Ten years of doing anything is typically a reason to celebrate. Whether it’s ten years of marriage, a birthday, or the tenth year of a company being in business, ten years is a seminal anniversary.
Recently, the Quail Motorcycle Gathering celebrated its 10th anniversary in Carmel, California. Over 3,000 attendees had the opportunity to ogle over 350 amazing motorcycles from many different genres.
Unlike last year, there was no need for beanies or puffy jackets, as the weather was significantly warmer and the crowd was a lot more comfortable.
And though this was the 10th anniversary of the event, there wasn’t a lot of fanfare around the milestone. But maybe that’s what makes the Quail special. Amazing, while remaining low-keyed. Dazzling, without making a spectacle of itself. In a word, elegant.
What do you do to celebrate five years of one of the most successful custom motorcycle shows in the country? Well, you move into a new, bigger venue with about 4 weeks’ notice. At least that’s what you do if you’re the leaders of the Handbuilt Show in Austin, Texas.
This year’s show was held in the Austin American-Statesman building, and offered a significantly larger venue than the previous location in the Austin Fair Market.
Stefan Hertel, one of the co-founders of Revival Cycles, who put on the Handbuilt, graciously took a moment out of his day to discuss the new venue.
When I spoke with Stefan at last year’s show, I asked if he had ever considered a bigger venue, and he mentioned that they were looking at larger alternatives.
As it turns out, up until about a month before this year’s show, the team at Revival was planning on being at the Fair Market again, but in one of those serendipitous moments, the Handbuilt Team found the Austin American-Statesman building.
The motorcycling world once again descended upon Austin, Texas, as motorcycle road racing came to the Circuit of the Americas and the custom bike community arrived in droves for the Handbuilt Show.
This article will give you a flavor of what went on at the racetrack, while a second article will cover the Handbuilt.
As always, the Circuit of the Americas put on a great show. The facility is truly world-class and it made for a great weekend of racing.
So, let’s get this out of the way right off the bat; I’ve always been a full-face helmet guy. The feeling of my cranium ensconced in layers of fiberglass and impact absorbing foam, with a solid chin-bar, has always provided me with a certain level of comfort and confidence while riding.
While some enjoy the wind in their face and bugs in their teeth, I truly prefer the soothing quietness and comfort that only a full-faced cocoon can provide.
Now don’t get me wrong, a full-face helmet is not the most convenient device once the wheels stop and the rest stop starts.
I’ve often envied my friends with their flip-front helmets, chatting easily with each other, having a drink without cramming a straw under their chin bar, and their ability to walk into a gas station, lid still on their head, without causing concerns about a robbery.
But I’ve always questioned the safety of a flip front helmet. I’m not a particularly handsome man, so the idea of the flip-front helmet failing during an accident, allowing my face to slide along the highway, thus making me even less handsome, was always unappealing. So what’s a man to do?
Well, it seems that the folks at Shoei were listening and invited me to the introduction of their NEOTEC II modular helmet.
Friendly. That’s probably not the first word that Triumph would use to describe its low-slung, 1,200cc Bonneville Speedmaster, but let me explain.
There are some motorcycles that you ride that take a long time to get to know. They have quirks or idiosyncrasies to which one must adjust.
The Speedmaster, on the other hand, is the antithesis of that concept. Within 5-minutes of leaving our hotel in Carlsbad, California the Speedmaster felt completely familiar and intuitive.
It was a maneuverable and fun partner in urban riding, smooth and comfortable on the highway, and dare I say nimble and easy to ride in the twisties.
It is much closer to a standard motorcycle in function than a typical cruiser.
This year’s IMS kicked off in Long Beach, signaling the start of the consumer motorcycle show season in the United States. The three-day show was a mix of both excitement and disappointment.
On one hand, the show was an opportunity to see many models for the first time in North America.
On the other hand, many of the amazing offerings from EICMA, such as the KTM 790 Duke and 790 Adventure prototype, the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701, Yamaha’s futuristic three-wheeler, the Niken, and the Kawasaki Z900RS and H2 SX, were curiously absent at the Long Beach show.
Besides missing motorcycles, there were some missing manufacturers as well. Triumph did not have a factory booth at the show, but rather, used a local dealer to provide a small representation of the British marque’s lineup.
Additionally, Can-Am pulled out of the show completely, with neither a show display, nor demos outside. Conversely, it was great to see the Piaggio Group back at the show with a display of Aprilia and Moto Guzzi motorcycles, as well as Piaggio scooters.
Last weekend’s World Superbike race at Laguna Seca was one of mixed emotions for American race fans. On one hand, it was an opportunity to say goodbye to Nicky Hayden, a man who left this life too soon and was revered at this iconic race track.
On the other hand, it was a chance to see another American, Jake Gagne, make his debut in World Superbike as part of the same team of which Hayden was a member.
As I walked around the track, there were tributes to Nicky everywhere. The number 69 was ubiquitous throughout the weekend, with flags, banners, t-shirts, and stickers displayed by proud fans who now miss him so much.
Both Chaz Davies and Toni Elias flew Hayden flags on their respective victory laps; a moving tribute to a man they held in such high esteem.
Additionally, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca sponsored a track walk in memory of Nicky. Hundreds of fans lined up to remember Nicky and support the memorial fund that bears his name.
Both American Honda and Laguna Seca had murals, on which fans could leave messages of remembrance for Nicky and words of support for those he left behind. Nicky’s impact on road racing, and American road racing in particular, was obvious throughout the event.
While the memories of Nicky Hayden were palpable throughout the weekend, Jake Gagne quietly went about the business of adapting to a new team, learning a new motorcycle, and racing in a new series.
Conventional wisdom says that mixing wine with motorcycles is a bad idea, but in the case of last week’s 4th annual Kurt Caselli Foundation fundraiser at Doffo Winery in Temecula, California, it was a perfect pairing.
Kurt Caselli was an accomplished off-road racer with multiple AMA District 37 championships, Hare and Hound titles, and was the overall class champion in the International Six Day Enduro in 2007 and 2011.
Additionally, he was a competitor in the Dakar Rally and the Baja 1000. The Baja 1000 was where he met his untimely death in 2013, and after his death, the Kurt Caselli Foundation was formed.
The foundation was established to promote safety for off-road riders and racers, and strives to support these riders before, during, and after a racing career.
Come to Carmel, they said. It’ll be warm, they said. Well, maybe not so much. Last weekend’s Quail Motorcycle Gathering was a chilly affair with cloudy skies, blustery winds, and temperatures in the 50s.
The lines for ice cream were non-existent, while the line for the Espresso cart was 50 people deep. Though the weather wasn’t perfect, the event itself was awfully close.
As always, the Quail offered a great collection of vintage and custom motorcycles. This year’s show celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Norton Commando.
The marque was well represented with a large variety of Nortons on hand and also included a replica of the Norton display at the 1967 Earls Court Motorcycle Show in London.
Located on 5th Street in downtown Austin, the Fair Market is a nondescript, 16,000 foot event center. But once a year, as it has for the last four years, the Fair Market is transformed into the home of the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show.
This magical metamorphosis turns a simple, industrial looking building into a playground for motorcyclists and motorcycles of all varieties.
Local builder, Revival Cycles, started the Handbuilt back in 2014. Alan Stulberg and Stefan Hertel are the co-founders of the show, and they have grown this event into one of the premier custom motorcycle shows in the United States.
Held during the same weekend as MotoGP, the Handbuilt takes advantage of the large crowd of motorcyclists that descend on Austin for the weekend of world-class racing.