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.
A motorcycle is what the name implies: an engine with two wheels, and thus lends itself to being more accessible to both novice mechanics and expert builders alike. I myself gained my mechanical prowess by working not on a car, but on a motorcycle, and in the expert hands of tuners and accomplished customizers, true artistry can take place. Wherever you fall in between the two extremes of that spectrum, the ability to “print” replacement parts or new parts holds tremendous value. For someone like me, who loses small plastic tabs, screws, and other bits like it is his god-given mandate on this earth, the ability to create that lost part in a matter of minutes is a huge boon, not to mention it is easier on the wallet than the $5 nut or bolt that should cost $.01 at my local dealership.
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.