VENICE VINTAGE MOTORCYCLE RALLY 2014
Story & Photos by Billy Bartels
6th Venice Vintage Motorcycle Rally
Hipsters near the Beach
September 13, 2014
There are those who think that the recent influx of hipsters to our motorcycling homeland is a scary sacrilege to our core values. Screw them. On the contrary, I say the fashion and authenticity-obsessed ‘youts’ bring a breath of fresh air to our stuffy, hidebound and formulaic world. I mean, do you really need to see another blinged-out big-wheel bagger? Bring on the new blood.
Compared to the last several big time rallies I’ve been to, the bikes at this one blew them away. I couldn’t get through the parking lot without a case of whiplash, trying take in all of the cool bikes that weren’t even really on display. Compare the bikes in these photos to your average Harleys-Only gathering (with nothing but bolt-on beauties at best) and it’s not even close. These are lovingly hand-crafted machines, with parts that were fabricated out of whatever was available. Due to the diversity of bikes involved, there are only a few small companies that kick this stuff out, the rest is hand built. These are Customs. Not the marketing term, but the true meaning of the word.
The event takes place at the end of the summer in the Venice Farmer’s Market, just a couple blocks from the beach in the weirder-than-Hollyweird berg of Venice California. The bike show is what got me out of bed on a fine Saturday afternoon, but as if to say “it’s no big deal” the entrants were, for the most part, no better than the virtual show out in the parking area. But it did reflect the parking lot in it’s diversity of categories, with trophies for best Euro, British, American, Japanese, Chopper, Racing, Cafe and more. There was even a category for “Fugliest.”
The day started with a vintage bike ride at 9 am, for which there was a pre-1978 requirement. That said, this requirement seemed to be as laid back as everything else about this event. But, not wanting to spoil the groove (or get up before 9, or have to find an old bike) I stayed home for this part of the proceedings.
The laid-back view of “what is vintage” made it more an enthusiast event, that had no real guiding principle or theme, which is a rare and wonderful thing these days with so many categories dividing us as motorcyclists. The key is the Venice Vintage Club themselves, a lighthearted bunch of kindred spirits that claim to be a very inclusive group… I’d never know as I don’t own a bike in their pre-1978 time period that is the only requirement.
Sponsors included the two brands that basically peddle vintage equipment on every new motorcycle: Royal Enfield (and its dealer Route 66 Riders) and Harley-Davidson (through its dealer, Bartels’ H-D). Naturally Pabst Blue Ribbon was onboard, while others included purveyors of vintage-style accessories, like Biltwell and Cone; hard alcohol makers like Sailor Jerry’s and American Born Moonshine; and, of course, custom builders like Deus Ex Machina, British Customs, and Gasser Customs.
Lots of interesting bikes. In fact, a huge majority of these motorcycle, whether asian, european or american were heavily modified. I’ve never seen a group of bikes more customized, which is what it’s all about, right? I had a better time than I’d thought I’d have, and for a free event, that’s saying something.
For more (or, actual) information, check out the club at:
9018. Parking was the only thing that cost ya anything, but even that was optional, as there was plentiful parking on the surrounding streets.
9034-9039 There were awesome hand made trophies for the bike show, just like the bikes themselves.
9046. The Best in Show winner by Spirit Lake Customs.
9050. Unlike some bike shows, the builders seemed to stick around to talk to people and answer questions.
9051. Not exactly vintage, not exactly a v-twin.
9071, 9079. Crockers are being made again in Los Angeles, though they’re hand made and a pretty penny. The exhaust note is amazing.
9082. Harley-Davidson’s Street, set up for dirt.
9084. This custom/restored 1973 Honda CB350 by Scott DiLalla was the Charity Raffle grand prize. This year’s charity was the Los Angeles Firefighters Foundation.
9108. A preview of the pinup contest.
9114. Alli from Bartels’ Harley shows a new rider the ropes.
9127. Joe Pape’s Fugliest machine.
9129. The band was decent enough, but the PA was miked-up to only the microphone, which was fine when an emcee was doing his thing, but made for some interesting caterwauling from the far end of the Market, with backing instruments obscured by distance and the pleasant tones of angsty punk-inspired music piped a’capella to your eardrums.
(Click Photos To View Photo Gallery)