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The One Motorcycle Show: The Best Collection of Motos, Art, and Racing

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Article & Photos by: Julia LaPalme
There is a buzz around the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon, literally and figuratively. The sound of motorcycle engines firing up and the stream of people rolling their bikes through the roll up door is enough to make any motorcycle-lover salivate. From sparkly paint jobs to uniquely shaped exhaust pipes to machines that look like futuristic sculptures on wheels, the bikes rolling into The One Motorcycle Show are exhibitions of amazing builders’ talents, and excite almost all the senses.

The One Show has evolved over time. Show founders Thor Drake and Tori George-Drake, owners of See See Motorcycles, have watched the motorcycle scene grow since their first show in 2009. The first year, held in a warehouse not far from the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, hosted a respectable 60 bikes, and saw an attendance of about 1,000 people for the one day show. With every year since, the show has grown from one day to three, and includes more than just custom bikes; now it features art, music, vendors, and racing. And for the first time, it’s all under one roof. For its eleventh year, The One Motorcycle Show featured over 240 motorcycles, proving to be the biggest turnout yet.

While in the past so many custom motorcycle shows have been more focused on cruisers and choppers, The One Motorcycle Show has definitely been a big influence in broadening the audience to include cafe racers, adventure bikes, and more recently, electric motorcycles. The crowds have diversified, too. “The point of the show is to bring inclusivity,” Tori explains. “It’s not just for your dad or your uncle, it’s for families too. We’ve seen people come to the show that don’t know much about motorcycles; they talk to builders, and then they leave and get their license and start riding. Or they start building their own bikes.” One of her favorite memories is of a 10-year-old girl who came to one of their first shows. That girl was J. Shia of Madhouse Motors, who took home a trophy last year for her 1957 Royal Enfield Indian custom build.

The diversity of people attending the show is as varied as the builders and bikes themselves. A hand shaped polished Moto Guzzi shared show floor space in the basement with an angular futuristic Zero powered concept bike, while other builds like a dustbin land speed racer and custom-faired V-twins that look inspired by Predator intermingle in the lineup. Elsewhere in the maze of hallways and adjacent rooms, there were sport stunt bikes with 90s-inspired paint jobs, an entire room of vintage bikes, and a Yamaha equipped with a chainsaw, safety hat, and mountain bike mounted to the back, ready to tackle forest roads. There were motorcycles as small as 50cc, and as big as 1800cc. Dirt bikes shared floor space with choppers, supermoto bikes shared space with cafe racers. Everyone was welcome. All bikes were celebrated.

Then on Saturday there was the racing. For the first time in the history of The One Motorcycle Show, the races took place under the same roof as the rest of the show. In previous years, that wasn’t the case. “The races were down in Salem and that was a far drive for people to do,” Tori remembers. Despite there being enough bikes to keep spectators interested for a solid three days, “on Saturday of the show, all the racers and spectators would leave to go to Salem,” some of them taking their bikes off the show floor to race. This year, nobody had to leave the show grounds, since the Coliseum was set up with truckloads of dirt for the flat track racing. One minute you’re perusing the vendors on the second floor, the next minute you step through a set of doors into the coliseum overlooking the arena set up as a race track. It was certainly the most convenient layout of all the years of The One Show.
Over 70 vendors set up shop to sell riding gear, luggage, hand-dyed bandanas, t-shirts, boots, multi-tools, helmets… the list goes on. Show bikes were accompanied by artwork including photography, illustration, wire shapes, wood carvings, stained glass, and various forms of prints. In one of the rooms tucked away on the basement level, there was axe-throwing. Another room featured a mechanical riding bull amid a video game arcade. A larger room featured a stage, where a handful of bands played throughout the weekend, and where the awards were presented on Sunday. There was beer, food, coffee, bourbon, and everything a person could need to immerse themselves in the culture of custom motorcycles and the people who love them.
While some say the motorcycle industry is in a slump, Tori thinks the love of motorcycles has actually been on the rise. “I feel like Portland’s motorcycle scene is growing, but it is growing everywhere because of social media,” she says. Tori and Thor have played a big part in the growth of motorcycling with their See See Motorcycle shop and cafe, and with The One Motorcycle Show. In decades past, you’d be hard pressed to get cruiser riders, sportbike riders, dirt bike riders, and custom bike builders all at the same event, peacefully enjoying the same show. The One Motorcycle show has a magic to it. Its inclusive nature welcomes everyone into the motorcycle world, reminding us that we all share at least one thing in common: a love of two wheels.


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