2015 Quail Motorcycle Gathering

Old bikes stir up old memories for Dain Gingerelli and his brother at The Quail Motorcycle Gathering.

| September/October 2015

  • Classic bikes at the 2015 Quail Motorcycle Gathering.
    Photo by Dain Gingerelli
  • This English-built 1913 JAP-powered Rex is a real rarity in the U.S.
    Photo by Dain Gingerelli
  • This year’s honorary theme singled out military motorcycles, drawing bikes like this rare Indian 841 built for World War II.
    Photo by Dain Gingerelli
  • Cycle World technical editor Kevin Cameron (left) was among the judges at this year’s event.
    Photo by Dain Gingerelli
  • Yamaha bikes at the 2015 Quail Motorcycle Gathering.
    Photo by Dain Gingerelli
  • An original paint 1969 sandcast Honda CB750.
    Photo by Dain Gingerelli
  • Japanese classics were well represented, including Zeki Abed’s 1975 Yamaha RD350.
    Photo by Dain Gingerelli
  • Dain Gingerelli checks out the Zollo Collection’s 1967 Honda CB77 Super Hawk.
    Photo courtesy Dain Gingerelli
  • A Harley-Davidson and Goodyear at the 2015 Quail Motorcycle Gathering.
    Photo by Dain Gingerelli

Just as little children should be seen and not heard, perhaps classic and vintage bikes should be viewed and not judged. Who’s to say that any motorcycle of a specific vintage or pedigree should be deemed more worthy of our affections than another? For that matter, who among us can vouch for the authenticity of a restoration that, according to a designated team of judges and insiders, matches the assembly line criteria of its day?

I know that I can’t make such distinctions. However, as a motorcycle junkie I know a nice motorcycle when I see one, and with apologies to the late humorist Will Rogers, I never saw a motorcycle that I didn’t like. And so this last spring I headed to Carmel, California, for The Quail Motorcycle Gathering to observe and enjoy, rather than pass judgment about, a gathering of old motorcycles.

Like several thousand other motorcycle junkies in attendance, I stepped through the temporary portal on The Quail golf course fairway, and with wide-eyed anticipation I might add, into a world of old and historically significant motorcycles. My older brother Alan, who taught me how to ride bikes in the first place when we were teenagers, joined me on this journey to yesteryear that featured a reported 366 entries.

Al and I viewed hardware we hadn’t seen or experienced in years, and the occasion allowed us to recall stories about certain bikes we had owned or raced in a prior lifetime. We met and chatted with longtime friends and acquaintances, and in the process shared old war stories about our former days on two wheels. (I had forgotten just how fast I thought I really was in my youth.) And, at no charge, bike owners and collectors entertained us with interesting backwater stories about their motorcycles on display.

In for a penny, in for a pound

Whether you’ve been in this motorcycling thing for years or owned just a single bike during your lifetime, you’re worthy of visiting The Quail Motorcycle Gathering. This year’s show took place Saturday, May 16, although Friday’s pre-Quail buildup includes a 100-bike, 100-mile ride through some of Monterey County’s finest back roads before culminating in a parade lap around Laguna Seca Raceway. That victory lap through Laguna’s 11 turns warrants each entrant a barbecue lunch afterward (the $295 fee also includes a show ticket for the following day), and if that’s not enough culinary and old-bike excitement for you, there’s a formal dinner later with an accompanying evening program that should satisfy the cravings and appetites of the staunchest of gear heads. Event organizer Gordon McCall and his legion of Quailees deserve a two-thumbs-up for the two-day happening, and if I had to judge the show, I’d give it an 8-plus, maybe a 9. (The inclusive lunch and all-you-can-eat ice cream as part of admission did nothing to sway my vote, I swear. Burp.)

First and foremost, it is the bikes standing regally along the plush green fairway during Saturday’s show that deserve our accolades and attention. This year’s gathering included numerous class entries and private collections, and leading the charge was a fitting tribute to vintage military vehicles that helped the good guys (that would be us, the Free World) win two global wars.

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