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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Diesels on the Podium, McQueen on the Block: Quail Gathering 2011

The Black by Falcon

Steve McQueen was no poser.

Sometimes you get eye candy by the ones or twos, sometimes by the handful, but occasionally you get it in one of those giant Costco packages and have more candy than you can cram into your eyes at once. The Quail Motorcycle Gathering is such an event. Put on by the Quail Lodge resort and golf club in Carmel, California, the event builds on the success of the Quail Motorsports Gathering, a 10-day orgy of big-bucks automobile judging and other events. The goal, according to event organizer Gordon McCall, is to create a limited-attendence, high-end happening, complete with gourmet food and quiet, comfortable surroundings. Corndog chefs and creamed-corn wrestlers need not apply. Now in its third year, the event has grown to accommodate over 2000 attendees.

The food is good, but the draw is the vintage, custom and otherwise eye-popping machines at the show. A 1939 Brough Superior got lots of attention, as did the “Black Falcon,” a ’52 Vincent motor in a boardtrack-racer style frame, lovingly built by Ian Barry of Falcon Motorcycles. And the famed “bathing suit bike,” the Vincent that Bonneville racer Rollie Free rode near-naked to his speed record was on hand as well. A quartet of diesel motorcycles was there, including a 128-mpg Hayes and a contraption built by Treven Bakker. With a two-cylinder Harz engine and Russian-built Dnepr frame, it was both bizarre and interesting to see. Toss in a huge variety of racing motorcycles from the last 100 years and you can imagine how hard it would be to take it all in during the 5 hours of the event.

It ends in time to catch some of the Bonhams and Butterfield’s auction of collector’s motorcycles and other memorabilia. This isn’t buying a lightly scuffed fairing panel for your 2003 GSX-R600. This is very high-end auctioneering, with the star of the show being a collection of Steve McQueen ephemera, including trophies, awards, and a 1971 Husqvarna 400 Cross signed on the air cleaner by both the actor and his riding buddy and mentor Bud Ekins. The price? How about $144,500, complete with a spare spark plug taped to the frame by McQueen himself.

It wasn’t all about McQueen. A 1925 BMW R32—one of 60 known to exist—went for $139,000. The replicas of the two motorcycles from Easy Riders—AKA “Captain America” and the “Billy Bike”—painstakingly recreated for Otis Chandler’s collection (Captain America was displayed at the “Art of the Motorcycle” exhibit at the Guggenheim museum). The bikes are being sold to benefit the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, to the tune of $52,650 for the Captain, and just $24,570 for Billy.

Proceeds from the Quail event benefit Riders for Health, an organization that provides motorcycle and other transportation to health care workers and other service providers in remote parts of Africa. But it also shows a side of motorcycling—genteel, clean-cut, and sophisticated—that can only improve the image of our passion.


  1. Tim says:

    What a waste of a Vincent motor.

  2. Brinskee says:

    You actually might be able to take me at Lucas Valley Road, but out towards Tomales it’s all over again. 🙂 Be fun to ride anytime! Might be fun to actually have a community fun ride out here! Hint Gabe, Dirck, etc?

  3. Brinskee says:

    They should have just given me that McQueen ride. He and I share a birthday, after all, so it’s only fitting! Anyone that knows the new owner should pass my info along to him/her. Thanks! hahaha

  4. Steve says:

    Interesting article, much better than race articles.

    What is motorcycle butt candy?

    • Brinskee says:

      Bikes that look pretty and that you can sit on but would never, ever ride them like you would any other non-butt-candy bike. That is to say, ride them like they were meant to be ridden.

  5. Charlie says:

    “…and a contraption built by Treven Bakker. With a two-cylinder Harz engine and Russian-built Dnepr frame, it was both bizarre and interesting to see.”

    I think you mean “Hatz” diesel engine, likely from the 2G40 series: . I agree with MikeD, show us the diesels!

  6. MikeD says:

    What?! No pictures of the Diesel contraptions ? Im fed up of “constant motorcycle butt jewelery” like the first pic on the top.

  7. Mr. Mike says:

    Anyone reading this should carve out at least an an hour to fully immerse themselves in the Falcon motorcycles gallery linked above. If that isn’t high art I don’t know what is.

    • Ruefus says:

      Emphatically agree.

      Butt-candy is an OCC theme-bike and stuff of that ilk. You cannot lump the Falcon Black in as mere convenience-store candy. That bike has so much to look at and consume, it’s just unreal.

      Truly magnificent work.

  8. Gabe says:

    Thanks for plugging Dubbelju, Jim. They are great folks and Wolfgang upholds the stereotype of the meticulous German when it comes to maintaining his equipment. I borrowed an F800GS from Dubbelju and it felt like brand new, despite having 30,000 miles on it.

    • jimbo says:

      Ditto on Wolfgang…I’m a “little” heavy for the F800GS’ OEM fork springs (plenty of motor though!). I returned to Wolfgang’s before closing that Saturday afternoon and he immediately swapped the GS for a Thruxton for the Sunday Morning Ride the following day. Hard to beat such personalized care!

      The Thruxton was a bit tight ergo-wise…next time I’ll reserve the standard Bonneville.

  9. jimbo says:

    Summer 2008 the wife and I drove from Utah to San Francisco. I rented an F800GS from Dubbelju and picked up my friend Bill (built Doug Henry’s 03 AMA Supermoto ride) on his sweetly modded Ducati Hypermotard. We rode in for the show, and indeed, it’s well worth the effort to attend.

    I got to ride Bill’s Hyper south from I-280 to Highway 17, then into Santa Cruz. It’s about as nice a street ride as any. The handling and mid-range torque are an incredible combination. It’s light and feels even lighter than spec; super flick-able. Too bad we paralleled a CHP vehicle the last few miles north of Santa Cruz. Bill, riding behind me on the F800GS, said the officer kept staring at me on the tomato red Duc, waiting to flip on his lights/siren. Imagine riding the speed limit on 17 on that Duc!

    The food was great; bring extra money for T-Shirts! Mert Lawill was there and signed Bill’s shirt.

    • Stinky says:

      You Poor SOB! I’ve not been to Disneyland for a couple decades, but I’d have had to pull over and have a smoke (Wait!, can’t do that in CA) & let him get away. That show and Laguna would be enough to get me into the plastic jungle. Following a CHP on a Hypermotard would qualify as cruel & unusual punishment. They thought waterboarding was cruel!

    • Brinskee says:

      17 is tough to ride quick on most days – just because of all the traffic, nevermind the CHP patrols. Next time you’re in town, I suggest a ride out from Alice’s in Woodside on 84 (La Honda Rd.) to Pescadero, then south on US1 to SC. And then I would double-dog dare you to keep up with me on my Multi 1200 on that Hyper. Those twisties in 84 are some of my favorite in the Bay Area. I think I’ll hit them this Saturday in fact! 🙂

      • jimbo says:

        Oh, now that’s just plain M-E-A-N! 🙂

        I’ll give you 84…meet me on Lucas Valley Road in Marin the following Sunday.