Creme Caferacer: A classic looking city bike

Shot for the review - picture taken from rear view of the bike with effect applied

“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!

The price tag: £629.99 (Chain Reaction Cycles)

So – I took it for a spin!

On the first ride

Cafe racer top view showing handlebars with brown leather grips

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

Creme cafe racer zoomed in on the pedals

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.

Looks

Cafe racer showing the looks. Sleek black colours mixed in with the coffee brown

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

London Cyclist himself riding the creme caferacer

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.

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9 Responses to Creme Caferacer: A classic looking city bike

  1. Chris L 23/03/2011 at 11:01 am #

    Looks far too small a frame for you Andreas…

  2. JonF 23/03/2011 at 3:47 pm #

    I can’t imagine buying a bike online. Would want to ride it first, or at least sit on it. I’ve long admired the ‘Scorcher’ bikes at the Velorution shop which seem to be similar in concept to this Creme Cafe Racer, with North Road bars. The tyres are skinnier and I guess would roll better than the Cafe Racer.

    http://www.velorution.biz/shop/scorcher-city/

    They also have the Electra Ticino which looks very well finished and I love the beaten aluminium mudguards (Honjo Hoken style). Okay it’s very retro, but then again so am I!

    http://www.velorution.biz/shop/electra-ticino-8d/

    Nevertheless I’ll probably stick to my trusty old Dawes Sterling, with Sturmey Archer 3 spd and North Road bars. There’s something very satisfying in creating your own specification.

    • Andreas 24/03/2011 at 11:35 am #

      I have to agree Jon – I’m an advocate for buying in store rather than online. At least in store you get a chance to ride the bike and you know where you can take it back to if you have any issues. Can’t beat the service of an actual shop even if you pay a bit of a premium for it.

  3. adventure! 24/03/2011 at 1:07 am #

    I agree that it looks a bit small. If the upright position isn’t liked, how about “reversing” those bars, or throwing some drops on them?

  4. Amsterdamize 24/03/2011 at 8:58 am #

    The bike looks appealing (even the color :)), but I have three observations:

    - how much room is there to lift the handlebars? To this Dutchman it really doesn’t look like ‘riding up right’ ;)
    - a Dutch chain cover usually covers the whole thing (not just against grease, but also with re: to low maintenance, protection against weather. This one is minimal and looks a bit cheap
    - speaking of low maintenance, ease & durability: why are new bikes still sold with rim brakes?

    Cheers,
    Marc

    • Andreas 24/03/2011 at 11:28 am #

      Spoken like a true Dutchman Marc! Yep, the handlebars still have more lift in them and yep, I agree rim brakes aren’t the best for maintenance – maybe this was a money saver? Though at that price it doesn’t seem to be the case..

  5. Phil 24/03/2011 at 11:26 am #

    I’m with Amsterdamize on this: it looks like a quill stem, so I would bring it up to have the bars at least an inch above the saddle for a properly upright position. A full chaincase would beat crappy British road crud and weather, reducing maintenance. If the chainring is too large to get you up inclines, bolt one on with a lower tooth count and/or use shorter cranks. As for the rim brakes, they’re sold on bikes because they’re relatively cheap and most bike owners are used to them here.

  6. Brandi 09/05/2011 at 10:34 am #

    I want to get a brand new Creme Cycle, Caferacer Lady, but i’m short, just 155cm, and I wonder which size would be the best for me? I chose a online store, that’s why I can’t try it myself.

    Can somebody help me choose the best Caferacer Lady Creme for me?

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