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29th September 2004

Ace Café Brighton Reunion

Fancy a spot of Brighton Rock? Robert Lane joins the mods and rockers at the annual Ace Cafe Reunion...

I've always liked Brighton. From the early days of being dragged round countless antique shops by my mother to rides down to the coast in my teenage years. Living in the rural borderlands of Kent and Sussex, the bright lights of this grand seaside resort were always a draw. Nothing was finer than a trip down on my Commando to see a band, a blast along the front and then the cross-fingered ride home, hoping that the services of my mate with a van would not be needed for the final few miles. I was eighteen -- life was good.

You can't get much more Ace Cafe than this...

Now in my early forties, I'm pleased to say life is still good but, as a West Country resident, trips to Brighton are few and far between. So although the Ace Café Brighton Reunion is in its fourth year this was the first time I had attended.

Arriving with friends on Saturday afternoon, we made our way to Madiera Drive where most of the action takes place. As I had obviously not been listening when the weekend had been described to me I didn't realise that Saturday was 'burn out' day with the front closed off for sprinting. This is why I'm afraid there are no pictures of this, as I had left the camera in the hotel!

...Unless it's this.

I like sprinting, I always feel it looks like a motorsport I could do. After all; it's only holding on, isn't it? However with a bracing sea breeze providing a strong crosswind, my admiration for those leather-clad daredevils grew. We watched some of the vintage bikes blast up the strip, accompanied by the wonderful sound of their exhaust note resonating off the sea wall. These were followed by more modern machinery and, when the rider of a Suzuki reached a top speed of 175mph and completed the quarter mile in less time than it takes me to take a swig of coffee, my imaginary career as a sprint rider was over. After a poke around the paddock to admire both bikes and cars, we trudged off back into the city centre to enjoy a night on the tiles.

Rising, not particularly early, on Sunday we again headed for Madiera Drive which had been transformed into a huge bike car park. I don't know how many bikes were there but must have been in the thousands. There was a great range of machinery with a good representation of classic (and not so classic) motorcycles. Being the Ace and being Brighton there were loads of scooters, some of which were pure works of art. One was a tribute to Dads' Army with fantastic artwork and superb attention to detail culminating in the opening sequence, with the arrows being faithfully reproduced in leather on the seat. It wasn't old but it was a classic.

The Classic Triton-on-the-prom shot.

As a yin to the scooters yang there was also a good smattering of café racers. Some great Tritons and a Norial Square Four, but my favourite was an immaculate Dunstall Commando. That bike was going fast standing still!

Red Frames on BSAs. Hmmmm.

Accompanying this plethora of motorcycles were a large range of stalls selling all things bike-related, from 50p badges to a £18,000 custom Harley. The bars were open to replenish flagging spirits and you could also buy Brighton rock (but obviously not Richard Attenborough).

Yes it rained on the way home but this is an event not to miss. If you like classic bikes you'll love it. I certainly did.

Hurricanes always travel in pairs. Just ask any Florida resident.


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