“Influenced by handbuilt porteur bicycles of the 50s and 60s" says the description of the Caferacer or Cafe Racer (Depending on which site you visit).
The bike has the classic features of a Dutch bike: 7sp hub gears, internal cable routing and a chain cover. The Caferacer is all about upright riding and staying classy!
So – I took it for a spin!
On the first ride
After completing some minor assembly (Straighten handlebars, tighten, add pedals and pump up tyres) I set off on the first ride. I quickly realised it would take a while to get used to the handlebar design. As someone accustomed to riding in a fairly upright position I didn’t expect so many difficulties. The arching handlebars make turning a twitchy affair. A small manoeuvre makes a big difference and you end up over compensating by twisting the handlebars the other way. All in which creates a very wobbly ride and produces a lot of worried drivers around you.
However, this is one of those things that you’ll get used to after a while.
I noticed the wide tyres provide a comfortable ride and the lack of needing to roll up my jeans was well appreciated.
On the second ride up to Hampstead Heath
I decided to take the Cafe Racer on a pleasurable ride up to Hampstead Heath. Unfortunately, before you get to the pleasurable part you have to do some major hill climbing. This is where Dutch style bikes let you down. Although the steel framed Cafe Racer definitely doesn’t suffer from a weight problem, it is not designed for climbing up steep hills. The wide tyres and an upright riding position left me sweating and puffing – the opposite of how this bike should be leisurely ridden. Fortunately, my saviour was the 7 hub gears that provide a good range. Otherwise, it may have been a case of hop off the bike and walk.
Once at the top the bike was again a pleasure to ride – it encourages you to take it easy and enjoy the sights. As someone who is always in a bit of a rush to get things done it was nice to have the pace forced down a couple of notches.
My personal opinion: It looks good! My friends opinion: It looks ugly!
I think the Creme Cafe Racer definitely draws mixed opinions. Whilst the brown cafe colour might not be everyone’s cup of Italian espresso to others it will strongly appeal.
Whatever your view you have to appreciate the attention to the design. The matching light brown chain cage and mudguards, the sleek back seat post holding the Brooks B17 saddle, the leather handles and inner cable routing that helps the minimalist look. All topped off by the polished retro crankset.
I can’t help but like its classic look!
An odd match
The harder I tried to get myself to love the Creme Cafe Racer the less I could do it. The slow speeds frustrated me, I couldn’t master the handlebars and I longed for a less upright riding position. The more I realised it wasn’t the bike, it was me. We were no match made in heaven. It was like trying to get Tim Henman to play rugby.
Yet there is a lot here to love, especially over time, the design of this bike will mean minimum maintenance and even in the English weather it will stay clean.
So who will love the Cafe Racer? Someone who wants to slow things down, who wants to grab a coffee at their favourite cafe on a quiet Sunday morning whilst flicking through the days news. It’s a fine example of Dutch inspired design.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.