A relatively new motorcycle event that has grown in popularity year after year is the Born Free Motorcycle show in Silverado, California. The show was cancelled last year due to Covid-19. When I heard the 2021 show was going to happen, I booked a flight out of New York and headed West. This was the twelfth year of the show founded by two motorcycle enthusiasts, Mike Davis and Grant Peterson. Their goal, for Born Free, was to showcase custom built bikes by some of the best bike builders from around the globe. For sure I knew there would be some killer bikes on display, so I brought along our videographer / photographer, Matt Keane, to capture the sights of the event. We landed in Los Angeles and headed to the show on Sunday. The event is held at the Oak Canyon Ranch, about an hour drive South of Los Angeles. The ranch is located within the Santa Monica Mountains which makes for a perfect riding destination. Plenty of twisties and wide-open highway. If you wanted your bike within the showgrounds you had to pre buy a grass pass for your motorcycle otherwise you had to park in the gravel parking lot. Both days of the show, the grass bike passes where sold out. While riding, we didn't feel the heat, but once off our bikes, the heat was killer. Sun was blazing, so I knew I would be lobster red by the end of the day even with sunscreen.
Walk in entrance fee was $20 a person. There was big turnout of riders. Sunday was the second day of the show, this a two-day event being hosted both days of the weekend. Once inside the gate, there was plenty to see and do. First thing I noticed, that sets Born Free apart from most other Biker events in the States, is the attendees were much younger than the crowd you would see say at Sturgis. There were some gray beards, but the majority of the crowd where in their 30's, early 40's. The bike of choice for this next generation California biker is the Harley Dyna Wide Glide. There were plenty on display, with custom parts, fairings and Metal Flake paint jobs and a large majority of the crowd were riding them to the event. What is super cool about California is the wide variety of riders and style of bikes they ride. You will see the Latinos riding lowered tricked out baggers, with Kandy color paint jobs and ape hanger handlebars. Then you’ll see a hippy style, 30 something biker, riding a chopper he wrenched in his garage with any spare parts that worked for the build. Then to the opposite extreme a guy on a Enduro Bike in full riding gear. There were invited custom bike builders from all over the country showcasing their rides from 1970's style Choppers to tricked out Baggers and Dyna Wide glides. Hardly any antique bikes older then 1960's.
Most of the California aftermarket motorcycle brands had tents from San Diego Customs, Moon Eyes, Loser Machine, Roland Sands, Cycle Zombies... too many to list. All had an array of custom bikes on display showcasing their builds and latest parts. Born Free had their own merchandise tent set up, with almost every shirt sold out from the previous day. In past years Vans had a half pipe skateboard ramp showcasing some of the best skateboard talent Cali has to offer, but this year the opted for a motorcycle Wall of Death by Rhett Rotten instead. A constant array of bands performed on the main stage. Nobody was playing AC/DC or Lynyrd Skynyrd, this crowd wanted Hardcore and Punk. If you have ever been to the Mooneyes show in Japan, Born Free had a similar vibe except with a California twist. Plenty of cool bikes, lots of biker inspired artwork and just a relaxed laid-back atmosphere. No burn outs, no motorcycle rodeo games, no drunks, pretty tame compared to your typical biker event in the States. Overall, I thought it was a good show worth attending. Here in the States usually all the new trends for fashion and motorcycle styles start in California bounce over to the East coast and then eventually move to the middle of the country. I am seeing more choppers making a comeback in New York.
This next generation biker still has the passion to ride, but for sure does it different from us older bikers. I don't ever remember taking an all-day ride to a coffee shop or vineyard, but to each their own. As long as the younger crowd live life on two wheels, more power to them.