2015 One Motorcycle Show Report

February 18, 2015
Byron Wilson
Byron Wilson
Associate Editor|Articles|Articles RSS

Byron's sure to be hunched over a laptop after the checkers are flown, caught in his own little version of heaven. Whether on dirt, street or a combination of both, MotoUSA's newest addition knows the only thing better than actually riding is telling the story of how things went down.

Like the industry it celebrates, the One Motorcycle Show in Portland, Oregon is constantly evolving. The One Show provides a platform from which artists can showcase their work and is an event which brings similarly passionate people from vastly different walks of life together. The show’s focal point, or rather the myriad focal points, are the custom motorcycles, each an embodiment of the dedication, perspiration and love its creator has for two wheels. In addition to the custom bikes, there are hundreds of paintings and photographs lining the walls, a steady stream of live bands, 21 custom painted helmets, hand-crafted patches and accessories, fledgling gear and apparel companies all housed in a space that itself is a rat rod-esque artifact of conflicted beauty.

This year marked the sixth staging of the One Motorcycle Show and it was bigger and better than ever. See See Motorcycle’s Thor Drake is the founder, curator and primary driver of the event. Each year Drake works to create an experience that conveys his vision of the best parts of the motorcycle industry.

“This is more like the way we started, with the cool industrial building and a good party vibe to it,” said Drake of the 2015 edition. “This is the way I always wanted it to be. I try things different each year, sometime we go a little bit more clean with the show and sometimes a little more party. This has been my favorite show so far, except for the first one.”

The building itself was perfect, a huge 16,000 square-foot industrial workspace that used to house a company called Custom Stamping. Raw wood walls with exposed studs, concrete floor, broken windows here and there along with a gigantic green metal stamping machine in the middle of the room provided an industrial-wasteland atmosphere. A few side rooms housed additional bikes and artwork selections, but the scene was grandiose in the main area, especially on Friday and Saturday, which saw more than 7000 people turn out each night.

During our first foray around the floor, we noticed a lot of flat trackers, lots of scramblers and plenty of vintage racers. Perhaps a theme?

“Every year I just try to be relevant with whatever is happening in the motorcycle industry. I don’t think there’s necessarily a theme, but we’ve definitely gone with more performance bikes. Our poster image was Joe Kopp’s XR750 and flat track is something I’m quite passionate about.”

In addition to Kopp’s XR750 there was an immaculate 1975 Yamaha DT250 from One Down Four Up, a shop based in Redding, California. Originally built as an enduro/off-road machine, the One Down entry is ready for the oval, wire-spoked front and rear wheels, swept-back handlebars, a vintage-inspired color scheme and custom skid plate. The polished expansion chamber absolutely gleams while a modern-looking headlight sits in the middle of a cut-out number plate, the only obvious contemporary piece on the machine. The package was simple but elegant and expertly crafted, earning it a nod as People’s Choice.

The Triumph Castrol Rocket was on site as well, placed alongside the music stage atop a platform. The internals were exposed so onlookers could get a sense of the mechanics of the 1000-horsepower landspeed racer. Getting an up-close view of the cockpit was more surprising than the tangle of its innards, the pilot’s seat seemingly too small to actually fit a person.

ICON Motorsports had its newly-built 1982 Suzuki Katana, dubbed “New Jack,” sitting in the center of its display. The machine utilizes a 1200cc motor taken from a Bandit. The exhaust pipes blend seamlessly with the frame as they curl under the engine to a shortened end-point underneath mill. It’s simultaneously futuristic and apocalyptic, fitting well into ICON’s already eclectic family of customs.

A gorgeous CB160 from Vicious Cycle called “Proxy” commanded plenty of attention as well. The original was found in a flower shop and was first fashioned into a spare racer. Then some tinkering got it ready for street use, but it remains a stripped-down, café-inspired machine. There’s a whole CB160 race scene in the Pacific Northwest, encouraged by racers looking for a cheaper but still exhilarating race experience. Vicious Cycle has been one of the motivators of the race class in the region and has made a name for itself as a “primary parts source” for performance-oriented CB160 and CB175 motorcycles.

Dave Harto, a designer of illuminated sculpture, former airbrush illustrator and general contractor, brought along his “Salt Flat Special,” a 1952 Cushman Eagle scooter. He updated the engine, custom-built a girder front end, put on new larger wheels, new drum brakes, and fashioned a new tail section. The tank, however, is an original piece from the ’52 Cushman. The combination of old and new, worn and fresh was in perfect harmony with the vibe of the venue. He plans to head to Bonneville in 2015 for a chance at the record books.

Another racy number we liked was a 1968 Bultaco 250 Metralla MK2. The bike was raced occasionally in the 1970s but then went off the straight at Portland International Raceway. From there, it would sit for more than 30 years before the owner decided to bring the Bultaco back to life. It’s still a “work in progress,” but so far he’s put on a racing kit that includes a new fuel tank, saddle, handlebars, fairing, cylinder, piston, cylinder head and exhaust system.

Of course, racers weren’t the only machines represented, despite the focus on performance machines. There were plenty of raked-out choppers, gnarled ADV bikes, devilish mini-bikes and some trail-breakers from See See that are in a class of their own.

One bike that couldn’t help but catch the eye was the handmade, aluminum-bodied “Silver Fox II” from brothers Daniel and Lance Busch out of their Reno, Nevada shop, Busch and Busch. It’s currently powered by a 1972 XLCH Ironhead and features a litany of hand fabricated pieces, Showa 39mm front end, Fat Boy rear wheel and a custom seat made in-house. The narrow tank is actually on a hinge and flips up to reveal an even smaller tank underneath. The brothers plan to fit a Garrett GT15 Turbo in the near future and enter the bike into the APSPG-1000 class at Speed Week.

“This kind of just started out from parts we had from various other projects,” Lance explained. “The frame came with one bike we bought and had an Arlen Ness neck on it. The engine we had to pull out of my street bike, and we made the whole rear section. It’s a rigid rear now, just kind of going for the long, low streamline look.”

“We live together, work together,” added Daniel. “We’ve been into cars and bikes since high school, but probably the past three or four years is where we really tried to make a full go of it (running a custom shop). We had a bunch of money saved up from working an office job and were so burned out that we finally were like ‘we’re going for it.’”

This sentiment, disregarding caution for the pursuit of passion and chasing after a dream, was evident in every bike on the floor.

This type of atmosphere is obviously infectious, judging by the long lines to get into the show on Friday and Saturday nights, which stretched for multiple city blocks. It got so packed on the first night that the show, which was scheduled to run until 1 a.m., was called off at about 11:30 p.m.

“It was just sort of a perfect storm,” Drake explained of the decision to call it early on Friday. “We had a few too many excited people and just wanted to make sure everybody got home safe. We discussed it very quickly and had to take in a lot of factors, our vendors, our capacity levels and the safety of others. But in the end we just wanted to make sure everybody got home safe and happy. The writing was on the wall and we had to do something about it.”

Saturday went more smoothly, with a few less “excited” people. Sunday was a complete success as well, with lots of families and kids sharing in the experience.

“After doing six shows, you know when to relax about certain things,” continued Drake. “Certainly there’s a lot of people out here, a lot of people on motorcycles and it can present some strange problems. We dealt with a few of them but people just want to have a good time and be safe and you’ve got to trust people to do that. Because motorcycling is such a passionate thing, I think it’s pretty self-policing. You can definitely see that this year. You look around and everybody is smiling and having a good time. That’s a successful show to me.”

In an industry that often laments its inability to inspire new riders, the One Show and others like it are providing an egalitarian, accessible and joyous motorcycling experience for all ages. It’s a facet of motorcycling that celebrates passion, fosters community and inspires individual expression. Well done.

2015 One Motorcycle Show Photos

Detail of Silver Fox II. This one was called Bad Red  a 1976 Honda CR125M. Nice ride for a two-up.
Oddities like this grabbed plenty of attention too. Attendees bunched around this chopper to get a good close look at the detail of its paintwork. Though much was changed  the Salt Flat Special retains its original tank.
A cool view of the front tire of the Castrol Triumph Rocket. Except of course for the entry from See See. The DT250s headlight was contemporary and unique.