Without doubt, The One Moto Show in Portland is among the best events I have ever attended. With an extraordinarily eclectic mix of bikes from all genres, acceptance of all styles, and intermingling of motorcycle enthusiasts from all walks of life, The 1 Show is an amazing piece of motorized vehicle culture.
While this was my first experience with the show, it’s actually in its tenth year, and apparently it gets bigger and better every year. If you can make it out to this show, you absolutely should.
Get your scrolling finger ready, because there are tons of photos waiting for you below.
(Full Disclosure: Indian Motorcycles wanted me to come ride its new FTR1200 so bad it invited me to Portland for the tenth anniversary of The One Show. It also put me up in a posh hotel and kept me full of coffee and food.)
The show itself is held in a large industrial facility that looks as though it’s been abandoned for quite a while. It’s a very grunge backdrop that really allows the shiny bikes to contrast the space and the hilariously slapdash tongue-in-cheek moto builds to look right at home. It’s a meticulously curated show held in a building that hasn’t been properly clean in decades.
Outside of the building, in the freezing cold, are a few vendor spaces and exhibits. The first to catch my eye was an incredible recreation of the Yamahauler Dodge Tradesman van. If you’re going to haul bikes, haul them in style, right?
Indian Motorcycles had a large presence at the show this year, displacing Harley Davidson as one of the presenting sponsors. It was clear Indian wasn’t messing around, bringing out dozens of custom bikes to display, both outside and inside.
It was pretty chilly and the weather didn’t cooperate, so most of the stuff outside was seen in passing on the way into the show.
From mild to wild, this show had everything a two-wheeled enthusiast would want to see. Tons of custom, hand-made, and well-built stuff scattered all around the building. Some of the pieces were so custom that they were unrecognizable as their original source bike.
The One Moto Show was dreamed up and executed by the team at See See Motor Coffee, a Portland staple that combines custom bike building with pretty damn good coffee. Thor Drake, the progenitor behind both the coffee spot and the three-day motorcycle festival, is in it for the fun. “I think people forget why they do it,” He says. “The main reason is that it’s fun and it should always maintain that level of being fun.”
Indian gave Drake a bike to customize for the show, and he built a proper throwback flat track racer. It’s about having fun.
In addition to the radical bikes, there is a bunch of radical art on the walls as well. This triptych take on motorcycle safety looked awesome. The off-road modified Harley-Davidson-powered desert bike below it was pretty breathtaking, too.
I liked the juxtaposition of modern and vintage patina on this Husqvarna build. It looks like a blast to ride, and visually akin to something from a futuristic sci-fi film.
I’ve already talked a bit about this crazy salt flat racer build, but it’s worth inclusion in the list again, because it rocks so hard.
What says America more than a supercharged Harley? It even asks the most important question of all time; W.W.E.D. What would Evel do?
One of the more fun aspects of the show, because it’s all about fun remember, is the mayhem that is created when you put a dozen adults on electric minibikes and have them race around a makeshift plyboard course in the basement of a manufacturing facility. Good humored cheating is encouraged.
Husqvarna has built off road motorcycles nearly as long as it’s built chainsaws. Why not combine the two for a ridiculous horror movie villain-looking ride. Could you imagine the kind of campy film where the bike/chainsaw combo gains sentience and goes on a murderous rampage? Swedish Chainsaw Massacre?
No bike show would be complete without a car/bike hybrid.
And if you’re going to have a four-wheeled car at a bike show, it should probably have a matching bike displayed alongside it.
It’s good practice to make yourself little daily reminders to stay positive and stay in the throttle.
Another part of the show that I enjoy is the helmet decoration competition. Artists from across the country compete to make the craziest and coolest motorcycle helmet. The helmet, beyond safety, has evolved into a personal extension of the motorcyclist.
As the show has continued on, the space has evolved to suit its needs. This mural was particularly intriguing.
Both of the polished aluminum bikes below look quite similar, don’t you think? Well, they’re both Ducatis, but the one on the left is based on a modern example, and the one on the right is from the 1960s.
If you think electric power is going to ruin the enthusiast market, you’re hella wrong. This Alta Motors Redshift was stripped down to the absolute bare necessity for a rad race bike.
Who doesn’t want to see a 100+ year old Excelsior bike? I know I do.
And perhaps the most Portland thing possible during a motorcycle show, is the ability to get yourself a nice new tat.
Get creative with your color palette choices. I like this triangle design, as it incorporates fun colors and design choices.
In addition to a scad of custom bikes, the Indian display showed off a dealership’s worth of new stuff.
Perhaps my favorite bike of the event, because I’m a sucker for 500cc two smokers, is this Suzuki RG 500 Gamma. Yeah, that’s the shit I do like.
Another favorite was this BMW GS built by Spoken Moto, an Oregon native shop.
More good stuff:
Roland Sands makes some crazy stuff that is both unconventional and functional, including this leaf-sprung beast.
This raccoon is me, and I am this raccoon.
Another great example of a cool electric motorcycle, this Zero has been re-bodied by Huge Design in San Francisco. Why have coachbuilt bikes never caught on as a trend?
A good scooter is exceptionally hard to find, but Spoken Moto also built this Honda CT70 that looked incredible. The silver thing next to it is a 1983 Honda MB5, which was my first bike. It’s a 50cc two-stroke with a cool three-spoke wheel design and long legs thanks to a 5-speed transmission. Mine had a 6-speed cribbed from a later MT80. I think I hit 63 mph on a downhill once.
This Moto Guzzi was tastefully modified. I’m a fan of this understated design.
The Cake Kalk is available in street legal and off road configurations, and looks like a lot of fun. This is the third electric bike at the show, but I expect many more in the near future. I appreciate that Cake had an opportunity to build something that looked nothing like a motorcycle. They started with the weight where it needed to be and built something entirely new around it.
I was happy to get to the show at 8 a.m., before the crowds arrived, because I was able to get some really nice morning light coming in through the factory windows.
The son of Zeus, Hermes, was the god of travelers, trickery, and roads. Why not honor him with a minibike build?
Pie Cut Welds!
I loved being able to get up close and personal with the bike that Travis Pastrana used to do a bunch of jumps in Las Vegas last July. I was there to see that event live, but I never really got to see what made that special bike tick.
And a bike that probably deserves its own wing in a museum of design somewhere is the Ducati-based Earle Alaskan. Alex Earle built the bike of his dreams, a middleweight ADV bike with everything you need and nothing you don’t.
Based on Ducati’s 803cc L-twin found in the Scrambler, this bike takes things to the next level with two fuel tanks, (the tail panel is the reserve tank) a winch, and bigger beefier Pirelli tires.
Alex took the bike for a massive two-week journey across its namesake Alaska as soon as it was finished, just to see if it would make it. Most custom bike builders don’t go ripping off into the wilderness on untested parts, but I guess what’s the point in a test if it doesn’t actually stress the limits of the bike’s abilities?
If you’re a two-wheeled enthusiast, or even if you aren’t, you should make it a point to go to this next year. I look forward to making the pilgrimage back.
I was a passive bike enthusiast before this trip, but I’m pretty much hooked now. If you don’t want an expensive new hobby, maybe stay away.