Talk about your mixed media. The seventh-annual Venice Vintage Motorcycle Rally welcomed bikes and riders of all stripes, and polka dots, ribbons, bows, tattoos, skinny jeans, Esther Williams bathing suits, porkpie hats, retro, techno, punk, funk, goth and every fashion statement in between.

As the last of Southern California’s sleazy beach towns, Venice maintains much of the hippie ambience it’s held for 50 years. Bordered by tony Marina del Rey and upscale Santa Monica, the Venice boardwalk is still the unreconstructed beach bum at the party. And the obvious locus for a swinging celebration of SoCal motorheads.

This Dogtown gumbo of brassy babes, rockin’ bands and bitchin’ bikes is steamed up by the Venice Vintage Motorcycle Club, and produced by Brady Walker, TV audio engineer by day, vintage road racer and multi-media production maven the rest of the time. The jumbo parking lot venue, a few blocks from the beach, usually hosts the regular farmers market and doubles as a homeless campsite. Good land use planning.

BMW K100

Larry Romestant’s custom BMW K100 debuted at the Quail Motorcycle Gathering in the spring. His next build will use a monoshock version of the Velocette-style adjustment design.

The Saturday morning ride could have been mistaken for a casting call for a new mystical surreality show, “Mad Max meets the Sons of Anarchy,” with a mix of ’60s-style cafe racers, choppers, customs and sportbikes. Most riders geared up in period-appropriate attire, so the run to Malibu and back attracted some attention.

By far the most popular engines across the custom/cafe/cruiser/bobber spectrum are the early Honda CB Twins and Fours. And the BMW Boxer is showing up in more special builds. The appearance of several restored vintage and classic machines made for an entertaining variety show.

Roger DeCoster RM370

The Man’s race bike. World MX Champion Roger DeCoster rode this RM370 in 1975.

Among the vendors, Alpinestars won the size award with a large showroom tent, and this reporter’s nostalgia prize for Roger DeCoster’s 1975 Suzuki RM370 motocrosser. (Still have photos of him on it at Carlsbad.) Rev’It had a nice inflatable arch enclosure, and down in the corner near the bandstand sat an unobtrusive mini-bar with a sign reading “American Born Moonshine.” That’s right, gents. Right across from Sailor Jerry’s rum-running Airstream trailer, you could have a taste of genuine corn likker out of a Mason jar. (Well, a replica with a pour spout.) Plus, just across the way, next to the barbecued pork and tri-tip sandwiches, was the Angel City Brewery booth, with some high-hop IPA. Beginning to sound like a party?

The show bikes were lined up in the alley between the vendor booths in a stretched horseshoe profile. The Best Of categories included Japanese, British, American, European, Custom, Race Inspired and Ugliest. Entry fee was only 10 bucks. The afternoon awards presentation was followed by the Miss Venice Vintage Pinup Contest. Four bands kept the place rockin’ all day, and they all could play!

Kyle McClure

Kyle McClure of Bartels’ Harley-Davidson finds himself surrounded by babes dressed the way his grandmother did.

The Venice Vintage Motorcycle Club is an active bunch, with few rules: Ride a bike made before 1978, attend club functions for a year to establish membership, and “don’t be a major tool.”

Walker and his crew put in some long hours to pull this show off, and plenty of coordination with the city, police, vendors and volunteers shows in the result. That it’s been running for seven years indicates the effort has paid off. And Venice makes the perfect showcase for the motorcycling kaleidoscope that is southern California. As you can see in the visuals.

1939 R35

The early BMW Singles are among the most prized examples of the German marque.
This is a 1939 R35.

Captain Electica

David Toomey entered his electric bicycle in the Custom class. “Captain Electrica” has
the battery pack arranged in V-Twin style.

Cell Phone

This should be a national slogan for all riders.

Rat Duc Cafe Racer

An original cafe racer from 1975, the Rat Duc. It was on the block but went unsold.

Gearhead

This 1987 BMW R65 was a good expression of the total gearhead theme.

Girl

“Hi there! Good to see you too!”

1955 Royal Enfield Bullet

A tasty restoration of a 1955 Royal Enfield Bullet by Chappell Customs of Chatsworth.

 

Harley-Davidson Hummer

Fugly award went to this Sixties Harley-Davidson Hummer. For sale at only $3000!

1920 Harley-Davidson JD

Best American went to Thad Wolff’s 1920 Harley JD. The fire extinguisher is
a nice touch.

Hello Sailor

“Hello, sailor. Know where a girl can get a drink around here?”

1960 Royal Enfield/Indian

This 1960 Royal Enfield/Indian was badged as an Indian for the American market.

1973 Honda CB750

A 1973 Honda CB750 built by Kott Motorcycles was entered in the Cafe class. Tasty.

1972 MV Agusta 350 Sport

Best European went to the 1972 MV Agusta 350 Sport owned by Roy Nolan of Ireland.

Shine

Him: “That’s a nice bathing suit, miss. Would you like some moonshine?”
Her (thinking): “My, my. This fella has some nice pecs on him.”

BMW R90

The custom BMW R90 from Spirit Lake Cycles in Los Angeles was awarded Best in Show.

Sterling Auto Cycle

The prototype of the Sterling Auto Cycle was built in Italy using a modern 230cc pushrod engine. A diesel-powered sidecar rig is also in the works.

Yamaha XS650

Yet another application of the Yamaha XS650, complete with skateboard carrier. Jesus decal on the tank says Praise the Lowered.

Winners

Promoter Brady Walker lines up the winners. Left to right: Yamaha TZ250 road racer, Dean Slater’s 1975 Kawasaki Z1, 1965 BSA 441 Victor.

Author

The author does his part to promote AMA Flat Track racing in Pomona. Always glad to help out.

Trike

Among the very cutest was this Triumph-powered trike. It just happened to win the Best Custom award.

Sailor Jerry 1939 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead

In addition to his stylish Airstream, Sailor Jerry displayed his 1939 Harley Knucklehead
with company brand identification.

Honda CB350 Raffle

The winner of the custom Honda CB350 raffle bike celebrates with a few friends.

  • Goose

    Great stuff, Uncle Tod. Thanks.

  • Backroad Bob

    Just exactly what were you helping her with?