The 2016 One Motorcycle Show

Keeping it wonderfully weird in Portland.

2016 The One Motorcycle Show crowd scene

A century ago, Portland, Oregon, was known as one of the most dangerous port cities in the world. World War II saw an industrial boom soften its hard exterior, and with the Sixties brought a liberal counterculture. A population rise of more than 90,000 between 2000 and 2014 brought youth, technology and wealth to the city, and Portland's gross domestic product per person grew 50 percent between 2001 and 2012, more than any other city in the country.

Seven years ago, with the economy in the gutter and tales of "the good-old days" of motorcycling fading even in seedy bars and garages around the country, a movement was underfoot. Just like the San Francisco mountain-bike pioneers of the early '70s, a junk-picking and salvage scene was happening out of necessity, leading to some extraordinary custom bikes. See See Motorcycles custom builder Thor Drake decided it was time to organize a big party to elevate and celebrate the motorcycle, inviting builders from around the world to the Rose City of the Pacific Northwest.

There were no limitations on what would be shown, nor would there be exhibitor costs or tickets sold at the door. All free, with ample support by a few chosen sponsors. This year, more than 75 builders showcased custom bikes, as BMW Motorrad USA, Harley-Davidson, Icon Motorsports, and See See Motor Coffee Co. underwrote the whole shebang; held in a 20,000-square-foot gritty historic space with ginormous ceilings on SE Salmon Street, across the river from downtown Portland on February 12 to 14.

Apogee Ducati custom motorcycle static side view

Apogee Ducati

According to Drake, the first One Show was held in an abandoned warehouse building, with no real understanding of how to actually put on a show. Two years ago eight inches of snow blanketed Portland, which cut the three-day show in half. But judging by the large crowds, motorcycling is alive and well in this city of 620,000 souls.

“I quickly began to notice that there was a growing number of people who loved this subculture of motorcycling,” Drake explained. “This was when I decided to host the first gathering of what we would deem The One Motorcycle Show. The idea that a bike meant more to someone through experiences and stories. The notion that a motorcycle was built, restored, constructed, invented, or modified for particular reasons, using the means at their disposal. This doesn’t stop at a particular year. People are expanding their range: you see a lot of late model customs inspiring vintage customs, and vice-versa.”

It appears the OEMs have taken notice: the Scrambler Ducati and BMW R nineT were essentially designed to be customized, with some creative examples from Untitled Motorcycles, Chvrch of Choppers, and Roland Sands Design appearing at the 2016 One Motorcycle Show.

Hill Hudson 1973 Honda CB350 Escape Machine static side view

Hill Hudson 1973 Honda CB350 Escape Machine

Alongside marquee builders Walt Siegel and Sands, were several builds of archaic inspiration, namely from Raccia, Holiday, Analog, Union, Apogee and Ronin. No one specific brand hogged floor space, as fine shiny examples were on display from Kawasaki, Honda, Ducati, BMW, Indian, Harley-Davidson, Buell, Suzuki, and MV Agusta. Show organizers select 80 or so builders each year at random. According to Drake, they have limited space so if a builder doesn't get in, "there's always next year."

Outside, several attendees rolled in on other gems of note, including a pair of BSA Lightnings, several well-used choppers, and a bevy of touring BMWs and Hondas. Devoted members of HOG and BMWMOA coexisted in the flea market, where vendors like Pagnol, Langlitz Leathers, and Inked Iron set up ten-by-tens in the parking lot. Dads, moms, and kids mingled with old timers, everyone enjoying the machinery and camaraderie in harmony. What’s old is new again.

Thank God for the motherlode of vintage bikes and rust buckets put back into circulation, and the industrial designers, craftsmen and fabricators willing to try.

Photo #1

The crowd.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #2

2016 BMW R nineT Scrambler.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #3

Analog Motorcycles 1976 BMW R90/6.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #4

Apogee Ducati.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #5

Boxer Metal 1980 BMW R100.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #6

BSA Lightning 650.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #7

Chvrch of Choppers BMW R nineT.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #8

Clockwork 1970 Honda CB750.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #9

Drummond 1979 Yamaha XS650.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #10

Hill Hudson 1973 Honda CB350 Escape Machine.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #11

Holiday Customs 1975 Yamaha XS650.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #12

Hugo Eccles of Untitled Motorcycles 2015 Ducati Scrambler.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #13

Icon 1000 1986 Suzuki XSR.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #14

Jesse Champlin 1979 Yamaha XS650.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #15

Josh Deardorff 1982 Honda CX500.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #16

Kickstart Garage 1975 BMW R75/5.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #17

Kickstart Garage Bultaco.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #18

Matthew Allard of Inked Iron.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #19

Matthew Camadro 1982 Honda MB5.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #20

Moto Factory 1975 Suzuki TR750.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #21

Eric Jutras Mr. Pixelhead.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #22

Number 8 Wire 1981 Kawasaki KZ550.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #23

Raccia Motorcycles 1972 Kawasaki.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #24

Roland Sands Design 2013 BMW R90 Concept.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #25

Ronin Motorworks 2016 #2.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #26

Spirit Lake Cycles 1992 BMW R100R.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #27

Suicide Machine 2014 Harley Street 750.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #28

Suicide Machine Harley Street 750 carbon tank.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #29

Tatham Speed Shop 1972 Triumph T120.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #30

Thor Drake.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #31

Twinline 1973 Yamaha RD350.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #32

Union Motorcycles 1965 Ducati 250.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #33

Union Motorcycles 1972 Triumph 650.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #34

Untitled Motorcycles 2015 Ducati Scrambler.Gaz Boulanger

Photo #35

Walt Siegel MV Augusta Bol d'Or.Gaz Boulanger