Big-Spending Boomers Ogle Vintage Bikes
by Betsy Miller
Got an extra $200 thousand? Then you might want to head to the antique and vintage motorcycle show in Rhinebeck on June 10 - 12. Once there you’ll be able to plunk down your money and ride home on a beautiful, showroom quality, 1936 Harley Davidson—commonly known as “The Knucklehead”.
Too rich for your blood? How about a 1936 Indian 4-cylinder? That’ll only run ya’ $100K. Or maybe you’d prefer one of these Morgan 3-wheelers (above). Price tag? A mere $20 grand or so.
Looking for an even better deal? The price of a ticket to The Rhinebeck Grand National Meet is only $15. That’ll gain you entry to the largest vintage motorcycle show in the world, where you can lust after such gems as the 1919 ABC Sopwith Motorcycle (above). Lucky for you and your bank account, lust is all you can do with this one; it’s not for sale.
“People come here from Canada, Japan, Europe, even Australia,” says chairman and co-founder, Dan Henke. “They either come to buy or to search for restoration parts, or just to look. There’s a lot to see.”
Over 400 vendors get together at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds to celebrate “everything motorcycle”—from the very first motorized bicycles made in the 1890s (A DeDion from France, pictured below), to the refined thoroughbreds of the 1950s. And almost all of them are in street-ready condition.
“Any member of the Antique Motorcycle Association can bring a bike for judging,” Henke says. “The only criterion is that the piece has to be as close as possible to original showroom condition.” Not only does it need to run, the chrome has to be right, tires the correct size, handlebars poised just so. Even paint needs to be perfect.
Says Henke, “Our parts vendors might have an original paint touch-up kit dated 1935. Somebody will buy that and have it computer scanned in order to make enough paint to get his bike just right. Owners go to great lengths to be as accurate as possible.”
If you get tired of looking at great bikes, the show also includes 12 vintage hot-rods (“quite exotic”), early machinery from the Industrial Revolution, WWI aircraft on loan from the Aerodrome up the street, and even a working 1940’s “motorcycle” fair ride alluringly entitled, “The California Hell Rider’s Wall of Death.” Henke laughs. “Kids love it.”
There are sideshows, of course. Biker Billy will conduct a Roadhouse Cooking Show, a stunt show will feature a guy on a motorcycle performing some very cool car jumps, and Krysten Knievel will bring along one of her famous Dad’s motorcycles. But the main event, are the vintage motorcycles, most of which are for sale. Hell’s Angel wannabes can just write a check and ride off into the sunset.
The Rhinebeck Grand National Meet
Dutchess County Fairgrounds
June 10 – June 12
Admission/$15.00; 12 and under/free.
Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.