The 2016 One Motorcycle Show Keeps Giving Back
Sure, Portland, Oregon, can be considered a bike town, but you could argue that’s more for its love of derailleurs than of, say, Deus Ex Machina. Out on the city streets, 20-speed bicycles outnumber motorcycles probably 10 to 1. Lucky for us, local motorhead Thor Drake is doing a lot to even that mix.
Back in 2009, Thor Drake and his freestyle motocrossing buddy Drake McElroy started See See Motorcycles as a rolling community center for their motorcycle-minded friends. It was basically a simple experiment at the time, but that first One Show—housed 7 years ago in a shabby Portland warehouse on Tillamook Street—was so successful, they knew they needed a solid business model to keep the bike-friendly vibe going. The coffee/bike shop concept was born, and now Drake’s See See Motor Coffee Co. is a bona fide smash with the locals. The coffee shop (which serves up excellent Stumptown java) also carries carefully chosen moto gear and magazines, with a couple of workshops tucked out back for motorcycles. But that’s just the brick and mortar side of the business; See See Motorcycles is also still the force behind the aesthetically driven The One Motorcycle Show.
Drake and McElroy’s idea to shine a light on “weird, rare, and unconventional bikes” has morphed into a nationally renowned exhibit, and this year it’s again housed in a sprawling former manufacturing facility. Fortunately, it’s still dedicated to that one “…machine that encompasses your vision of the ideal bike,” according to the founders. But everybody’s “ideal” is going to be different, right?
Which is why, for 2016, The One Motorcycle Show includes a compilation of some 100 motorcycles by 80 builders from all over the globe, as well as a backdrop of motorcycle-themed art, fashion and photography arranged on the walls. And this event doesn’t discriminate; the varied array of motorcycles includes everything from distinctive hand-built customs to raw dirt bikes, to pristine vintage machines. Other things haven’t changed either; it’s a totally free motorcycle party, and all are welcome.
The packed crowds in attendance this year were proof that Drake’s doing something right, and at least one major motorcycle manufacturer has taken notice. BMW has quietly become the headline sponsor of this once compact event and, given the popularity of the R nineT and its custom offshoots, you can see why BMW Motorrad USA unveiled the highly anticipated BMW R nineT Scrambler here in its U.S. public debut. Perhaps as a result, BMW customs seemed to be numerous this year, with builds like the Concept 90 by Roland Sands and a custom R nineT by Church of Choppers owner Jeff Wright. But whatever your preference of machine or riding style, The One Show was sure to have something for you.
For instance, you had bikes like builder Jeff Deardorff’s super clean CX500, a formerly ugly-duckling 1982 Honda transformed into a stunning swan. Triumph was also well represented, with a new Thruxton riff from British Customs and a newer See See Bonneville on display. Sprinkled throughout were a couple of vintage 750 flat trackers as well as several 50s-era choppers paying tribute to Triumph’s wildly popular post-war days. Drake himself had his Super Hooligan race-winning 2015 Harley 750 on hand for all to view, painted proudly in See See livery.
On one quiet morning, we spotted none other than Piaggio’s design chief Miguel Galluzzi perusing the flat-track bike displays. Does this mean another custom concept for the new V9 series is in the works? Who knows, but maybe it was no coincidence that this year The One Show also added a racing component to the event, with See See sponsoring The 1 Pro Flat-track Races at a local indoor track (Brad Baker took the win). It’s yet another spoke in See See’s involvement with every aspect of the local motorcycle community; they also run Dirtquake USA every spring together with Sideburn Magazine. The amateur-friendly outdoor race encourages anyone with a motorcycle to try his or her hand at turning left on a dirt track at speed. It’s not always pretty, but it sure is fun.
Thankfully, that just reinforces the See See mantra: “We want to give back to motorcycling. We want to be inclusive and inspire people to participate.” On that point, you can count us in. Especially if there’s good coffee to be had.