The history behind custom motorcycles
A custom motorcycle is a motorcycle with stylistic and structural changes to the 'standard' mass-produced machine offered by major manufacturers.
Custom motorcycles might be unique, or built in limited quantities. While individual motorcyclists have altered the appearance of their machines since the very first days of motorcycling, the first individualized motorcycles specifically labeled 'Custom' appeared in the late 1950s, around the same time as the term was applied to custom cars.
In the 1960s, custom artisans like Arlen Ness and Ben Hardy created new styles of custom bikes, the chopper. In the 1990s and early 2000s, very expensive customs such as those built by Orange County Choppers, Jesse James's West Coast Choppers, Roger Goldammer became fashionable status symbols. There are also companies that are bringing back pin striping, such as Kenny Howard (also known as Von Dutch) and Dean Jeffries from the 1950s, with a continued effort to keep pin striping alive. The choppers of the 1960s and 1970s fit into this category.
A Café racer is a lightweight, lightly powered motorcycle optimized for speed and handling rather than comfort – and for quick rides over short distances.
The term developed among British motorcycle enthusiasts of the early 1960s from Watford, and London, specifically the Rocker or "Ton-Up Boys" subculture, where the bikes were used for short, quick rides between cafés, in Watford at the Busy Bee café and the Ace Café in London. In post-war Britain, car ownership was still uncommon, but by the late 1950s the average Briton could now afford a car; so by the early 1960s the café racer's significance was that a bike had come to represent speed, status and rebellion, rather than mere inability to afford a car.
In 2014, journalist Ben Stewart described the café racer as a "look made popular when European kids stripped down their small-displacement bikes to zip from one café hangout to another." In 1973, American freelance writer Wallace Wyss, contributing to Popular Mechanics magazine, wrote that the term café racer was originally used derogatorily in Europe to describe a "motorcyclist who played at being an Isle of Man road racer" and was, in fact, "someone who owned a racy machine but merely parked it near his table at the local outdoor cafe."