October 20, 2017
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Rare Bikes At Rhinebeck Grand National Meet

RHINEBECK, NY – It’s easy to assume that the Rhinebeck Grand National Meet is the same from year to year. Sure, there’s always a timeline of classic motorcycles inside an exhibition hall, seminars, loads of vendors hawking parts and old bikes, and lots of familiar faces. And the layout stays basically the same, but it’s the motorcycles that change from year to year.

Walk the grounds at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds and interesting old bikes suddenly pop out and amaze, such as a Vincent from New Jersey that was parked Friday in a line of bikes that vintage enthusiasts had ridden to the show. What was it doing there instead of being displayed?

Attendees admire a Vincent 

The Vincent’s owner was nowhere to be seen, but other owners were to be found in wandering the acreage. Parked in a line of old Harley-Davidsons was a 1958 FL Duo-Glide owned by Doug Hughes of Groton, CT. He’s owned the Panhead for two years. “It’s a daily rider,” Hughes reported. “I’ve been slowly picking at it and it’s coming out really nice.”

Doug Hughes and his 1958 Harley-Davidson FL Duo-Glide

Hidden behind a tall tree and a trailer was a cluster of century-old Hendersons, displayed by Fourth Coast Fours, a Henderson and Indian restoration company in Waddington, NY, which is far upstate on the St. Lawrence River. Loring Hill ticked off the years and models (from left in below picture) – a 1916 Model G, a 1919 Model Z and a 1924 that “was made of out a pile of parts – leftovers. It’s a bitsa bike.”

There was also a stunning, restored 1916 Henderson with sidecar.

One two-wheeler seen roaming the grounds wasn’t really a motorcycle. Or was it? Seven years ago, Scotty Opperman of Storrs, CT took a Columbia bicycle and added a 3.5 horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine from a snowblower and belt drive.

“I made this and finally put a name on it,” he said, referring to the “Singer” name on the gas tank. The name was meant to refer to the sewing machine company but he later discovered that there was actually another Singer company in England that built motorcycles between 1901 and World War I.

It was inside an exhibition hall that Rick Martinez of Buffalo, NY was showing his vintage choppers, including Harley-Davidson Panheads from 1957 and 1950. It was Martinez’s first visit to the Rhinebeck show and he was “very impressed with what I see.”

At the Rhinebeck Grand National Meet, there’s always something to catch one’s eye, whether it be the motorcycles are ridden around the grounds or the ones parked in random spots.

The Rhinebeck Grand National Meet wraps up today.