The 2017 Rails & Roads Motorcycle Show was held yesterday and here are the results.
Before I dive into the numbers and pictures let me say thanks to all that came out to support the show, and to Tom McGrath’s Motorcycle Law Group who provided the trophies for the show.
I’d also like to acknowledge those who provided swag & door prizes, especially Carolina Honda in Columbia S.C. for the helmet & gloves that they provided. Thank you so much.
We gave out awards in 5 classes. We had trophies for 7 but no one with Kawasaki or a Suzuki showed up ( I guess they were afraid of all the Hondas ). Even so we still had at least 25 or 30 bikes in the show itself. All voting was done strictly by people choice and here are the results;
Class 1 American
2nd place went to a gentleman named Tony (last name escapes me) and his beautiful ’96 Harley Davidson Road King.
1st place went to Mark Fisher who brought out his wonderful 1941 Indian Chief pictured above.
Class 2 European/British
3rd place went to Daniel Horn with his original unrestored ’72 BSA Victor 250
2nd place went to Doug Parker & the very nice 77 Moto Guzzi Convertible that he rode to the show.
1st place went to Mark Fisher and the absolutely stunning 1952 Vincent Black Shadow shown at the beginning of this section.
Class 3 Honda This was the largest class with machinery ranging from 1964 all the way up to 1989.
3rd place went to Bryan Bentley and his 1964 C102 Cub.
2nd place went to Todd Brown & his wicked looking ’80 CB750SS Cafe Racer.
1st place went to Donald Wiseman & the well restored ’73 CL350 shown above.
Class 6 Yamaha
3rd place went to Tony Berry and his 1979 XS1100
2nd place went to Bryan Bentley and his little 2 stroke 1969 Y5
1st place went to Donald Wiseman who brought his unrestored original 1973 TX500 in the image above.
Class 7 The Freak Show; while mainly intended as a custom class it was also used as a catch-all class for orphaned Japanese makes as well.
2nd place went home with Mark Krengel & his Kikker 5150 Bobber
1st place was claimed by Jerry Cole who brought the fantastic little bike in the above picture a 1972 Hodaka Wombat 125.
Best of the Rails & Roads Motorcycle Show
The voting for this trophy was a tight race between two black motorcycles. My gut instinct told me that just like in the ’50s the only thing that would beat a Vincent was another Vincent. But when all the votes were counted Best of Show went to the stunning 1980 Honda CB750SS of Todd Brown. Featuring an upside down fork & other serious upgrades, including custom wire wheels (Honda’s funky old Comstars are stock on these bikes) it was a truly tasty custom. The best part of all? He rode it to the show and it sounds as good as it looks.
We’re really happy to report that we were able to raise $175 dollars that was donated to the S.C. Railroad Museum to help with the upkeep of the museum and its rolling stock.
We made a few missteps, adapted on the fly, learned some lessons and we plan to return to Winnsboro S.C. next year with an even bigger better Rails & Roads Motorcycle Show presented by the VJMC of The Carolinas.
As I drove around last Saturday to hand out flyers and solicit door prizes for the upcoming Rails and Roads Vintage Motorcycle Show(September 16th 2017 in Winnsboro SC) I stopped at a few dealerships and a few independent shops. In all places the welcomes were warm, but I noticed something very strange. In most cases there was almost no one in the stores besides the employees. When I worked at my local Honda dealership, every Saturday was a madhouse; an empty store on a Saturday was unheard of. It must have been inevitable that after decades of main stream success that it may be time for a rightsizing of the motorcycle industry.
Of course the recent news that Harley Davidson was going to layoff some production workers was something no one could have imagined 10-15 years ago. Before that Polaris announced the shuttering of their Victory motorcycle brand. The one bright spot in the market for Polaris is the success of the Indian brand that merged the solid technology of the Polaris company with an old legendary American brand name.
It’s not just cruisers, sport bike sales are off too. All across the market things are not as exciting as they used to be. The big 4 Japanese manufacturers are fortunate enough to have the ATV & side X side UTV market to keep them going, but even that segment has been affected by the tightening of the consumers spending habits. And this seems to be a global slide as the Nikkei Asian Review recently published an article entitled “The Motorcycle Becoming Thing of the Past.” According to this article, motorcycle sales in Japan are only 11% of what they once were. It’s sad to think that motorcycling is going away in the country that proved to the world that it was possible to build reliable, oil tight, powerful & lightweight motorcycles.
The bright spot in the world market for motorcycles is the increasing demand in India where according to the Times of India demand for 500cc and up motorcycles has increased at a 23% calculated annual growth rate from 2014 to 2017. This has led to a number of large players building factories there to pry some of this lucrative business away from Bajaj & Enfield.
Another happy trend is the vintage motorcycle industry. Although it is in very real danger of falling victim to the same over-exposure & over-saturation as the “American Chopper” crowd from a few years ago, right now the demand for genuine vintage motorcycles whether restored or customized in either the “café racer or “Bratstyle,”is extremely high. Now when you buy that old Japanese 4 or even small displacement twin you have to pay real money for it, if you don’t someone else will. A lot of motorcycle manufacturers have noticed this trend and now offer ready to ride retro style machines to allow you to experience the joy of vintage motorcycling without the misery of actually restoring a vintage motorcycle.
But the motorcycle companies are not the only ones that suffer from a soft demand for motorcycles, the Touratech company makers of some of the finest accessories for the adventure touring market filed for bankruptcy protection this year. This is yet another symptom of the rightsizing of the motorcycle industry. According to the Touratech U.S.A. blog operations will continue as normal during the company’s reorganization.
Motorcycle magazines are another thing hit hard by the rightsizing of the motorcycle industry. The audience is fickle even when times are booming it’s tough for publishers. Two of my all-time favorite motorcycle magazines came & went during the nineties at the height of the motorcycling boom in the U.S. The Old Bike Journal was one and the other was Twistgrip. Both of them came and went pretty quickly, The Old Bike Journal lasted longer because it had a broader audience, but both of these publications came and went during relatively good times.
Recently on Facebook, Buzz Kanter the publisher of American Iron Magazine shared his thoughts on the state of the industry giving some examples of how tough it is to survive and thrive in today’s market. I am going to share his exact words with you in the succeeding paragraphs. (Yes he generously granted permission for all to share them.)
“Call it Industrial Darwinism if you wish. But the business world is really all about the survival of the fittest. I have questioned for a few years how the motorcycle industry could support so many manufacturers, distributors and magazines. I now believe we are about to have a serious shift and downsizing.
I predict a growing number of changes in the motorcycle industry in the next year or so.
Too many motorcycle-industry businesses are over finanically over leveraged and will not be able to carry the debt. Others seem to be poorly managed. But others look healthy, creative and sustainable.
I expect more consolidation of big name motorcycle industry brands, some companies going out of buisness, and a very significant reduction of motorcycle magazines.
Paisano (Easyriders Magazine, V-Twin Magazine, Wrench Magazine, Road Iron Magazine) has announced they are folding all their motorcycle magazines except Easyriders, which they are reducing from 12 to 9 or 10 issues a year.
Bonnier (Cycle World Magazine, Motorcyclist Magazine,Hot Bike Magazine, Baggers Magazine, Sport Rider Magazine, etc) has been cutting back on their magazines’s sizes and frequencies. They just announced they are folding Sport Rider, and I expect more radical cuts in staff and product there.
So what does this all mean? I believe the motorcycle industry is ripe for a “rightsizing” where there will be a rebalancing of supply and demand. As demand for motorcycles, motorcycle parts and motorcycle services continue to decline, so does the financial support of those who serve these markets.
We at the growing family of American Iron media (American Iron Magazine, American Iron Garage, American Iron Salute, and American Iron Powermagazines, plus our growing on-line operations) are working hard to understand and react to these changes with strategic and creative ways. We’d like to thank everyone involved with the amazing world of motorcycles for your support as we move ahead into the future.
If you have read this far, I’d appreciate your reaction and suggestions, also please feel free to share this post.”
This is sobering stuff from an acknowledged industry leader. The cuts at Bonnier especially bug me because Cycle World is the only one I subscribe to and is the current home of my favorite motorcycle writer of all times Kevin Cameron, but time and the economy march on relentlessly so we must all adapt or die.
Now this all sounds like a lot of gloom and doom, but there could be a lot of positives to the rightsizing of the motorcycle industry. As motorcycling has grown and become more mainstream the many of the long time hardcore motorcycle enthusiasts (especially American motorcycle loyalists) have resented being taken for granted and seemingly being pushed aside as the dealers and motorcycle companies ran chasing after the hordes of trend followers who saw motorcycles as cool fashion accessories to be discarded when the next big thing comes along.
Another advantage is that the companies that survive the rightsizing will be more competitive and have a sounder financial footing for the future. I just hope the ones that do can produce products that I like and still stay in business.
Part of the problem with the motorcycle industry is enthusiasts like me, people with eclectic tastes in motorcycles that no one else but me really wants. The problem with modern motorcycling for me is there are so few motorcycles available that I would have. The short list in order by desirability is;
Triumph Bonneville Street Twin (Yes the 900cc version I’d never miss the other 300cc.)
Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer or Bobber (I prefer the Roamer with its chrome and 19” front wheel)
Honda CB1100 (This bike can do no wrong and would actually be my first choice for a cross country ride, it just blends into the background too easily.)
Honda Africa Twin (Only adventure bike I’d want)
Royal Enfield Bullet (Love the style, riding position etc. but I’d have to keep a Honda in the garage next to it, you know just in case.)
Look at this list other than the Triumph does anybody else want one? I must not want one too badly either, the newest bike I own is a scooter an 01 Honda Helix, the next newest one is a 1980 CB650, & the others are from 1964, 1971 & 1972. Too many people bitch on the internet about what they want but when someone builds it they don’t go buy it. I plead guilty as charged to that. Prices are too damn high, income is down, and my 37 year old ratbike is just as roadworthy & reliable as anything I can buy.
This friends leads to the real reason for the “rightsizing of the motorcycle industry”, the customers just aren’t buying. There are a million reasons why not. In my case personally it’s the value of what you get versus what you pay. I can sign the line and get any motorcycle I want, but quite frankly to me they’re not worth the cost. Others just simply don’t see anything new that they want even though they don’t mind spending the money. Plus many vintage bikes especially the Japanese ones are damn near as reliable as anything made today for a fraction of the cost once they get fettled properly. Combine this with a general decline in interest in the experience of driving by younger people it’s easy to see why the industry as a whole is downsizing. The customers just aren’t buying.
Friday at the Destination Eustis 2016 Motorcycle Show
There wasn’t really a lot going on yet when I rolled into the Destination Eustis 2016 Motorcycle Show early on Friday March 4th. So I went ahead and set up my base camp for the weekend. To stretch my budget this year, instead of staying in a hotel I decided to sleep on an air mattress in the back of the enclosed trailer. This actually made a decent camping arrangement as a simple tent heater kept it nice and cozy on the cool early spring nights.
Afterwards I went digging around the swap meet just to see what was there. I didn’t take as many pictures this year because I had an actual shopping list of parts that are needed for two very different bikes, one a 45 cubic inch Flathead Harley and the other a Honda CT70 Mini Trail. Didn’t find much for the mini but there were a couple of vendors that had some good deals on parts for the Flattie.
One of the absolute coolest things there was this little Model T replica for sale. The seller drove it around all over the place, and I hope some happy person took it home.
Other than a little shopping I just hung around the main exhibition hall and offered my meager assistance to the really hard working folks in the VJMC who were getting everything ready for the show on Saturday. Once darkness had fallen and supper was over it was time to retire to my little campsite and knock back a brew before turning in.
Saturday at the Destination Eustis 2016 Motorcycle Show
Fresh perked coffee early in the morning, sitting in a chair outside while cooking breakfast over a camp stove. The only way it could have gotten any better would be if my lovely partner had been there with me, but alas she had to work.
After making myself reasonably presentable it was time to head over to the main hall again and watch as the neat old bikes filed in to register for the show. Rather than trying to post them individually I put a few of them in a slideshow for you.
There were of course a few extra special bikes that really stood out and demonstrated that even though this may be one of the smaller “Bike Week” events it attracts some really high caliber machinery.
First up is an ultra rare Flying Merkel, who doesn’t enjoy seeing an old timer like this in good running order?
There have been a lot of custom cafe racer or muscle-bike style custom Goldwings showing up on the internet and it was great to see this wild ‘Wing show up to take home 1st place in the custom class.
No vintage motorcycle show is complete without at least one classic American racer, and the stunning Indian flat tracker fits the bill perfectly.
The Best Of Show award went to my friend Mike, who brought this absolutely immaculate 1975 Kawasaki Z1B. He restored this bike himself from a rusty derelict. Look for more pictures of this one in the next week or two.
One of the best things about going to a VJMC organized show is the fact that the judging is done by audience voting. This makes results almost completely unpredictable, and does away the bullshit & hurt feelings that result from selection by a panel of judges. I’d also like to acknowledge the hard work of the Vintage Motorcycle Alliance, they run the swap meet and set up the vendor areas and without them and the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club, this event would not be what it is.
Last weekend one of our local county council members & I took in a visit to the Darlington Dragway, our goal was to get an overview of the 2015 National Bikers Roundup and show all of the locals who were unnecessarily anxious about the presence of a large group of African-American bikers in our community. Folks, even at the Memorial Day Bikefest, the bikers are not the problem. The National Bikers Roundup organization, rented the venue, got all of the necessary permits, coordinated with local law enforcement, and had more than adequate event staff on hand to keep everything rolling smoothly. We had a blast check out the video & the pictures below!
I’m not going to write a lot in this post as I’d just be repeating a lot of what I’ve already said in the video.
Carolina Honda Powerhouse, hosted a really nice vintage motorcycle rally today (Saturday May 30th, 2015). While I plan to post a few pictures from that at a later time right now I am overwhelmed with the desire to share this fantastic custom. The owner shall remain nameless here, but he was willing to pose for a couple of pictures with his creation. First just let me give you the list of parts that make up this unique dirty chopper custom bitsa. (You know a few bits of this and a few bits of that, none of it matching but it all works together.)
The Triad Vintage Motorcycle club hosted their 9th annual Carolina Classic Motorcycle Show on May 2nd 2015. Mrs. Finch & I saddled up the old Suburban Assault Scrambler and rolled out of our driveway headed toward the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer N.C. Rather than running up on the super boring slab I plotted a course to Spencer that involved rolling up to Chesterfield, S.C. and picking up Highway 742 and rolling into N.C. and picking up U.S. 52 for the rest of the way into the Show.
Let me get started by praising the venue, the Transportation Museum is a very nicely laid out train museum with great parking for visitors and a really nice grassy area with paved pathways for the show grounds. Although you will see glimpses of it in the pictures the best way to see how nice of a facility they have is to watch this little video clip I made riding into the museum. Some of the show bikes are also featured in the video as well.
I have decided to make this mostly a pictorial post with random comments. There was something for everyone here.
Lets go ahead and start out with this 1929 Indian Scout!
Of course while our baby boomer parents have driven the collectible motorcycle market so far, I predict that as those of us in Generation X take over you will see the motorcycles that we lusted over in our younger days such as this pristine Suzuki Katana experience a surge in value & collect-ability.
No motorcycle show is complete without a couple of nice Harleys
The old FLH was nice but I really loved this Evel Knievel replica Sportster.
Is that cool or what?
Some really nice British iron was there also.
Some off road racers were being shown as well.
The cafe racer crowd was well represented.
A very tasty looking Yamaha RZ350 Kenny Roberts signature edition.
For once mine was not the only rat bike in the show, check out this XS400 chopper.
Great looking patina on this old Norton
Another Gen X favorite we couldn’t afford when we were 19, the Honda Interceptor
The trains rolling in and out during the day greatly added to the atmosphere of the event.
It’s time for me to stop writing now & let the pictures do the rest of the talking…
It’s time once again for the one of the premier shows on the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club calendar; The Destination Eustis Vintage Motorcycle Show! I attended this show last year and although I am unable to attend for this year I was so impressed that motopsyco.com is one of many fine sponsors of the event this year. At this time I am definitely planning to return in 2016.
Please note that just because this is a VJMC show does not mean only Japanese bikes, Bring out any old iron you have be it American, British, or European there are classes for everything as long as it is vintage!
Just a reminder that this Vintage Motorcycle Show will take place inside the Lake County Fairgrounds EXPO Building. It is a secure facility with the ability to load and unload motorcycles inside the facility in the event that it rains. This is a premier VJMC show venue. There will be no Bike for Sale signs on any bike entered into the show. Also only bikes entered in the show will be displayed in the main expo building.
Here’s a little walk through of last years show to give you an idea of the quality of machines you can expect to see there.
The International Motorcycle Swap Meet and Vintage Motorcycle Show is taking place at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Eustis, Florida March 6-8, 2015. This year’s event continues a legacy of more than 20 years of vintage motorcycle events at this location. We would like to thank the City of Eustis for graciously supporting this event. Once again they will host in our honor a Downtown Block Party on Friday evening, March the 6th. On Saturday, March the 7th local business will provide entertainment and local restaurants will open their doors for all event attendees. So come join us as share our event with the City of Eustis and their local businesses.