Words and photos by Adam Bendig.
Rolling into its fifth year, the one Moto show has quickly become a winter fixture in the custom motorcycle scene. While you may not associate the rainy Pacific Northwest winters as an ideal climate for a two wheel destination, the scene is thriving and there are no shortage of builders or fans willing to make their way to Stumptown. Indeed, a not so common snow storm rolled in just prior to the show, reducing many cargo vans full of customs to a crawl on the freeways, almost within site of the city. The surprise snow dump even prevented some bikes from making it to the show, as was the case with JP of The Selvedge Yard’s Triumph custom, the Tramp.
Thor Drake is the man with the vision behind the One Moto. It takes more than vision to pull off an event like this year after year, and Thor is no stranger to action. He’s managed to establish See See Motor Coffee Co. as the type of place every rider wants in their hometown, a local spot to get a solid cup of coffee, gather before a group ride, pick up the latest issues of Iron & Air, Sideburn and Dice, maybe get a hand working on their bike. Add his personal workshop to the mix and it’s become, as he says, his own private island. Even then, it's a lot of work from a lot of people to make something of this caliber come off so smoothly. Despite that, Thor says he does it for the smiles. Fortunately for us, it’s hard to find someone not smiling while enjoying the show, Thor included.
The show has grown enough in it’s few short years of existence that a new, larger building was secured for 2014. Two stories, tall ceilings and windows, wood floors and brick exterior set the scene. The motorcycles of the The One Moto are presented as pieces of art, displayed on risers, in contrast to common outdoor shows/gatherings, with rows upon rows of bikes lined up tightly next to each other. This sets the tone of the weekend to appreciate the bikes in a different way.
They came from all corners of the country, and even from across the pond. A show sponsorship from BMW Motorrad allowed for bikes from far away places to make an appearance, such as El Solitario’s BMW RnineT “The Impostor”. Stripped of it’s given skin, reborn in curvaceous stainless steel tubular body panels, the outrageous custom was nearly a no show. 80 days of intense modification were almost for naught, as the bike sat unnoticed in customs for a week before racing north for it’s grand unveiling. Linked with the R nineT, Roland Sands displayed a variety of builds as well as a presentation of concept art used throughout his design and build process.
The One Moto is not just about fancy show bikes though, it’s a celebration of the One Moto for each builder, their unique vision of their ideal singular motorcycle. Built with their own hands, with their friends. With over 75 invited builders working under that pretense, you’ll find more variety than most shows offer, cafe’d Honda’s and brutish Kawasaki’s, restored Montessa’s and scrambled Harley’s. The larger space allowed for an even larger selection of bikes than years past, including a wall lined with custom vintage Harley’s which were previously not as prevalent. Knuckleheads and panheads, raked out blended frames, long and low thrashers, and a brilliantly chrome framed flathead. Show sponsor and local company Icon Motorsports shared a collection of bikes including the Iron Lung Sportster based drag bike, the Triumph Speed Master, a pair of Kawasaki stunt bikes and a trio of electric Brammo Empulse bikes. It wasn’t all about the big guys, with plenty of home built masterpieces getting their time in the spotlight.
Downstairs was a small vendors corner, important because the show is free to builders and fans alike, all cost of putting on the show is absorbed by See See and any sponsorship they acquire. Show shirts, hoodies and hats were available, along with a small variety of other goods from Biltwell, Lowbrow and a few choice others. Cody of Dirty Needle Embroidery was onsite making handmade patches with a single needle sewing machine, with proceeds helping fund a kidney transplant for his wife. See See brought in an espresso machine to keep the party going late into the night, important with the upstairs band stand! Pizza by the slice was available from local favorite Sizzle Pie. Saturday night was brought to you by Dice Magazine, hosting a party upstairs. With snow outside, it was Purple Rain on the stage inside late into the night.
If the bikes weren’t enough, the walls were lined with brilliant sketches, drawings, paintings and photographs from a bevy of artists. Unique pieces like the etched auto glass of Zoe Bacon and the hand lettering of Ornamental Conifer furthered the artistic atmosphere of the weekend.
While some disagree, what’s a motorcycle without a bitchin helmet? The One Moto show wouldn’t be complete without a display of some of the coolest custom helmets you can round up. Vintage race lids, led light strips, wooden bird beak masks, elaborate murals and delicate blue porcelain style decorations highlight the spectrum of art on hand.
While the dry snowy weather leading up to the show on Thursday and Friday just meant that some builders had a tough time getting into town, the conditions turned to freezing rain late Saturday afternoon, and as local officials were urging the town to stay home, a decision was made to call the show early. Sunday turned into an early load out for the builders, and a handful of See See employees braved the commute to serve up fresh coffee and snacks while aimless travelers enjoyed the unique storefront loaded with specialty magazines, motorcycle maintenance bits, custom parts and a solid selection of casual and riding gear. The One Snow may have been an experience unique to 2014, but with a goal of doubling the experience every year there’s little doubt that a trip to Portland next February will result in a spectacular experience.
Not even the snow could keep away the diehards.
Max Schaaf of 4Q Conditioning’s Knucklehead.
In addition to his custom builds, Roland Sands shared a wall of his original concept sketches.
With no official contest, these trophies lettered by Ornamental Conifer were
awarded for categories such as The Run From the Cops Award, The What’s Up
With the Seat? Award, and The Nice Try Award.
Thanks for checking out our coverage of The 1 Moto Show by Adam Bendig. To see more of his work, view some of the other articles in our blog and visit his site, adambendigphotography.com.