Rubber Side Down: Cruising Portland’s The One Moto Show

Words by Henry Romano
Photos by Henry Romano

The doors opened just 90 minutes ago and already we get a call that the building has reached capacity. The space, a factory in a previous life, has been gutted of the old machinery and equipment but still bares the marks from decades of hard labor. Beneath the massive steel girders and between the thick concrete walls, ten-foot tall steel framed factory windows cast the day’s last light on the building’s solid construction. The two-story, 130,000 square-foot warehouse was built in a time when shortcuts weren’t taken, and men and women were cut from a different cloth—a fitting space for a custom motorcycle show.

This year is The One Moto Show’s ninth year running, and just 90 minutes into opening night it’s obvious why this Portland, OR, show has become a favorite for so many people. In every corner, hallway, staircase, nook and cranny can be found a custom one-of-a-kind motorcycle. Craft from every era, every genre, every discipline and everything in between can be found wandering from room to room. It’s this diversity that makes The One Moto special, never knowing what you might find around a corner or down the next hallway. Budget garage builds share floor space with motorcycles from industry titans, dirt bikes sit next to little cafe racers, scramblers tower over low profile Bonneville land speed bikes.

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Each room yields a new favorite build, only to be outdone by one in the next. Ask a hundred motorcyclists to design and build what they imagine the ideal motorcycle is and you will get a hundred different motorcycles. This could not be more apparent walking down a row of bikes ranging from traditional Harley choppers, an electric drag bike, to an off-roading adventure machine capable of winching itself out of trouble. Surrounding each motorcycle, work from artists around the world decorate the walls. Intricate custom-made leather seats, pencil drawings from the incredible Carter Asmann, huge vintage photography prints, and every other medium you can imagine depicting this culture in the unique way only artists can.

Just as the show starts feeling a little like an art gallery, with polished bikes on stands and framed prints hanging on the walls, the hooting and hollering from the beer-fueled mini bike racing in the room next door thrusts you back to what The One Moto show is all about. While the motorcycles are what make this show exceptional, it is the surrounding culture that makes it one-of-a-kind. See See Motorcycles has accomplished the near impossible task of outdoing themselves every year and it has shown by how much this event has grown.  

Possibly the only thing more diverse than the motorcycles here at The One Moto show are the crowds that flock to see them. From the young to the old, male and female, outlaws, yuppies, and hipsters alike, almost every walk of life is present at this show. It is a common love not just for the machines, but what those two wheels embody to each individual. For some it is the freedom or the escape, for others it is the rush and thrill. Whatever it is, The One Moto show has something for everyone and if the 2019 show isn’t on your list yet, it should be.


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