Last Sunday was the 35th Oregon Vintage Motorcycle Show. I decided to go and take a look! I got my Multistrada ready for the short hop to the Benton County Fairgrounds in Corvallis, where the show takes place every year.
I arrived at 1:30pm or thereabouts, as some visitors and exhibitors, were already leaving. I managed to find a spot in the shade of a tree, right at the side of a red Scrambler Ducati. Never saw who was riding it, but the two Ducatis looked good next to each other.
This year’s featured marque of the event was Hodaka.
I had heard of Hodaka motorcycles before, but never really paid any special attention to them. Despite it being the featured marque, I was surprised to see these many bikes at the OVM in all kinds of shape, but most of them were in great condition, either in original un-restored form or bikes that had been restored to original.
I ran into a couple of my riding friends and acquaintances and from their comments I figured there was something special about Hodaka motorcycles in Oregon. A little bit more research and I found out Hodaka was the result of an unique joint venture between Japan and the United States resulting in these motorcycles, which were produced between 1964 and 1978.
What makes it unique for Oregon is that its worldwide distribution was headquartered in Oregon, in the small town of Athena, northeast of Pendleton. The distributing company was called Pacific Basin Trading Company, PABATCO. It is never too late to learn, I have to say. Apparently PABATCO designed and engineered a great part of the motorcycle and engine (no wonder they were all dirt and enduro motorcycles) and Hodaka in Japan was responsible for the manufacture and assembly. Also interesting, I hear this distribution company was owned by the Shell Oil company for the duration of this motorcycle production. Now I understand why there are so many Hodakas in Oregon. Thank you OVM for teaching me a lesson about this unique marque of motorcycles and how Oregon was a decisive factor in its existence.
These events are always great for checking some unique motorcycles, some of them you only see when their owners bring them out of their sheds exactly for these kinds of events. For example, check this Vincent, a 900SS. What? A Vincent 900 SS you said?
Yes, this Vincent has the characteristic L-twin Ducati motor. I’m not sure the owner made the engine transplant for the extra power or for the “reliability” of the Ducati motor. I chatted with the owner and one other guy, as we joked about the possibility of Ducati bringing reliability to a Vincent. It is all a question of perspective, you see.
Anyway, the Ducati motor looked much more simple and compact installed in the Vincent – and no doubt, it is more powerful that what this Vincent originally had.
Another unique motorcycle was this 1929 Indian Chief.
Gotta love the “details” that make it unique, such as the wood topbox, the auxiliary gas tank (could as well be the main tank at this point), the bicycle LED light, the license plate, the ship skin seat cover.
It includes a suicide shifter. Which triggers me to make a comment: some people question whether it is the shifter or the springless foot operated clutch pedal (toe returned on Indians) what really put the riders into danger, leading people to nickname these shifters as suicide shifters. I would say it is the shifter itself since, under certain circumstances, getting one hand off the handlebar to operate the shifter may get the rider into trouble.
I would assume the bike runs and rides, and I base this on the amount of oil leaking on the lower part of the motor.
This bike is an awesome machine for such events. Or it could go, as is, to a museum. Or could even be considered a piece of art, I dare say.
Another interesting motorcycle, if you can call it a motorcycle, was this beautifully restored 1935 Morgan SS.
It was difficult to get a clean shot of this motorcycle since so many people surrounded it at all times.
It could be something interesting to drive. You certainly don’t ride it.
And I had never seen or paid attention to it from the rear angle before. A straight shot from the back shows this interesting shape. Other models have a more tapered end, I believe.
Another unique motorcycle was this Greeves Silverstone.
Now, do you know what makes this motorcycle marque interesting? According to Wikipedia, Bert Greeves, the founder, was mowing the lawn of his home in England when he had the idea of fitting a lawnmower engine to his disabled cousin’s wheelchair. With that he invented the Invacar. The Invacar company was set up and won a major contract to provide motorized three-wheeled chairs for disabled people to the UK Government Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance. That was 1952. His business succeeded and Bert Greeves, a good trials rider, decided to diversify and got into motorcycle manufacturing. That’s how the Greeves motorcycles were born.
Check this BSA and the Velocette next to it.
A nice single cylinder Ariel.
There was a very nice Kawasaki H2 750 Triple, Mach IV.
Aside from these unique motorcycles, the usual suspects were all present. Here is a group of BMWs.
An assortment of Vincents, Triumphs and Nortons.
I wouldn’t mind if a Norton 850 Commando joined my other bikes.
As always, there was the presence of the unusual.
Talking about “matches”, I was just about forgetting, there were a few Matchless there as well.
What else did I learn from this excursion to the Oregon Vintage Motorcycle show? There is always a motorcycle model I’ve never seen before, or a detail I had missed previously on some of these rare motorcycles. There were many opportunities to learn as there were bikes displayed in the event.
I went back to my bike and its friend had left already. I did not get a chance to meet the lucky owner of the red Scrambler Ducati. I assume he was the guy who got the bike as a birthday present the week before (see my previous post).
I went back home through Alpine Rd. so I could stretch the Multistrada’s muscles.
Soon I was back home, overall, this ride was less than 100 miles round trip, I believe. But it was a very entertaining trip. Thank you vintage motorcycle owners for bringing your bikes to the show. I plan to be back to Corvallis for this event next year.