Riding season is getting closer by the day (not that I’m counting). It’s time to remove the trickle charge from the over polished, mollycoddled, love of your life. Yes, you know the one. The one with a set of spoked wheels, a lovely powder coat and an exhaust note that sends shivers down your spine. With a press of a button, that small spark ignites a passion that has been brewing for the past six months, it’s time to ride.
There’s nothing more inviting than indulging in a catalogue of new state-of-the-art gear. I’m really not being biased when I say The Cafe Racer (TCR) has an incredible range of motorcycle gear to suit everyone’s style and taste. TCR is offering the chance to win the first Belstaff Streamliner 400 jacket produced, number 1 of 400. It’s the chance to own your own piece of motorcycle culture, first off the production line. Something to impress people with at your next ride out.
With its ever-growing catalogue and the ability to satisfy the tastes of bikers across the world, TCR has recently moved themselves into a new HQ to grow their current operation to even more customers across the globe. Something we at Baffle Culture are extremely excited about!
I was very fortunate that Rory Milton gave me his time to talk about the waves TCR are making in the motorcycle space, fast becoming one of the stand out establishments for all your biking needs. I was lucky enough to get to ask Rory a couple of questions (all above the belt of course) about their rapid success. Find out below what got talking about!
Rory, firstly, many thanks for giving me your time and allowing a budding motorcycle enthusiast to ask you a few questions about the competition to win Belstaff’s first of 400, Streamliner Jacket. A pretty special competition, surely you were tempted to have a discreet post-Christmas present to yourself?
Haha, you’re right, it would look lovely sitting in my workshop ready for the right weather or riding event to show it off but that’s exactly why we wanted to put it out there and let someone else have the opportunity! I would imagine that a good number of riders, myself included, aspire to own a Belstaff one day and this competition gives everyone that chance on a level playing field.
A couple of years ago I was able to get to your store in Brighton and it was as if I’d stepped through the proverbial wardrobe and into a bikers version of Narnia… As the gentleman in front of me asked for various helmet sizes, as if by magic, the young gentleman working seemed to vanish into a new world to come back covered in snow with three helmet choices. With the number of products you have available online and instore, it must’ve been an impressive feat to store and manage such a vast selection of gear. Can you tell me a bit about how you were able to pull such an operation off?
Sure. Our Brighton store really was a bit of a Tardis, we used to squeeze as much as we possibly could into a very small Victorian terraced shop and it made for some interesting days at work. We were always keen to make sure that we held as much as we could so as to make sure customers in store could try things on and web order lead times were kept to a minimum but over time we did need to give ourselves a bit of room to breathe so we have recently moved to a new facility just down the road in Shoreham-By-Sea. Our new premises give us the ability to hold and display much more stock, as well as hosting events, ride outs and the chance to make you a coffee!
My first experience to TCR, Brighton (2016).
In my short and exciting motorcycle journey so far, I’ve seen more and more bike manufacturers looking to replicate vintage styling in their newest production lines. Are you seeing more and more retro-styled gear being produced and sold?
I think the industry as a whole has woken up to realise that the retro vibe is here to stay. You only have to walk around one of the mainstream motorcycle shows now to realise that a good amount of the major manufacturers are spending their budgets producing classic looking bikes and a bike designed to be easily customised. As such, I think that the riding gear market is naturally following suit. We’re really enjoying finding new brands emerging into the market, as well as some cool new products from brands you wouldn’t have expected to turn their hand from the traditional touring and adventure gear.
Are there any particular items new to 2018 that excite you and would recommend to someone looking to feed that inevitable new season craving?
I think the best development within our niche in recent years is the ability of brands and manufacturers to start to include soft supple armour and abrasion resistant materials into casual wear. We have seen some amazing 2018 products such as a new Rev’It Aramid armoured sweatshirt which you could easily wear on a night out without looking like the Hulk. Crave produce some amazing Kevlar lined riding shirts, too.
So the big question, how has the move gone to the new store? A relatively smooth transition or have you developed a few more grey hairs?
Actually, it’s all gone swimmingly, to be honest – sorry if that makes for a boring answer, haha! We spent a lot of time together planning the new place before we moved so having a site that is purpose-built for everything we needed has made the working day much easier for everyone. It has also given us much more time to be able to concentrate on developing new areas of the business such as hosting events. With so much more space, the feedback from our regulars has been great and we’re really looking forward to the Spring and Summer and making the most of it!
For all those who keep up to date across our social media outlets, they’ll all be wanting to know, do you have any predictions where you think the motorcycle industry will head in the next 10 years? We’ve seen more and more manufacturers adopt certain cafe styling to their new releases, what are your thoughts?
It’s difficult to speak for everyone at The Cafe Racer on this but, personally speaking, I think the future for new bikes is electric. I’m a lover of petrol and oil as much as the next person, especially if it is accompanied with the smell of two stroke, and I think the cafe culture shows and bikes will keep appearing in new forms but in ten years time if we walk into a motorcycle showroom every brand will have an electric bike to cover most genres. I think the regulations that motorcycle manufacturers in Europe will have to adhere to will become stricter and stricter and there won’t be much of a choice. Personally speaking, I’m all about embracing the new technology and bikes that electric power will bring, but I’m not going to let go of any of my gas guzzlers without a fight.
Harley-Davidson commits to electric motorcycle production by 2020 (LA Times, 2018).
I can imagine someone with such an impressive establishment has no doubt got an impeccable taste, that I’m sure reflects in all walks of life… If you could choose your perfect outfit from TCR, what would it be and why?
I’m absolutely the worst person to ask about picking my own outfits if you want something tasteful, haha. We have a few distributors who pop round to show us new products and I regularly get told, “you’re the first person to have picked that up since I’ve been showing these off”. I think it’s as much about styling the gear you like as choosing the most expensive things. Given an unlimited budget, it’d be hard for me to pass up a Belstaff Mojave Brooklands leather jacket in Burnt Cuero as it really is a beautiful thing to touch and to look at, but I am equally happy in my more modestly budgeted Resurgence Ace Denim jacket. I’d happily rock a double denim Resurgence ‘Canadian tuxedo’ most days of the week. I’d probably finish any perfect outfit with a Hedon Heroine helmet, though. You can feel the quality as soon as you pick it up and I’ve never had a better fit with any other helmet.
Last questions I promise. How much would it cost for you to pull my name out of the hat for that Belstaff jacket?
I’ve always wanted to run a team at the Bol D’Or 24h, how do you fancy financing it….?
Let me get back to you on that one… It’s been great to chat with you Rory, I’m sure that our followers will have loved hearing about your relocation and somehow, an even bigger selection of gear on offer. Huge thanks for taking the time and we look forward to keeping up-to-date with the progress of your new warehouse! I’ll give you my address (off the record of course) for that jacket…