Kent Custom Bike Show

11 July 1986 - Hells Angels MC

My first camping experience at the Bike Show. I had attended the show as a one day event, back in 1981, at the Halfway Cafe, where only a few people had set up tents nearby.

Photos from Phil's visit in 1981

In the intervening years, it had grown to a several-acre/hectare event, with pretty much all the show-goers camping. I still wonder why one of the campers had a speedboat with them. Perhaps the show was only part of their holiday and they had been/were going to a coastal location at some point?

Prior to show day, most of the bikes were in amongst the tents, as they had been ridden there by the owners. I was entranced by a Norton with two in-line front wheels. I couldn't help thinking this would make cornering a bit tricky, as the front wheel would be following a greater-radius circle than the following one. I later found out that the 'inner' wheel was removed for normal road-use, which spoiled the idea for me.

During Friday, a group near us had set up a bonfire, (I would be surprised if here were not a few around the site), and were returning from a copse with a freshly felled lump of wood, just as the land-owner was walking through. He demanded to know what they were doing. I must admit I wandered off at that point, so I don't know how the situation was resolved. There was music, of course, at the stage area, and I seem to recall there was a film shown on a large screen there, but I was way too far back to clearly see it, or hear much of the soundtrack, so I have no memory of the name or content.

On Saturday bikes being shown were wheeled into an enclosed area and set up for us to drool over. They say a picture paints a thousand words, so here are a few thousand words on the machinery on display.

Quite a few people thought their minor mechanical adjustments, or simple paint-jobs were enough to warrant a place in the show. Several times you could spot the same items in different configurations, on different bikes, which pointed to an off-the-shelf item, but most of the customised machines were fully one-offs.

Late in the afternoon, music started up on the stage and jollity was had by all. There was either no wet t-shirt or at the most a very sedate affair, following the previous year where some young ladies had introduced(!) a wine bottle to get a louder cheer from the audience.

On Sunday, following the mandatory adjustment of a Triumph, we made our way home. The weather was still not sunny, (it hadn't been all weekend), but fine nonetheless, for a pleasant ride home, after managing to exit the site.

Phil Drackley - Phil the Spill