Billed as “Europe’s best independent annual motorcycle show” and London’s “new wave” motorcycle emporium, in a few days’ time (May 26 – 28) ‘The Bike Shed’ will open the doors of the 8th annual bike show that will be staged at the historic and chic Tobacco Dock venue in East London’s Docklands for the fourth time.
“Celebrating the creativity of the new wave and Cafe Racer custom motorcycle culture, with over 200 curated custom motorcycles expected, the weekend will feature live art, a photographic exhibition and hand-made accessories, alongside selected brands, retailers and exhibitors.”
|Photo by Autohouse|
With all the contemporary upscale tweaks to set it apart from orthodox European custom bike events, ‘The Bike Shed’ is the nearest thing Europe has to a “new wave/new gen” show of the kind seen in events such as ‘The One Show’ at Portland, Oregon, ‘Mama Tried’ at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, ‘Handbuilt’ at Austin, Texas, and ‘Born Free’ in California.
Like ‘Handbuilt’, the event has grown out of a retail establishment – one based on lovingly converted old, classic and unmistakably British style railway arches close to one of the wealthiest potential ‘Square Mile’ markets in the world in Old Street in the City of London. With the backing of like-minded souls as investors, founder Anthony Dutch van Someren has turned what started out as a blog into a burgeoning network of retail, social club and events for the new post-boomer audience that is emerging.
“This is NOT a motorcycle trade fair” says Dutch, “it’s an exhibition in a giant pop-up member’s club, where everyone is invited. There’s plenty of space to chill out and enjoy the crowd, and people tend to want to hang out all weekend, soaking up the entertainment and the vibe.”
Every element of this unique and privately run event is hand-picked by the organizers (usually based at the Bike Shed Motorcycle Club in Shoreditch). The exhibited bikes are ‘invitational’ and selected from the best bike builders in the UK and Europe (with guests from the US), displayed without ropes “so visitors can get up close and into detail with their pictures”.
“Every brand, retailer, artist, photographer and exhibitor is selected and approved by us. Every barista, bar tender, burger (or salad box) and coffee bean is tried and tested, and the organizing staff are all bike-loving volunteers and members of the Bike Shed Motorcycle Club (BSMC). The event is extremely family friendly, safe for kids, and enjoyable for non-bike riders as well as custom aficionados.”
Supported by the mainstream motorcycle industry, the event is sponsored by Ohlin’s suspension, Rev’It! apparel and motorcycle manufacturers such as Triumph, Ducati, Yamaha and BMW, all exhibiting alongside other manufacturers, pro-builders, amateurs and shed-builders alike.
|Indian Motorcycles’ replica streamliner homage to Burt Munro, the “Spirit of Munro”, who became “The World’s Fastest Indian” 50 years ago|
Builders include prior AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building winners and competitors such as Rough Crafts (Taiwan), Old Empire Motorcycles (UK), Sur Les Chapeaux de Roues (France), Black Track (Luxembourg) and Rocket Bobs (UK).
However, in many respects the most interesting development is the involvement of Indian Motorcycle. Onboard as an official partner, Indian will be giving a UK debut to their ‘Spirit of Munro’ streamliner and Young Guns of Switzerland’s ‘Miracle Mike’ sprint-racing Scout.
Complete with a nitrous oxide system, Young Guns are setting up at ‘The Bike Shed’ en route to taking on the 2017 Essenza sprint races and Punks Peak at the Indian Motorcycle sponsored ‘Wheels & Waves’ at Biarritz, France, in June.
Arguably the ultimate “shed-builder”, 2017 is the 50th anniversary of Munro setting his speed record and becoming “The World’s Fastest Indian”. Indian will further showcase its commitment to the custom scene with award-winning Scouts built by dealers in the UK on display alongside Super Hooligan Scouts that are currently being raced in the DTRA Hooligan championship.
In 2016, the event attracted 12,000 visitors, with some 15,000 expected this year. The privately owned Bike Shed Motorcycle Club (BSMC) has a London membership of around 600, but has some 647,000 followers on Facebook and over 105k on Instagram. “We reach and engage with around 5-6 million people in the weeks of our annual events,” says Dutch. “Our online social media reach is genuinely global and 100% organic. The Bike Shed main website serves 700,000 pages a month to around 200,000 unique users. The BSMC is privately owned and run by family and friends.”