Gearhead Sunday at Revival Cycles

A couple weekends ago I got to attend a motorcycle nerd get-together dubbed Gearhead Sunday, hosted by Revival Cycles in Austin. These are the folks who put on my favorite bike show, The Handbuilt Motorcycle Show, each year and this was my first time to visit their shop. I saddled up on my Road King and rode down to the shop in east Austin with a buddy of mine, eager to see the home of an awesome bike builder.

I was only expecting a parking lot gathering where fellow motorcycle aficionados and gear heads could show off what they had built or had in progress. It was a pleasant surprise to find that Revival was kind enough to allow us to wander around their shop. Since I wasn't anticipating this kind of access, I was a bit underprepared in the photography department. I had only my iPhone with me, so I fired up my favorite camera app, Blackie, and made do. The gritty hard contrast look that I get from the Tri-X film simulation in the app works quite well for things like this. It was a challenge to take photos in the low light but I managed to get a few cool snaps I think.

Check out more photos from the event on my gallery site.

ROT Rally 2018

I wasn't planning on attending the ROT Rally in Austin this year. It's crazy hot this time of year, entry to the rally is kind of expensive, and the attractions weren't compelling enough for me this time around. As it turned out, I was offered a free pass by a friend so I ended up stopping by for a little bit. My main interest was in the builder bike show and maybe some flat track racing.

Unfortunately, I ended up being greatly disappointed. The builder bike show used to be held in the main Travis County Expo Center arena in the past years that I've attended. This year it got bumped into  what used to be a small music tent. Micro wrestling and roller derby replaced the bike show. For a rally that is supposed to be centered around motorcycles, this was a complete "What the hell" situation. There were only a small fraction of the usual number of custom bikes under the tent. Not much of a bike show.

While the turnout and show accommodations were lacking, there was still some nice eye candy for a bike enthusiast like me. Here are a few machines and details that caught my eye.

Photos taken with my Fujifilm X100F and conversion lenses. More photos from the event are on my gallery site.

Tanks

The Harvest Classic vintage motorcycle rally was last Saturday. It was a lovely day for a ride and I took the Road King out to dusty Luckenbach, TX for an afternoon of strolling amongst beautiful bikes and hanging out with old friends. It was a quick trip and I spent more time socializing than snapping shots of the machines. Had to get a few in, of course. I shot one roll of film and a few iPhone snaps. Here are a few instant gratification shots. The film will have to wait until I can make it by a lab.

Images taken with iPhone 6S Plus, Blackie app.

Eastside Classic

The Eastside Classic vintage bike show is held annually on Father's Day and I got to ride down to the event at Lustre Pearl last weekend. It's always a great collection of restorations and one-off builds based on classic motorcycles. This year was no exception. It was a sweltering day to be out on a motorcycle and thankfully there was plenty of shade and air conditioning to retreat into between brief periods of checking out the bikes as they arrived.

The Lustre Pearl is a new location for the Eastside Classic and the layout was such that most of the bikes were packed kind of tightly together. The bikes were setup to line the walkways around the the Lustre Pearl instead of the more open parking lot. That made it difficult to check out the details and get photos. Fortunately, since the bikes arrived over a period of a couple hours I was able to snap a few photos of my favorites easily enough. Below are some of the bikes from the show that caught my eye.

As is usually the case at events like this, some of the bikes that attendees rode in were just as fun to checkout as the show bikes. The parking lot can be a bonus bike show so I always spend some time wandering around there at these events in Austin. Here are some of the great machines I noticed.

Photographically, I approached things a little different than usual. A couple of weeks back I acquired a Fujifilm X100F and I used it exclusively at the show. I haven't talked about this little camera much yet but there will be more coming about that decision soon. The optical viewfinder on the X100F was a good way for me to work in the bright conditions. Light pavement reflected the bright sun and I found the OVF to be easier on my eye than cranking the brightness of the EVF. 

There was a mix of strong sunlight and deep shade so I set the X100F to a dynamic range value of DR200 at ISO 400. I also dialed down the highlights to -1 to create a film-like roll off of the highlights and bumped shadows to +1 for a bit of punch. With my favorite film simulation, Classic Chrome, this was enough to keep the highlights in check while still having a contrasty punch. Since the Fujifilm cameras tend to keep white balance on the cool side I set my white balance to Shade, even when shooting in the open parking lot. There was plenty of shade and shadows in most of my shots and this gave a slight warmth to the images, which was appropriate given how hot it was out there (I believe the heat index was approaching 110 degrees Fahrenheit!)

The result of my "pre-processing" was a set of images that looked fantastic straight out of camera. I adjusted brightness and boosted shadows a tad on some and added a touch of sharpening and clarity - that was it. Getting the highlights, shadows, and white balance where I wanted them in camera made post processing a breeze. I've gotten to where I do very minimal post processing these days, usually just tweaking a tone curve and maybe some localized adjustments. For documenting events like this, getting the look 95% there in camera makes things a lot more fun and easy back home at the computer.

You can find more photos from the show on my gallery site.

ROT Rally Artisan Bike Show

Last weekend was the Republic of Texas (ROT) Biker Rally in Austin. It's a wild party that draws bikers from all over the country and the world. This year I was there for the music and the custom bikes. A feature attraction at the rally was the Artisan Show where builders got to show off their custom creations.

For as big of an event as ROT Rally is, the bike show is relatively small. There aren't as many bikes as other annual shows I attend, such as the Handbuilt Show. Still, there were some fantastic machines and they were openly spaced in the Travis County Expo Center for leisurely viewing and photographing. I spent a good bit of time admiring the bikes and discovering bits of interesting detail.  Besides the motorcycle eye candy, the air conditioned Expo Center provided a comfortable escape from the balmy heat of early summer. Here are some of my favorite bikes and accent details.

Bikes

Details

All images taken with a Fujifilm X100F, Classic Chrome simulation. Check out more of my images from the ROT Rally on my gallery site.

Texas Motorcycle Revival

Last Saturday the annual Texas Motorcycle Revival was going on at Central Texas Powersports in Georgetown, TX. This small gathering drew some neat bikes last year and I was eager to see what people would ride in this time around. There was a great mix of machines and, as usual, I came away inspired. Someday I'm going to have to find an old bike to wrench on and bring back to life.

Lately when I attend events like these I travel minimally, photographically speaking. I opted for film shooting because it's kind of self limiting in the number of shots I can take and it tends to keep me more into the experience of the event instead of having a camera up to my face the whole time I'm there. My pocketable Olympus XA was my camera companion of choice, loaded with a roll of Agfa Vista 200 film.

Here are a few favorite bikes. That Vincent...drool.

And some closer details. The Olympus XA can't focus very closely and I was tempted to use my iPhone at times. I decided to keep it a pure analog experience. It just seemed fitting.

If you'd like to see more of the great classic bikes from the show, check out my gallery site.

Flat Track Racing in Gruene

Gruene Harley Davidson threw a heck of a 10th Anniversary bash this weekend. The usual Harley party components were well represented - bikes, babes, and booze. All good things to be sure but I made the trip down with a looming threat of torrential rain to check out the flat track races. This type of motorcycle racing really seems to be catching on around here and this is the third event I've been to this year that has featured a flat track race. The heavy earth moving equipment was putting the finishing touches on the impromptu track when I arrived. Soon we were watching bikes whip around the small course, kicking up clouds of dust. 

There were some pro / semi-pro riders competing in a Hooligan race and then there were a bunch of guys racing in a "run what ya brung" series. The latter was pretty entertaining. Anybody willing to pay a small entry fee was able to get their fool self out there on the track with pretty much any sort of bike. Hope some of them had trailers to haul their bikes home after taking a spill in the dirt! Looked like fun, although I'm not quite ready to take my Sporty out on the dirt. I had a blast watching the races and getting some shots. A chain link fence around the track made photography a little tough. I got a few shots I liked regardless, with my trusty Fujifilm X-T1 no less. 

In addition to the flat track races, Unknown Industries was out there doing some freestyle riding demos on how to destroy motorcycle rear tires. There was lots of smoke and some impressive wheelies! Amazing stunt riding by these guys. I'm still coughing up burnt rubber.

I didn't get to stay for the final races as I was keeping an eye on the weather radar and I decided it was best to make the ride back to Austin before any more of the increasing spotty thunderstorms crossed my path home. My rain suit came in handy as I rode through a brief but fairly strong storm around Kyle. The storms quickly dissipated not long after I arrived home. I wished I'd stayed longer. You never know what is going to happen with Texas weather though. It could have just as easily been a total monsoon. A nice rainbow appeared outside my garage as I put the bike away. Maybe we'll have some dry days this week.

The 2016 Handbuilt Motorcycle Show

The 2016 Handbuilt Motorcycle Show was held in Austin, TX last weekend. This show is put on by Revival Cycles along with other sponsors over the MotoGP weekend in Austin. This is my third year attending this show and it was bigger than ever. I got down there as the doors opened on Saturday to try and beat the crowds. There was a line to get in and it stayed that way the whole time I was there. It was a dense pack of people inside but the show staff was doing a good job of trickling folks in as others left to leave plenty of room for checking out the bikes. The motorcycle enthusiasts at this show are all there to appreciate and study the handbuilt cycles and everyone was polite about taking turns with getting unobstructed photos.

This indoor show is fairly dimly lit, with the most light coming in from open bay doors at the front of this warehouse-like space. I took a fast wide lens (Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4) to work in the low light. I'd meant to bring along a monopod and ended up running out of the house without it. It would have been nice to shoot at a lower ISO but the grainy look from pushing the ISO lends itself well to the subjects in this case. That's what I'm going with anyway. 

There was some great eye candy at this show. As usual, I gravitated more toward the grittier looking vintage builds. A few heavily chromed and polished bikes caught my eye as well this time through interesting and creative details. Here are a few favorites from my tour around the exhibition hall.

I kept an eye out for interesting details on these bikes. I especially love discovering subtle details that are missed on a casual glance. It's those small things that really personalize a custom bike in my mind. Here are a few interesting bits I noticed.

Part of the fun of going to shows like this is seeing the bikes in the parking lot that people ride to the event. The street in front of the venue was closed off and only motorcycles were allowed in. That made for a bike show of its own. Here are a few that caught my eye. 

New this year to the Handbuilt show was a track race course across the street. There were official races Friday that I unfortunately couldn't attend and Saturday was informal stuff that anybody who dared could sign up to participate in. My time was limited so I didn't get to hang out, although I did catch a glimpse of a two-up race going on as I was leaving.

The Handbuilt Show has become a respected custom bike show in Austin in a relatively short time. It is nice to see it catching on and it is drawing some talented builders. On the down side the density of attendees is increasing each year. While I'm not much for big crowds this is one show I'll look forward to for years to come.

You can check out more of my shots from the show here.

Giddy Up Vintage Chopper Show

Last weekend I rode down with a good friend of mine to the Giddy Up Vintage Chopper Show in New Braunfels. I love attending vintage bike shows and was glad we had some nice weather for a ride down to this one. While I'm not much for choppers myself, I enjoy seeing what people come up with on these garage customs. This was a huge gathering of bikes and bikers, much larger than I anticipated. It was more of a rally than a bike show. Finding a spot to park our motorcycles was a challenge and we ended up parking off the side of the road that winds past the River Road Ice House where the event was held. 

The crowd was thicker than I'm comfortable in and that made it challenging to get photos of tightly packed bikes. I didn't take near as many photos as I normally do at bike shows. Still though, I came away with some shots of a few bikes and details that interested me. Since I had a hockey game to shoot that night I couldn't stay long so that cut into my photography time as well. Here are a few of the bikes that caught my eye. Most of these weren't in the actual show. They were either brought my vendors or other attendees. Getting shots of entire bikes in the small show area was nearly impossible due to cramped space and lots of people.

I'm always looking for little details on custom bikes - the extra touches that you find on close inspection and make it truly unique riding machine.  When it comes to custom bikes I'm not much for polished chrome. The gritty textures and details of oil dripping engines from decades past are much more interesting. Rat bikes with lots of rust and rough edges are much more fun to check out than glossy paint and chrome bling. 

There was a lot to see at Giddy Up and I wished I'd had more time to walk through all the parked bikes outside the main event area. I know there were some gems out there. While I may have more skills in photography than working with mechanical things, shows like this sure make me want to try my hand with a set of wrenches and old iron horse in need of some rejuvenation. Maybe some day.

That's all for now. Until next time, peace, love, and choppers.

East Side Classic 2015

Last weekend I stopped by the annual East Side Classic Vintage Motorcycle Show with my friend and fellow bike enthusiast, Wes. It was another one of those weird weather days in Austin. We drove down there in Wes' truck since we weren't participating in the show (and because we're total wusses and didn't want to ride in the rain.) On the way down there we got caught in a crazy torrential downpour. It was coming down so hard the windshield wipers couldn't keep up. We were wondering if anybody would even ride out to the show at that point. Thankfully, the storm passed quickly and the overcast skies just produced some off and on drizzle while we were at the show. Bikes slowly streamed in through a small moat and folks were so eager to show off their restorations and custom rides that they didn't mind parking in the pond of a parking lot at the Yellow Jacket Social Club.

I love shows like this one. It is so interesting to see how people have made faithful restorations or creative one-of-a-kind builds from vintage motorcycles. Many of these are what you might call rat bikes - rusty bikes rescued from old barns or salvage yards, pieced together with whatever parts that can be found or fabricated - function over form. These are bikes with character, built by passionate and creative people. These aren't flashy chromed everything sort of motorcycles and that's what I like about them. Here are a few that caught my eye.

There are some really interesting details on the bikes and I enjoy getting in for a closer look. The builders of these bikes are always more than happy to talk about their creations. There are all sorts of unique personal touches from the creative to the just plain odd.

One of these days I may have to pick up an old neglected bike and try my hand at putting something together. I don't consider myself very mechanically inclined but I did manage to get my lawn tractor with a faulty carburetor working a couple of weeks ago. It's a start, right? Maybe Wes will sell me one - he has a few in his garage in various states of (dis?)repair. Speaking of Wes, be sure to check out his insightful and aptly named blog, The Inebriated Engineer. He always has some sort of really interesting project going on over there. Most of it is over my head but I admire his passion and sense of adventure as he pushes the boundaries learning new things and making some cool stuff.

There are a bunch more photos in my full gallery from the event here.  For the benefit of my fellow Fuji enthusiasts I used my li'l XF1 at this event, mainly so I could easily pocket it in a zip lock bag in case the skies opened up again. I kind of regretted that because the bright sunlight peeking through the thick cloud cover made it really difficult to see the LCD screen. I usually just use the XF1 at night when I'm out with friends or in town to catch a movie with my wife or something like that where photography isn't the main purpose. I was reminded how much I hate cameras with no viewfinder in daylight!  I really should just spring for one of the weather resistant lenses for my XT-1. 

Until next time...keep the rubber side down and the oil on the inside.



Handbuilt Motorcycle Show 2015

Last weekend I stopped by the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show that was put on by Revival Cycles in Austin. I attended last year and I was looking forward to making a return visit. I love motorcycles and while I'm not very mechanically inclined I do appreciate the art, creativity, and ingenuity that goes into building these machines. I tried to get more detail shots this time. While the overall motorcycles were great, there were some amazing details on them if you got in close and looked things over - something that is easy to do and encouraged at this show. From machine shop creations to custom paint, there were a lot of interesting and inspiring creations to admire. Here are a few samples of the many bikes on display. My full image gallery from the show is here.

Fuji geekery - All images were shot with a Fujifilm X-T1 and the XF 14mm f/2.8 lens. Classic Chrome in camera, adjusted for tone and contrast in Lightroom.

East Side Classic 2014

I love stopping by custom bike and car shows, especially when there are lots of home builds.  The less refined the builds are, the more I tend to like them.  The Eastside Classic was held at Haymakers in east Austin last month.  The small group of bikes there did not disappoint.  It was a neat little show and I had a great time checking out the custom bikes.  It was a warm day with harsh light in the late afternoon.  Initially I processed my shots in black and white.  At the urging of a buddy of mine, I redid them in color.  I came up with a warm, contrasty look that I think works well for these bikes under the blazing Texas sun.