The Gotham Motorcycle Classic has become a breath of fresh air in New York City. The show only turned three this year, but offered the large crowd of over 12,000 people an escape from the hustle and bustle of the streets to some riverside action. It was held April 16-17, onboard the Intrepid aircraft carrier that hogs quite a large parking space off Manhattan's Upper West Side, but New Yorkers don't seem to object.
New Yorkers expect the biggest and best in their city, so why not hold Gotham on a sensational floating hunk of steel that's now a National Historic Landmark. Besides, it's one of the most accessible locations by train, bus, or car, and there's plenty things of moto interest there to keep a man from jumping overboard. There was something for everyone, from the USS Growler that's the only sub open to the public anywhere in the world, to exploring the world's fastest commercial plane, the Concord.
But the main commander of the Intrepid was the Gotham show that spread across the decks and docks of the 900-foot vessel. The flight deck had an interesting combo of some vintage military bikes with supersonic jet fighters thrown into the mix, live music, and a great view to spy on people below. The hangar deck housed a list of clothing and accessory vendors, including Arlen Ness, to interactive shindigs like rides in the A-6 Cockpit Simulator, if you could stomach it.
The dock was swayin' with the most action and presented some of he industry's biggest names and emerging talent. Among the many builders were Bourget's Bike Works, Dave Finn Motorcycles, Four Horsemen, Ultimate Cycles, Queens Choppers, and Steel City Choppers. Bourget had a large setup, including a bike for the New York Stock Exchange (Roger apparently got to ring the opening bell the previous morning). Ultimate Cycles owner Dee Clark featured the company's bike built in homage to the NY Yankees and the Nightmare bike. "This show is awesome. It brings builders from all over, plus there's not really a show like this anywhere," Clark said. On the dock, you could also find tons of people hawking clothes, chrome, engines, show bikes, and everything holy in motorcycle land.
Thankfully, there were plenty of great restaurants in NYC to avoid the fries and sliders from Mickey D's, the only food vendor there. I used the fast food joint as a cut through to the catwalk that crossed the busy strip. There were a couple show stragglers roasting tires on the blacktop below, and the smell and smoke of toasted rubber soon drifted over the decks of the Intrepid. Not exactly what you normally see in NYC, but it's a bike show after all.
Speaking of which, it was the all-brands bike show that really blew everyone away. Over 150 unbelievable custom and classic scooters were entered into one of four divisions (Military, Heritage, Custom, and Competition) and separated into 32 classes. The fierce competition made the decisions difficult, but when the smoke cleared, the best won. Regardless, all rivalries were friendly, and the atmosphere of Gotham was imbued with good will, lots of action, and tricked-out rides.
If that was not enough, NYC itself was it's own party with plenty of bumpin' bars close to the Intrepid. Hogs & Heifers Saloon was a hot spot to find honeys dancing on the fire-lit bar, while the bartenders spit flames out their mouths. Trust me, it got hot in there - a dance on the bar will cost ladies their bras, so expect a breast fest. Next stop in the city that never sleeps was the Red Rock West Saloon. I found some Gotham show participants misbehaving there, while hotties twirled hoola hoops on the bar moving their hips better than Elvis.
Partying in the city did eventually end, but the Gotham Motorcycle Classic will be back bigger and better each year. It's the Big Apple's breath mint of bike shows and fast becoming a NYC tradition to rival only itself.