In 2007, a group of SoCal vintage bike enthusiasts were looking for a good party complete with cool bikes, tasty grub, cold brew and hot music. Not finding what they wanted and energized with backgrounds in a variety of professions – graphic artists, engineers, musicians, film makers, bike builders, computer geeks – they decided to build the party themselves.
And that’s how the Venice Vintage Motorcycle Club was founded, which over the years has orchestrated one of Southern California’s most popular bike events, the Venice Vintage Motorcycle Rally. The eighth-annual shindig was held Sept 19, staged at the junction of Venice Boulevard and Abbot Kinney, just a stone’s throw from the Santa Monica Pier and the scenic Pacific Coast Highway. Several hundred bikes massed for the pre-event ride, the largest congregation of motorcycles in the show’s history. Ten bucks got you into the party.
Big presence this year were two famous marques, Indian and BMW. Indian pitched in as one of the show’s sponsors, while BMWs appeared in a variety of show-winning forms. The VVMC’s longstanding guiding force and human dynamo, Brady Walker, again orchestrated another milestone VVMC event, ably assisted by his fellow club members.
This rider/writer has attended all eight events and has always been pleased as punch to discover uniquely cool vintage, classic and custom bikes and the equally cool people that go with them, not to mention a never-ending surprise package of creative talent. So, without further ado, here’s Paul’s Picks and Pix, as well as the VVMR’s bike show winners, all entries at least 30 years old.
Arriving early, I instantly spotted my prediction for Best of Show Winner. Call me clairvoyant. The project started when Max Dumaz of Santa Clarita bought the leather saddlebags and then decided to build a bike for them.
Four years went into the design and construction by Max Dumaz of his Barnsdorffer 650 Speedster, a hybrid melding of 450/600/650 Honda engines plus copper bodywork, Yamaha, Harley, Joker Machine and 3-D printing of parts … a true one of a kind. Custom copper fenders cost $500 a pop, and Max had to buy three. And, yes, the bike went on to win Best of Show.
“I build Frankenstein bikes for a hobby, 10 so far,” says Max. “I literally finished it last night when someone told me about the show, so I decided to bring it and see what would happen.”
Seamless interface of three engines convinced VVMC judges they were looking at exceptional engineering, not to mention dedication. The bike shifts through a 4-speed XR tranny, one gear removed from the original five in order to make it fit, the motor now bumped up to 701cc with a Falicon rod and big cam. “I added the shield to that single carb because it backfired once and almost burned off my testicles.”
Indian had commissioned a series of concept bikes, and a stellar example appearing at the event was a Scout re-imagined by Jeb Scolman as a Bonneville racer. A vintage Batman would look great on this bike.
The two-stroke 1970 Kawi custom that brought smiles and the bike show trophy for owner Caroline Paterson from Pasadena, who coincidentally is a close friend of Brady Walker, emcee of the bike awards.
“When I first got it, the bike was set up for the dirt, and I rode in (the dirt) a lot,” says Caroline. “I even went to Japan with it and then decided; let’s make a chopper out of it. This bike wouldn’t be anything without Ron One Two Many’s seat, and I found the ape hangers at the Barber Museum event swap meet. My boyfriend happened to surprise me with a new tank and side panels.”
“Miss Thriller” is name of radical café racer designed and built by Spirit Lake Cycles in L.A. Based on an R100/7 BMW merged with GSX-R suspension parts including monoshock rear end. The shop specializes in custom BMWs and had won Best of Show at previous VVMC event.
Okay, you can call this scooter a Pig because its name, Cezeta, translates to porker in Czechoslovakia when the country was still around, the place of its birth in 1957. Even the clock still works. In fact, owner Paul Greenstein has three of them, picked up in Germany some nine years ago. He says when it runs, it smells like bacon. Or maybe I just made that up.
Owner Paul Greenstein says the bike’s fragments were found outside Goldfield, Nevada. A trucker friend of his had stepped out to take a leak in the desert when he spotted a shallow depression with a bunch of junk including the Indian frame.
The Small Twin wasn’t popular as a seller when new, since Indian offered big Singles and Twins, so few of these bikes survived to the present, making them rare. Asked how fast you could go on it, Greenstein says, “If safety was a factor, just about as fast as you could push it. It’s an extremely sketchy bike to ride because there’s no clutch and virtually no brake, so you basically hang on. But it is good for about 45. Back in 1910 there were few cars, no stops signs or traffic lights, no right of way. And then this bike was state of the art.”
Back in the day, these would’ve been called minibikes, but Honda’s 125cc street-legal Grom is just so cool I want to hug it. Yes, it’s on my leaky bucket list.
Says owner Jerry, “It’s a ’78 Yamaha XS650 but I call it a XS Six Filthy. It took me three years to put together after buying the gas tank. I ride it everywhere. It’s got suicide clutch and hand-shift and my skateboard if I need backup. My favorite piece is the one-off CycleResin.com Jesus taillight.”
Marco’s “Mad Maxified” 1980 Honda CB650 custom was built in just two months at his El Diablo shop in Los Angles. Features include massive shotgun-style velocity stack/carb setup, vintage DeSoto hood ornament tank art, acetylene headlamp, spark plug-studded rear fender and car snow tire.