One Motorcycle Show 2015
By Ross Sharp - 09 Mar 15
The One Show, now in its sixth year, has become one of the motorcycle shows on the event circuit. Since it began in 2009, it has grown in popularity and size, highlighting both the motorcycle builder scene in Portland and in North America as a whole. Hugo Eccles, Untitled Motorcycles San Francisco, talks to Thor Drake, owner of See See Motorcycles and founder of The One Motorcycle Show. BSMC: Thor, tell us about yourself. Thor Drake: "My background started in motocross, but I sucked at it so I quit and got into road bikes- shitty old Japanese things which I tore apart. I still have a SR500 I got for free when I was 17 I realised I missed dirt biking so I did some cross-country races, got my road-racing license, and then raced motocross, vintage motocross, flat track and now vintage flat track. Last week I was out there racing, and next week I'll be out there again. It's a little nerve-wracking when you're putting on an event because I don't want to fuck myself up before a show". What's great this year? "Whew, well, you see just the calibre of the bikes here. We started six years ago and you see the increase in quality, and the amount, and the spectrum of all across the board it's just incredible. There's about 120 bikes this year. There were about sixty in the first year and every year we've grown in size, but it's not just about the bikes, it's about the entire experience really. What I really enjoy about it is that it's uniting old people, young people, people who don't ride, people who do, people who like Harleys, people who don't like Harleys. It doesn't really matter, it's a uniting show which is intentional and I appreciate. The bikes are just a ticket, but really it's a gathering of people". You do a different venue every year? "Every year I try to create this great fun place. Last year was a very different space to this year. This is the biggest and best space we've used for the show, and the industrial feel of this place that smells like grease with holes in the walls is comforting to a lot of bike builders. I do what's best for the show, try new things here and there. It's a fun show. It's not a big money show, we not giving away cash prizes or anything, the awards we do give away are just jokes. We get sponsorship offers but I don't want the show to be about money so I've turned away a lot too. We work with people who are aligned with what we want to do. If they're cool with that then we're happy to work together". Of all the bikes in this show, which one(s) would you steal? "Haha, well, there's two different sides to that: aesthetic appreciation and the function appreciation, and I guess a sort of mix of the two. The Busch Brothers bikes are a nice balance of the aesthetics and the function. I just love that they hand-craft every part and every year they change their style drastically and it's always something different. I could never do what they do, I mean, they make everything on the bike apart from some of the parts that are original, like the motor. There's an electric bike here by Alta Motors, it's a full electric motocross bike. It's killer. These are proper, you can hit triples, they're the real deal. So, if I could steal a bike, I'd steal that one right there". You have all sorts: café racers, choppers, trackers. How do you choose them? "Just really it's my interest, so whatever catches my attention I invite. I go to different events, races, shops. I just talk to people. It's a genuine interest. I know what I like, and I know what other people like, and I try to curate a broad selection from perfectly brand-new stock bikes to things you'd never ride because they look too pretty. I chose every single bike in the show except one: my girlfriend always picks one bike every year. It's usually a fantastic person that I've overlooked or flown past because I'm too busy. This year she picked the Maico, a vintage 400cc 2-stroke dirt bike that's alongside the three Elsinores". You're intentionally putting bikes next to each other so there are stories? "In my mind, yes, but it probably won't make much sense if I tried to explain it. I move them around all the time so they look exactly like how I envision it. There's the BMW RnineT which is probably the best-designed bike that came out last year, as far as quality and thoughtfulness, and it hit the market right between the eyes. I put that right next to the Ronin 47 because I though those design guys would get along, and they just hit it off. Of course, the bike we have on the poster, the Joe Copp XR750, that's a bike that has an incredible history of racing. It's the same formula that Harley's always made and it's a bike that's still competitive in flat track racing today. It's an original AMA race-winning bike and it's just sitting out there. If you look closely you can see that everything's just barely stuffed in there, the amount of engineering that has gone into that thing. That's the original style race bike then you can see the spin-off, the brand new Evo motor, next to it. It's sort of the street-legal version of that bike. There many different styles of that thing that people have envisioned". Do you have a wish list of builders you'd like to show? "Yes, I mean there's a list of people who I wish would show up but can't make it because they're busy doing their work so they'll make it eventually, you know. I've invited Shinya
I think every single year and he wants to come but it's a drive and he builds bikes so doesn't have the time. But he will, someday he will, and he'll enjoy the show. He just came through on the Cannonball Ride so he stopped by See See and we chatted. Well, more smiling and nodding. He gets what I do, and I get what he does: he's just a cool spirit.
Most builds are North American and Canadian. Last year we had El Solitario come over with their BMW which was really cool. I've invited a lot of the European guys but it's hard to get them across the pond, you know, so..."
See See Motorcycles has become a great hub. Was that the intention?
"The intention was to build myself a little dream island, you know, go to work and have fun. I built See See myself while I was putting on the first show. We get the same weather as England so you might as well do something when the weather's shit, then during the summer time you're out riding bikes and enjoying yourself".
What's on for next year's show?
"One of the things that I'm really trying to push is the racing because that's the thing that's existed since the dawn of man. As soon as we grew some legs we started to race each other, and then we had some horses for a while, then we got some fucking motorcycles. If there's one thing that history tells us is that we'll be racing until the end of time. So I just try to promote the racing, you know.
That's what we do here in the wintertime, and See See sponsors a race series. We've got an indoor track in Salem, it's a pretty fantastic facility and they do a great job running the races.
So, next year: racing. If I could put on a pre-season flat track race that would be amazing. Professional level, but we'd add our spin on things. That's one thing I'd like to do but, man, it's hard to promote racing because it's expensive with insurance and everything".
Do you think this scene will last?
"I don't build things to not last. I never really considered anything a fad, it was just what I was into, and that changes all the time. So the business, See See Motorcycles, will be the thing that I do for the rest of my life, it's set up that way.
Who knows what the future holds, but I'll be right there doing it. We plan to run the show for as long as people seem to like it, keep showing up. It'll last as long as the fire inspector lets us, hahaha".
There's a video here to give more flavour of what the show is all about.
Hugo Eccles is owner of Untitled Motorcycles San Francisco, and a founding member of The Bike Shed.
Photography by Simon Waterfall, Matt Allard, Erik Jutras and Hugo Eccles.