Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Royal Enfield rocks to different drummer

(Ace Cafe photo)

The romance of Royal Enfield motorcycles and British style motorcycles in general is tied up with their role in youth culture in Britain (and, eventually, in the U.S.) in the 1960s. The young Rockers who hung out at the Ace Cafe in London had the looks, the music and the motorcycles we loved.

The exhibition "Teenage Rebels at the Ace Cafe: 1955-65" opens Jan. 16, 2010 at Worcester City Museums in England and continues to April 17. According to the museum, "it features a selection of historic Ace Cafe artifacts, 1950-'60s household objects, music and movie memorabilia and a host of iconic classic black and white images."

Sounds terrific. I'd love to see it, although I would view it with really very little personal sense of recognition. I love the Rockers' style, but it's not my style.

At the time I would have been intimidated by the Ace crowd, and over awed by the powerful motorcycles. No one I knew had one, or dressed like Brando, although everyone listened to rock'n'roll music.

In a way, it's nice that my 1999 Royal Enfield Bullet is the made-in-India motorcycle design that left Britain in 1955, before the Swinging Sixties. It takes me back to a time I associate with a slower pace, more modest clothes and less intimidating motorcycles.

It doesn't wail rock'n'roll. It hums a quieter tune.


  1. hmmm, I'm not sure I agree with your interpretation of the RE's image, it all depends on your attitude and style, no?

  2. Thank you for your comment, Anna. To expand on my thought: after the modest 1955 Royal Enfield Bullet design went off to India, Royal Enfield in Britain introduced an improved Bullet and also came out with much more powerful twin cylinder motorcycles. These are the hot rod motorcycles the Rockers would have sought out. Today's Royal Enfields descend not from those rock'n'roll racers but from the Bullet of India, quietly (if noisily) doing its duty there for more than 50 years now.

  3. hi
    i was just wondering if you have any more information about this particular photo, as my dad has an original copy of it and he is not sure where he got it from. thanks

  4. Lucy, I am sorry. I do not have any added information about the photo. It is credited to the ACE Cafe and was part of the Worcester exhibit mentioned in the article. You might try contacting ACE Cafe for more information. You could post the picture on their Facebook page and ask for information. Their page is


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