The modern motorcycle show is a bit of a conundrum. Bikes are neat because they’re more than objects created for consideration. Bikes are neat because they’re about an experience. But, housed in the sterile environs of a second rate convention center and populated by PR people, shows like the IMS tour or even EICMA fail to offer much in the way of experience. Showgoers can catch a glimpse of a new model, or a model in a bikini, but not much else. What if there was another way? What if there was a way to capture the elusive appeal of the motorcycle in a social experience with appeal spanning demographics, sexes and preference for assless chaps or leather onesies? That’s exactly what last weekend’s The One Motorcycle Show in Portland achieved.
Photos: Jon Humphries and Thor Drake.
Organized by See See Motorcycles with help from Bell Helmets, New Church Customs, Poler, Factory North, Stumptown and Sizzle Pie, The One was organized not in an out-of-town convention hall, but in an industrial loft space just off Burnside in east Portland. Just down the street from MotoCzysz HQ, Michael was able to ride his C1 MotoGP prototype to the show, on slick tires, in the rain. I got in trouble for putting an HFL sticker on it when he wasn’t looking.
A lineup of classic UJMs greeted visitors just inside the show's entrance.
Other bikes at the show ran the gamut from Twinline’s slick cafe racers to Icon’s rat bikes to ridiculous custom choppers, vintage race bikes, flat trackers and one or two minimotos. The general idea was to bring bike that you thought represented the perfect motorcycle, the one you could ride for as long as you live. But, everyone just seemed to bring whatever neat bikes they had lying around. Whatever, it worked. Also on exhibit were the 21 Helmets, Bell Custom 500s painted by a variety of artists and creative bike types.
To guard the bikes from thieves and errant HFL editors, Thor slept inside the show. That's a Poler Napsack he's sporting.
Unlike literally every other bike show I’ve ever been to, The One was jam packed. Not just with flannel clad hipsters, but people who had ridden in all the way from other states, strutting their wet stuff in head-to-toe, DayGlo Cordura, old men in mom jeans and chaps, small children, good looking girls and, gasp, people who don’t even ride bikes.
Roland Sands gave away two of his new jackets to the last man and woman to put an empty on his CR500 cafe.
Stretched over two nights, with a band playing on the second and cheap beer and pizza both nights, the emphasis was on bringing people together as much as it was on walking around, looking at bikes sitting on stands. It’s that last thing that makes The One Show special. It’s unique amongst motorcycle shows because it’s as much about the people as it is the bikes. We're looking forward to going again next year.