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Throttle Jockey: Custom cool, Portland flavor at The One Motorcycle Show

Six years ago, with the economy in the toilet, a bunch of motorcycle-obsessed folks in Portland, including some denizens of the burgeoning DIY (because it was just too expensive to have “someone else do it”) bike building scene, decided to get some of their friends together who had “individualized” their machines and have a little motorbike show.

They gathered together some ratty home-built projects, some classic restorations, a few clean customs, some everyday rides and added some local music. And a few beers. OK, a lot of beers. They called it the One Motorcycle Show, and they spread the bikes across a few floors of a hard-to-find warehouse space in one of North Portland’s industrial districts.

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Word went out on nascent social media platforms and through local bike scene channels, and they really didn’t seem to care if anyone showed up or not. Of course, thousands of people turned out, likely helped by the admission fee: free, which, in Portland, is a very good price.

The One Motorcycle Show quickly took its place in Portland‘s Keepin’ It Weird lexicon and grew over the next six years. But not much really changed; it’s still free to get in, it still takes place in a warehouse and there’s no shortage of good music, beverages or people cramming in to check out the bikes.

The show’s sponsor list has grown over time to include Portland-based motorcycle fashion/gear maker Icon and several others, and the One Show, as it’s known locally, is now on the motorcycle industry’s radar.

This year’s show coincided with a rare stretch of dry February weather in Portland, so by the time I arrived, the line of people waiting to get in was around the block. Hundreds of enthusiasts were arriving by bike, so those of us in the queue actually got a bit of a public show while waiting.

Once inside the former physical plant, which still housed some impressively large machinery, show goers were treated to a palette of bikes spread across 22,000 square feet of floor space, a wide selection of beverage choices and multiple bands.

But the bikes still rule, and while examples like a custom Indian from Roland Sands and Triumph’s speed-questing streamliner (built in Portland) garner a lot of attention, the most interesting bikes on display still spring from the garages and imaginations of local builders working with tiny budgets, piecing together their version of what a motorcycle should and could be, if they could have only One.

The One Motorcycle Show, No. Five: Part 1 from See See Motor Coffee Co. on Vimeo.

All photos by Bill Roberson

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