The Hanford Motorcycle Show

The month of May brings the beginning of the motorcycle show circuit out in the west. This year the Hanford motorcycle show and swap meet was celebrating 46 years at the Kings fairground in the central valley while on the same weekend the Quail motorcycle gathering was being held out on the coast at Carmel.

The Quail gathering is the place to see every type of early collectable motorcycle imaginable in a high end setting reminiscent of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The Hanford show on the other hand is a bit lower key and includes a vintage cycle swap meet. A tough decision had to be made on which show to attend. This year we chose to attend the Hanford show as Bill Van Tichelt the founder of the VanTech motorcycle company was scheduled to be in attendance and who doesn’t enjoy a good swap meet. Marshall Baker and his crew ran a great event as always. Bill Van Tichelt had some great stories to tell (more on those later) and the bike show had a fair number of motocross machines in attendance. All in all a good weekend.

The quality of restorations grows better every year

If you look at the representation of motocross machines in these shows vs. twenty or even ten years ago we see that the motocross collector world is certainly growing into a respectable sub class of the overall motorcycle collector world. As more and more motocross bikes are showing up at these events the level of the restorations has certainly improved. We have gone from really bad restorations twenty years ago with things like silver painted spokes showing up to over restorations ten years ago when every part on the bikes was either polished or chrome plated. Now we are seeing people hone in on truly correct restorations making the judge’s job ever more difficult.

Staffing at the shows has had to change over the years with new judges being added who actually have vast knowledge of motocross bikes and history. This year at Hanford Tom White, Lee Fabry and Bill West were judging the field. Just having these three critique your bikes is worth the price of admission. About twenty years ago I would show my bikes at some of the shows and notice that there were a lot of sore losers who would complain that their bike should have won the show or the judges didn’t know what they were looking at. Those sore losers seem to be gone now and when a bike gets docked some points buy the judges these days the owners take it as a learning experience coming back the next time with a better bike to show. At Hanford this year the worst bikes would have been easy winners fifteen years ago.

A works Indian at the swap meet, or so the seller says
If you want to learn a lot about these old bikes in a short time attending and even showing at these shows is a great place for that. If you do show your bikes be sure to interact with the judges and other contestants. The knowledge base at these shows is the best you will find anywhere.