggested booze firelighters because “…you guys always seem to be fighting off a hangover…”


  18. 18 erickrunyonfotosmotos Aug 12th, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    As to the people asking about a book…Michale Lichter is publishing a book on the event due to be out in about 7 months. Someone asked if Discovery etc was covering it… the event is going to be featured on Season Five of Velocity’s ‘Cafe Racer’ series. (*Season 4 starts again in October).

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Cyril Huze