One of a Kind
The third annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering brings truly unique muscle to a truly unique party.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
One morning, Ian Barry woke up and decided to build motorcycles.
“I just blocked off the next five years of my life and basically lived in the garage working on bikes,” says Barry, who grew up in Santa Cruz and in 2007 co-founded Falcon Motorcycles in Los Angeles.
Falcon’s goal is to mix modern technology with classic British motorcycle engines. This weekend the company debuts its third custom, one-off motorcycle at the third annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering in Carmel Valley.
The bike, known as “The Black”, is fully manufactured by Barry, except for its tires and its rather particular engine, the same found in the infamous Vincent Black Shadow. Known for 30 years as the world’s fastest standard motorcycle – and a supreme object of affection for everybody from Hunter S. Thompson to Steve McQueen – Barry reconstituted its engine and designed everything about the body around it to maximize its oomph. As Falcon produces only one bike per year – Barry works toward making a total of 10 bikes with different motors – it is also one of a kind.
“The whole premise of Falcon is an exploration of rare and iconic British motorcycles,” Barry says. “One of those is the roar and mystique of the Black Shadow. It is something of legend.”
Phil Irving, the Vincent Motorcyles engineer who built the original, was always tinkering with his bikes to find out how far he could push the limits of the engine, which appealed to Barry.
“The Shadow was so heavily engineered far beyond its years,” Barry says. “The things Irving did with the bike – the dampened rear-hydraulic suspension, the two-stage clutch – it was ambitious for the time.”
For all its sophistication, though, the Black Shadow was a simple concept.
“You are essentially strapping a rider to an engine,” Barry says. “It went 100mph, but was also very reliable.”
Creating the Black Falcon while staying true to character presented a test. “How do you improve upon something, and build a wholly new bike, while honoring the classic Vincent Black Shadow?” Barry says. “I want to reimagine the beauty of the Vincent. I’m really proud of the bike, that people can see both a Vincent and Falcon at the same time.”
He started working on the bike just days after last year’s Quail Motorcycle Gathering, and finished it only a week prior to the Saturday show.
“At the beginning, it was a normal work schedule, then it became 20 hours a day,” he says.
The bike will be a big draw in an event modeled after Car Week’s perennially sold-out Quail Motorsports Gathering. Gourmet treats from Chef Julio Ramirez cooked on a wood-fire grill, a beer tent, classic rock from The City Limits Band and off-road rides with Land Rover will complement the many motorcycles.
“The great thing about Quail is that it is not a big, elitist show,” Barry says. “It’s a great, majestic place and the perfect forum to show it. If Gordon [McCall, the show’s founder] had a show in a Target parking lot, I would be there.”
McCall is bringing a few of his own bikes out this year, as he appeals to all types of motorcycle lovers. He also arranged for the appearance and auction of a custom Yamaha R1 signed by nine-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi and the famous 1971 Husqvarna 400 dirtbike ridden by McQueen on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1971.
“I have yet to find a better common denominator than motorcycles,” McCall says. “They are just so cool.”
QUAIL MOTORCYCLE GATHERING happens 10:30am-3pm Saturday, May 14, at Quail Lodge, 8205 Valley Greens Drive, Carmel. $65/adult, $15/child 12 and under. 620-8887, www.quaillodgetickets.com