The 9th Quail Motorcycle Gathering took place last weekend, and I was finally lucky enough to attend for the first time. Despite the cold weather, the event more than lived up to my hopes, even if I only had two hours to wade through 350 motorcycles. Our stringer, Geoff Drake, covered the event and the winners that were chosen by people who are experts about historic motorcycles, so you should definitely check that out. This article includes my subjective favorites from the Quail, purely the result of my quirky mechanical tastes. So, let’s see what tickled my fancy.

The Ninth Annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering

8. 1968 MZ ES 250/2 Trophy


As a fan of 1950s science fiction movies, the MZ ES 250/2 Trophy captured my attention as soon as I walked into the Gathering. That headlight and front fender are made for a rider in a space suit!

7. 1985 Yamaha RZ500


This RZ500 is clearly the product of a twisted mind. What else could explain this four cylinder two-stroke wrapped in R6 bodywork? Consequently, it earns a place on my personal Quail selection.

6. 1980 Honda Factory Prototype CX500 Flat Tracker


051517-quail-favorites-78091980-honda-factory-prototype-cx500-flat-tracker-detailThe CX500 Flat Tracker caught my eye because it, too, is the product of some deranged thinking. Who takes a transverse V-Twin and switches it around to the traditional layout? Well, Honda R&D builder, Jerry Griffith, who was creating the first drafts of what would ultimately become the ill-fated Honda NS750, which was the bike that Honda built before it learned how to be competitive in dirt track racing. Look at all the welding required on the cases. Then there are the issues that had to be overcome on the intakes. Clever work here. What you can’t see are the internal cooling system issues that would cause it to overheat and lose power mid-race.

5. 1988 Norton Classic Rotary


This Norton Classic Rotary was in a display of several rotary-engined motorcycles. While I could attempt to wax rhapsodic over an engine platform that could have been, I really chose this bike so that I could type Wankel. Wankel, Wankel, Wankel.

4. IVI CBX Titanium


If you’re going to customize a classic bike, like a Honda CBX 1000, you might as well go all out. Punching the engine out to 1150cc and fitting it with six straight titanium pipes is a start. Fold in a custom steel tube with aluminum spars frame, and you’ve got a ticket to cool town.

3. 1991 BMW Alpha


051517-quail-favorites-77881991-bmw-alpha-detailThis BMW also appeals to my retro-Sci-Fi sensibilities – only magnified by a factor of 10. One part Star Wars speeder bike and two parts vintage Buck Rogers, this BMW K75-powered bike is supposedly capable of generating 20° of lean before the pretty hard parts touch down.

2. 1995 Britten V1000 #10


Because it is the first Britten V1000 I’ve ever seen in the flesh. One of only ten Brittens made, this is a rare example of where motorcycling state-of-the-art came, not from the big OEMs, but rather a collective of devoted motorcyclists in New Zealand. My biggest disappointment of the Gathering was that I wasn’t present when the owner fired up this beast.

1. 1970 BSA Two-Engine Drag Bike


In a single-focused pursuit of lower ETs, the twin-engined BSA drag bike appeals to my function over form sensibilities. The irony is that the form ends up being pretty sexy in its own right. I first saw this bike on a pallet deep within the bowels of the Harley-Davidson Museum last year as it was being prepared for shipping home after a history of drag racing exhibit. Seeing it in all its glory surrounded by other cool bikes was the capper of the show for me.