Motorcycles

The One Moto Show is the best motorcycle show you've never been to

I found the real heart of motorcycle culture in America during a snowstorm in Portland, Oregon.

The 2019 One Moto show is a celebration of motorcycles (as well as their riders and builders) of every shape, color size and style.

Kyle Hyatt/Roadshow

The See See Motors' 10th annual One Moto Show was a celebration of custom motorcycle culture in its myriad forms. This year's show was housed in a disused warehouse in Portland, Oregon, called the Pickle Factory, and the variety of bikes on display was a real testament to the kind of inclusive motorcycle culture that I've grown to love dearly. The show has choppers parked next to cafe racers, adventure bikes parked next to mini bikes. Big egos are relegated to parking outside in the rain.

The One Show is the brainchild of See See founder (and the guy that did the minibike 360 ramp on Jackass) Thor Drake. Drake looks like the lanky lovechild of Peter Stormare and Steve Zissou and is a nearly ubiquitous presence at both the One Show and the 1Pro Super Hooligan race held later that weekend.

Despite the show changing dramatically over the last decade -- you have to pay to get in, for example, and big corporate sponsors like Indian are participating -- it still managed to capture not only what's so appealing about motorcycle culture but also appeal to a vast variety of people. Friday night was all loud music and beer-soaked flannel-wearing folks, while Saturday morning was a much more quiet, family oriented and kid-friendly vibe.

Among my favorite bikes at the show were a highly customized Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled built by Alex Earle of Earle Motors. The Alaskan, as it's called, was turned into a hardcore dual-sport/ADV bike with additional fuel tanks, carbon fiber skid plates, and swingarm extensions, and then ridden from California to Alaska and displayed in as-ridden condition.

Also pretty high on the list for me was a flat track racing motorcycle built from the guts of an Alta Motors electric dirtbike. Its clean, simple lines and low stance were perfect, while its instant torque and low center of gravity probably make it fast as all hell around a dirt oval.

The rest of the One Moto was a mishmash of vendors like Velomacchi (known for its super smart motorcycling backpacks) and Stellar Moto (one of several woman-owned motorcycle clothing companies in attendance) and food trucks. Portland band Black Mountain (a band high in the ranking for best album cover ever) played and cheap domestic lagers flowed in abundance, with branded beer koozies available in plenty to complete your Portland cosplay look.

The One Show is one of a handful of custom bike shows in the US that celebrate this style of handbuilt, creative and inclusive bike culture. I also highly recommend The Handbuilt Show in Austin, Texas, and Mama Tried in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The 1Pro Super Hooligan race is the season opener for the Super Hooligan series that takes place all over the US.

Sam Schneider/Indian Motorcycle

The 1Pro Super Hooligan Race: Fist fights and giant foam cowboy hats

The 1Pro race was the big closing event of the One Show weekend. Sure, it involved an hour-long trip south down Interstate 5 to Salem, Oregon, to freeze in a big shed, but in return, I got to experience some of the most incredible grassroots racing available in America right now. The 1Pro is the season opener for the Super Hooligan race series, put on by Indian Motorcycle and dreamt up by moto-man-about-town Roland Sands.

What exactly is Super Hooligan? It's a form of flat track-style racing done on shorter circuits (think one-tenth- and eighth-mile tracks, rather than mile-long ones), with more classes for lower stakes and is targeted primarily at semi-professional and amateur riders.

Super Hooligan bikes are based on minimally modified street machines like the Indian Scout or the Ducati Scrambler, but most of the racing in lower classes is done on modified single-cylinder, off-road bikes. There are also two-stroke classes, and there's even a class of 50cc pull-start pit bikes sponsored by the Gambler 500.

The experience was loud and rowdy, and an excellent representation of the camaraderie that makes motorcycle culture so appealing. The racers themselves ranged from adult men in leather onesies to women in dirt-bike gear to kids barely old enough for grade school. The racing in all the classes was close and aggressive and incredible.

It's super easy to become disillusioned with motor sports in America these days. It's expensive and can often feel exclusive or exclusionary, but this kind of grassroots, low-buck, flat-track racing seems like the ideal tonic for that. You can build or buy a race bike for very little money, buy some safety gear and compete with people from all over the country. Showing up is half the battle, and it feels like a community of people that supports one another.

The 1Pro showed me that the dream of racing is still alive in America. And I'm already looking at crappy, cheap bikes on Craigslist so I can try it myself.