15 Years Strong: Thor Drake’s One Moto Show

For 15 years now Thor Drake, owner-operator of See See Motorcycles in Portland, OR, has been hosting the venerable One Moto Show. By all accounts, the 2024 edition of the custom motorcycle-centric festival was a huge success attracting some of the biggest crowds since its inception in 2009.

Today we’re sitting down with Thor to learn a bit about the man, the evolution of the event, and what the future has in store for the One Moto Show.

One Moto Show 2024 interview

“The One Motorcycle Show has grown to be North America’s largest custom bike show, attracting thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts, builders, and artists from around the world to Portland each year. With a focus on creativity, individuality, and the spirit of motorcycling, the show has become a must-attend event for everyone.”the1moto.com

Thor Drake Interview

Please tell us a bit about yourself and the role motorcycles have played in your life.

Hi, I am Thor. I like long rides on the beach, big jumps, and going fast… kidding. If i haven’t lost your attention by now. I’m an outsider to the motorcycle world. I snuck in through a secret portal left open by the Orange County Chopper movement.

I got into dirtbikes at around age 15 because my best friend growing up rode and we did everything together. I got the taste of it and couldn’t ignore it. I’ll spare you the sappy love story with motorcycles and keep it to a minimum by saying this… Thanks to motorcycles I have been all over the world and met the most interesting people, built a fun career, met my wife, and have motorcycles stuffed in every corner of my life. Motorcycles are good.

What was your original concept and idea for the One Moto Show?

First, you get one bike.
Then you grow out of that one so you get a second bike.
Then you get curious because you see other bikes out there, so you try those.
Then you realize what kind of bike you like.
Then you try to find a bike that has everything you want in a bike to no satisfaction
Then you try to build that bike with no success, or maybe success but it creates the formula all over.
Then you realize you are chasing an idea… The ONE Moto.
All of a sudden you’re an expert.

One Moto Show 2024 interview

For those who can’t attend, what can visitors to the One Moto Show expect to see?

Magic. Do you want to travel back in time to a world where everyone comes to celebrate motorcycle culture? Everything from stunt shows, to live music, mini bike racing, good feelings, and FUN, yup fun. That is why we start riding and we sometimes need a little reminder. Motorcycles are fun. The One Moto Show is a place to be a part of that fun no matter who you are.

One Moto Show 2024 interview

How many bikes were there in the first year of the show compared to this year?

The first year we had about 60, now we have over 300. All types of bikes are celebrated, shit even a few cars with bikes strapped to them came. Each year, we aim to find a cross-cut of motorcycles that represent what we think is exciting in the world of motorcycles. The cool thing about doing a show for 15 years is a lot of builders have started because of the show. Maybe coming as a curious attendee;l then fast forward 5 years and they’re now a recognized builder.

What are some of the things you’ve seen change or evolve in the scene over the 15 years of running the show?

What’s the saying, the only thing constant is change… or I would say “movement”.

Each year we try to reinvent ourselves. We listen to what people, sponsors, and partners, are saying and try to do our best to address it in our way. The biggest thing I realized is the show is a movement, some people trail off just as new ones are discovering it, or getting involved. The Show is a river for people to get involved with motorcycles. It’s only important if you think it is. We think it is.

One Moto Show 2024 interview

Can you share a few memories from past shows that have stuck with you?

Every year something happens that gives me a new life lesson. Be it good or bad. I love Motorcycle People. There is always a sense of vulnerability, which creates some beautiful and awkward moments. Last year I was watching everyone happily dancing to a Queen cover band mid-show. As a promoter and kind of funny dude, I like to add a juxtaposition to the show. It’s like tough motorcycle dudes toe-tapping to “We Will Rock You.” That’s an unexpected win for me.

Why do you feel the One Moto Show has resonated so well with the custom motorcycle community?

It’s real. Every year I participate as a builder, artist, and attendee as well as put on the event. The participant view of the show helps me stay excited about it and reminds me mid-stress that this is for fun. Keeps my perspective in check. Does that make sense? I don’t want to be the guy putting on the show. I just wanted to be a guy in a show showing off his bike, no events hit that for me so I made a show that I thought was what I wanted. Now I’m stuck… in a good way.

What has the support from motorcycle manufacturers been like?

Good, last year… great. I always say it. If OEMs want to sell more bikes they need to get more people racing, customizing, and destroying bikes. In the process, you’ll build a bigger industry.

One Moto Show stunts

How are the winners of the show chosen?

It changes each year but the basics are this. The awards are meant to be fun, not like a serious “if I don’t win I’m gonna cry ” type of situation. I mean who would want to win the “polished turd award?”

Did you have a personal favorite this year?

Every bike in the show was massively better than the first One Show’s best bikes. The caliber of bikes is insane these days. The winners of awards are all standouts and I’ll say that they got awards for a reason.

And finally, what plans do you have for next year’s show?

Which One … hint hint. Jk. I don’t know yet. I need a second to catch my breath. But it will be, like every year, MAGIC.


Photography by Eric Jutras

One Moto Show 2024 interview