The part of cafe racing that got left behindPosted: April 9, 2014
Doing the ton. Say these words to any biker from the sixties and he will be able to tell you exactly what it means. I am willing to bet that you will hear the excitement in his voice as he explains it to you.
How I know? I have asked the exact same question to several bikers from back in the days. So what is “doing the ton”? It is one of the aspects of cafe racing that didn’t come along with the return of the cafe racer; actually racing on public roads and reaching speeds of over 100mph (“the ton”).
Sure we do
Alright, we do “race” our cafe racers. But admit it, it is mainly just for fun. The true prestige that came along with “doing the ton” is nowhere to be found. In order to understand why this used to be different, you need to look into the past. What was cafe racing about anyway?
Bread and circuses
Record racing, later cafe racing, was invented by young British bikers who hung around juke boxes in cafes to kill time. Back then a song (or “record”) took about three minutes. Record racing meant taking off to a predetermined point once the record started and returning before it ended. The goal was to reach 100mph (“doing the ton”) during the run. If you did this, you earned the prestigious title “ton up boy”.
So where did the all the prestige go?
Doing the ton on a bike is no longer a challenge. In all fairness, the bike you were on when you got your motorcycle license is probably capable of doing it. The technique simply allows it, so there is no proud to receive from it anymore; anyone can do it.
There must be much more to appreciate then…
This is what makes the vintage and retro bike scene special. We revived the era of cafe racing, but we left the actual racing in the past. Looks are important, but we do take in account that accidents can happen. This is also why we have our Tailored Technology philosophy; to offer gear with which we can look stylish yet travel safe. Although the retro-wave seems to be all about the past, this means it might very well be the best evolved segment of motorcycling that is around today.
Maybe that is what makes this scene a keeper. Ride safe!