A few familiar events on the North American motorcycle calendar include The One Moto Show, The Mama Tried Motorcycle Show, The Handbuilt Motorcycle Show and The Quail Motorcycle Gathering. If a couple of Canadians swing it, their fresh new Moto Craft Show could join those revered and well-respected extravaganzas as a must-see motorcycle exposition. On June 7 to 9, 2024 the Moto Craft Show will inhabit over 30,000 square feet of the Queen Elizabeth Building at Exhibition Place in Toronto. “We want to redefine how motorcycle shows are put across in this country,” says show co-promoter Alex de Cartier. He continues, “We feel there’s a real lack of culture in the motorcycle show scene, because basically all we’ve got are the trade shows.” In collaboration with his friend Steve Menzie and the crew at Alex’s Flying Squirrel Motorcycle Co., last fall they mounted On Any Saturday. This was essentially a takeover of the Distillery District in Toronto, where 500 to 600 motorcycles showed up, rode down the laneways and packed out the area. Vendors and bands were on hand, and Alex says it was a very successful event.

The crew at Flying Squirrel Motorcycles, with an actual Scott Flying Squirrel. [FSM)
“Shortly after that, I was in Victoria, B.C., and I got together with builder Jay Donovan,” Alex explains. “We started to talk about the Haas Moto Museum, because some of Jay’s bikes are in that collection. Jay and I were discussing how potentially some of the bikes were going back to the builders, as per the late Bobby Haas’s wishes. The thought was, maybe we could get these bikes together at a Canadian show before they go off in different directions. So, after connecting with the Museum, we flew down in January and met with Stacey Mayfield, the Haas Moto Museum’s director. After much discussion about the vision and intent of the show, she agreed to work with us and help put together a show here in Toronto. Really at the core of it, I was talking to Jay and where he’s at in his career because Bobby Haas had taken an interest in Jay’s skills and abilities as a moto craftsman. Bobby had been a huge part in the life of many builders as he created the Haas Moto Museum and commissioned or purchased over 60 handcrafted motorcycles. This led to us talking about how, in this country, there’s no real support system for builders.” Alex adds, “So ultimately the thinking was if we put a show together that illuminates the art, the culture, the builders – maybe it helps create a platform for Canadians like (Calgary creator) Jackson Burrows or Jay, and many others in Canada as well as more internationally recognized builders such as Max Hazan or Craig Rodsmith to promote their work, which in turn may help them create more work, leading to more art and wonderful bikes to look at.”

For more info on Moto Craft, check their website here.

Meanwhile, Steve made a pilgrimage to the Bike Shed Show in England, and that’s when some ideas were cemented about what could be done in Toronto. “There are a lot of motorcycle shows in Canada, but we didn’t feel that any of them were representative of the things we wanted to see,” Steve says. “I was blown away by the Bike Shed Show, and that whole experience, and I thought we could do something with our combination of skillsets.” The skillsets include what Alex has done with Flying Squirrel Motorcycle Co. Named after the vintage liquid-cooled, twin-cylinder Scott 2-stroke model, Flying Squirrel was in the past a parts and service shop in the East End of Toronto. About five years ago, Alex bought the company and turned it into an event and lifestyle space, including a membership area where subscribers can store or work on their machines or enjoy a beverage in the lounge or cafe. It is, in a nutshell, “A destination and a place for people to be that isn’t people standing around in a strip mall parking lot kicking tires,” Alex says. “It’s a homebase and a platform for like-minded people to share ideas. And that’s what Steve and I did, we shared our ideas.”

A couple of J Shia’s remarkable customs will be included in Moto Craft. [J Shia]
Alex and Steve are shipping approximately 30 of the Haas Moto Museum machines to Toronto. “The museum collection enabled us to go to another level and with the help of Stacey Mayfield get some very well-known builders on board,” Alex explains. “We didn’t want to build this up over five years, we wanted to start at a reasonably high level and really try and grow something from it. Getting involved with the Museum and who we consider to be some of the best builders in the world, it’s really given us a good starting point.” Alex’s own starting point in the world of motorcycles began when he was 7 years old aboard a Honda Z50. He rode dirt bikes for years, and then at 16, went the Mod route with a Lambretta and then a Vespa before eventually moving to a Norton Commando. His current long-distance rider is a 2015 Triumph Tiger 800. Steve, meanwhile, started off riding horses but dabbled with an enduro bike that lived on the ranch. He’d been in and out of bikes his entire life, but in the last few years his love of machines has been rekindled. His ride is a 1993 BMW R100GS, and that led him to hook up with Alex at Flying Squirrel. Steve’s specialty is in sales and marketing, but the last 25 years has been spent in the event space. He promoted comic conventions, including Fan Expo Canada. He’s now running the second largest collector convention in North America with the Toronto Sport Card Expo and operates five other collector conventions a year.

Jay Donovan with one of his amazing sculptural builds, courtesty the Haas Museum. [Fraser Evans]
Alex spent his early life working in music, either playing in a band, managing tours or putting out records. His guitar playing and vocals were “reasonably shabby,” he says, but his real talent was with the telephone and getting people organized. He spent time with some of the nation’s favorite acts, including as a publisher with the Tragically Hip, and as a tour manager with Blue Rodeo and Jim Cuddy. In the mid-2000s, music was left behind when he became involved with development, converting warehouses and churches into condominiums in the East End of Toronto. “I became disenfranchised with that and wanted to get back into something that was more of a passion,” he says. “There needed to be a home for motorcycles in this town, and we converted a place near my house into what Flying Squirrel is now. That’s been a four-year odyssey.”

Craig Rodsmith’s Moto Guzzi ‘Ambassador’, courtesy the Haas Moto Museum. [Grant Schwingle]
Some of the machines coming to Moto Craft from the Haas Moto Museum are very high profile. There is, for example, Craig Rodsmith’s 1000cc Moto Guzzi machine dubbed Mister Fahrenheit. The bike with sidecar was co-designed by Bobby Haas as a Bonneville Salt Flats racer. Haas was gearing up to attempt breaking a record in the 1000cc, pushrod gas sidecar class, but passed away before he got the opportunity to follow through. Racing Mister Fahrenheit, a documentary film about the adventure directed by Dallas filmmaker Michael Rowley, premiered at the Dallas International Film Festival in late April. And there are several of Max Hazan’s special machines, including another venture with Bobby on the salt flats with the 1650cc, turbocharged V-4 Motus powered Salt Shaker. Max rode this purpose-built racer at Bonneville in 2020. Also set to come to Moto Craft is Max’s Black Knight, powered by a 500cc single-cylinder BSA engine. Many other motorcycles from the Haas Museum are on the list, including two board track racers; a 1914 Indian and a 1915 Harley-Davidson. “The board trackers are coming,” Alex says, “because Flying Squirrel Motorcycle, located, at 1345 Queen Street East, is directly across the street from where the only Canadian board track was built in 1913. We want to illuminate the board track racing scene that took place here for 24 to 36 months just prior to the First World War.” He continues, “Not only is the show featuring these amazing museum bikes, but we’re also showcasing many other vintage and locally built bikes – owners and builders are welcome to submit their creations for consideration.”

More than one Max Hazan bike will make it to Toronto, courtesy the Haas Moto Museum. This is his BSA B34-based ‘Black Knight’. [Brent Graves]
Another important aspect of the Moto Craft Show, with the tagline ‘Where Speed Meets Art’, Steve explains, is the event is a ‘ride to’ show. “It’s a real social part of the experience,” he says. “This is really focused on incredible world class motorcycles in a place where there’s a ton of community in a spot where you ride to, and ride from. We’re looking at putting on some rides during the show, and there’s some limited free motorcycle parking. It makes it like a great moto gathering.” With the metal, rubber and leather of the motorcycles there will also be exhibitors and vendors, a moto market area and an ‘artistic alley’ featuring all things motorcycle. “It’s a celebration of the motorcycle lifestyle through the lens and creativity of artisans and crafters who share your passion,” the Moto Craft website proclaims. Builders, including Max, Craig and Jay will be on hand for a ‘Talk Series.’ Others will be involved, too, including designers and adventurers “who will share their stories and insights.”

Cristian Sosa’s Indian-based ‘Space Traveler’ will also appear in Toronto, courtesy the Haas Moto Museum. [Grant Schwingle]
The state of motorcycling in general is healthy, Alex says. “At Flying Squirrel, for instance, we work with a group that does rider training, and we have 1,000 new students coming through the doors this year to learn to ride a motorcycle legitimately. I believe there’s a great future from that perspective. I believe it’s in good shape and I hope this show helps open the doors further. As well, by classifying motorcycles as art, you’re opening the eyes of people just beyond the motorcycle community.” Steve chimes in, “Moto Craft will be an amazing experience and we hope the community comes out and supports it. Motorcycles are important in broader culture, whether that be in fashion, movies, or art. They punch way above their weight in that everyone is drawn to them whether it’s the classic black leather jacket or motorcycle scenes in films or art — that helps us cast a wider net for those who are simply moto curious, as well as those who are deeply involved in the community.”



Greg Williams is Profiles Editor for The Vintagent. He’s a motorcycle writer and publisher based in Calgary who contributes the Pulp Non-Fiction column to The Antique Motorcycle and regular feature stories to Motorcycle Classics. He is proud to reprint the Second and Seventh Editions of J.B. Nicholson’s Modern Motorcycle Mechanics series. Follow him on Instagram, and explore all his articles for The Vintagent here.


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