2012 AMCA Grand National at Rhinebeck

Reader Contribution by Jeff Alexander
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A Flying Merkel at the 2012 AMCA Grand National Show in Rhinebeck, N.Y.

The scenic Hudson Valley city of Rhinebeck, N.Y., roared to life during the Antique Motorcycle Club of America’s (AMCA) Grand National Show. The annual event drew hundreds of exhibitors proudly displaying diverse machines that comprised one of the most thorough motorcycle timeline displays of recent memory. From a replica of one of the earliest motorcycles – an 1885 Daimler Gotlieb – to customized choppers paying homage to ’60s and ’70s machines courtesy of Leadfist Cycles, this year’s event was an undeniable result of passion and careful attention to detail.

Replica 1885 Daimler “Reitwagen” made by William Eggers was shown at Rhinebeck.

“We really worked to keep things public and accessible to people so they could connect better, while keeping our theme of cool old stuff. Our timeline of bikes from the 1890s to 1978 is second to none,” said AMCA Hudson Valley Chapter President Dan Henke about the meet, held June 8-9, 2012.

Asked what new trends he’s experienced, Henke stated younger riders eager to learn has helped the event grow. “I see a whole new generation of people embracing ’60s and ’70s culture. I notice it every year and I think it’s great that younger people keep it all alive.”

Henke noted the irony of younger generations embracing ’60s and ’70s motorcycle culture, a time Henke felt was very challenging for the industry. “Those years were very difficult for motorcycle companies because it felt like people were just fed up. Outlaw bikers raged across the nation and this was pumped through B-movies promoting the whole thing. Famous Hollywood actors got their start in biker flicks, Jack Nicholson and John Cassavetes. Even Joe Namath starred in one,” laughed Henke. He noted that Honda’s U.S. arrival was a watershed for the motorcycle industry, which was suffering declining sales.

“Honda sought to market smaller displacement bikes and spent a lot of time advertising to change things. The AMCA has always had a strong showing of smaller displacement bikes. We want as much diversity as possible.” 

The AMCA event stayed true to Henke’s theme of accessibility. Coveted classic bikes were not rope lined from anxious viewers, but proudly displayed within arm’s reach, with Vincents and Velocettes standing outside for admirers to view. 1917 Harley Davidson racers were ridden throughout the fair grounds, drawing crowds with every rev. Indians with faded paint and patina preserved the spirit of early American motorcycling.

“Guys in their 50s and 60s aren’t always going to be around. We need to have the younger people keep it alive and stay true to the culture. I feel the Rhinebeck shows are a proponent of this,” remarked Henke, adding, “The Hudson Valley is very biker friendly, which makes our events perfect for any enthusiast. Going over the AMCA membership we found it to be the highest populace on the east coast.”

Stay abreast of future AMCA shows by visiting the AMCA web site here. – Jeff Alexander

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