published at 06.02.2016, 16:53

The One Motorcycle Show – the one-stop custom bike show

The One Motorcycle Show (TOMS) has definitely become the motorcycle show in the US for aficionados of just about every form of custom motorcycle. 2016 is its seventh anniversary and while the size of the show has grown in popularity, it still remains the tightest, friendliest, most laid back bike event you can think of.

In addition to dirt and road race bikes of today and the past, the main part of TOMS is the huge array of self-build custom bikes. From long-forked choppers to modern-day urban brawlers, sliced and diced track bikes to street-fighter dirt bikes, TOMS has it all. And then there are the different engine configurations. The custom world’s once staple diet of American air-cooled V-twins is making way to every engine layout you can think of – and then some.

Two and four-stroke single-cylinder engines can be found sharing the same floor space as twins, triples, inline-fours, and even six and eight-cylinder behemoths. There is also a fast growing section featuring the engines of BMWs past and present: two eras that share a common theme of the Boxer engine.

In 2014, Galician bike builders El Solitario made the long trip across the Atlantic from Europe to show their customised BMW R nineT, known as El Impostor. It was one of the first of many European R nineT bikes to be created to the builders' own designs as part of BMW Motorrad’s commitment to free-thinking, tagged Soulfuel.

For 2016 another R nineT will take up residence in the former machine stamping warehouse in the Central Eastside industrial district of Portland, Oregon that is currently home to The One Motorcycle Show. This particular 9T (click here for separate story) will be an official USA Soulfuel project and comes courtesy of the multi-talented Jeff Wright, he of Church of Choppers fame. Jeff will be just one of 80 recognised bike custom builders to be found congregated within the old warehouse’s walls.

Mixed with the bikes, as always, will be live music, beer and art. Not just the art of custom paintwork on the varied displayed bikes, but also helmet art and gallery work. If that isn’t enough to tempt the curious, then there’s the racing at Salem Fairgrounds (2330 17th Street NW Salem 97303) that draws in everyone with a mind for thrills and spills.

So how does TOMS rate against other known shows? One big fan is Ola Stenegard of BMW Motorrad, the primary designer of the BMW R nineT. Every year he makes the effort to leave the German brand’s offices in Germany to attend TOMS. “The One Show is fantastic,” says Ola. “Not only is it set in beautiful Portland with its laid-back, down-to-earth lifestyle but it’s also a melting pot of every kind of bike and style. Old school choppers, new wave customs, race bikes, off-road bikes, funky home-brewed two-wheel contraptions and survivor bikes: everything and anything will be there as long as it has something special to render it a spot in the show. Same goes for the people...

“All kinds of motorcycle aficionados and garage punks show up. And there is no attitude whatsoever – just a super-nice vibe surrounding the whole event. It’s unpretentious, super-relaxed and a lot of smiles everywhere! Actually a lot like Thor Drake and his crew who host the show. A better, more heart-warming bunch of people is very hard to find.

“There are many spin-off shows popping up lately... but to me The One Motorcycle Show is still the original. It is still The One Motorcycle Show to go to!”

Dates for TOMS 2016 are 12-14th February. Opening times vary but full details can be found online at: and this includes all the attending custom people and custom houses, what’s on and where. Another aspect of TOMS is there is no charge to attend the show. The racing on 14 Feb carries a $10 gate fee but for the fun and belly laughs it's a small price to pay.

All photos by Larry Niehues.