What makes a good motorcycle show? Is it the amazing bikes? Is it the venue? Or is it the spirit of community that makes some of these events more special than others?
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the inaugural Golden Bolt Motorcycle Show at The House of Machines (THoM), in the Arts District of Los Angeles, and it was a great mix of bikes, venue, and community.
The brainchild of bike build Kevin Dunworth of Loaded Gun Customs fame, the Golden Bolt offered a change from other motorcycle shows by adding some unique aspects.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Just like Steve Martin’s 1977 album, one of the main themes of this years’s International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach was “let’s get small”.
Almost every major manufacturer unveiled a bike in the 300cc category. BMW showed off its G310R standard and G310GS dual sport, Honda showed its CRF250L Rally, Suzuki introduced its GSX-250R, and Kawasaki unveiled its Versys-X 300.
Additionally, Honda had its world introduction of the 300 and 500 Rebels. It’s definitely a good time to be shopping for smaller motorcycles!
The excitement is back! After many years of somewhat somber motorcycle shows, the 2015 Long Beach International Motorcycles Show (IMS) did not disappoint. The crowd was large, the vibe was great, and the manufacturers brought lots of new machines to dream about.
Though EICMA occurred just last week, many of the bikes that were introduced in Milan had their American debut in Long Beach. Not only that, but the manufacturers upgraded their displays with new materials and concepts that made viewing more enjoyable.
The overall feel of the show was one of positive energy and excitement. It felt as though the post-recession doldrums are finally subsiding within the motorcycle industry.
The manufacturers pulled out all the stops for IMS, bringing some of their top executives for media presentations before the show opened to the public.
What happens when you combine a ritzy golf course, an amazing collection of motorcycles, and an eclectic crowd? You get the Quail Motorcycle Gathering in Carmel, California at the Quail Lodge and Golf Club.
Not your typical venue for a motorcycle gathering, the Quail brings together vintage, classic, and racing motorcycles in a setting that can only be described as “chic”.
This is definitely not your standard motorcycle show. The event pays tribute, not only to the significant motorcycles from our past, but also to the heroic racers who risked their lives on some of these machines.
What makes the Quail different from other motorcycle shows is the venue. The tickets aren’t cheap at $75, but admission includes a gourmet catered lunch, an opportunity to see a very diverse collection of motorcycles, and a chance to mix and mingle with a group of very proud and dedicated motorcycle owners.
Just as it is easy to compare Austin to Portland, one can do the same with the One Show and the Handbuilt Show — in fact, you’ll even find some of the same machines at both events (and that’s not a bad thing).
Despite the One Show being our home event, the subtle differences between the two motorbike exhibitions make the Handbuilt Show the superior night out, in our opinion…even if only by a thin margin.
Maybe it’s the weather, or maybe it’s the carefully curated bikes on display, but there’s a polish to the Handbuilt Show that elevates it slightly beyond frat-like atmosphere in PDX…it could just be the “beautiful people” coming in from COTA to poke around, who class the place up.
Nestled in the painfully hip downtown area of Austin, the Handbuilt Show is free to the public, and offers a little bit of something for every kind of motorcycle enthusiast: sport bikes to street-trackers, cruisers to café racers…there was even a slammed to the ground scooter this year.
As summer is upon us, avid motorcycle fans all across the country are gearing up for some of the hottest events of the season, the Isle of Man TT, World Superbikes, and Speed Week are some of the first that come to mind.
With so many high profile events taking place during the summer season it is often easy to overlook great opportunities that may be going on right in your own backyard, such as the Quail Lodge Motorcycle Gathering in Carmel, California.
After pulling into the Quail Lodge Golf Club, there was a distinct tone of class in the air, although that may have been due to the machinery that littered the parking greens, a Jaguar E-Type, Ferrari 355 Spyder, and Porsche 911 GT2 just to name a few.
Upon entrance to the show, it was apparent that this was not just another motorcycle show, and that I was in for a treat as one of the first motorcycles to greet me was an early Simplex Servi-Cycle.
Presented by Tudor, the show is in its sixth consecutive year, and truly does not disappoint with something for everyone, ranging from some of the rarest, most elusive bikes ever made like the 1950 Rumi Turismo to entries that were on the forefront of cutting edge technology such as the Lightning Motorcycles LS-218.
With so many amazing motorcycles and such a rich two-wheeled history all in one place, it was a bit overwhelming trying to figure which gems deserved more photographic attention than others, but there were a handful that really stood out.
James Toseland will be making a quick flight up from the Jerez testing to make a cameo appearance at the NEC Motorcycle Show, Britain’s premiere motorcycle exhibition.
When asked about his band, Crash, playing at the Yamaha booth Toseland replied:
“I’m really looking forward to playing at this year’s NEC Motorcycle Show; it combines my two main passions of motorcycling and music. It’s fantastic to have a sponsor who provides me with a keyboard and asks me to perform with the band as a work commitment!…motorcycling enthusiasts are always our most supportive and vocal crowds, so we should hopefully generate a fantastic atmosphere on the Yamaha stand.”
Fans will be able to buy CD’s, get their bras signed, and generally lose their minds to the acoustic wonderment. Unfortunately, the jokes about Yamaha motorcycles and pianos just got that much worse.