The One Motorcycle Show 2017 Report

Alicia Mariah Elfving
by Alicia Mariah Elfving

Portland's hipster bike show becomes even more popular

Each year thousands of motorcyclists and motorheads flock to the rainy town of Portland, Oregon, from all over the continent and even the world to see more than 100 custom bikes of all styles on display. The final count of attendees to the 8th-annual One Motorcycle Show over the February 10th weekend was 17,000, with another 2,000 at the 1 Moto Pro flat-track races on Sunday.

Why so popular? Well, the crew from See See Motorcycles & Coffee created the show with a specific idea in mind: “Take all the knowledge you have accumulated and build a machine that encompasses your vision of the ideal bike. The ONE motorcycle.”

Decades of patina on the 1928 Indian in the foreground, with a Flying Merkel board-tracker tribute built around a single-cylinder engine from a Yamaha XT500 behind.

You could ask a few hundred motorcyclists what their ideal motorcycle is and never get the exact same answer. Because it’s so subjective, the show cultivates a massive range of motorcycle builds – you’ll see a Honda Trail 70 with an up-cycled chain hand-shifter next to an Indian Prince that’s nearing 100 years old. Some bikes were pulled out of a barn, loaded into a truck, and parked in the warehouse. Others are ground-up builds with custom frames and incredible engine modifications. All are works of art on wheels.

Vintage race bikes line an upstairs wall beneath art by Carter Asmann.

Roaming through the two-story 130,000-square-foot warehouse, motorcycles were lined up along every wall, tucked into every corner, filling up every room. As you followed the flow of foot traffic, winding your way past vendor booths and themed show areas built into the existing architecture, it felt like a motorcycle funhouse. Upstairs featured an electric minibike race track, Harley-Davidson room, Icon 1000 area and VIP builder room (complete with velvet ropes), vintage racing room, and art vendor area.

Five food trucks parked outside by the front gate, Sizzle Pie served up their famous pizza, and See See provided coffee and drinks (including an amazing Hot Toddy for $6). During the days, families walked around with kids eyes sparkling at the cool machines; at nights the live bands kicked the party into gear. There may be a month-long Pabst shortage in the Pacific Northwest.

The spectacle of Saturday Night Awards should not be missed at the One Show; some big wigs in the motorcycle industry come out of the sea of faces where they once could blend and simply be another motorcyclist in the crowd. Ola Stenegard (BMW Motorrad designer from Germany), Gary Inman (Sideburn Magazine’s Creative Director from England), Japanese photographer Tadashi Kono, and David Borras of El Solitario in Spain are just a few from this year.

1948 Whizzer, the moped-making bicycle adaptor kit.

The show is completely free to attend, so See See counts on sponsors, donations, and apparel sales to turn a profit and continue their show every year. They work with a photographer to catalog show bikes and release them in coffee table books with build notes, specs, and more. Watching the event grow over the years has been really impressive – they’ve created this little motorcycle heaven where you can mingle with builders, press, and two-wheel-loving kindred spirits.

This resto-modded Katana is a tasty creation of the Icon apparel crew.

The city of Portland is very friendly for out of towners who want to trek to the show, with lots of inexpensive and nice hotel or AirBnB options, amazing food, and cheap drinks. Taxis, Uber/Lyft, and rental cars are cheap and plentiful… or public transit is clean and can take you pretty much anywhere. In other words, you have no excuse not to add the One Moto Show to your list of events for next year.

Perhaps the best conversation starter at the show was this bobber built around a Honda CX500 engine by Salt City Builds and website
Finding new ways to stash big parts, MotoMucci’s radiator and headlight grill.
Here’s the electric-powered Redshift ST street tracker concept from Alta Motors.
A Lars Topelmann build with lots of tough frame and bar bends.
A 1975 Suzuki T500 converted into a GP replica racer from Justin Weber.
No offbeat moto show would be complete without a go-everywhere surfboard hauler, this one a Yamaha XT500 by Project Moto.
See See Motorcycles and KTM made a lil’ Portlandy camp scene to promote their new See See x KTM shop.
Danner Boots brought their shop feel into the vendor area with stumps and a wee trailer. Because Portland!
Kawasaki cafe racer built by Sofi Tsingos of GT-Moto in Texas.
The “widowmaker” Kawasaki H1 Mach III 500 Triple, modified so that suspension and brakes just might be able to keep up with the power from its two-stroke engine.
Alicia Mariah Elfving
Alicia Mariah Elfving

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  • Inked Iron Inked Iron on Feb 24, 2017

    Great article, Alicia! It was a fantastic show, as always.

  • Juliet Bravo Juliet Bravo on Feb 24, 2017

    Loved the show, loved the venue, location, people, vendors, food. Didn't love the photo-journalist pushing through with all their gear trying to get photos in the middle of Saturday. One lady had a tripod set up blocking much of a hallway. Why can't the pro photo types be admitted at a non-public time to do their thing? At least get there early.