Fleet of iconic bikes arrives in Parksville

Lori and Paul Nielsen, of Bayview Motorcycles in Parksville, recently received a shipment of iconic British bikes known as cafe racers which have a story all of their own.  - Candace Wu Photo
Lori and Paul Nielsen, of Bayview Motorcycles in Parksville, recently received a shipment of iconic British bikes known as cafe racers which have a story all of their own.
— image credit: Candace Wu Photo

Bayview Motorcycles has brought a piece of history to Parksville.

Just last week the shop became one of the first in Canada to receive a fleet of iconic British bikes: Royal Enfield’s Continental GT “Cafe” Racers.

“It’s a big thing in the motorcycle world,” said Lori Nielsen, who co-owns Bayview Motorcycles with her husband, Paul, and also became the first Canadian woman to own one of the bright red, vintage-style bikes.

Paul Nielsen said the cultural significance of the bike is “huge.”

“Back in the post-war era young Englishmen would race these motorcycles from cafe to cafe just as their name suggests,” he said. “They called themselves rockers — they were young and rebellious; part of a rock and roll subculture who wanted fast bikes to reach ‘the ton’ (motorcycle jargon for 100 miles per hour).”

Paul Nielsen explains rockers wore black leather jackets and motorcycle boots; a sharp contrast to a conflicting culture deemed “the mods” who rode scooters, wore suits and more clean cut attire and were more concerned with soul, rhythm and blues music.

“The cafe racers represent nostalgia,” he said, admiring the new shipment of bikes, of which there are only three left until their May order arrives. “It was a glamorous, kind of romantic time in history.”

The Nielsen’s first saw the stylish bike at Royal Enfield’s official unveiling in England at the Ace Cafe last fall, where Lori said she “immediately knew (they) had to bring them back to Parksville.”

“They’re basic, simple bikes and we love Royal Enfield’s products,” she said. “They’re affordable, they have that retro-vintage feel and they’re just really, really cool.”

According to Paul Nielsen, the cafe racer is just under 400 pounds, which is relatively light in comparison to most motorcycles which average at least 500 to 600 pounds.

Additionally he said they have a bigger engine, fuel injection, electric ignition, paiole suspension, brembo brakes — and “they’re sexy bikes.”

Moreover, Royal Enfield’s are the oldest continuous production motorcycles in the world.

“That means Royal Enfield has never stopped producing them,” he explains. “They’ve been around since the late 1800s.”

The Nielsen’s opened Bayview Motorcycles in 2012. It’s the second bike-related shop they’ve owned — their last was called Nanaimo Motorcycle Salvage which they closed 18 years ago.

“Once you run a business for too long you inevitably become complacent and often lose your drive for it,” said Lori Nielsen, adding the couple has owned a few different businesses since then but eventually went back to their “passion and love of motorcycles.”

When asked why she’s drawn to motorcycles, she said “freedom — there’s nothing like getting on your motorcycle and just going.”

Bayview Motorcycles is located along Highway 19A at 1480 Industrial Way (beside VIP Auto Shine). They are open Tuesday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Stop by, call the shop at 250-586-1903 or visit their website at

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