The open road might be what sets the hearts of motorcycle freaks pumping, but no one can ride 24/7. Luckily, there’s plenty of ways to keep the buzz going long after the ride is finished. Rallies, bike shows, and meets are the perfect place to mingle with like-minded enthusiasts, share common interests, check out some bikes, and show off your own. Basically, they’re a whole lot of fun. If you love motorcycles, you’re missing out if you don’t add a few to your schedule. If you live in California, you’re spoiled for choice. Some of California’s best motorcycle shows are family affairs; others are adult-only events. Some have a vintage theme; some are more focused on custom made extravaganzas. Others are a little bit of everything. The California motorcycle show line-up for 2021 has taken a knock from COVID, but there’s still plenty of options to check out. If you’re ready for some flat-out fun, grab your helmet (and your mask) and make your way to one of these top events.
1. Lambs Car and Bike Show
2021 welcomes the 6th Annual Lambs Car and Bike Show. If you haven’t been before, this is the year to give it a try. The show is huge: whatever bike or car you’re interested in, this is where you’re going to find it. The lineup is just as impressive as the vehicles on show, with all-day-long live music, hundreds of vendors, food trucks, and plenty of fun and activities for kids. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a competition to win a car. The show is free to the public. If you want to compete for one of over 40 trophies, registration costs $35. If you want to use the opportunity to sell parts or merch, expect to pay $75. All proceeds are donated to charity. It might not be the most ‘serious’ motorcycle show around, but if you’re looking for something lightweight and fun that’s suitable for the whole family, it’s hard to beat.
2. The LA Calendar Bike Building Championship
The LA Calendar Bike Building Championship has become an institution for motorcycle enthusiasts. Conceived over 30 years ago as a celebration of custom bikes, it’s one of the highlights in the motorcycle calendar. The lineup changes periodically but if the previous years are anything to go by, you can expect to see some of the finest examples of Pro Builder, Street Customs, Bar Hopper, Café Racers, Classic Restored Bikes, Modern Sport and Race bikes around. While there’s no obligation to compete, anyone with a competitive spirit and a desire to show off their bike can duke it out for an award in one of six classes: Street Custom; Bar Hopper / Café Racer; Classic European & Japanese pre-1980; Classic American pre-1980; and Performance Sport-bike / Race Bike. There’s also a Best of Show Trophy and the AFT Customs Visionary Awards Trophy to try out for.
3. Roland Sands Moto Classic
Motorcycle Cruiser describes the Roland Sands Moto Classic as ‘a weekend motorcycle culture mashup and destination festival.‘ Intrigued? You should be. The idea for the event was conceived by the team at Roland Sands Design. Designed to bring together everything from mini bike racing to stunt shows, street bike flat racing to sprint drag races, and modern motorcycles to vintage classics, the event is a celebration of all things motorcycle related. As the official Roland Sands Design website (rolandsands.com/moto-beach-classic) notes, no moto-centric event would be complete without a custom bike show, and the Roland Sands Moto Classic event duly obliges. As a forum for some of the brightest and best builders in the industry, it’s a great place to check out some custom-built masterpieces, from wild choppers to mild resto-mods, cafe racers to purpose-built race bikes. If you’re looking for some inspiration for your next project, this is the place to head. Music, art shows, and a huge array of food and beverage stalls help things go with a swing. If you love everything to do with two wheels, you won’t want to miss it.
4. So Cal / Long Beach Motorcycle Swap Meet
As CycleFish.com writes, the So Cal Cycle Show and Swap Meet is a virtual supermarket for bikes. Held every month at Long Beach Veterans Stadium, the event sees hundreds of vendors gather to sell a vast array of new, used, and vintage motorcycle and bicycle parts and accessories. Some of the vendors are casual hobbyists selling leftover parts from their projects; others are shops selling old stock. Either way, it’s an awesome place to find rare and hard-to-find parts at a great price. As well as motorcycle parts, there’s also a great range of gear and apparel on offer. Basically, it’s a one-stop-shop for all things motorcycle related. Along with the stalls, there’s the chance to ride out to the Bike Corral area to show or even sell your bike. Whether you want to mingle with some like-minded enthusiasts or grab a phenomenal deal on some parts, it’s a must-visit. Admission is $10 per person, parking is free and food and beverages are on offer. If you want to sell rather than buy, expect to pay $45 when you reserve a space in advance and $55 when you don’t. To reserve a space, you’ll need to turn up by 6.30 am at the latest.
5. The Quail Motorcycle Gathering
The Quail Motorcycle Gathering is a more low-key affair than some of our other entries, but it’s no less worthwhile. A day-long event held each May at the Quail Lodge, Carmel, the Quail Motorcycle Gathering is a celebration of the evolution of the motorcycle. If you’re a fan of vintage motorcycles, the selection of pre-war bikes on display is compulsive viewing. Those more interested in the post-war era will find a fine collection of sports and racing bikes to lust over. Unlike the rowdiness on display at some of California’s other motorcycle events, the Quail Motorcycle Gathering has a more sedate, family-friendly vibe. A gourmet lunch with food and drink from local wineries and breweries is provided. On the day prior to the show, 100 participants ride the California Highway Patrol motor unit escorted 112 mile Quail Ride around Carmel Valley. On show day itself, there’s another organized ride called the Cycle World Tour that includes a buffet breakfast at Pacific Grove, CA. Even if you miss the rides, the opportunity to mingle with some of the country’s leading motorcycle manufacturers and lifestyle vendors still makes the show worth a visit.