The One Motorcycle Show

Motorcycle culture is alive and well in Portland.

By Thomas Kinzer, Photography by Thomas Kinzer, Andy Cherney

More than 10,000 people rolled through The One Motorcycle Show in Portland in February-or at least that's the best guess, since admission is free and nobody is really counting. This is Portlandia, after all.

It's significant that the show is free because the quality and variety of bikes on display are unmatched. With everything from bizarre customs to pristine antiques, it would be nearly impossible to swing a be-koozied PBR around without hitting a bike that you found at least interesting.

There were some wonderfully weird bikes, such as the upsweep-fishtailed, unit Triumph swingarm chopper with two plate glass fly screens, one blue and one red. The Open Road has probably never looked more rosy than from that banana seat! Other great oddballs included a nicely executed, stretched Honda CT90 custom and an early Honda Gold Wing modified into an adventure-touring machine.

And if weird isn't your thing, you could inspect an entire row of 13 absolutely perfect original Kawasaki H1s lined up next to a cutaway of a MotoCzysz engine. Keep swinging that PBR and you're likely to hit café racers, bobbers, old-school choppers, custom sportbikes, and vintage British singles. There's truly something for everyone at The One Show. (Oh, one notable and welcome exception would be someone looking for the chromed-out, fat tire choppers that still somehow litter display areas at other events. That someone would notice the utter absence of such machines.)

Beyond the motorcycles, there were also several art exhibits to check out. "21 Helmets" is a helmet art exhibit that is a running part of the show with entries such as an open face with a wood visor and tiled with a burnt wood mosaic, and another with a clever graphic of a final drive chain arranged to look like a brain. Other motorcycle-themed painting and photography exhibits rounded out the mix, each one engaging in its own right.

Still bored? In keeping with Portland's continuing obsession with food trucks, (and now apparently everything-else trucks) a tattoo truck was slotted up into the event doorway. Insert yet another Portlandia reference of your choice here.

Even with all of this to see and do, the real star of the show wasn't the machines or the exhibits-it was the unpretentious, laid-back atmosphere. The super casual, feel-good vibe of the event is more than just a side effect of the low cost of admission or geography. It lies at the core of the show's entire premise. Extend the simple pleasure of hanging out in the garage with some buddies, having a beer, looking at, and talking about motorcycles; into a full-on motorcycle show.

By Thomas Kinzer
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