Close your eyes and think of the last bike show you went to. Can’t read the blog now, can you? OK, bad idea… but stay with me. Bike shows should be the stuff that dreams are made of, right? I mean, what could be better than a whole bunch of sweet metal all in the one spot? Well, if your experience of bike shows is anything like mine, you’ll understand when I say that in my humble opinion, they aren’t all they could be. Except for one…
Like many of us, I’ve seen one too many bored booth babes, airbrushed skulls and corporate hype videos to care much about them any more. Seen one, seen them all, yeah? Well, not so fast. Because for the past four years, Sydney’s Inner West has been host to a dramatically different take on your garden-variety bike show.
Born at Marrickville’s Vic on the Park Hotel in 2013, the Throttle Roll show has grown to become one of the world’s most unique bike events, and one that brings together Australia’s custom culture and biking communities for one hell of a party.
Combining the best custom and showroom bikes with live bands, decent food and a killer morning ride through the Royal National Park, the event has single-handedly redefined what punters have come to expect when it comes to bike shows.
Rolling up to our starting point for the day’s activities, you immediately sense that the vibe is very different from the bike shows of yore. It’s a real community feel, where bikes and their owners are embraced more as equals, and less as potential customers. With the precipitation demigods on our side, we headed south towards the trees. Then, after a Nescafé and a stretch at Bald Hill, the 250 bikes returned to the party’s new location on Marrickville’s Railway Parade.
A mere stone’s throw from Sydenham station, the street’s weekday-only factory inhabitants and relative isolation mean that this new site for Throttle Roll is a better deal for everyone. The 6,000-odd party-goers now have more space to scoot their boots, see the bikes and just hang out. And as the crowds are no longer disrupting passing traffic, the Po-po are also happy as.
The show’s signature ‘rack of bikes’ was back, bigger and better than ever. Intended as way of getting the bikes both seen and out of people’s way, the street’s southern wall was stacked to the brim. With pretty much all the custom bike angles covered, we saw everything from Honda Dax to Harley WLAs with a stretched scooter and an ex-racing bike thrown in for good measure.
It was also great to see the manufacturers there in force this year. Embracing this new school format, the tech brains behind the local operations were all present and accounted for, making themselves available for whatever questions the punters may throw at them. Need to know how to get more go out of your new Guzzi, BMW, Enfield or Yamaha? The guys with the low-down were ready and waiting.
And that was just the bikes. With an army of local bands belting out the tunes all day and some seriously big hitters taking the stage as the sun set, this was clearly an event that had all the bases covered.
With bed calling and a solid 16-hour day behind us, we wandered out of the gates well after sundown both dazed and bemused. If you had told us four short years ago that you could combine live music, a bike show, cold beer, decent food and a community feel into the one killer street party that would leave you with a smile on your face and the urge to start wrenching on your bike, we would have called you crazy. Clearly, Throttle Roll has proved us wrong, and we’re damn glad it did.
[Photos by Pipeburn.com | This story originally appeared in Australian Motorcycle News Magazine]