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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.

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.

This past weekend, nearly 3,000 motorcyclists descended on the Quail Lodge and Golf Club in Carmel, California.

They didn’t go to the Quail to golf; rather, they went to see the 8th annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering. With roughly 400 motorcycles of all genres and years on display, the Quail offered something for everyone.

Unlike last year, this year’s event offered a lot more sunshine and warmer temperatures, and featured the 40th Anniversary of the superbike and a tribute to pre-1916 motorcycles.

Additionally, there were display categories for motorcycles from all parts of the globe. The quantity and quality of the machines on display was impressive.

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. 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. 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.

2014 marks the fifth year that The One Motorcycle Show has been put on by Thor Drake and his cohorts, and the once niche gathering has blown up quite a bit in that timeframe. With headline sponsors like BMW Motorrad USA and ICON, you could get some jabs in about the show “going corporate” (there was a stock BMW R nineT on the show floor, after all). But at the same time though, the increased exposure and professionalism brought in a bevy of high-quality bikes and builders; and if you were in attendance this weekend, you could only be impressed by the overall exhibition (or is it a party?) and its unique character. As for the bikes themselves, you can break things down into four categories: the choppers, the street-trackers, the cafe racers, and everything else.

It is good to see the AMA Pro Road Racing paddock getting some love this month, the series desperately needs it. With more than a few video projects going on in the AMA, fans should have a bevy of good media to consume this year, even with all the shenanigans going on with TV rights this year.

Our latest attention turns to a new web series, Following Fillmore, which as the name implies, follows KTM factory rider Chris Fillmore as he trains with the Bostrom Brothers, gets some chalk-talk from Jason Pridmore, and hits on Cal Crutchlow, among other things.

Coming to a YouTube channel near you starting March 7th, if the show is anything like the trailer, we should be in for a real treat…especially the ladies, who tell me “Chris is so dreamy” all…the…time. The trailer is after the jump, enjoy.

This week will feature a slightly different format than usual, as we’ll be coming to you directly from the 2009 EICMA motorcycle show in Milan. With media reveals starting in 24 hours, each morning this week we will bring you the latest news from the show, which is expected to have a bevy of motorcycles shown to the public for the first time (well that is of course unless you’re already an avid A&R reader, in which case you’ve already seen some of these bikes).

Come early, come often, but expect the bulk of the days’ post to come like a fire hose in the morning (PST). You can also check back to this post to see a directory listing of articles stemming from EICMA. Also, for the absolute latest happenings, check out A&R StreetLevel as we’ll be tweeting away throughout the week. Enjoy!