Vintage bikes give SLO Classic Motorcycle Show retro style

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016


A classic BMW at the 8th Annual SLO Classic Motorcycle Show (photos Jordan Elgraby)

–In the days of Brando and The Wild One, bikers were hardcore leather-bound outlaws, or at least so Hollywood had us believe. The Hells Angels legend and the movie Easy Rider only added to motorcycle cult status. But to talk to Central Coast Classic Motorcycle Club leader John Tucker, bike club members are more apt to work on their old bikes, be semi-retired and maintain a low profile. Oh, and these days they call each other “pilots.”

“The club’s been around for about a decade,” Tucker says, “and we meet every month down at the Budget Café in San Luis.” He says the club has “50 to 75 members” and the guys love to talk mechanics and swap tales of their road trips.classic-triump

The Central Coast gang is really a peace-loving crew, guys who take odd rides together to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Hearst Castle or Hansen Dam, and when they ride they raise money for charity—for such causes as breast cancer research and Welcome Home Heroes, donating to vets.

They also organize the annual SLO Classic Motorcycle Show, held on Oct. 8, where you’ll find eleven classes of old bikes, including British models like Triumph and Ariel, BMWs and Moto Morinis, the venerable American motorcycle maker, Indian, and every make of Japanese street bike in their early incarnations. Most models on display date back to the 1950s and 1960s, but a few were first manufactured in the ‘20s and ‘30s. Owners take a lot of pride in rebuilding and maintaining these vintage bikes, and enter the contest to compete for trophies from as far north as Danville and as far south as Blythe, CA.

One owner local to San Luis Obispo is Jim Gerpheide. At the 8th Annual SLO Classic Motorcycle Show, he entered into competition a classic 1941 Indian, 750 cc cycle, fully restored and clean as a whistle. His pride and joy was probably the most beautiful beast at the show. When he was asked if he would considering selling it, he shook his head and said you’d have to cough up $40,000 before he’d even think of letting it go.

Jim 1941 Indian is a beauty (photo Jordan Elgrably).

Jim Gerpheide’s 1941 Indian is a beauty.

When you ask John Tucker what he rides, he says he gets around on a ’98 Honda VFR, which is a pretty low-profile machine, but just inquire if he’s a collector. “How many bikes do you actually own?” you ask. He’ll eye you for a moment before answering, “If I tell you how many I’d have to kill you.” He glances around furtively. “My wife doesn’t know, don’t print this. I’ve got 26 or 27 bikes, in a secret location.”

The annual SLO Classic Motorcycle Show is a day for small talk, shiny vintage cycles, and wives who pleasantly put up with their husbands’ Sunday hobby. It’s not likely to draw many bikers on their Harley-Davidsons, but you sure do meet some nice people.

—Jordan Elgrably

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