Posted On 09 May 2024
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This entry is part 12 of 25 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#31


When the Wall Street Journal runs a story on Cafe Racers, as it did in April this year, you know that interest in this style of motorcycle is reaching a new level. The article showcased some custom builders in the US and highlighted how wide a spectrum these bikes now cover, from resurrected and heavily modified vintage creations from Loaded Gun and Analog, to built-up from brand new lean-as-a-whippet 250s from Janus.

lean-as-a-whippet 250s from Janus.

Any more than a quick google-glance around the planet will also tell you that surging interest is wide-spread. Check out Wrenchmonkees in Denmark (first tipped to me by a Barista in Camperdown) or the stunning Teutonic lines of the bikes from Berlin’s Kaffeemaschine. It’s not surprising then that Sydney’s de facto cafe racer convention ‘Throttle Roll’ this year attracted an even bigger crowd than last. When I squeezed into the venue last year mid-afternoon on Saturday I could barely move. This year I could barely breathe.

This is the event’s third year. Its epicentre is the Vic on the Park Hotel in Sydney’s inner-western suburb of Marrickville. It features a loosely organised ride, which is to say there is a nominated meeting point at a pie “THERE ARE CAFÉ RACERS, BOBBERS, TRACKERS, SLEDS, AND THE ODD CHOPPER. THERE WAS A GREAT MIX OF TECHNO AND RETRO – LED LIGHTS AND STEAM PUNK DIALS” cart on the Princes Highway and a set-off time. The route loops down the South Coast and back (very scenic) and 135km later ends up at the pub about 3km from the start. In fairness, the organisers follow with a backup van for emergency repairs and first aid in case anyone gets a bit over exuberant or perhaps just unlucky.

If you go on the ride next year make sure you read the risk assessment and disclaimer on the Throttle Roll web site. It’s got a great typo in it that warns you against ‘collusion’ with another vehicle or stationary object.

Don’t you all be ganging up now!

Back at the pub all the action is in the carpark /beer garden /outdoor area where the bikes are displayed around the perimeter three-high on scaffolding like cage dancers at a disco. They look great and the variety of brands, features, modifications, dress-ups, strip-downs, and decorations is brilliant. The only problem is wriggling along through the crush of bodies to get a good look. There are café racers, bobbers, trackers, sleds, and the odd chopper.

There was a great mix of techno and “ROCK ‘N’ ROLL DANCERS, SPECTACULAR TATTS, CUT-OFF DENIM, AND LOTS OF BIKER SUB-GROUPS MIXING IT IN, LIKE THE FOXY FUELERS” retro – LED lights and steam punk dials, that sort of thing. Oh, and one heavily chopped scooter with amazing finely filigreed crankcases.

Moto-Guzzi, Ducati, and Yamaha are sponsors, along with a brace of custom shops ranging from the corporately-slick Deus to the crammed hole-in-the-wall authentic Motociclo.

And then there was the crowd. What a buzz. Rock ‘n’ roll dancers, spectacular tatts, cut-off denim, and lots of biker sub-groups mixing it in, like the Foxy Fuelers – a group of young women café racer enthusiasts. Good to see a bit of gender balance coming in to the scene.

I assume that it will all be on again next May so go along for at least a beer and a peek. I recommend it.

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Australian Motorcyclist Magazine is Australia's leading motorcycle travel magazine.
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