Best Cafe Racer Books and DVD’s (You’ll Love)

The Cafe Racer and Its Origins

Welcome to the culture of motorcycle modification and its fascinating origins. First off, for the benefit of the uninitiated, you might ask: What is a café racer motorcycle? What makes it special? What are the best books available?

The name café racer originated from the British motorcycle enthusiasts of London during the 1960s. The modified motorcycle that was eventually named café racer was made to be lightweight and powerful. It was meant to be fast and be a fun ride. However, the downside to that is, it is not necessarily as comfortable. Cafe racers were great for short hops between popular café`s namely, Ace Café in Stonebridge, London, and Busy Bee Café in Watford.

The best Cafe Racer Books

On the search for the best book? Well, here is my top list for the best cafe racer books! Hold on, I can’t stop with just books because there is an awesome “film” / series out there too.


TOP recommendation

The Build: How The Masters Design Custom Motorcycles
by Robert Hoekman Jr.

This book gives an awesome view of designing and assembling your unique custom motorcycle. With a total of 192 pages, it gives great advice and tips from master builders like Alan Stulberg of Revival Cycles, Max Hazan of Hazan Motorworks, and John Rylan of Classified Moto. A totally indispensable tool for any rider who wants inside info on how to build the best version of your personalized custom-built café racer.

The Build contains the basics in designing and online resources for getting a donora bike, and also has other important principles involved in getting started. This book is more than worth to be kept as one of your physical guides. In this case, Robert Hoekman the author managed to create a profile-rich book that not only looks good but works well too.

If you want a guide that caters to the best of customization, and that can also adapt to your unique style of design, this book is a must-have.

The Build: How the Masters Design Custom Motorcycles
  • Octane Press
  • Hardcover Book
  • Robert Hoekman Jr (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 192 Pages - 06/01/2016 (Publication Date) - Octane Press (Publisher)

Last update on 2022-10-19 at 20:43 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Café Racers: Speed, Style, and Ton-Up Culture
by Paul de Orleans and Photography by Michael Lichter

In this book, you can enjoy and immerse yourself in the museum-type of photography by Michael Lichter one who’s responsible for the awesome images. Mostly though, this book features classic and historic examples of café racer bikes from all around the world. It includes custom-built racers by famous names like Brandon Holstein, Brian Klock just to name a few.

This book accurately describes the styles and build of these bikes. and is a great collaboration of talented individuals who came together to make this a definitive manual of sorts. Clear crisp images of several angles of these classic models make for powerful photo displays, that are more than worth the binding of this book in which you might be spending your money on. Its visual feast combined with the in-depth history of these café racers, along with the culture itself, makes this book a good read. And, even more so a great model for recent and new enthusiasts of our time.

Cafe Racers: Speed, Style, and Ton-Up Culture
  • Motorbooks International
  • Hardcover Book
  • Lichter, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 06/15/2014 (Publication Date) - Motorbooks (Publisher)

Last update on 2022-10-19 at 20:43 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Ace Café Then and Now
by Winston G. Ramsey

This book narrates how Ace Café in Stonebridge, London, a former truck stop became one of the world’s most famous motorcycle hangouts. It tells of the rise and fall of this establishment and the culture that was cultivated then. The story is told in detail accompanied by scenic photos depicting the time and mood of that era.

Motorcyclists would then roam along London`s North Circular Road in their nightly burn-ups, while Ace Café eventually became the pit stop for the original ton-up boys of that period. The main story was about the boys who raced and the police who chased them. These stories in the book are interspersed with a background of photographs and contemporary reports which captured the atmosphere at that time.

Today, with the resurgence of this type of moto mod, this place has become some sort of mecca for custom mech heads looking to mingle, relive and continue that culture which made this place famous. If you are looking for something graphic and historical, this book is for you.

The Ace Cafe: Then and Now
  • Ramsey, Winston (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 180 Pages - 07/20/2022 (Publication Date) - After the Battle (Publisher)

Last update on 2022-10-19 at 20:43 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How to Build a Café Racer
by Doug Mitchel

This book wasn’t received too well with purists, mainly because it was done from the American perspective. And probably the reason for that is its recent resurgence in popularity in the US.

The book focuses on topics such as planning, choosing a donor bike, all the way to the modification of the critical parts such as the engine, the shocks, and even the tires. This then makes an interesting read on practical tips, as well as making that necessary modifications when building your racer from outside of Great Britain

But then with the help of this book, you can custom build without losing the spirit of that culture. Any enthusiast, beginner or otherwise, will surely find great value from this book.

How to Build a Café Racer
  • Mitchel, Doug (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 144 Pages - 01/23/2013 (Publication Date) - Car Tech (Publisher)

Last update on 2022-10-19 at 20:43 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best Cafe Racer DVD Collection

Café Racer TV-Show

This 13-part DVD series is about a group of 11 modders who are experts at making custom cafe racers. They are featured as experts who can virtually take any kind of donor bike and use it to create better and faster machines. Carrying the theme “Vintage Reborn”, the series delves into the craft and culture of motorcycle modification especially made for racing and even the form itself.

With guests like Billy Joel, Jason Lee, along with motorcycle icons such as Ben and Eric Bostrom, they were the ones who test rode the bikes. Moreover, the 11 guys featured on it worked hard to salvage, cut, and grind unique customs. They did it while keeping the post-war British roots embedded in their designs. This series is a witness to the resurgence of the cafe racer culture, which led to the pulling out of old bikes from barns and junkyards, thereby ultimately restoring them right into the 21st century.

This DVD is a must-watch for any enthusiast who wants to be part of the culture going into the future without letting go of the past.

Search “Cafe Racer TV-Show” on Amazon


Overall, the resources we’ve looked into by far should be able to help anyone who would like to know the history of the cafe racer culture, its roots, and the practical tips of going about building one.

Have a great race! -Lukas