The Las Vegas Mecum Motorcycle Auction that ran from January 23rd through the 27th was my first time attending a motorcycle auction of this magnitude. I’ve got a feeling it won’t be my last. The 5-day auction will feel like nirvana to any self-respecting motorcycle enthusiast and if that sounds like you, you need to go. Attending an auction for the first time can be a bit intimidating so here is what to expect and how to survive.
Cheap admission to a great show
Twenty bucks gets you in the door or you can become a registered bidder ($100 for the June auction) and join in on the bidding fun. The $20 entry is a great way to scope things out. If you plan on bidding in the future, watching and learning on your first visit is recommended so you will be better prepared for the actual bidding.
The general admission allows you to check out all the bikes and memorabilia up for auction. And you get to see all the bikes, not just the ones going on the block the day you attend. The balcony view of the staging area is worth the admission price alone. I have not seen a public motorcycle museum that rivals the 1000-plus bikes ready to go on the block. The only thing I’ve seen that comes close was visiting the Yamaha production line in Japan. I never thought I’d top that until now.
The bidding starts at about 9am and the day can run past 6pm. That is without any breaks or stopping for a lunch recess. Something gets put on the block and sold on an average of one bike ever 90 seconds. Yes, a minute and a half. Many auctions take less than a minute and those that run past a minute and a half are usually due to a bidder screwing up. One guy placing a winning bid only to claim he wasn’t really bidding or a guy in the pit waving to a friend can slow things up (“Waving to friends or raising a hand is not recommended unless you plan to sign a check,” explains the auctioneer). Losing momentum is as feared by an auctioneer as it is by a motorcycle racer.
A few tips for first-timers
Don’t forget the earplugs. The auctioneer’s chant is tough to take for the uninitiated. There is a reason for the weird chant. The rhythmic monotone hopes to seduce bidders into a call-and-response mode. The loud volume and insanely fast pace creates an urgency: Somebody is going to steal that bike from you!
The pit says it is reserved for bidders only, but I had no problem “sneaking” in and sitting right next to guys (usually in jeans and a motorcycle t-shirt) bidding $50,000 or more. There were always plenty of seats so be cool and you can be in the middle of the action.
If you are just watching, one day is all you’ll need to see all the bikes and get a feel for the bidding process. I went Thursday and Friday and both days were fun.
General admission allows you to roam from the bidding arena to the staging area. A hand stamp allows you in and out of the arena all day.
Next chance coming in June
The next Mecum Motorcycle auction takes place in June and it is only two days so I wouldn’t expect the same fireworks as the January auction. You can click here to review the lots that will be offered and then make a decision on attending. I’ll be back next January and I might even bring my checkbook.