Grunge music and gritty fishermen are what first spring to mind when someone mentions the Pacific Northwest of the United States, but there is a hell of a lot more going on. The One Motorcycle Show hosted annually in Portland, Oregon is not only one of the biggest custom bike shows in the world, but it’s also become a vital event for the region. Organised by Thor Drake and the See See Motor Coffee family, the crew is gearing up for their 14th annual event, to be held this coming weekend from 28th to 30th April at the industrial Zidell Yards on the city’s waterfront. The event welcomes everyone, with live music, trade stands, stunt shows, and best of all, 300 of the coolest custom motorcycles you’re ever likely to see.
It really is a full weekend of immersive motorcycle fun in the Pacific Northwest’s vibrant moto-mecca. The venue really sets the stage, this is not a swanky hotel function centre, the historic family-owned Zidell Yards Barge Building, is a sprawling, open-air property with a large, rustic building situated along Portland’s Southwest Waterfront. You can still smell the grease and see the evidence of the metal work and lives of hard toil that give the place its character and “offers the perfect textured backdrop for destination travellers and locals to admire shiny bikes, watch stunt shows, listen to live music and celebrate motorcycle culture.”
To best understand the culture that fuels the show we sat down for a chat with organiser Thor Drake, the man with the moustache, grease-covered trucker cap and very often a big cheeky grin.
Did you move the show later in the year for better weather?
Yeah we initially moved the show due to Covid restrictions but it also made sense to do it later in the year when the weather was a little more conducive to motorcycle riding. Additionally, we used to do our show in Feb because there was no other shows, but now there are a few so we figured it was just all around better to do it in the late spring. The great thing is we have never skipped a year since we started 14 years strong.
14 years of The One Moto Show is a huge achievement. Did you think the show would still be going after all these years?
Well the funny thing about life, or the magic part of life, is sometimes you let it teach you who you are, more than you trying to limit yourself to who you think you are. It was a massive achievement to do the 1st show, the second was even harder. I stupidly said i was going to do 10 after the second show because i wanted to prove to people that I was invested. At year 10 lots of people said it was over but in that 10 years I had gotten a lot better at doing the show so I figured why stop? Don’t take this lightly, I was not built for doing massive events. I’m a builder, but life is magic and sometimes it pushes you to become someone you never thought was possible. My kids taught me that.
What’s new at the One Show this year?
We added more excitement, Freestyle MX, Stunt shows, BMX big air shows, a car show, and More live music onsite, just way bigger in subtle ways. We don’t want to lose the sweet spot of a homegrown show but also want to offer the best motorcycle circus we can. My appetite to keep it different every year means I’ll keep adding new layers and trying to involve more types of creative groups. This, like every year, will be our best show to date.
Are you seeing any new trends in the motorbikes being shown? Any one style of bike that seems to be more popular this year?
Yeah, the interesting thing about motorcycles is that they are the cutting edge of transportation development. They are seemingly simple so its easy to develop parts and products in a short timeframe. Electric bikes are getting better, but so are the combustible engine ones. Every week I watch SuperCross and I’m blown away by the athleticism, engineering, attendance and sport as a whole. It’s so exciting compared to something like baseball or even football. That gives me a lot of excitement for the future of motorcycles.
You’ve been doing this for many years, what’s the one thing that makes you smile every year without fail?
My crew, my little brother and a bunch of wildcats. In between me telling them to do work, They do some amazing things. Last year a paddle board washed up on the shore. Two of the crew decided to go for a “gilligans 3 hour tour”, had to get rescued by a passing fishing boat, almost got hypothermia, and continued to help me out into the wee hours of the show. They are the toughest and hard working/ funny group of people. I just love that they are dedicated to putting up the show but also to cause a little trouble along the way. Which also drives me nuts a little.
How many bikes are on show this year?
We have around 300 plus around 60 custom cars. Awe… that kind of stresses me out to think about….
Have you got a personal favourite?
I built a custom bike for my son. His first bike.
My brother left a roached PW50 at my house, I figured it would be an easy refurbish but you know how that goes?! I ended up redoing every part, Welding the frame back together, rebuilding the engine, and powder coating every part. I think I should have just bought a new bike but I’m a sucker for old junk. Van already had a big crash, Ran into the old hauling trailer at some good speed. I was so proud he got up, cried for a few seconds and said he wanted to ride it more.
Plenty of machines that we’ve featured on these pages from the likes of Dustin Kott, Madhouse Motors, Icon 1000, Sosa Metalworks, RSD and many many more, have made the trek in the past and we expect one hell of a stellar line up for 2023. So head over to the1moto.com and grab your tickets, the 14th event is shaping up to be the biggest and the best.
[ Photos by Mr Pixelhead ]