Iron men: Vintage motorcycles to take over Clematis on Saturday

Daniel Newcomb loves old motorcycles (especially his main ride, a 1976 Honda CJ360), can quote you lines from Marlon Brando’s “The Wild One” and knows the Johnny Cash discography top to bottom. But when his band of bikers rolls onto Clematis Street on Saturday, be forewarned:  There will be families.

“A lot of people have a built-up image of a bike event being like Daytona Bike Week, and the kind of a crowd that we attract, bike-builder-wise, is just the opposite,” Newcomb says from his Palm Beach Gardens home.

Rather than the leathered Harley masses, Newcomb’s 70-member Vintage Iron Club is a gang of people who take almost nerdy pleasure in rebuilding old Japanese and British motorcycles, the kind that irritated truck drivers slurred with the term “café racers,” as they zipped between cafes in London.

“It’s a younger, hipper kind of crowd,” says Newcomb, 40, an architectural photographer. “So we don’t do all the crazy, Bike Week kinds of events.”

More than 200 classic motorcycles will line the 500 block of Clematis Street from 2 to 9 p.m. for the inaugural Iron and Clematis Vintage Motorcycle Festival. Rockabilly and vintage punk bands, vendors, lectures and a fashion show will be part of the free event.

On Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the action will move to Palm Beach International Raceway, where all comers can put bikes through their paces (advance registration recommended). A portion of the proceeds will go to the nonprofit Canine Companions for Independence. Info: VintageIronClub.com.

The Vintage Iron Club got its start about 18 months ago at Ralph’s Stand Up Bar, the motorcycle-friendly destination in Jupiter.  Newcomb and best friend Bart Springer had just walked in to refuel when a stranger followed them, marveling at the two restored Hondas he had seen outside, showing them a picture of his own bike. The three got to talking, and the stranger, Bob Gilbert,  joined Newcomb and Springer as founding members of Vintage Iron.

To be considered “vintage” by the Vintage Iron Club a motorcycle must be 25 years old. That’s the only stipulation.  

“We welcome everything from a rusty old ‘survivor’ bike to a beautifully restored custom-built café racer,” Newcomb says. “We have people who restore bikes up to the nuts and bolts specs of days gone by.  So just about any bike, any make and model.”

For Newcomb, the appreciation for old bikes is merely an extension of his eye for time-honored authenticity in all things. A love of vintage architecture pushed him toward a career in photography, he has collected old cameras and typewriters, restored old cars, and don’t get him started on his assortment of vintage Evel Knievel toys.

While Newcomb pitches the Iron and Clematis Vintage Motorcycle Festival as a family-friendly gathering, its host does not himself have kids. Yet.

“My wife [Bobana] wanted to ride forever, she’s always been on the back. She decided she was going to join the club, and she got a bike … and the day she got her license, she found out she was pregnant,” Newcomb says, laughing. “She’s had her bike here, polishing it every day, waiting for the baby to be born.”

The C-section is set for Feb. 21.

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