With the advent of the Norton Commando 961 Cafe Racer, Moto Guzzi V7 Racer, Ace 904 Thruxton Special, Hyde Harrier Jubilee and Royal Enfield Clubman, it was official that the cafe racer culture qualified as a mainstream alternative to the traditional culture of the American motorcycling.
So what is a cafe racer?
For a classic example from the birth of the cafe racer counterculture, you must look back to the British Isles. Riders raced from the Ace Cafe on the North Circular Road in London to the Hanger Lane junction and back again before a song playing on the jukebox ended as a demonstration of their prowess and daring. If you doubt the difficulty of that feat, consider that many songs of that era ran a touch over two minutes in length and that was all the time the best riders needed to make the three-mile round trip…
There was one guy who distilled the essence of the breed down to a nice quartet of sentences:
“Some people will tell you that slow is good – and it may be, on some days – but I am here to tell you that fast is better. I’ve always believed this, in spite of the trouble it’s caused me. Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba….”
– Hunter S. Thompson
Norton Commando 961 Cafe Racer
64.4 out of 100. Show full rating and compare with other bikes
Engine and transmission
961.00 ccm (58.64 cubic inches)
Parallel twin with push-rod valve actuation, dry sump, 3 bearing crank and balancer shaft.
80.00 HP (58.4 kW)) @ 6500 RPM
90.00 Nm (9.2 kgf-m or 66.4 ft.lbs) @ 5200 RPM
Bore x stroke:
88.0 x 79.0 mm (3.5 x 3.1 inches)
Valves per cylinder:
Transmission type, final drive:
Wet multi-plate hydraulic lifter
525 “O” ring chain
Euro 3 compliant with electronic fuel injection and multiple 3 way catalytic converter
Café Racer Sports Exhaust.
Chassis, suspension, brakes and wheels
Steel tubular with integral oil tank
Rake (fork angle):
43mm Ohlins USD – Adjustable preload, compression and rebound damping.