As the show’s website says, “10,000 beers, 5,000 high-fives, 200-plus bikes, 5 bands, 70 vendors, 20 partners, 15 race classes — and all under ONE roof!” Gotta love it.
Words by Ricky Bongos
Photos by Ricky Bongos, Kyle Hannon and Alyssa Del Valle
In 2019 I challenged myself to build a different custom one-off bike for as many shows as possible across the U.S. I’d designed a bunch of new parts for my company, Ricky Bongos USA, with the goal of getting the word out to the V-twin public through my various builds. I nearly achieved my goal, too, building six different show-winning bikes throughout the year – the first of which was a bike that appeared at The One Motorcycle Show in Portland, Oregon, in early 2019. It was my first time attending, and I had no idea what to expect.
I’d received the invite in the mail in December 2018, and within two months I’d proudly built a beautiful, purple S&S-powered monster of an Evo chop. It was up on display inside an old pickle factory (where The One was held in previous years) with 200-plus other amazing bikes of all kinds for three days of the most unexpected fun I’ve ever had at a bike show. At the end I was even more surprised when they called out my name from the stage…I was actually one of six winners! I left that show with such amazing drive and inspiration, and it kept me going hard throughout the rest of the year.
Every two months I built a new bike, built new parts, and headed off on a trip somewhere in the U.S. to showcase what I had going on. To say I ran myself into the ground during 2019 is an understatement. Over the holidays, health issues that laid me up for six weeks and back-to-back deaths in my family had me at an all-time low coming into 2020.
Flash forward to January 3, 2020, the day I received an invite to The One in the mail! It brought me right back to that amazing time I’d had the year before. Knowing that those friends I’d made in my travels would be there sparked me back to life, and I went back into the shop for a straight month and dove headfirst into a new build, working all the way up until midnight the night before the show.
I texted Thor Drake – the creator of The One Moto – wanting to make sure I could still bring the bike at this late hour. He told me as long as I could get loaded in before the doors opened at 5pm Friday he’d save a spot for me. I had a 15-hour drive from Vegas ahead of me and exactly 15 hours to when the doors opened. My buddy Sean Cruz helped me load the bike into the back of his pickup, and we hauled ass straight to Portland!
We got the bike unloaded and set in place at exactly 4:45 pm Friday evening, just 15 minutes before the doors opened. Nothing like cutting it close. This year the show was in the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, a huge step up in venue size from the eclectic pickle factory from last year. My bike was set up amidst all the artwork and vendors you see as you enter the venue. Once inside, you could also see them setting up for Saturday’s flat track races in the center of the Coliseum. My buddy and I walked around a bit, checking out some really cool motorcycle art and catching up with the guys from Tracker Die, who just released some badass new parts. I’d been up for about two days straight at this point, so we headed to the hotel for some sleep.
What I like about The One Moto are all the parties going on around Portland late at night. The whole town is filled with motorcycle enthusiasts all looking to let loose, and it’s an absolute riot of a good time. I woke up around 10 pm and headed to the Hawthorne section and had a blast bar-hopping with friends until the wee hours of the morning. Also, did you know Portland has more strip clubs per capita than anywhere else in the world?
On Saturday we made it back to the show around noon. Things were just getting started and I was super excited to explore some more. Walking up to the Coliseum I saw all the EZ-Ups set up, the flat track racers getting their bikes dialed and ready to race. Walking around, I ran into a bunch of friends who were racing later that day. Rich Sylva was one I was super excited to see. He is running a lot of new parts I designed and this was the first race with his freshly built Sportster. As I entered the Coliseum through the racer’s entrance I could literally feel the energy coming off the racers as they got ready for practice. It was exhilarating.
As I turned the corner to look for the stairs that led to the upper level where my bike was, I realized there was an entire section downstairs that I hadn’t seen or known about on Friday. It opened up to this massive space with a few hundred more bikes for everyone’s viewing pleasure. I got lost in a sea of inspiration for at least three hours down there. Beers were flowing, and I ran into countless people from all over the U.S. I met up with Joe Cooper from Cooper Smithing Co. at his booth; the guy makes some of the nicest fenders on the planet, so do yourself a favor and check his stuff out.
I finally headed back upstairs, grabbed a beer and pizza from a local vendor and found a seat for The One Motorcycle Race sponsored by Indian Motorcycle. This was the first time the races could be held in the same venue. Thor was down on the track waving the flags while racers were wiping out like crazy all over. The whole place was packed with people of all ages just having the greatest time as racers showed off their skills on the dirt oval.
After the racing they had some bands on stage downstairs, so I had some more beers and discovered even more rooms. There was a vintage room featuring some of the nicest vintage bikes I’ve ever seen. It was like a Mecum auction without the auction part. ICON sponsored a room that had arcade games setup. There was a karaoke room with people getting tattoos. The shit was unreal. Every time I turned a corner I found some other wild and cool antics going on you that would never expect to see at any other show. I caught up with my fellow Las Vegan Christian Sosa and a bunch of his homies, and we Ubered downtown to keep the festivities going all night.
On Sunday we made it back to The One Moto to do a final walk through and check out everything we missed the previous days. One thing I have to point out is that this is a three-day show, and it really does take all three days to see everything and do this show right.
Around 1pm everyone headed to the main stage downstairs where the awards are announced. The awards aren’t the focal point of this show, and I actually think that’s cool. I was stoked to see Christian Sosa take the cake with his handmade Royal Enfield. The guy was in the back of his van like a mad scientist on the 15-hour ride up, hand-filing the gas tank on his build. His stuff is always next level. There was a turbo Dyna I really liked that won as well from Royal T Racing out of New Orleans. Every year The One Moto has high schoolers paint helmets for charity, and the winner is awarded a scholarship. And that’s how they ended the event…on a wonderful note like that.
I can’t express enough how well this show is put together. Thor and the crew over at See See Motorcycles have something pretty epic going, and it’s something everyone needs to check out at least once in their life. I’ll definitely be going again next year. It’s unlike any other motorcycle event I’ve ever been to, and those who know me know I’ve been just about everywhere.
For what it’s worth, this year I’m learning to take it easier. I’ll bring this bike around to a few more events like Daytona, Cave Creek and Myrtle. And if you’ve never been to The One Motorcycle Show…well, I hope to see you next year.