Retro-riders rendezvous at Fuji Park |

Retro-riders rendezvous at Fuji Park

Peter Thompson
Brad Horn / Tribune News Service / Rob Poole, of Tiburon, Calif., puts the finishing touches on his wife Debbie's 1954 BSA Goldstar motorcycle at Fuji Park on Saturday. Dick Mann, of Gardnerville, built the bike for the Pooles.

CARSONCITY – They are Husqvarnas, Bultacos, Hodakas, Maicos and Moto Guzzis.

Sleek vintage bikes built for tearing up the dirt or cruising the cobblestone streets of some European capital in search of a late night espresso bar.

BMT Productions’ 10th annual British-European Vintage Motorcycle Show and Swap was Saturday at Fuji Park.

While vintage motocross buffs slowly move down the rows of bikes, stopping to squat down and inspect certain favorites with discerning once-overs, Rob Poole sits in the hot grass and applies chrome polish to the spokes of his wife’s 1954 BSA Goldstar.

The bike was restored by Dick Mann of Gardnerville, something of a living legend in the vintage scene.

“Basically, I gave him the bike in a bunch of pieces,” he says giving the back wheel a playful spin. “And this is what came back.

“Dick’s one of the best in the business.”

Poole’s 20-year-old son, Wesley, and 17-year-old daughter, Emmy, also ride retro bikes.

The whole family will be racing today at the Vintage Motocross at Champion Speedway. Gates open at 7 a.m.

Vintage bikers are a close-knit group, says Mark Topping of BMT Productions. Most are casually dressed and not into the typical leather and attitude trappings of the biker lifestyle. There’s not a single Maltese cross anywhere to be found in the crowd.

Topping says he got into the hobby as a junior in high school when he bought his first Triumph.

“It was just for transportation back then,” he says. “Cheaper than a car and easy to maintain if you were willing to work on it yourself.”

“The GIs brought them back from World War II,” says BMT’s Chuck Bullwinkle. “There were Harleys and Indians on the market, but these European bikes were lighter, faster and handled better. They were made for the dirt. It was really the glory days of motocross. The greatest era.”

Bullwinkle says the bikes fetch as much as $15,000 and up these days, based on the rarity and the condition.

“What the judges look for in these types of shows are how true to their original nature the bikes are. Original parts. No extra chroming or fabricating.”

Topping points out judge Bob Raber, a former Triumph dealer, inspecting a group of the very same motorcycles he used to sell.

“A guy like that knows exactly what to look for,” says Topping.

With their retro lines and throw-back silhouettes, some vintage bikers prefer to keep their prizes out of the dirt.

“Riding a vintage bike is like riding a piece of art,” says Poole, finishing up his polishing and admiring the view.


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