PHOTOS Gregory George Moore, Scott Toepfer & Dan Dunn
WORDS Iron & Air Staff
Wheels & Waves California is a tight-knit, invite-only moto event that is a much smaller, complimentary version of the well-known annual European motorcycle show. This past August, the star-spangled version of Wheels & Waves took place over three days in the small surf town of Cayucos, California, 200 miles north of L.A. if you follow the famous Pacific Coast Highway.
Iron & Air teamed up with our friends at Converse to roll in and cover this "who's who" of two-wheeled culture. Hosted by Wheels & Waves organizer Vincent Prat and the Vintagent himself, Paul d'Orleans, the invite-only event was capped at 300 people. You know when you walk around a party, hoping to stumble into at least one person who has even a modicum of something interesting to say? Wheels & Waves California isn’t that kind of party; every person we met was interesting, accomplished, and unique.
Far-flung individuals from around the world, all sweaty and smiling, bonding over an extremely eclectic mix of motorcycles.
Take, for example, Alan Stulberg, founder of Austin’s Revival Cycles. Or good ol’ Roland Sands, who needs no introduction. Or Go and Masumi Takamine, the delightful couple behind Brat Style. Adorable moto duo Shinya Kimura and Ayu Kawakita of Chabott Engineering were in attendance, too, as well as fellow Japanese builder Toshiyuki “Cheetah” Osawa. We hung out with Fred Jourden from France’s Blitz, David Borras from Spain’s notorious El Solitario, and Max Hazan, the dashingly handsome creator of rolling sculptures. We watched OG skateboarders Steve Caballero and Max Schaaf shred a mini-ramp in downtown Cayucos, sitting alongside Scotty Stopnik and his old man, Big Scott, who run SoCal’s Cycle Zombies chopper shop. We spent time on the road and hit the beach with surfer and shaper Troy Elmore, then discussed the golden era of motorcycle racing with Miguel Galuuzzi, design director at Piaggio’s Advanced Design Center. And when we ran out of words, we shut up, collapsed on a couch, and listened as musician Rocco DeLuca worked a slide along the strings of his steel Dobro while the documentary Sugar & Spade played through a projector.
Nights full of talking, partying, and awkward photo booth sessions were followed by days full of riding. With us we brought a few borrowed bikes—a BMW Rnine T Urban G/S, a 2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob, a Moto Guzzi V7 III, and a Triumph Thruxton—and a Toyota Tacoma, but nothing we had held a candle to the machines the other, cooler guests brought. The guys from Revival had an aluminum-bodied BMW S 1000 RR and an über clean Norton International, which had our friend Jeff Dickson from Solo Motorcycle Works (featured in Issue 025) all hot and bothered. (Ditto goes for a mint Norton Commando John Player Special also in attendance.) Go Takamine rode up on his ’46 Chief bagger, Masumi rode her swoony Panhead, and Cheetah followed with his unreal Harley-Davidson WL 750 race bike. Hazan rode up on his legendary, record-setting land speed Ironhead, and Kim Young made us all envious when she rode by on her 1930 Velocette KSS.
This wasn’t some bullshit parade of old bikes puttering up California canyon roads—people rode hard. One day Roland Sands and racer-turned-entertainer, Jamie Robinson of MotoGeo, were ripping full-tilt through the hills, and the next day they were neck and neck during down-and-back sprint races at the Santa Margarita Ranch airport. People gathered at the start-finish line on the runway—some carried bougie paper parasols to help cut the oppressive 105-degree summer heat—and everyone cheered as racers warmed their tires with indulgent burnouts. Individuals who stalled at the line were lovingly harangued, and the crowd went absolutely mad the few times races ended in a photo finish. Far-flung individuals from around the world, all sweaty and smiling, bonding over an extremely eclectic mix of motorcycles.
Thanks for the memories from friends new and old. We hope our invite is in the mail for next year. Until then...