Our Top 5 Bikes from the 2017 One Moto Show

02/13/2017 @ 11:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler36 COMMENTS

Over 17,000 people flocked to the northern end of Portland this year, braving the cold interior of a vacant building with their plaid shirts, in order to drink PBR, listen to loud music, and look at the occasional motorcycle. Yes, it us that time of year for The One Motorcycle Show in Portland, Oregon.

More than just a much larger venue, The One Moto Show continues to gain traction with vendors and sponsors, all the while attracting more and more bike-curious attendees through its doors.

Main-lined into the zeitgeist that we recognize as two-wheeled hipsterdom, “mainstream” motorcyclists can roll their eyes while shuffling through the PDX masses, but you cannot deny the pulse the show keeps with younger motorcyclists.

As such, there were more than a few pillars of the motorcycle industry circulating in the show’s ranks – all incognito, of course – trying to understand how the next generation interacts not only with motorcycles, but also with each other.

Over 150 bikes were on display for those in attendance – I heard a figure as high as 170 motorcycles were hidden throughout the multiple rooms and floors of the show’s venue – and a couple trends struck me over the course of the show.

First, was the virtual absence of any café racers, which made the one or two machines of that genre stand out, like colleagues that didn’t get the memo that Hawaiian shirt day at the office had been cancelled.

Contrast that with the sudden rise of dirt bikes on display – many from the 1980s or older – showing perhaps a new trend for younger riders.

For our eyes, the most intriguing builds came from the “cruiser” section of the show, while A&R‘s hunger for sport-focused machines was disappointingly met with many of the sponsor bikes that we have seen, for several years in a row now.

As such, you might find our favorite picks from the 2017 One Moto Show to be a bit peculiar, considering the sport bike slant that Asphalt & Rubber so often takes. Still though, they are truly impressive machines.

We see the show only growing larger as the years continue, thus adding only more credit to the growing annex of the motorcycle industry, that Portland is becoming.

If you find yourselves without something to do in mid-February next year, we highly recommend attending this free motorcycle show…just get there early, the lines are horrendous.

#1 – Sosa Metalworks’ Knucklehead

Hands down the most beautiful bike on display, if you haven’t heard of Sosa Metalworks, then this knucklehead custom should certainly change that. The bike is decisively analogue, with mechanical actuation for virtually everything.

Truly impressive bits include things like the throttle linkage, which uses rods and gears to make its way from the handlebars, down to the cylinder heads. Spend some time studying the photos, there is no shortage of details to absorb.

That being said, getting even these modest photos was a personal challenge, due to the constant crowd that flocked around the machine. If the show curators can continue to attract builds like this to Portland, then the One Show has a healthy future ahead of it.

#2 – Speed-Machine Motorcycles’ XT500 Board Track Racer

How do you make a boring motorcycle like the Yamaha XT500 look lurid and eye-catching? Painting it orange certainly helps, but the true-to-form board tracker aesthetic works even better…and doing both certainly covers all the bases.

Built by the folks at Speed-Machine Motorcycles, this “Flying Merkel” has been making the rounds for quite a while, but it is new to my eye, and visually very fetching.

This XT pays a good homage back to when you really had to be a special kind of crazy to race a motorcycle, and when motorcycles had more in common with modern bicycles then what we ride today.

#3 – Roland Sands Design’s BMW R nineT

Roland Sands had a hand in making the BMW R nineT motorcycle come to life, so it’s only fitting that he submit a custom motorcycle built off the air-cooled platform.

A nod to the Super Hooligan series that RSD just started, this boxer-engine tracker has a tasteful low-slung chassis with a single-sided swingarm.

The bike looks fast enough to race, but also hip enough to ride to the local free-trade ten-dollar coffee shop – not an easy line to walk.

#4 Suicide Machines Company’s Harley Davidson 750

The world might be collapsing when the sportiest custom you see at a bike show is from the Bar & Shield brand, and yet here we are with Suicide Machine’s tasty Harley-Davidson 750. The bike has not only carbon fiber wheels from BST, but also a carbon fiber swingarm from the South African outfit. 

If you can somehow take death metal music and give it two wheels, this creation from Long Beach, California seems like the only result possible.

I can’t quite place my finger on it, but this motorcycle has a certain irreverence that seems perpetually to be giving you the finger.

#5 Alex Lapidus’ 1974 Honda Elsinore

I was really struck by Alex Lapidus’ work on his Elsinore, as it’s probably the bike at the show that I would most want to ride on a daily basis. Not too flashy, not from some big-name builder, but instead a motorcycle that has beauty in all the right subtle places.

My only real complaint with the machine is the composite work on the carbon fiber tail, where the weave on the fibers clearly didn’t get laid properly. It makes for a noticeable but honest blemish, and I am not sure if that makes me like the bike more or less.

Honorable Mentions

Also on display at the 2017 One Moto Show were a few bikes worth mentioning. Alta Motors was here, showing us its Redshift ST street tracker concept, as was Janus a new motorcycle startup that is focusing on vintage-looking small-displacement machines.

A pair of Walt Siegl bikes were at the show – a Bol d’Or and a Leggero – remixing classic Italian motorcycles into something different. The counterpoint to that was the multitude of air-cooled BMW standards all crowded around each other, like a crayon box containing only different shades of blue, though a few were tastefully done.

The most under-appreciated motorcycle though is easily this two-stroke frankenbike by Roland Sands, named the “2 Stroke Attack” TZRD.

Made from wedging an RD400 engine into a TZ chassis, the TZRD was sequestered in a dark hallway, with nothing to note its build history. I wonder how many people pushed by this work of art, on their way to another Solo cup of cheap lager.

Photos: © 2017 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & RubberCreative Commons – Attribution 3.0

  • Ur Momma

    PBR – the Wonderbread of beers…

  • paulus

    The ALTA looks even better in the images… nice.

  • charlieuk

    Might have been given more attention if it was a rg400 2 stroke square 4
    But the lack of 2 extra exhausts suggests it’s an air cooled 2 stroke twin RD400

    Still a lovely bike. just lacking the extra 2 cylinders, disc porting and side carbs…easy mistake to make though!

  • Lane Pratt

    RSD’s build site confirms it’s an RD400 engine.

  • Lane Pratt

    I would love to see more sport-oriented designs. I think you’re right that the 80’s-styled vibe is the next up-and-coming trend, and I don’t hate it. I guess we’ll have to see if 2017 brings more visible examples of the style.
    As for the Elsinore: I appreciate the honesty of the exposed flaw in the carbon fiber. I can make the argument for the perfectionist approach of scrapping it and starting again, but having made plenty of mistakes of my own when working on motorcycles I do like the boldness of leaving it, especially in such a visible location.

  • RD350

    Alex Lapidus’ Elsinore is the winner here. Vintage Honda Scrambler spirit powered by slightly later vintage air-cooled, CR motor. Very original. Looks seriously cool. Looks light weight and capable, unlike most scramblers. As for the carbon flaws, just paint it CL160 Black or Silver and its good! I love the vintage dirtbike/enduro trend. Hope it continues.

  • RD350

    To be fair, that’s an apparent typo rather than a misidentification. I don’t really care for the bike anyway, but I do agree that a RG400/500 square4 would make it a whole lot more interesting.

  • PeteN95

    Amazing show, my first time, but I will be back! I loved the old dirt bikes, Fox airshox, radial finned heads, etc. Racing in Salem was also great with Sammy Halbert and Joe Kopp racing Hooligans, as well as Pro class. Joe’s son Kody is going to be a force one day!

  • rognin

    I was more interested in seeing the new 40L speedway from Velomacchi that they had announced on Facebook. It never made an appearance from what I saw.

    Nice Bikes.

  • Nick Moore

    I’m always wondering how well these bikes actually would ride in their respective segments and how much of them are just for looks.

    As a long time bicycle industry guy we have a hand built show that travels to a new location from year to year. Each year new “brands” pop up and it’s interesting to see them. Most mistakes can be covered up by some painter but not all. Also the bikes frames have terrible alignment which makes riding them pretty bad.

    As for these pieces or rolling art work and labor of loves, can they be used or are some of these just creations to please the eye and make one wonder?

    Cool show, tried getting in Friday night, Ha ha ha ha. Alta has a promising bike on their hands and if they proceed makes their brand a little more viable for more mass market sales.

    @Jenson. Did they not offer a “media only” time so that it would be easier to take pictures?

  • Fivespeed 302

    If somebody builds a tracker for the show, does that mean it’s going to be flat tracked? Rhetorical question but someone humor yourself. ;)

  • David Simpson

    The Maico/DG style head on it is badass

  • paulus

    RnineT and Thruxton R accessory packs are edging into the 80’s territory :)

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  • Dave Lambert

    Great article and photos!

  • Paulo Rosas

    Wait for the background video here sir :)

  • Mike McFadden M&M Customs

    I will be unveiling this 750 Street Track Day Concept at the Cycle Showcase in St.Louis end of March. Finishing up the Carbon Fiber fairings and starting to do the paint work.

  • Mike McFadden M&M Customs

    I will be unveiling this 750 Street Track Day Concept at the Cycle Showcase in St.Louis end of March. Finishing up the Carbon Fiber fairings and starting to do the paint work. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3a219ba4caa6afb4e5bd6ff68c9d7c77f7564e86a894aa3db2cb4419972b807a.jpg

  • Mike McFadden M&M Customs
  • Benji

    80’s/Early 90’s endurance racer builds are gaining ground and I love it. I had a ’93 Fireblade all Suzuka’ed out a few years ago and it still one of my favorite bikes I’ve built. Hopefully it does full blast and we get something like a hipster Bol’d’or race in north america.

  • Lane Pratt

    Question for @jbeeler did you not include the Icon builds because they weren’t new? Just saw their quick recap video, and remembered that most of their recent bikes have been very sports-ish.

  • I’ll answer for Jenson… No, there isn’t a media time.

  • The 40L was there. It looks good. I’m looking forward to riding with it, as I think it’ll fit my storage needs a bit better than the 25/28 liter does.

  • Correct. I’m tired of seeing the same bikes, every year.

  • BDan75

    I thought that was something off a car stereo amplifier at first…

  • Paul McM

    Re the Roland Sands bike. I actually watched a long interview with RS recently. He seems to be an insightful, intelligent fellow with some “progressive” ideas about moto styling. However, in recent years, his bikes have increasingly been “flawed” to say the least (and plain ugly in many cases). And too many have ergonomics that only work for short people like Roland the Runt himself. Honestly, he should get himself a taller partner who can insist that the bikes have proper ergos (instead of looking like a kiddie bike). Frankly, I wouldn’t mind if he left the motorcycling industry altogether. Overall I think his influence has become a negative thing for the industry. He is stealing too many projects from designers/stylists who would do a much better job. He should be styling coffeemakers and toasters.

  • racerX

    Flawed in what manner?

    I’m certainly no designer by trade, but it seems like him and his team did a great job at incorporating styling aspects from the SSSA on the RnineT shown here.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – to me the craftsmanship and detail that went into their RnineT, as well as the overall form, is stunning.

    Such deep and targeted criticism must surely have a basis outside of aesthetics of his creations. Perhaps founded in your own insecurity, for never having created from blank sheet as he and his team does? Or a personal dislike for his character?

  • rognin

    Neat, I loved your review of the previous version. Will you be doing one for the new version when you get your hands on it?

  • We’ll see. I need to wrap my head around how A&R can do gear reviews more effectively.

  • paulus

    I don’t necessarily agree, but I can understand your point. It does seem the RS is increasingly the ‘go to’ guy for brands that want an ‘American’ market custom…. and they can get a bit formulaeic. However, the credit belong ”to the man in the arena…”, until another builder gets the press and recognition he does, the brands will continue to do so.

  • @speedmachinemc

    I built the Merkel “tribute” and I’ve put a few thousand miles on it. It’s not the most comfortable but it rides better than it looks like it would. Yes they did have a media only time for an hour before the show officially started.

    If anyone is interested here’s the complete build thread…. http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/flying-merkel-tribute-build-the-flying-merkin.619303/

  • Jason Carney

    The flying Merkel raced the dirt oval last year here in Austin and took the hole shot.

  • Paul McM

    OK, let’s be specific as to this latest RSD. It’s been aggressively “slammed” and lowered to the point the ergos are for a ten year old. There is no front brake (WTF?). The “headlight” plate is ridiculous — looks like a kitchen appliance — tell me how that will project light. The bars are too low and way too narrow. The raked front fork will make this handle like a pig. And what is the point of the stupid belt over the tank? Useless affectation. The author wrote: “The bike looks fast enough to race, but also hip enough to ride to the local free-trade ten-dollar coffee shop – not an easy line to walk.” Come on — “hip enough to ride”. What, with no front brake and a ridiculous riding position. No thanks. This is just another example of RS doing style over function, to the point that the machine doesn’t actually work.

  • ctdfalconer

    It was clearly a labor of love putting this bike together. He built a bike that he wanted to ride.

  • Alex Lapidus

    Hey, I appreciate all the kind words! I worked on it for 3 years in my tiny garage. I was excited to share it with everyone at The One Moto Show.

    Here is a picture of the original bike, purchased from Craigslist for $400.

  • RD350

    You deserve the praise. I love the vintage scrambler/enduro/dirt bike movement that is presently evolving. I heard that such bikes were well represented in Portland this year, pushing out the usually dominant cafe racers. So you we’re well ahead of the curve with this build if you started it 3 years ago. Great job.