Hanford Vintage Motorcycle Rally Faces Tough Competition

The Hanford Vintage Motorcycle Rally celebrated its 50th anniversary this year so I figured it was time to check it out. But first, you have to find Hanford.

It is unlikely that you’ve ever passed through Hanford on your way to anywhere else because it is off the beaten path. The town sits in the south central portion of California’s San Joaquin Valley, 28 miles south-southeast of Fresno and 18 miles west of Visalia. This location could actually work in favor of vendors because the riders who attend are serious buyers. Nobody wanders in looking for the Hanford Historical Society. The attendees are hardcore motorcyclists who are there to buy vintage motorcycle parts, maybe pick up a vintage motorcycle and to check out some very cool bikes. That was also the show’s problem.

This year’s event fell on the same day as Nor-Cal’s Hangtown Motocross National and Sacramento Mile and So-Cal’s Ventura Raceway flattrack. Those events pretty much forced motorcycle fanatics to choose between the Rally or one of the races. The result (based on talking to past attendees) was a smaller turnout than in previous years. The crowd was nowhere near the size of the David Mann Chopper Fest. While the vintage bikes on display were impressive, the number of bikes was not. I didn’t count, but I’d be surprised if there were actually “over 150 vendors” as the event claimed.

Will I attend next year? Probably not. I’m glad I attended the 50th Hanford Vintage Motorcycle Rally, but it just didn’t feel like an annual, must-attend gathering.

An exquisite example of a Yamaha AS1C, a 125 two-stroke, twin-cylinder road bike. Surrounded by equally impressive Hodakas, this Yamaha still stole all the attention.
This guy cleaned out the barn and would probably entertain offers for the entire trailer load. This could be a gold mine for someone looking for rare parts.
Wunderlich America makes tools and components for your older BMW motorcycle. This immaculate RS80 GS got people into their display.
A pistachio farmer from Wasco was trying to trade a used manure spreader for this Honda S90. The owner wasn’t having it.

My Most-Creative-Construction Trophy goes to Christoph Lusse who fabricated this awesome little Honda using an Electrolux vacuum for many of the components.
Would you buy this bike if it was available from Kawasaki? I would. It is way cooler than a Kawasaki Z125 Pro. Bike company reps need to check out what fabricators are producing.
Is there a motorcycle gang exploitation movie that Dennis Hopper wasn’t in? The $60 price for this Key Witness placard would have maxed out my fun budget. Yes, Dennis Hopper was in this movie.
It was an honor to shake Bill VanTichelt’s hand. Bill (far left) is the guy who started VanTech Motorcycles. Today, his daughter Holly and son Bill VanTichelt, lll keep the brand alive.
Any vintage engine looks better nested in a VanTech frame. The Husky 250 (upper left) used parts donated by the late Tom White. There has never been a better-looking Moto Beta and I would love to put some laps on that Yamaha flat tracker.
Motocross Action Magazine has a great article on a VanTech using a Harley-Davidson Baja 100 engine. Click here to read the story.
There are hidden treasures if you know what you are looking at (and looking for). Anything here could be the beginning of somebody’s dream bike.
A saddle mounted to a cylinder head. Interesting concept. Wonder why it never took off?
It is hard to believe that a RT1 ever looked this good on the showroom floor in 1970. Many restorations surpass the quality and finish of the originals.
While I don’t feel there were “over 150” vendors, the quality of stuff for sale was impressive.
This could be trouble. I’ve always wanted a K-model Harley and this one is still available (for an asking price of $10,000). My trip to Hanford could be more expensive than I was expecting.
So great to see a long-time friend, Ron Wright (left). I worked at Suzuki Motor Corp. the same time that Ron worked there. He produces service manuals for Clymer Manuals. When I say “produces,” that means he performs the teardown, shoots the photos and writes the copy.

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