ANAMOSA, IOWA, JUNE 29-30–For folks that are interested in anything and everything related to V-twin motorcycles, there was no better place to be than the J&P Cycles 34th annual Open House held at the company’s headquarters in Anamosa. Nowadays it’s getting much more difficult to find anything that is free, but that isn’t the case among the cornfields of eastern Iowa.
Ever since J&P Cycles was founded in 1979, John and Jill Parham have shown their immense appreciation for their customers by putting on an event every June that has grown into one of the largest two-day motorcycle gatherings in the Midwest. This year the unusual summer weather didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits and the rally was packed despite the passing rain clouds on Saturday. Over the course of the weekend more than 30,000 motorcycle fanatics from all over the world made the trip to the town of 5,500 people in Iowa to check out the rally.
It wasn’t only bikers heading to Anamosa; over 110 vendors were onsite and there were 20 semis full of display bikes and the latest parts and accessories from some of the biggest names in the industry. Many of the vendors were all set up and stocked to install anything you needed for your ride right on the spot. It appeared that many people appreciated being able to talk directly to the manufacturers and distributors to find exactly what they needed, get demonstrations and leave with new equipment—or at the least a new, huge wish list.
In addition to their normal showroom, J&P had a display set up under a huge tent that was packed with gear from their catalog, along with factory reps to answer any questions you might have. Also set up in the outdoor showroom was a booth where the former GP racer and amazing custom bike builder Roland Sands was signing autographs and displaying several of his unique custom bikes along with gear from his company, Roland Sands Design. Roland’s unique style, which was forged from a life in the motorcycle industry, was present on many of his custom bikes on display at the rally.
Although the open house rally has grown quite a bit over the years, J&P still puts on a family-friendly event where you can take the whole clan and get a free meal, see a lot of cool bikes and some amazing stunt riders. North America’s leading V-twin stunt team was on hand to provide shows throughout the weekend. 1 Wheel Revolution, comprised of Rob Carpenter and Chris Rayburn, entertained thousands of people over the weekend by doing choreographed stunts while riding Buells XB12s, Harley Sportsters and an XR1200. The wheelies, stoppies, burnouts and other stunts seemed to defy gravity and brought roaring applause from the spectators.
S&S Cycle had a very popular display with several unique vehicles including one from one of their largest engine customers, Morgan Motor Company from the United Kingdom. The Morgan Cyclecar was originally launched in 1910, but the new three-wheeler is driven by a powerful S&S X-Wedge motor and features a leather trimmed, aircraft-style cockpit.
A silent auction was also held, and all of the benefits went to the National Motorcycle Museum just down the highway in Anamosa. The museum is one of the top tourist attractions in Iowa and features over 300 bikes from around the world, some as old as 1903, and serves as a tribute to all that love motorcycles. One of the most popular bikes on display at the museum is the original Captain America bike from Easy Rider.
In addition to all of the bikes on display and parts for sale, there were also some opportunities to meet some well-known people, as cast members from the popular television show Sons of Anarchy were on hand to meet folks. Fans stood in line, for a very long time, suffering through everything from rain to intense sunshine to meet Tommy “Chibs” Flanagan on Saturday and Ryan “Opie” Hurst on Sunday to get autographs and their photos taken with them. In addition to the SOA crew, Bert Baker from BAKER Drivetrain held several Q&A sessions on Saturday and Sunday while “Pipes” from Party with Pipes emceed the rally.
I was one of the few people that didn’t ride an American V-twin to the event. My Austrian KTM 950 Adventure probably would have stood out like a sore thumb in the parking lot, but due to the fact that there were literally thousands of motorcycles of all shapes and sizes on hand, that didn’t seem to matter. The parking lots that surrounded the huge event site were a bike show of mind-blowing proportions. One could spend an entire day just walking around the lots and eyeing up all of the bikes. From classic WLAs, Triumphs, choppers and bobbers to Suzuki Hayabusa dragsters, there was something for everyone to enjoy looking at in the sea of bikes.
In my hurry to get to the rally on Saturday I passed several bikers on the four-lane highway north of Anamosa, and due to the huge amount of people entering the rally we were all parked together. I thought I may have upset them during my haste to get to the open house, but luckily they were friendly Canadians! The two couples on Harley-Davidson Electra Glides from north of the border in Dryden, Ontario, thought the J&P Cycles Open House sounded like a great time and made a nice, long ride down to check it out.
Gary Honn from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has been coming to the open house since 1985 when he bought a new Harley Low Rider. Gary said, “I feel the rally gets better every year; it’s always a great time. Can’t wait for the next one. All the work that goes into it and all the vendors are just great to see in Iowa. The stunt bikes and shows are great, and there’s free food! My hat’s off to J&P.” Mitch Winder, sales and marketing advisor from Western Powersports, was working the big tent during the open house and he thought that it seemed like attendance may have been down a bit, but the people that came were in a buying mood.
The 34th annual J&P Cycles Open House was a great time; it’s certainly a destination event for anyone in the Midwest. If you are a fan of V-twins and like supporting companies that support the community, then the 35th annual rally on June 28 and 29, 2014, should be on your calendar.