After finally getting the custom wheels and paint job you've been saving all year for, you'll need a place to show them off. After all, your bike's not doing any good sitting in the garage.
As you ride by the local bar, you notice a large group of bikes-and what better place to display your new and improved ride than parked at the local hangout? Welcome to bike night.
Bike night at Quaker Steak...
Bike night at Quaker Steak & Lube in Pinelas Park, Florida
This designated night of the week where riders from across the region gather typically centers around a bar or restaurant. Bike nights started as a place to hang out and meet with friends to kick the tires and swap stories, but as the sportbike market has grown, so has the number of riders whose main destination is a parking lot rather than a racetrack or canyon road.
Since 2003, Bill Church has run one of the largest bike nights in the country at Quaker Steak & Lube in Pinelas Park, Florida, and has hosted 4000 bikes on occasion. "It's a great time to see bikes of all types, listen to live music, register for a free motorcycle giveaway and shop at various vendors. It is really a time to get together with friends in a safe, family environment."
It's amazing what you'll find...
It's amazing what you'll find at bike night
Jeremy Simmons has had a bike night in the Los Angeles area since 1999 and has seen as many as 800 bikers hit the streets of Hollywood. "Simply put, bike night is a weekly social gathering of sportbike riders and enthusiasts. If you like sportbikes and want an excuse to get out in the middle of the week, then you need to come out to bike night."
Simmons uses his bike night as a meeting place for the start of a ride through the streets of Hollywood. "There's lights, glamour and the tourists stopping to take your picture as you roll down Sunset Boulevard with 100 other bikes-you can't get that anywhere else."
Tim Tran runs a bike night at Backwoods BBQ in Corona, California, where up to 800 bikers have been known to frequent. "Bike night is a place for people to eat and enjoy the wonderful food and great surroundings."
Tran's philosophy is to offer more of a destination rather than a starting point when it comes to his bike night. "It's a place for bikers to socialize about bikes and show off their latest and greatest hop-up parts and also somewhere for people to see what a stunt show is all about, purchase goods and get the latest info from vendors."
Starting a bike night is not without hurdles, though. Church said physical space is a limiting factor in the growth of his bike night. "You need space for a big bike night. We sit on four acres and rent four acres for car parking. We wish we had more!"
Simmons explained his predicament: "Growth has changed bike night from a small, intimate atmosphere into a big event. Many people don't agree with the bigger-is-better philosophy, though."
The largest problem for riders and event hosts is the ever-increasing police presence that can quickly kill a bike night. As more riders show up, the urge to show off also grows. Anytime there is a group of bikers in a congregated place, the potential for attention from law enforcement is always high, and when adding in wheelies, burnouts and otherwise fun behavior, police can quickly decide to shut it down. Church recalled one evening when they grew tired of the antics, "The police ticketed a bunch of bikers on the way into the parking lot, and we dropped from 4000 bikes to 1700 on that night."
Tran offered his opinion, "Cops don't appreciate people riding like idiots in their city."
Once the police presence is known, it doesn't take long before word gets out to others and the number of riders dwindles quickly.
The bike night culture is still in its infancy and continues to grow and develop. While the future of bike nights is certain, the direction is still unknown. Mario Samala from Lockhart Phillips elaborated, "I believe this is just getting started. Even internationally known manufacturers that are mainly focused on racing are keeping up to date on trends. When attending local bike night events or going on a weekend cruise, it's clear how popular this lifestyle is becoming."
Simmons wondered about the future of bike nights as well: "I think we've reached a fork that could lead us to two completely different directions. I would say the two likely outcomes are that either a few promoters with the right connections will have large, very controlled bike night events, or there will be small community bike nights at every Starbucks in town with only a handful of riders at each one."
The ultimate fate is mostly up to the riders. A little bit of restraint and self-control will keep the cops away and the hosts happy. In the meantime, get out there and support your local bike night. Besides a good time swapping the shit with fellow riders, it's also a good excuse to get some time away from home.