If I were following my brief to the letter I would have gone straight to the opening night of the One Motorcycle Show and immediately started badgering the bold and the beautiful for interviews and insights. I however am tired, cold and feeling less sociable than I might be. I pull into the motorcycle parking lot. There are literally five bikes there. Apparently the weather has discouraged the biking population of Portland from riding but the place is jumping. Fortunately everyone is dressed as if they’d just stepped off a bike so I don’t feel out of place. I miss the the press briefing because I’ve got no press pass. I blag my way into the show anyway by virtue of being foreign.
Not being a custom bike aficionado I’m unfamiliar with the history of the One Moto show but a quick chat with a lad who bums a cigarette off me quickly gets me up to speed. The One Moto show is 10 years old this year and much like the Brooklyn Invitational it has been pivotal in launching the custom scene as it is today. It’s bounced around several venues in the city over the years but at the ‘Pickle Factory’ in Portland’s industrial district it seems to have found its home.
It’s a huge, airy warehouse. I’m not sure why pickles required so much daylight but I’m glad they did. It makes for a very pleasing place to be. You can’t ignore Indian Motorcycles’ presence here either this year. Four huge containers of bikes dominate the entrance, the Superhooligan races are sponsored by them and the Indian stand is enormous. I’m all for it. If a manufacturer can get behind this kind of show instead of making us go to some miserable exhibition centre where the beer is flat, the burgers are tasteless and the bikes are generic then I’m in. In the spirit of full disclosure; without Indian, I wouldn’t be here. My wee ride up the coast on the little Scout Bobber was memorable if not always entirely enjoyable – Ride Report here.
A quick exploratory walk around the show reveals an eclectic mix of machines. Roland Sands’ and Carey Harts’ factory commissioned builds rub shoulders with properly shed-built customs. A V4 Panigale with custom paint is next to a mint Bevel. I’m pretty sure it the first time I’ve seen a Yamaha GTS at a show too. I’ve always had a soft spot for these after seeing them raced at the TT and proving funny front ends deserve to be taken seriously.
It’s too busy to get a proper look at everything so I decide to come back in the morning when the show will be quieter and I am feeling less anti-social.
In the brighter light of a snowy day, an evenings rest and my Portland resident guide Kiki in tow, I’m in a better frame of mind to explore the show. No, despite the name, Kiki is not a stripper from Portland’s myriad of clubs. She is a stalwart of both the Bike Shed in London and the Portland bike scene and has kindly offered to be my guide/interpreter (apparently, being Glaswegian, I need a translator).
J Shia of Madhouse Motors in Boston is without doubt some sort of evil genius. J’s ‘57 Indian is testament to what can be achieved with a warped sense of humour, and a wicked imagination. Foot throttle, suicide shift, fully adjustable geometry and what looks like an egg slicer for a tail light. I could an age looking at it but I’m damn sure I don’t want to ride it. I’m going to make a point of heading up to Boston when the weather gets better to see what outrageous machine J has in mind for next year.
I get chatting to Bill Bevill as Kiki darts hither and thither taking photos and being sociable. Two things I’m not great at. Bill has the finest collection of Triumphs I’ve seen outside Hinckley. He’s got the Tiger that competed in the Scottish 6-day in 1958 and an original caterpillar track conversion that I’ve never seen before, amongst others. I try to talk him into bringing them to LA for the Bike Shed to display but I’m not sure he was convinced.
I get side tracked and start obsessing over a 2000 Yoshimura kitted GSXR1000 and an RG 500. It’s great to see something like this a show. One Moto has always attracted every conceivable kind of machine so I shouldn’t be surprised.
If like me you like big GSes but hate the aesthetics then look no further than Gregor Halendas R90/R100 GS. It’s an imposing sight and displayed at the show covered in the local mud, it looks every inch the part. Imagine (we don’t have a photo) the result of a carnal encounter between a GS and a KTM Dakar refugee and you’ll get the idea. The work that’s gone into this machine is staggering. The later GS swingarm even being modified to run an 18 inch wheel. It makes me wish I had any off road skills whatsoever.
It’s not all motorcycles though. There are stands selling those leather goods you never knew you needed (leather hat and glove holder for your belt? Maybe not, for me anyway)
A couple of lads who did catch my eye were Seth and Casey from Red Cloud Collective. Not only had they built one of the cleanest looking XTs I’ve seen in while but also designing and making riding apparel that would make more established companies blush. I don’t know why Portland seems to nurture this kind of talent. It just does. I wander around peering, poking and prodding at bikes and asking dumb questions of anyone who looks willing to chat.
I’d like to have met the psychopath who built a double engined, twenty foot long Ducati drag bike. The riding position entails lying flat on the bike clutching clip-ons next to the front wheel spindle. Curiously, the clocks are mounted on top of the engines. Behind the rider. Not sure how that works. Another Ducati that looks slightly more usable is Dylan Johnson’s 848. The sleek cafe racer style is not the attraction though. It’s the turbo charger big enough to suck rabbits out the hedges that’s got my attention.
After a few hours I’m ready to head down to Salem to catch the Super Hooligan race. It’s snowing in earnest now so I’m glad I’m not riding tonight. Thor Drake, the show’s founder and curator, has managed to avoid me all day. I’m hoping to catch him there. I have several questions to ask him but most pertinent in my mind is “Why can’t you do this in Spring?!”