Ton Up! A Century of Café Racer Speed and Style

Story by Glenn Roberts//
July 7 2020

From the days of those early powered bicycles to the first rudimentary motorcycles to purpose-built two-wheeled machines of speed, there has been need to go fast.

Paul d’Orleans, author and motorcycle historian, travels the world following the vintage, custom and electric motorcycle scenes and is possibly best known as the founder of the website, The Vintagent. Mr. d’Orleans compiled Ton Up!, with a foreword by Chris Hunter, Bike EXIF founder. The book describes the machines and the people who rode them from as far back as 1869, when Sylvester H. Roper built his steam-powered boneshaker.

The story continues with rare historical photos that tell the tales of Ton Up riders and daredevils and how they learned from early on that if they removed unnecessary parts from their bikes to lighten them and/or tweaked the engines, they could get a little more speed.

After the need-for-speed introduction, the narrative continues decade by decade beginning in 1910 and continues right into the 21st century, describing the evolution of the motorcycle, the marketing and the type of people who risked life and limb for the thrill of speed and competition. Included are many full-page, detailed sidebars describing famous riders and builders from the past 120 years, such as Glenn H. Curtis, Phil Irving, Patrick Godet, T.E. Lawrence “of Arabia” and more.

Ton Up! is a book that captures the imagination of the two-wheeled speed demon and is a must-have for anyone who loves old motorcycles, the history of speed and how the modern motorcycle came to be.

This 208-page hardcover coffee-table book measures 22.3 x 26 cm and features 150 colour and 25 B&W photos. ISBN: 9780760360453. $41.33 from


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