So, You Say You Like Vintage Bikes?

 

Me too. But not enough to own one. I like the reliability of modern bikes. I like not having to worry about breaking down on the road in the middle of God’s elbow somewhere. I like electric start, powerful brakes, ABS, traction control, ride modes, and yes, dual clutch transmissions like I have on my Honda NC700.

I don’t wax nostalgic over vintage bikes. I wasn’t riding a 1960’s triumph when I was five years old. When most of these older bikes were new and on the road, heck, I wasn’t even interested in girls yet!

But I love the design of vintage bikes, the artistry that goes into those designs. I like the historical factor, each bike showcasing the history of motorcycling through the decades. The beauty of these machines is what excites me, whether in preservation mode or fully restored.

The venue for this vintage show was Antique Bikes on Main in Chesnee, South Carolina. Enjoy the photos and wax nostalgic if you must!

Yes, We are Bragging and Rightfully So………

We live in a region of the US that, in my opinion, has the absolute best motorcycle and sports car roads east of the Big Muddy, if not the entire country. The Southeastern region of the US, specifically the areas of the Appalachian and Blue Ridge mountain chains, offer up the kind of roads that motorcyclists in other parts of the country would give their first child to ride. If you’ve ridden here, you know. We know. They are the best.

That’s a pretty big boast. Yes, it is. But consider this: hundreds of motorcyclists plan their “big” annual moto trip here to ride these roads that read like a motorcyclists who’s who of moto roads to ride. Because they are: The Tail of the Dragon, The Snake, The Diamondback, The Rattler, The Hellbender, The Cherohala Skyway, The Blue Ridge Parkway, The Foothills Parkway, The Back of the Dragon, The Claw of the Dragon,  The Watusi (Beatles #9 fans anyone?).

So here we are, Roo and I, taking pictures of my bike in Little Switzerland, North Carolina within spittin’ distance of the Blue Ridge Parkway, where our Moto Club puts on it’s annual weekend rally.

The host motel, The Big Lynn Lodge is situated right on one of the above mentioned roads: NC226A, The Diamondback Motorcycle & Sports Car Route is marketed by the Village of Little Switzerland just like that, and sees hundreds of motorbikes and sports cars every spring, summer, and autumn.

Look at all those squiggly lines!

You cannot go wrong riding in this area. Not only are the infamous roads mentioned above exemplary, but the unnamed, little known roads that abound are sometimes more exhilarating.

You will encounter stunning scenery like this, but keep your eyes on the road.

Oh the tangled webs we weave………….

Early AM and bikes and riders getting ready for the day as soon as the fog lifts

The lone Italian

Listening to a great rock band with an adult beverage after a tiring day of riding

There are great roads to ride most everywhere in the US. But if you are looking for a higher degree of difficulty, challenging, technical, adrenalin inducing tarmac, you would be hard pressed to find it elsewhere. Come visit. Then you will know the best.

THE MELTDOWN!

Spring! Our favorite time of year. Not only is the weather wonderful for introducing my motorbikes wheels to some lean angles again after a shitty winter, but end of April marks an event Roo & I wait for all year. Putting rubber to pavement in Hendersonville, North Carolina, the Ton Up Club of Highlands stages a fantastic vintage and café motorcycle street show: The Meltdown.

I have expounded profusely about this grass roots, family oriented, all-comers show in this blog every year. Young bikers, old bikers, non-bikers, women, kids, newbies, dogs. All gather here to ogle over beautiful vintage iron in all stages of preservation or restoration. And the majority of them  are ridden. No trailer queens in this group!

Southern Appalachian Brewery offers up food trucks and their excellent libations, while in their courtyard bandstand two or three bands play good old rock n’ roll and rock a billy, befitting the era of these motorcycles.

Oh yeah. THE MOTORCYCLES!

DID THE KING OF COOL RIDE THIS BIKE?

The Meltdown is a very Cool moto show. The bikes here are Cool. Way Cool. One motorbike in particular could be The Coolest. Not because it is exceptional, it is. Not because it is an uncommon ride, it is. But because it may have been ridden by the King of Cool himself, Steve McQueen.

It is known that McQueen had an affinity for the Rickman Metisse, and is believed to have had one built. If it was this particular bike, no one knows. What is known (from the current owner) is that Bud Ekins, McQueens good friend and stunt double in The Great Escape, did own this particular Metisse. So, it stands to reason that during Ekins ownership, McQueen could have thrown a leg over this Rickman. Did he or didn’t he?  We’ll never know. But it’s Cool to imagine that the King of Cool just might have.

IF YOU MADE AWAY WITH THIS BIKE, YOU COULD TELL YOUR FRIENDS YOU’RE TAKING A WHIZZER!

RANDOM MOTO PICS

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As mentioned earlier, this is a grass roots event, showcasing bare bones motorcycling as it was in the 60’s and 70’s. Real bikes, real people. No poseurs (bikes or people) were to be seen. No riders dressed like pirates or space aliens. Almost all the bikes we saw were ridden to the show. Of the very few that were not, they were trailered by vehicles like these. Doesn’t get any Cooler.

THE CAR ENTHUSIAST IN US WAS SMILING:

A HOT ROD

AND THEN, NOT SO MUCH. A JUSTY??? IT ACTUALLY DROVE HERE!

Our time at the show was winding down, and we needed to head back down the mountain to the waiting beagles. But there was one more machine that caught our eyes that we had to see up close and personal. It put a smile on our faces, even though I was only five or six years old when this motorbike came to the US. Roo wasn’t even born yet. But we knew the history. This bike changed the course of motorcycling in America, and changed Americans perception of motorcyclists and motorcycles forever. It was a Honda, and Honda’s marketing team hit a home run with their “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” campaign. It was the Super Cub, and it’s back for 2019.

2019 HONDA SUPER CUB

” YOU MEET THE NICEST PEOPLE ON A HONDA.”

See you at The Meltdown in 2020!

Bikes on the Back 9

I have always enjoyed going to motorcycle shows that take place at a golf venue. The atmosphere is different, evoking a sense of elegance, upscale and affluence, real or imagined. Like the Quail Gathering on the West coast, or the Riding Into History event in St. Augustine, FL. Even the bikes seem to have an extra layer of shine and finish to them, as if to say “we deserve to be here.”

My hometown of Greenville, South Carolina is host to such an event. The Euro Auto Festival is held each October at the Preserve at Verdae Golf Club, a beautifully wooded golf venue. As the name implies, it is an event showcasing over one hundred beautiful European automobiles on the golf course (more in a later post), with a large contingent of motorcycles.

Euro is the name of the game here. All European motorcycles on the green from modern sport bikes (Ducati/Triumph), to a vintage scooter (Moto Guzzi), and the usual ’60’s and ’70’s Triumphs and BSA’s in between. A great showing of beauty on two wheels. Enjoy the show.

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There’s The Show, and then, There’s The Bike Show……Brit Bikes in the Carolina Mountains

 

The show was the Autumn in the Mountains British Car Show in Asheville, North Carolina (post forthcoming). But, the show  were the British motorcycles on display. However, I was a bit disappointed at the turnout of bikes. Granted, it was a car show after all, and the motorbikes were the red headed stepchildren at this event. However,  what did show up was excellent: two 1970’s Triumph Bonnevilles, an awesome looking Triumph X-75, a very cool Rat Triumph, and a Norton Commando.But where were the other great marques like BSA, Ariel, Vincent, JAP, and AJS to name a few? They’re out there. Just not here. I’m sure we’ll see them in upcoming vintage bike shows we’ll be attending. Enjoy the Gallery.