Cape Bike Expo: Rejecting mainstream
By Dave Abrahams
Cape Town – The second annual Cape Bike Expo took on a life of its own almost from the moment the gates opened at Timour Hall in Plumstead at 10am on Sunday.
Despite the threatening weather the bikes poured in – and they kept pouring in all day. The number of visitors was up from 2015 and for once their faith was rewarded. The weather cleared as the day went on; riders and exhibitors alike relaxed into a meet-and-greet that was more like a family gathering than a motor show.
There was plenty to see, but (with a few honourable exceptions) not much of it was Big Business showcasing the latest and greatest. The machines on show were mostly either restorations of 1980s heavy metal or homebuilt creations ranging from ridiculous to world-class.
They included an angular, origami style street-fighter, based on a BMW 650 single, that would stand comparison with concept bikes from any of the major design studios – except that this one arrived under its own steam - and a beautifully finished ‘board racer’ style retro created, frame and all, around a Honda CD200 delivery-bike engine in a shed in Tulbagh without benefit of any machines tools whatsoever.
There were dozens of bobbers, motorcycles stripped down and cut down to the limits of practicality – and sometimes beyond! – as well as a few, beautifully executed custom cruisers, most of which, it must be said, looked a little overdone among the minimalist bobbers.
For the theme at this year’s Cape Bike Expo seemed to be a deliberate rejection of mainstream. Even the live music in the beer garden slotted right in, as big-sound duo Black Irish belted out solid rock and blues numbers from Amy Winehouse to ZZ Top.
The exhibitors - almost twice as many as at the 2015 edition - reflected that as well. The technical exhibits showcased amazing ways to clean up old components and refinish them to look totally unique, the bikewear stalls showed very little Italian leather but loads of ‘alternative’ styles, as did the biker bling, which featured a lot of steampunk jewellery.
But the real show, as ever, was in the parking area, where the bikes kept rolling in and out all day, nearly all of them reflecting their rider’s personality with custom paint jobs, bolt-on extras and some astonishingly uncomfortable-looking modifications.
Strangely, it was the brightly-liveried sports bikes, with their cookie-cutter mainstream styling and expensive (read loud) exhaust systems that looked just a little ordinary in a gathering that celebrated the outrageous, the individual and the non-conformist in motorcycling.