Cafe Racer TV Season 3 Episodes 11 and 12

This week’s episodes contain several firsts in the history of engineering homemade café racers, namely, the use of tools you never imagined part of the speedbike experience. The guys at York, Pennsylvania’s J&B Moto Co. enter with some high-falutin’ ideas about souping up an old Suzuki two stroke twin; electronic fuel injection, they claim, is the way to achieve modern speed from the 500cc twin, a feat that’s never been accomplished before. However, their project starts off with Jeff gassing up a chain saw – a two stroke of another kind – to carve out custom bodywork templates for what may prove a very challenging project bike.

Also, racetrack competitors Jerry Dudley and Stan Lipert get all down and greasy when they seriously disassemble the engine in their Honda twin racebike, shaving the crank and therefore imbuing the CB 350 with twice as much power and corner speed than it had when it left the factory. We’ve interviewed some talented wrenches during these first three seasons of Café Racer, but the works being done by Lipert at Northern Ohio Ducati are fascinating on several levels. For serious gear heads who wish to see more nuts and bolts builds on Café Racer, this one’s for you guys.

We keep an eye peeled for the rozzers (cops in Brit-speak) as we again ride with California street artist Thank You X, a café racing graffiti artist who’s determined to pay tribute to his two-wheeled hero in spray paint.

Episode 12 revs up with the crew at J&B Moto Co. fashioning some beautiful, artistically inspired custom parts for their Suzuki stroker, proving why these guys are considered some of the finest bodymen this side of a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon. However, will their search for aesthetic perfection overshadow the need for speed?

We’ll finally see a reveal of the long-awaited piece of motorcycling graffiti art that Thank You X has been covertly planning for the past couple of weeks.

Our cameras take a side trip to the Big Apple where we’ll ride with Julia Haltigan, a Triumph-riding street musician whose passion for gypsy-tinged alternative rock matches her fondness for classic British motorbikes. We’re often asked by old timers where the future lies for antique British bikes which are becoming increasingly rare, but after hanging with Julia, who can ride and repair her own classic Triumph, you’ll see that the kids are, indeed alright.

Finally, the checkered flag and bragging rights await Stan Lipert and his roadracing pal Jerry Dudley as they complete work on their hopped-up Honda racebike and head to Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course to see who’s the fastest. Don’t bother betting on an outcome for this heat – anything goes in the wild, unpredictable world of vintage roadracing.

– Mike Seate

Cafe Racer TV Season 3 – Episodes 9 and 10

If you had unlimited funds to build any rare café racer motorbike you desired, what would it be? Well, for my money – and we’re talking at least $40,000 worth – that bike would be a Vincent. Out in Colorado, builder and antique motorcycle restorer Sam Manganaro makes his living transporting such dreams into 120-MPH realities, and in this week’s first episode, he draws closer to that goal.

The legendary Stevenage, England V-twins get even more airtime when CRTV catches up with perhaps the world’s best-known living Vincent tuner, Big Sid Biberman. The Kentucky tech behind some of the fastest racing Vincents of the past 50 years has ventured to the sun-baked Bonneville Salt Flats where he and son Mathew challenge themselves to break a few speed records on a pair of Big Sid’s finest. The hard work, sweat equity and sunburn endured by Team Biberman – led by 84 year-old Sid – proves that making old motorcycles go fast is no job for the weak-kneed.

Speaking of knees, CRTV test rider Blake Kelly manages to drag both of his as the final test of our Royal Flush project bike hits the airwaves. Six months and a dozen skilled custom builders have come and gone since the 2011 Royal Enfield C5 Bullet project bike left the Café Racer Magazine garage, and the sprightly, air-cooled single has been torn apart and rebuilt in hopes of cracking the ton. Neato, HD footage to watch for? Check Blake out as the 20-something horsepower Enfield makes hay of dozens of far faster, more powerful superbikes at New Jersey Motorsports Park. The looks on these guy’s faces when the Little Enfield That Could passes them in a blast of one-lung exhaust noise is priceless.

In this week’s second episode, look for a wild ride as Ohio road racers Stan Lipert and Jerry Dudley join forces to create a Honda CB 350 road racer. The twin-cylinder commuter bike, which can be found used for a few hundred bucks, was never meant to propel a rider around a racetrack like Casey Stoner’s Moto GP winning Honda. But Lippert, one of the country’s top race tuners, promises to do just that.

On the other end of the scale, Sam Manganaro’s Vincent café racer is headed to an antique motorcycle auction where the Swiss-framed beauty may end up redefining the word exclusivity. The crew then heads back to Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats to see whether Big Sid Biberman’s race-prepped Vincent twin can top the 115 MPH terminal speed it achieved in its first run along the three-mile timing course.

And finally, it won’t matter if your idea of cutting-edge art is a pair of chromed custom exhaust headers or a hand-made alloy gas tank when street artist and café racer rider Thank You X (that’s his name, and he’s sticking to it!) debuts in his first of a three part series. The worlds of art and biking are more closely related than many riders believe, and the open-ended creativity fueling both disciplines’ dovetails nicely in tonight’s second episode.

Cafe Racer TV Season 3 – Episodes 7 and 8

This week’s theme is clearly one where finding the right parts makes all the difference.

Consider, for example, a little project we’ve christened “The Royal Flush.” This build, starting this week in the seventh episode of the season, ventures into unknown waters as we enlist the services of multiple speed and custom shops in a challenge to make an ordinary, 500cc Royal Enfield Bullet break the ton. Yep. That was not a typo. We’re talking triple digit speeds from an air-cooled, 500cc motorcycle that’s based on a 1960s design brief.

CRTV test rider Blake Kelly and I brainstormed about the high-speed potential of the new, fuel-injected Royal Enfield after encountering a frightening lack of roadworthiness when the motorcycle was pushed above 80 MPH. What, we wondered, could be achieved, if we modified the 24-horsepower commuter bike with the aftermarket’s best suspension, engine and cosmetic work?

Well, over the next few episodes, viewers will be along for a nerve-wracking, wrench-spinning and, hopefully, record-breaking transformation as the Royal Flush pushes the limits of this Indian-made street bike. Finally, the team at Colorado Norton Works hits the workbench as production starts on their high-end Norton Commando project bike that started back on Episode Six. The results may surprise you as much as they did builder Matt Rambow who spares no expense in crafting a Commando that features top-flight performance equipment that the engineers at the old Norton factory couldn’t have dreamed of in the 1970s when this motorcycle left the assembly line.

This is a big week for Norton fans as we catch up with Kenny Cummings, proprietor of NYC Norton. Last week, Kenny took delivery of a new racing chassis built for him by Leeds, England’s Minnovation Racing. With his new frame and rebuilt engine coming together, Kenny’s focus is on winning at the track, come hell or bent valves.

In episode eight, first up is a legendary Vincent V-twin, which is being brought back to life by Colorado’s fabled Vincent Works custom shop. Vincents ruled the roads of Great Britain – and the World – back in their early 1950s heyday as the fastest, most beautiful roadsters around. After ceasing production in 1955, Vincent lore and desirability has only grown, but building one of the 120-MPH machines is a task for the highly talented, very resourceful, and yes, deep-pocketed enthusiast only. Vinnie fans will certainly dig watching the crew rebuild one of the Stevenage Screamers into a concourse-level showbike.

The Colorado Norton Works Commando that we all fell in mechanical lust with last week will hit the roads for a final test to see just how much all those shiny, high-performance bits are worth when bolted together and made into a complete motorcycle, while the Royal Flush threatens to become a Royal Pain as the finicky little Enfield and teams of equally finicky technicians, start to fray at their collective ends. At this point in the proceedings, the goal of reaching The Ton seems slightly more achievable than keeping the crews from throwing in the towel.

“Ton Up” The Official Music Video and Theme Song for Cafe Racer

Soon to be a hit, here’s a look (and listen) at “Ton Up” by Hot Rod Walt and The Psycho-DeVilles!

Cafe Racer TV Season 3 – Episodes 5 and 6

This week’s shows open with none other than Kenny Cummings who works at the East Coast’s best-kept café racer secret laboratory- the massive – and massively hidden Spannerland complex. Kenny is the type of enthusiast that makes working on a series like Café Racer so memorable- the professional musician has gigged on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” and toured with top-flight alt-rock bands, but in the between hours, Cummings is a fierce competitor on the vintage motorcycle roadracing circuit. This week finds Kenny eager- no, that’s too benign a word- foaming- to get a podium finish on his Seeley-framed Norton Commando roadracer, a machine that he’s run in various AHRMA (Antique and Historical Motorcycle Roadracing Association) events. Kenny’s quest to claim a trophy takes the CRTV crew to Minnovation Racing, a Northern England machine shop and race parts emporium that supply Kenny and like-minded petrolheads with go-fast necessities.

The fifth episode of the new season also finds me, your host, running around New York’s Lower East Side, trying to pin down the technicians from 6th Street Specials so’s I can blag a test ride aboard the Norton Commando project bike that Café Racer magazine’s overworked crew were too busy- OK, we admit it, too unskilled- to tackle for ourselves. The results, and the scary-fast way that 67th Street’s Hugh and Fumi blow off steam on the weekends is a real-eye (and throttle) opener.

We return to Italy’s industrial heart in this edition of Café Racer where Classic Farm Motorcycles’ Fabrizio DiBella gets into the beating heart of his Royal Enfield café racer project.

If you’re curious about the Mod side of the re-emergent Mods and Rockers equation, this episode takes a long, informative look at the history and future of Mods on both sides of the Atlantic. The parka-wearing, soul music-loving Mods have been around nearly as long as- and occupied a similar cultural cache- as café racers, and their story, filmed in part during a Mod gathering at California’s vaunted Peterson Automotive Museum, is worth hearing, even if you think scooters are just overblown hair-dryers!

In Episode Six, we’ll meet one of the classic British motorcycle scene’s true eccentric visionaries. Matt Rambow (yes, that’s his given name!) has been building reproductions of classic Nortons at his Colorado shop for years, and Café Racer TV’s crew catches Matt as he embarks on the most ambitious project yet; he’s setting out to design and build a dozen, identical Norton Commando customs, high-end street machines festooned with the best components the aftermarket can muster. When completed, they’ll sell for more than a garage full of café racers.

Meanwhile, back in Jersey City, Kenny Cummings takes delivery of his hand-welded Seeley racing chassis, a component that the determined roadracer is convinced will shave seconds from his lap times and add precious MPH to his performance. Of course, Kenny, who operates NYC Norton, a restoration and custom shop, has to find time to build his racebike while customers are a-knockin’…

We’ve all seen patch-wearing biker clubs in TV serials like “Sons of Anarchy,” but what do like-minded café racers do when they feel the need to cement bonds of camaraderie? Well, almost 20 years ago, before café racers we’re popular in the states and motorcycle clubs had Facebook pages or reality TVs shows, on the West Coast, dozens joined forces in the Cretins MC. Today, they’re several chapters strong and have helped drive café culture on the west coast. Which in the midst of other M/C’s is no simple feat! We applaud them for their efforts to pave the way and help keep the culture alive and are sure you’ll enjoy their segment!

And don’t put away those English/Italian phrasebooks just yet- this week finds Italy’s Classic Farm Motorcycles revving up its all-aluminum, lightweight and very stylish Royal Enfield Bullet for a road test. The Enfield 500 has been fully redesigned to look like a 1950s café racer while offering loads of modern performance, so this should be a test to remember for British bike fans and Italian motorcycle lovers alike. Ciao!