Get Your Motor Runnin' at One of These Handbuilt Motorcycle Shows

Motorcycle trends, engineering and tradition are on display all across America at these DIY shows and rallies.

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Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski

Americana on the Open Road

There are just a few things that can conjure up the feeling of freedom in our digital society, and a motorcycle is near the top of that small list. Long lonesome highways, hair-raising mountain passes and scenic back roads are all best explored on a motorcycle. Perhaps that is why they have such a connection with independence and Americana. There is a resurgence in the handbuilt motorcycle world as of late and events showcasing these one-of-a-kind bikes have been popping up in cities all across the country. From Austin, TX and Portland, OR to Saint Paul, MN and Carmel, CA, here's where to go to see one-of-a-kind motorcycles.

Wall of Death

The hallmark event at many motorcycle shows is the thrilling "Wall of Death". Constructed entirely out of wood, this 30-foot wide cylinder harkens back to old carnival days where death-defying acts were part of the draw. Standing shoulder to shoulder with other spectators you can look down on the riders as they ride and perform tricks on the completely vertical walls. Click here to find out which motorcycle gathering these daredevils will be performing at next.

Dollar Grab

Here you can see one of the signature tricks performed on the Wall of Death at the Leesburg Bike Fest. This trick is called the dollar grab; the rider will literally ride near the top edge of the wall and grab dollar bills right out of people’s hands. Many of these custom motorcycle shows have turned into so much more than just a place to look at unique bikes, they offer a weekend of art, culture and music that draw spectators from all over the country.

Custom Creations on Display

The One Moto Show in Portland, Oregon is one of the longest running custom motorcycle shows in the country. Bringing builders from all over the globe, this event is one of the originals and it inspired some of the more traditional rallies to add handmade shows to their event calendars. Here you can see a testament to just how far a builder can go when they let their imagination run wild.

Creme de la Creme

In Austin, Texas, the folks at Revival Cycles have put together a show that aims to inspire and awe displaying only truly one-of-a-kind motorcycles. With a close attention to detail, this show is a bit smaller than some because they comb over their submissions selecting only the very best in the custom world. This BMW is an example of what can be seen at a show like this; a motorcycle that has been completely torn down and rebuilt to be used as a drag racing bike.

Rare Antiques on Display

One of the legendary brands you’ll find at these shows is Indian. Produced from 1901 until 1953, you’d be hard-pressed to find many in running condition these days, but the bikes at these handbuilt shows are a totally different story. Beautifully restored Indians, some almost 100 years old, are on display.

Masters Craftspeople

Bike builders aren’t the only ones showing off their handiwork during show weekends. At events like the Donnie Smith Car and Bike Show in Saint Paul, MN, you'll find craftspeople like pinstripers, patch makers, leatherworkers offering their goods and services to those who are looking to customize their gear.

Not Just Motorcycles

All these builders need a way to get their motorcycles to these rallies; so parked out front you’re bound to see vans and trucks that are just as beautiful as the bikes that you’ll find inside.

See Classics Modernized

The Progressive International Motorcycle Show is a testament to how a small community of bike builders showing off their work has grown into a nationwide phenomenon. Moving from coast to coast with seven total stops, this handbuilt show features motorcycles from over 350 builders. Here you can see how some builders use modern elements on vintage designs. Using older bikes as a base they incorporate modern electronics, suspensions and tires to create something that is not only visually stunning but also capable of holding up to the demands of riders.

Helmet Art

Beyond motorcycles, these shows give both local and worldwide artists a chance to show off their work. Paintings, photographs and handpainted helmets are on display, showing just how deep this culture runs.

History Celebrated

Yes, these shows are all about custom-made motorcycles, but that doesn’t mean respect can’t be paid to bikes that started it all. The Quail Motorcycle Gathering in Carmel, California pays homage to the evolution of the motorcycle. Honoring the bikes that created the original motorcycle craze, you can view vintage classics in all their glory at this event.

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