The Quail Motorcycle Gathering is quickly establishing a reputation as one of the premier avenues for motorcycle aficionados to showcase the most coveted motorcycles around. The Gathering features marques which have forged motorcycling history, whose engineers have pioneered and progressed the evolution of motorcycles to where it stands today. Motorcycle USA burned the midnight oil, riding throughout the night to arrive just in time in Carmel, California for the third annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering. Besides serving as an avenue for collectors and enthusiasts to showcase immaculately restored vintage and historically significant motorcycles, several models also made their public debut at the Gathering this year.
The Quail is a two-fold affair. The day before the concours, the Quail Motorcycle Ride takes place, a 120-mile ride through beautiful Carmel Valley and the Monterey Peninsula. The hands of time were turned back as vintage motorcycles were kick started to life for a rollicking ride through the countryside. The sight of UJM’s like the Honda CB750 cruising next to a 1954 BMW R68 with a Ducati Diavel trailing both was quite the spectacle. The highlight of the
It’s not everyday you get to inspect rare motorcycles like this 1928 BMW R52 up close and personal – unless you were at the Quail Motorcycle Gathering.
The 2011 Quail Motorcycle Gathering enjoyed its biggest turnout yet!
An engine from a 1952 Vincent Black Shadow sits at the heart of Falcon Motorcycles latest project, the Black Falcon.
ride was a touring lap around Laguna Seca and lunch served just outside the world famous Corkscrew. The Quail Motorcycle Ride was full of camaraderie as riders of all ilk shared in the sensation of riding the terrific twisties through Carmel Valley. It was worth the trip to Carmel solely for the ride, so be sure to read our Turning Back Time – Quail Motorcycle Ride 2011 article.
The following day, anticipation was high for the start of the concours. Hundreds of enthusiasts congregated on the greens of the Quail Lodge’s golf course to admire the eclectic ensemble of two-wheeled machinery. The motorcycle whose unveiling created the most buzz among the throngs was the Black Falcon. Sourcing an engine from the vaunted Vincent Black Shadow, Ian Barry has spent the last year creating his latest masterpiece around that engine.
“This is my interpretation of a motorcycle built around this amazing Vincent engine, keeping really true to the hardcore engineering that existed in the ‘50s which for its day was really ahead of its time,” Barry said.
Its frame, fork, brakes, tanks, bars, controls, and seat were all made by Falcon Motorcycles. Barry used modern forgings to remake the fork blades and utilized non-corrosive stainless in a lot of areas which was cost prohibitive back when the original Vincent was created. No fasteners touch paint, and Barry applied modern metallurgy and know-how in its construction like using titanium for weight reduction. He revised the Girdraulic fork by redesigning and lightening it. The Black Falcon’s stainless steel oil tank is unique, with slick cooling fins and a glass center on the oil tank cap so the rider can check for oil return without taking off the cap. Barry hammered out two different tanks by hand from aluminum, one “Roadster” style and one “Drag” tank. The “Drag” tank has a leather chin pad so riders can crouch into the bike for drag runs. On the original Vincent, Phil Irving created the bike so the rider could easily adjust its brakes, chain tensioner, riding position and gearing without tools. Barry made the Black Falcon with the same principles in mind, as its handlebars can be set in six different positions, the front and back wheels can be removed sans tools and the dual gas tanks can also quickly be switched out thanks to spring-loaded pins and vibration-damped rubber O-rings. The Black Falcon is the type of bike you can stare at for hours appreciating the attention to detail because it is only then the details slowly divulge themselves. Barry stated his concern for how the Black Falcon would be received by Vincent purists, but “For them, they said, ‘You know what, it’s all right,’ which means that’s resounding in itself,” Barry said smiling.
So-Cal Speed Shop, who has carved out a reputation for itself building hot rods, also introduced a bike that was well received, a rippin’ street-tracker called the Miler. We stopped by the So-Cal Speed Shop tent where we got a chance to talk to Streetmaster’s Richard Varner about the Miler. Streetmaster, Mule Motorcycles and So-Cal Speed Shop have teamed up to create a limited edition street-tracker built around a Triumph Bonneville engine. So-Cal Speed Shop got
So-Cal Speed Shop introduced its slick street-tracker, the Miler, at the 2011 Quail Motorcycle Gathering.
the project started, creating clay mockups and overseeing the project all the way through the assembly of the first prototype. Streetmaster is responsible for taking the air-cooled 865cc Twin and livening it up with ported and polished heads, a lighter flywheel, and a bigger cam. They also bumped up compression to 12:1 with the engine hop-up and added mid-level exhausts which give the Miler a claimed output of 78 horsepower. Streetmaster also provided one of its lightweight frames and swingarm while So-Cal contributed the aluminum tank, fobbed up the tail section, and added the front number plate and side panels. To top off the project, the Miler is finished in the Speed Shop’s signature red paint teamed with bare-aluminum accents. So-Cal Speed Shop did an excellent job of capturing the essence of a flat tracker in a lightweight, compact, street version with a potent powerplant. It’s the type of bike that looks fast sitting still. Only 20 Milers will be built, with production set for September of 2011. We weren’t the only ones impressed with So-Cal Speed Shop’s efforts as the Miler earned the Custom Award in the concours.
Ducati used the 2011 Quail Motorcycle Gathering as a springboard to unveil a special edition of the Multistrada. The new Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak Special Edition was built to honor Greg Tracy’s victory in the 2010 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The latest Multistrada has been upgraded with Ohlins suspension front and back and comes with ABS standard. It’s equipped with the Multistrada’s signature four-riding modes and is dressed up in plenty of carbon fiber bits like its Termignoni silencer. A rouge and black Ducati Corse-style paint scheme completes its Pikes Peak conversion.
The motorcycles entered in the concours were as varied and creative as their owners. Guest judges like The Vintagent’s Paul d’Orleans and the esteemed Kevin Cameron of Cycle World fame had their hands full as many bikes were worthy of the vaunted “Best of Show” title, but it was the Rolls Royce of motorcycles, an immaculate 1938 Brough Superior SS-80 owned by Gene Brown out of Colorado which took top laurels. After seeing the shine coming off its tank and the high quality of its restoration, it’s hard to believe that it was once a parts bike. It is one of only 159 Brough Superior SS-80 models produced in 1938 and I’m sure its rarity contributed to its victory. The Brough’s 50-degree V-Twin with big side valves was in impressive condition and it even had the small, latching leather-wrapped toolboxes on both sides of the rear fender. Brough Superiors were the marque coveted by Lawrence of Arabia, who once owned seven of them. Of course, it was the motorcycle he also died on. Brown’s 1938 Brough Superior reflected his fun-loving personality with the addition of an analog clock and squeeze-bulb horn mounted between its handlebars.
The 2011 Quail Motorcycle Gathering also featured a host of alternative fuel and aerodynamically designed motorcycles which competed in the Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge. Craig Vetter has been a pioneer in pushing the envelope toward aerodynamics and efficiency in two- wheeled transportation with the ultimate goal of living better on less energy. He was on hand with the Vetter Streamliner and its unmistakable yellow front fairing spreading his contagious enthusiasm for alternative modes of transportation. The
conditions of the Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge were summarized best by the placard on the rear of his streamliner. “What kind of mileage is possible going 70 mph into a 30 mph headwind sitting in comfort, carrying a useful load such as four bags of groceries? One gallon of gas takes me 83 miles in these conditions. Real streamlining and 15 horsepower. Living better on less energy.”
Fred Hayes would ultimately claim the top prize in the Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge on his 2010 Hayes Diesel (MD690R1) which used a miniscule 1.04 gallons of gas on our 120-mile ride at a cost of only $4.73. Finishing right behind him was Treven Baker on his homemade diesel motorcycle which used 1.213 gallons at a cost of $5.65. We got a chance to talk to Baker who said he has wanted a diesel motorcycle for 20 years. So he built himself one. He had been keeping his eye on the European market, which has been at the forefront of diesel motorcycle technology and scored a direct injection, air-cooled Hatz military diesel engine from a military surplus store and started from there. Then he pieced it together from a hodgepodge of parts, like a headlight from a World War II International military truck, a Russian sidecar chassis, a rear shock he grabbed off a KZ550 he had in the garage and a front wheel he salvaged off a BMW R5. Baker literally finished just in time to participate in the Quail Motorcycle Ride where he proceeded to capture second place with an impressive 110 miles-per-gallon. His efforts also earned him the Innovation Award.
The Vincent HRD Black Lightning Rollie Free rode at Bonneville to a world record speed of 150.313 mph was a star attraction at the Quail.
Other highlights of the Gathering included a special appearance by the Vincent HRD Black Lightning Rollie Free rode at Bonneville to a world record speed of 150.313 mph. Known as the John Edgar Lightning, the motorcycle is the one featured in the iconic shot of Rollie Free laying straight out in a bathing suit while he blasts down the Salt Flats. The gavel of the Bonhams & Butterfields auctioneer was busy in the Quail Lodge’s upstairs ballroom where Steve McQueen’s 1971 Husqvarna 400 Cross sold for a record $144,500. A rare 1925 BMW R32 also brought in top-dollar, selling for $139,000. A motorcycle we thought would bring in big bucks as well, a 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1 signed by Valentino Rossi, decked out in Aldo Drudi graphics and beefed up with a slew of high-performance upgrades only brought in $10,530.
The third annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering was a roaring success. This year’s turnout was the best yet. The quality and variety of the bikes entered in the show was unparalleled. We tip our hat to the passionate people who have painstakingly restored these vintage collectibles to their former glory and the countless hours they must have spent searching eBay and attending swap meets. It requires a devotion not many have and it’s good to see people out there preserving these visages of motorcycle history.