The 2017 Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club Show at Daytona Bike Week

A cool collection of vintage Japanese motorcycles at this year's Bike Week in Daytona.

Honda CB750 SOHC
Early CB750 with the flip-up-tail seat. When I was a kid, David Howell used to roar around the neighborhood on this exact bike.Photo: Joe Gresh

Twenty Seventeen's Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club event held in Eustis, Florida was a sparse yet earnest affair. Held during Bike Week ever since I can remember the entry list always waxed and waned depending on wind direction but moving the AHRMA Daytona vintage motorcycle races to October and eliminating the vintage motorcycle auction at Stetson University's basketball court has seemed to dampen enthusiasm more broadly.

Penton 125 Six Days
A slippery-transmissioned Sachs 125 powered this forest green, Jack Penton signed 6-Day Trials bike.Photo: Joe Gresh

What remained was a slim-ish selection of choice Japanese iron parked inside a large fairground building. Surrounding the building were vendors selling mostly Harley-Davidson parts. As an experiment I should start marking that Harley stuff in some obscure way: I swear I recognize some of those parts from twenty years ago. The few Japanese bikes up for grabs were priced for a stronger economy, like a basket LC350 in rough shape for $1500! I didn't see a single bike I would purchase but then I'm notoriously thrifty.

Honda CB350-F
Honda’s smallest 4-banger. These were slow as molasses. My two-cylinder, 1962 305 Dream would walk them in a drag race. This engine morphed into the highly collectable CB400 sport bike.Photo: Joe Gresh

Don’t get the wrong idea, I enjoyed the show and the bikes on display were clean examples. There was a Penton 125 6-Days signed by John Penton, a sweet Kawasaki 350 3-pot screaming meany next to Honda’s milder 350-4. The show is free to attend which is a rare thing during Daytona’s Bike Week and the weather was beautiful.

Kawasaki 350
Not as good as a RD350 but much cooler, the 350, 3-cylinder Kawasaki is fairly rare these days. In my youth, I custom painted a 350. It was orange with gold fish scales on the sides of the tank but applied the scales in the wrong direction. The customer, Weed, was ok with it after I cut the price down to $15.Photo: Joe Gresh

In a perfect world I’d like to see show participation stepped up, more Japanese-part vendors and a wider selection of food trucks. The VJMC holds their show very early in the Bike Week schedule. Things are just getting started and the VJMC is already over. I’m thinking moving the event towards the heart of Bike Week action may increase the rolling stock and attendance but even if VJMC does nothing I’ll keep showing up. The VJMC show is one of those undiscovered Bike Week gems happening all over the Daytona region. I’ll see you there next year.

Gas tanks motorcycle swap meet
Lots of tanks for sale at the swap meet. Prices were ok on some stuff but most were Fantasy Land.Photo: Joe Gresh
Flat Head Flat Tracker
Sweet 883cc, 1954 KHK flat tracker. This was Harley’s pre-Sportster attempt at a British bike beater.Photo: Joe Gresh
Indian Big Block Cruiser
Indian’s big, 80 cubic inch flat head cruiser. This is the model Polaris patterned their new Chief model after. Note the down pipes and pushrod tube angle mimicked in the new Indian engine.Photo: Joe Gresh
Indian Engine
Where else but the VJMC swap meet will you find brand new Scout engines for sale? The aftermarket supplies enough bits to recreate these engines from new parts.Photo: Joe Gresh