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.
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.
For the past few weeks or so, I have been conversing back-and-forth with my cousin-in-law about 3D printing. Apparently, some sort of hobbyist 3D printing shop has opened in his home town of Pasadena, and my geekier-than-me relative has been chomping at the bit to see what the consumer-level 3D printers can build.
Since my special brand of geekiness has already assured that the bloodline stops at my branch of the family tree, you can imagine the uber-nerd fest we both have been having, trading links on Facebook about the different things that rapid-prototype machines and 3D printers can achieve.
For those who are not familiar with the technology, the name really does give away about 90% of the special sauce. Using a plastic in lieu of ink, 3D printer can actually build three-dimensional objects in a process not that dissimilar to your home ink jet printer (Jay Leno has been using 3D printing to replace impossible-to-find parts for his classic car collection).
The more robust and industrial units use lasers to shape and heat the plastic ink, and are able to achieve a high-degree of object resolution. We can think of more than a few electric motorcycle startups that are currently using this rapid-prototyping process to develop their street and race bikes. It’s very fascinating, but also very expensive stuff.
This is where the consumer side of the equation comes in, as the post-industrial form of 3D printing has not only rapidly increased in its ability to flawlessly create a high-resolution object, but the cost of both the 3D printer and its “ink” have dramatically dropped. Hobbyist models are now in the $400-$2,000 range, and could soon be as ubiquitous as the printer sitting next to the computer you are using to read this article.
As the price-point drops and resolution increases further, the consumer end of this technology could rival the industrial side of 3D printing, and that is where things get real interesting for the motorcycle industry, and manufacturing in general.
More bad news from the business sector this week, as reports are starting to come in that Big Dog Motorcycles has shut its doors after being taken over by the company’s creditors. With the banks halting the production line, this is effectively the end of one of the largest (if not the largest) custom motorcycle builders in the world. Cyril Huze broke the news on his blog on Monday that the company had closed its doors, but Big Dog President Mike Simmons denied that news on Monday.
However Big Dog dealers have since confirmed that company owner Sheldon Coleman has contacted them, informing them of the bank’s take over, and that the business and production would be ceasing. Coleman is reportedly planning on starting a new company that would supply parts to current Big Dog owners.