In September 2016, the Fairgrounds in Spencer, Massachusetts, hosted Rice-O-Rama, the only vintage and custom Japanese motorcycle show and swap meet in New England. This tenth edition offered show competition in six displacement classes, plus categories for street competition, dirt competition, two-stroke, café, chopper, touring, sport, cruiser, mild custom, rat bike, foreign (non-Japanese), highest mileage and oldest bike.
Out on the racetrack infield, vendors set up the swap meet. A row of header pipes peered out like so many four-headed serpents. Tanks, seats, forks, fairings and bars were laid out in varying degrees of organization, along with new old stock, tools, supplies and memorabilia. Folks searched for that correct gauge cluster, fender or headlight nacelle for their vintage bike.
Inside the shed, show bikes included many outstanding examples. One that held my attention was a 1967 Bridgestone 350 GTR, a two-stroke twin with innovations including oil injection and rotary disc valve induction. The exhibitor had owned the same model when new and wanted to relive that experience. His stunning example was restored to new condition.
It’s always fun to see what other people will sink countless hours and dollars into to make it their own. Several custom street trackers were built around Honda GL1000 opposed fours. A sleek café bike with modern tuning fork emblems appeared to be powered by a 1970s vintage Yamaha RD250 two-stroke twin. One radical streetfighter was built on Kawasaki Versys 650 mechanicals, so underneath it was the same bike I rode to the event.
Best in Show honors went to Chris Tope of Bellingham, Massachusetts, for his custom 1975 Honda CB200T scrambler with surfboard rack. “I saw a CB200T at a vintage shop in Houston and was obsessed with the tank,” Tope said. “Just the shape and the rails, I knew that was my next project.”
Three years ago he found a CB200T in Pittsburgh. “It was kind of beat but had a lot of original parts like the tank, seat and fenders. The engine was punished pretty bad and the exhaust was rusted out. Just trying to find stuff for a vintage CB200 can be hard.”
Tope said he does a lot of surfing and also wake-surfs behind a boat with the same board. “I wanted a scrambler so I can access the beach and go surf, so I figured why not incorporate a surfboard rack on the side?”
His surfboard rack is stainless steel tube, mounted to the frame and meticulously wrapped in leather. “I like flow, so the leather straps on the rack match the seat and the pad on the handlebar crossbar.” Tope named his eye-catching, board-hauling scrambler Surf and Turf and entered it in its first show. “I was really surprised and honored to win Best in Show.”
In the 260cc to 380cc class, First Place went to Steven Breton of Campton, New Hampshire, for his 1967 Honda CA77 Dream 305 Touring. “My brother-in-law found it in a barn and the guy gave it to him,” said Breton. “He took it home but didn’t really get it running. Every time I went over to his house I’d look at that motorcycle. One day he brought it to my house on a trailer and said, ‘It’s yours.’” (Score one for brothers-in-law.)
“Mostly it needed cleaning and polishing,” Breton explained. “I rebuilt the carb and it started right up—it runs like a dream! I put on new tires so I can ride it. The mirrors on it weren’t correct for this model, so I found the correct ones. Now it’s completely original. I even have the original caps for the grease fittings. They made millions of these things, but they were cheap and people chopped them or just disposed of them so there aren’t many in original condition like this one. When you get a bike that’s 50 years old and the seat is original, the paint is original and the brakes are original, then it’s a survivor. Down at Weirs Beach where all the Harleys line up, people walking by stop and check out this bike because of the way it looks. I love old things, I love the design and I love to ride it.”
Great reasons to enjoy vintage motorcycles!