Day timers. Dry erase boards. Endless lists tagged to tool cases and refrigerator doors. None of these so-called time-savers can help much when you’ve run out of minutes on the clock and you’re still not anywhere near completing a custom bike project. This is a subject near to our stress-filled hearts at Café Racer magazine, and the reality of too many plans and not enough time plays out brilliantly in the second week of “Café Racer” TV’s third season.
Our staff had only the purest of intentions when we picked up a slightly rusty-but-complete 1973 Norton Commando project bike at the ginormous swap meet during a recent AMA Vintage Days celebration. Sure, we’d been piling up box after costly box of top-notch aftermarket components to rebuild the groovy old parallel twin, but never seemed to find the time to do so. Enter a road trip from our Pittsburgh-area offices to the well-appointed (if greasy) New York City workshop of Britbike ace Hugh Mackie who graciously, and unexpectedly, accepted the truck bed full of parts and agreed to turn them into one hell of a motorcycle.
Also, Florida’s favorite funky father, Reverend Jim from First Church of the Apehangers gets down and dirty rebuilding his 1970s Honda CB 750 Goldenrod edition dragbike motor, while his neighbors at Florida’s Desmo Pro, turn over their amazing GT 860 café racer to the talented Bostrom brothers for a top speed racetrack test meant to determine whether high-end Italian motorcycles are intended for show or go.
In episode four, you’ll join “Café Racer” on a rare journey to Italy’s industrial heartland, a place where old school craftsmanship and, lucky for us, British motorcycles still live. The builder, nestled in these steep hills, is none other than Fabrizio DiBella, a custom café racer builder and designer who loves the smell, look and sound of British bikes so much his friends have nicknamed him “McDeeb,” which is about as British a label as you’ll hear in these parts. DiBella’s specialty is modern, 500cc Royal Enfield singles, a machine that he rebuilds into amazing replicas of 1950s café classics like BSA’s Gold Star and the Velocette Thruxton.
Back on New York’s gritty, Lower East Side, Hugh Mackie and shop tech Fumi Matsueda begin piecing together the Café Racer Magazine Norton Commando – or more accurately, they attempt to if they could only find enough fresh, new or unmolested parts in those greasy old boxes.
And finally, Reverend Jim’s prayers may be answered if enough divine intervention can be mustered as his Honda CB 750 dragbike meets nine-time drag racing champ, Rickey Gadson on the quarter mile. This is one test that should get everyone from roadrace fans to top speed junkies and street riders cheering as Gadson, a former outlaw street racer, rides a vintage Honda under the speed traps for the first time in 25 years. During the taping at North Georgia Motorsports Park, Gadson admitted to, ahem, borrowing and racing his Mother’s CB 750 back in the day, and this week will reveal whether you can ever separate a rider from the connection they made with their first fast motorbike.
- Mike Seate, coordinating producer