I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Motorcycle and scooter events are just an excuse. They’re an excuse to get together and celebrate riding and a handful of the brands that we love and the bikes that we ourselves ride or aspire to ride. More than that though, they’re an excuse to gather — an excuse to party with those people who we often don’t know through other contexts. Yet throughout my riding career so far, it’s often the bonds formed with these people that tend to be the most robust.
So while some might attend an event like this year’s Motoblot street festival just to see all the cool cars, shiny scooters and interesting motorcycles that show up, I contend that this is the wrong approach. Remember, the bikes and cars and even the whole event are just the excuse we need to hang out on a gorgeous summer day with some of our favorite people.
Or at least that’s what Motoblot was for me and for the rest of us attending with and for Motoworks Chicago this year. Sure, we had our booths set up where we showed off Ducati and our decked out Scrambler demo, Vespa’s new Sprint 150, and a completely decked out Triumph Tiger 800 in full adventure trim. We had two huge ice chests full of beverages open to anyone who got thirsty. That’s typical. That’s how we roll. Yet for Motoblot, all of that is context. We’re really there for two things: to hang with our favorite people and to build ourselves a killer custom Triumph in a single afternoon. More on that second thing in a moment.
Before the festival got going in earnest on Fulton St. just outside of Cobra Lounge and the newly minted All Rise Brewing, the party actually started Thursday night in another part of town. Things kicked off at Isle of Man, with a good old fashioned pig roast. Despite the drizzle earlier in the evening, our weekend kicked off right as we kept running into more and more of our favorite local moto folk. The party then moved across the street for live music and more.
Friday evening saw the kick off of the street festival component of Motoblot, with booths set up and more live music at Cobra Lounge / All Rise Brewing. Yet things didn’t really get into full swing until Saturday morning. Weekend baby! The gates opened and soon our section of Fulton was brimming with bikes, cars, scooters and folks there to take it all in. Given that it was also Pride weekend and the SCOTUS marriage ruling had just come down, we decided to celebrate right along. At our booth we had Dani handing out swag and sporting her pride umbrella. Then over at the Iron Moto Challenge, we had MJ in his now signature build uniform transforming a humble Triumph Bonneville T100 into a killer custom machine right on stage.
Last year was the inaugural year for Motoblot (formerly Mods vs. Rockers Chicago) and along with it, the first year for the Iron Moto Challenge. Sponsored by Triumph and British Customs, the idea is for the local Triumph dealers to go head-to-head and customize a Triumph in one sitting — right out on stage for all the festival crowds to watch. Our entry last year was a Triumph Speedmaster dubbed “Calle Maton”, which won the Iron Moto Challenge outright thanks to killer support from all our fans on Facebook. That bike had incredible, elaborate paint work from Blue Moon Customs and the boys in the Motoworks service department even figured out how to make it breathe fire.
This year we took a more subdued approach, but our bike was no less bad ass. We started with a Triumph Bonneville T100 Black. Out of the box, this bike is pretty sinister, with tons of black details all over the bike. We took it further. We started with a bucket load of killer parts from British Customs, but our entry also had a great local connection. Local pro builder Tony Prust of Analog Cycles brought us two of his custom creations. The first was his 3T (Thruxton Tail Tidy) LED tail light assembly. The second was a set of custom number plates, one for each side, to replace the OEM T100 side covers. Stay tuned, as these will be available on his web store shortly.
The final result is a bike that’s distinctly its own thing. Blacked out, minimized, and a nice mix of modern / classic components. You can vote for the bike over on British Customs’ site. We will defend our title with Pride!
If custom Triumphs weren’t your thing, Motoblot still had plenty to offer. Progressive was a major sponsor of the festival and they were there in force, with a full barber shop set up, offering haircuts, beard trims and other stylings. Food options included a mix of classic festival faire alongside gourmet food trucks. I had the Caprese grilled cheese sandwich and it did not disappoint.
A staple at Motoblot is always live music. One could almost call it a music festival as much as a motorcycle, scooter and custom car event.
Speaking of custom cars, there was a very cool little turnout of vintage cars and hot rods. While a much smaller representation overall, the presence of these killer 4-wheel creations rounded out the event nicely. Beyond the vibe, all the vehicles worth seeing, the great food and beverage options, and a plethora of musical acts, Motoblot really did have something for pretty much anybody. Best of all, as people and their machines came and went, the landscape of the festival was always changing. One could do a lap of the show, then an hour later lap it again and see a very different mix of people and bikes. The whole thing was alive and jamming from one end to the other. We just couldn’t be happier for everyone involved. A huge kudos to Steel Toe Press and all the sponsors / vendors who made this event happen.
Yet for me, the best part was the people I kept running into. Many of these are friends who I only know in this context, some of which I hadn’t seen since last year’s stellar Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. Yet with each person I reconnected with, the warmth and shared enthusiasm for that connection remained as if we’d only just seen each other last week. You can’t put a price on that. Or at the very least, it was well worth the price of admission at Motoblot. Mark your calendars for next year as this thing just keeps getting better.