California has been swimming an atmospheric river so long its residents are traumatized, tired of getting wet, and pulling U-turns at the first sight of an orange cone.  That might be an explanation for the dozen empty spots on the grass at this year’s Quail Motorcycle Gathering, or it could simply be lucky year #13 parsing the solidly committed from the those who let a 20% chance of rain convince them to miss a pretty amazing weekend.

Favorite rig of the weekend: a 1961 Willys L6-226 4×4 pickupu owned by Anthony Drago, with a Greeves scrambler in the bed. Perfect patina, even after a second repaint! [Paul d’Orleans]
Despite those missing Concours entries, the actual numbers of bikes at/around the Quail was well up, partly due to the presence of Bring-A-Trailer (BaT), who put out a call for an alumni gathering, and were heard.  The BaT zone just outside the Quail’s entry gates was packed with motorcycles that had been purchased on their site, balancing out the overall Quail numbers, and prompting suggestions they should bring the party inside the gates next year?  They do reach a vast audience of car/moto enthusiasts who collect classics with two and four wheels.  Stay tuned for an interview with BaT founder Randy Nonnenberg and Auction Team Manager Tyler Greenblatt.

But first, the day before: the Quail Ride, a tour of the fantastic California coastal range, in full bloom after a very wet year. Quail founder Gordon McCall personally swept the apexes of corners before the tour! [Paul d’Orleans]
Can we all admit that motorcyclists are sorta cheapskates, except when it comes to buying motorcycles?  Every year our local vintage bike forums resound with gripers who think $150 or so for a spectacular event dedicated to their lifelong passion is expensive. Yes, you’re underpaid, got bills ‘n kids, but a whole lot of folks – nearly 50, including the volunteer judges – spend a whole lot of time making the Quail the finest motorcycle-only show in the country, if not the world.  And they succeed, every year, so act like you really like motorcycles, and show up.  Live a little.

Need a donut before your ride? I chose chocolate! And hey, dig my Paul Cox Berserker jacket by Vanson, and my El Solitario Rascal pants! The ultimate vintage riding suit (along with my old Gucci motorcycle boots). [Courtney Ferrante]
Full disclosure: I’ve emceed the Quail since 2011, so have my attachments to the place and the amazing staff that make it happen. But the big draw for me is the magic of the event, which has little to do with which motorcycles are entered, and much to do with the people who attend.   Want to talk to Bubba Shobert, Wayne Rainey, or Eddie Lawson?   No bodyguards, handlers, or velvet ropes here – just say hi, and start a conversation.  Or builders: Max Hazan is a regular (and a regular winner), who brings his lovely family; and talented folks like Dustin Kott, Hugo Eccles (Untitled MC) and Taras Kravtchouk (Tarform), among many other heavyweights in the design, custom, and electric scenes.  It’s a great place to talk with folks in the industry, if you have questions or just want to know who’s responsible for good design.

Variety, peeps. On the vanguard of future design, Taras Kravtchouk and his Tarform production-ready prototype. And, isn’t it time the Quail had an electric bike category? [Paul d’Orleans]
We’ve had a Vintagent X Motor/Cycle Arts Foundation booth at the Quail for many years now, and this year we were book-heavy.  We gave half our booth over to the new Taschen ‘Ultimate Collector Motorcycles’ book, and invited a publisher’s rep (thanks, Creed Poulsen) to be on hand and explain why the book is so special.  Thanks to the many who ponied up on the day, especially for the Fine Art Edition ($850), which is the most lavish book ever printed about motorcycles.  We also had deeply discounted books by your truly, all of which are available in our Shop, plus some rarities like Legend of the Motorcycle Concours brochures and tees.  We’re the only place on the planet to find those, and the only place to buy signed copies of my books: if you want a personalized inscription, let me know.

Creed Poulsen, a Director at Taschen, repping the new Ultimate Motorcycle Collection: we sold quite a few! [Paul d’Orleans]
So, what bikes won?  Best of Show was an ultra-rare 1939 Miller-Balsamo 200 Carenata, with fully enclosed monocoque bodywork and a two-stroke engine beneath, owned by SF architect/arch collector John Goldman, who’s been supporting motorcycle shows for decades with his amazing Italian and now Art Deco masterpieces.  This was the first year I kept my nose out of the judge’s chambers, but apparently the futuristic Italian lightweight was a firm favorite across the board. For the other 25 winners in the 18 judged categories, check out the Quail PR page.  You’ll also get a free eyeful of the metallic leopard Tom Ford blazer I found in Milan, as emcee means giving out the prizes, and being entertaining is my job, ma’am.

Best of Show: John Goldman’s 1939 Miller-Balsamo Carenata, with a monocoque chassis. [Paul d’Orleans]
Do yourself a favor next year, and attend the Quail.  Better yet, shine up your bike and park it on the grass: Tyler Greenblatt from Bring-A-Trailer mentioned that bikes shown at the Quail tend to sell for a premium, and even if you’re not planning on selling your machine, it adds a little provenance.  My personal faves?  They’re mostly in these photos, but I did miss taking photos of a few great bikes; lustrous Italian lightweights, gnarly dirt track champs, fierce 1980s two-stroke GP racers, and customized bikes that looked very tasty indeed.  If you can swing it, I’d also recommend joining the Quail Ride on the Friday, a 100-mile tour through the gorgeous Carmel and Salinas Valleys escorted by hotshoe CHP bikes (six this year!), and a few hot laps (and I mean it, I was flat out on my ’65 T120SR Bonneville and couldn’t catch the pace car!) of legendary Laguna Seca raceway.  Top memories of the weekend definitely include the feeling in my nether parts cresting the hill into the Corkscrew hard on the throttle – a thrill that never ages. You can too: must be present to win.

Greg Arnold, Motorcycle Division Director at Mecum Auctions (a Vintagent sponsor), with a remarkable original paint 1918 Henderson Model H four coming up for sale at their Monterey auction in August. [Paul d’Orleans]
Little bike, big crowd. View from the podium at the Quail, with the Why We Ride ‘kid’s choice’ winner: a 1976 MV Agusta Minibike produced to commemorate their last World Championship, owned by Marilyn Wiersema. [Paul d’Orleans]
Variety: Hugo Eccles’ brilliant XP Zero, as seen in our Electric Revolutionaries exhibit at the Petersen Museum. And, isn’t it time the Quail had an electric bike category? [Paul d’Orleans]
John Goldman’s 1935 Moto Confort Grandsport 500. [Paul d’Orleans]
Holding up Max Hazan’s double-Velocette MAC special, winner of the Custom/Modified Class. [Paul d’Orleans]
One-owner from new: Phil Lane and his ‘never gonna let you go’ Dunstall Norton 810 Commando. [Paul d’Orleans]
A pair of Ducati singles: an R/T MX and Sebring with patina. [Paul d’Orleans]
A lustrous Ducati 200 Elite with chromed jellymold tank. [Paul d’Orleans]
A rare DKW Hummel in original paint – early 1960s space-age extravagance, and its sister machine was the Victoria Sputnik. [Paul d’Orleans]
Deb Sell on her faithful Honda C77 Dream on the Quail Ride. [Paul d’Orleans]
Just a casual chat between old friends Wayne Rainey, Gordon McCall, Bubba Shobert, and Eddie Lawson. [Paul d’Orleans]
The Haas Motor Museum brought several delectable machines, including this 1929 Ascot-Pullin: read my Road Test of one here. [Paul d’Orleans]
Winner of the Arlen Ness Award, Keith Young with his ‘550’ customized Honda 550cc Four, and 550 holes! [Paul d’Orleans]
On the Quail Ride, oldest bike was this 1939 Indian Sport Scout. [Paul d’Orleans]
On display outside the Velocette Owner’s Club tent, my 1930 Velocette KTT Mk1. [Paul d’Orleans]
Sweet Harley-Davidson Sportster bob-job with low bars and springer forks – very nice. [Paul d’Orleans]
Another amazing bike from the Haas Motor Museum: this Seeley-Tait two-stroke triple emulating the DKW Singing Saw GP racer. [Paul d’Orleans]
From the private collections of Eddie Lawson and Wayne Rainey, several racers that had never been displayed in public. [Paul d’Orleans]
Thanks judges! For spending the better half of the Quail day peering hard at the entrants. [Paul d’Orleans]
Lovely c.1912 NSU V-twin on the grass: rare in the US. [Paul d’Orleans]
A pair of gorgeous pre-war Triumphs: a Tiger 100 and Speed Twin, evidence of stylist Edward Turner’s genius. [Paul d’Orleans]
Shades of orange: an Aprilia X Philippe Starck Moto 6.1 and Norton Combat Commando, on the Quail Ride. [Paul d’Orleans]
Last year’s Best of Show: Max Hazan’s HMW Vincent, which he parked in front of the Vintagent X Motorcycle Arts Foundation booth. His son is ready to ride! [Paul d’Orleans]



Paul d’Orléans is the founder of He is an author, photographer, filmmaker, museum curator, event organizer, and public speaker. Check out his Author Page, Instagram, and Facebook.


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