Agge Scruggs was downtown Sunday with his photography club to take pictures of a motorcycle gathering, but he was surprised at the crowd he found at Eurobike 2016.
Instead of tough-looking vest-wearing bikers throttling their booming exhaust systems, the retro-styled bikes practically whispered by, carrying riders who looked to be stopping for an afternoon cappuccino.
“You see guys come in with flowered shirts and jeans on, and others dressed to the nines with their leathers,” he said. “It’s quite a variety.”
Eurobike was organized by Do the Ton Triangle, a local group of bikers who ride ‘cafe racers,’ as well as European and European-inspired motorcycles. “Ton” is slang in the cafe racer community for reaching 100 mph on a motorcycle. The event featured bike rides and exhibitions, as well as live music, food and merchandise vendors.
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Cafe racing is a motorcycling subculture with European roots dating to the 1960s. Bikers would remove nonessential parts and lower the profiles of their motorcycles, making them more nimble on winding city streets as they raced from cafe to cafe.
Proceeds from the Raleigh event were donated to Biker Down, a Colorado-based nonprofit group that assists riders injured in traffic crashes.
Eurobike, which is in its seventh year, began as an informal gathering of Triangle cafe racers who spread the word via online forums, said Scot Dail, one of this year’s Eurobike event organizers.
“It basically started as a flash mob of motorcycle owners,” Dail said.
In the first and second year of Eurobike, a few hundred motorcyclists informally met in City Market to ride and show off their bikes.
The third year Eurobike moved to Seaboard Station, where it grew to several thousand riders and spectators.
“This is the first year we’ve come back (to City Market),” Dail said.
Shelby Hill, a Eurobike volunteer who has been riding for about a year, says she was drawn to cafe racing bikes because they can bought cheap and require limited experience to work on them.
Hill, 24, wanted to ride motorcycles ever since she was a little girl watching her father ride his Harley-Davidson.
We usually try to find twisty roads and improve on the skills, like body leans.
When she bought her first Honda motorcycle last year, Hill said she logged more than 12,000 miles before upgrading to a BMW motorcycle last month.
She rides with people interested in the technical aspects of cafe racing.
“We usually try to find twisty roads and improve on the skills, like body leans,” she said.
Hill said she tried to hide her bike from her parents, but they eventually found out.
Her father wasn’t thrilled at first, citing safety concerns, but once he found out she had become a proficient mechanic, he softened and now they work on her bike together.
“He was really enthusiastic about finding all his tools in the garage for me,” she said.
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi