Twenty-eight hours before the doors officially opened at The One Motorcycle Show, in Portland, Oregon, things started looking messy. #TheOneSnow was already trending, and many builders were stuck in whiteout conditions, struggling to make it at all. Those who had arrived, bikes in tow, wondered if anyone would be crazy enough to attend. Officially, winter storm Orion dumped just over five inches of powder on downtown Portland (up to 18 inches fell in nearby areas), making it the region’s snowiest February in 21 years. But motorcyclists are a passionate bunch — the ride scheduled the following day continued as planned.
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Now in its fifth year, The One Motorcycle Show is bigger than ever: this year’s show occupied more than twice the real estate of last year’s gig, having moved to a two-story industrial building known as the Yale Union. With only a couple of hours left before curtains the bikes came streaming in, owners drying them off and wheeling them to their podiums. A heavy mix of cafe racers, bobbers, streetfighters and the odd chopper, the bikes on display ran the gamut from exquisite and subtle to rough and unfinished. Personal preferences aside, it can’t be denied that the level of craftsmanship on display was staggering. Some of the country’s best builders were there, the men and women we watch on Vimeo and follow on Instagram, the enthusiasts fully subscribed to the notion that a motorcycle is much more than just transportation; these are the folks who know that every ounce of blood, sweat and tears they shed building, fixing and rebuilding can be as rewarding as being out in the wind itself and letting the world slip away.
Two hours into the show things were shoulder to shoulder. The snow, still coming down at this point, hadn’t stopped anybody — we even spotted a handful that actually rode in, exhaust pipes steaming away and knobby tires packed with slush. Team Icon pro stunt riders Jason Britton and Leah Petersen autographed stickers for fans in a corner, their bikes seeming almost out of place with their full fairings and sponsorship decals. Eric Bostrom was there too, singing the praises of the tunability of his Team Icon Brammo. Truth be told, the only thing these winter conditions did was cause people to grab a hot cup of Stumptown Coffee before reaching for their beer coozies and settling in with the bikes. Well, that and prove our theory: motorcycle enthusiasts are a passionate bunch, us included.