I wasn’t sure I needed yet another custom bike building show. I was pretty convinced the entire genre was played out like M.C. Hammer and Vanilla Ice, but I was just plain wrong on that score.
This week while I sat down for a bit of lunch, I happened to turn on The Discovery Channel in time to catch a couple of episodes of Cafe Racer TV, and it kept me watching long after my ham sandwich was gone.
The show features a mix of bike building and history, some stories from the Midwest about bike shops and their interesting denizens and a few laps around the track at the Barbour Museum.
The part I found most appealing was the show’s entirely successful attempts to give a little rust belt flavor to the subject of The Motorcycle Way. All too often, like all the home improvement and motorcycle builder shows which preceded it, all the action take place in some glitzy and glossy location in California, Florida or Texas, and I’m tired of looking at those places.
Cafe Racer TV is a little different on that score. During the couple half-hour episodes I had the pleasure to watch, the show featured segments shot in Britain (the 59 Club), Chicago, Brooklyn and of all places, Ypsilanti, Michigan.
The production values were exceptional, the interview segments didn’t make me want to hurl into a five gallon bucket of used motor oil, and the bikes were a refreshingly low-rent take on classics and not an advertisement pulled out of the pages of an aftermarket Harley parts catalog.
First aired on October 13th on Discovery HD Theater, this tight and telling piece of, and I hesitate to call it this because it does break the mold, “reality teevee” focuses entirely on the history of the café racer and the lifestyles of the wild assortment of motorcycle freaks who build and ride them.
For your time, you get some rare historical footage, rockabilly music and a really fine high-def format which kicked the crap out of stuff like American Chopper. You also get to ride along to various locations as a handful of builders produce some sweet, low rent bikes that were the genesis of modern-day sport and racing machines.
Be sure to get plugged in to http://www.caferacertv.com and make it a point to follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Stuff this good should be rewarded with a little of your time.
Insuring your cafe racer or vintage motorcycle
You can spend a lot less, but if you plan to ride the bikes in your collection, the above pricing is a reasonable approximation of what you can expect to pay.