Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Ton-Up Boys....

The Ton-Up Boys were a British biker subculture that started in the 1950s and were successors to theTeddy Boys in attitude, language and values. However, instead of mock-Edwardian clothing styles, they took their style from Marlon Brando's film The Wild Ones, and from Royal Air Force pilots of World War II. They rode British motorcycles, traveled in packs and hung out in transport cafes. Ton-Up is a slang term coming from the cafe racer culture of 1950s England, referring to the 100 mph speed limit.

The subculture was heavily influenced by American rockabilly music. Musicians who were popular among Ton-Up boys included Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Billy Fury, and Elvis Presley. Ton-Up Boys commonly wore leather motorcycle jackets, Levi 501 jeans or leather trousers, and engineer boots, tall motorcycle boots or creeper shoes. Helmets, although not required at the beginning of the 1950s, later became compulsory. Ton-Up Boys usually wore jet helmets, often with aviator goggles for night riding. The look was accentuated with a silk scarf worn around the neck for protection against the elements, and long wool socks pulled over the top of the boots, both of these looks were borrowed from the RAF.

The main difference between Ton-Up Boys of the 1950s and the Rockers they evolved into in 1960s were the heavily studded, patched and pinned leather jackets that Rockers wore, whereas the Ton-Up Boys usually preferred their jackets clean or with painted motifs on the back, a look that was adopted from World War II pilots. The film The Leather Boys (1964) acurately portrays the bikes and styles of the original Ton-Up Boys.