After a two-year break The Quail Motorcycle Gathering is back and in exciting shape. With 250 entrants and nearly 3,200 spectators, collectors, builders and enthusiasts came out to see the best the motorcycle has to offer.

As a photographer, I can count on The Quail to deliver some visual treats, and this year is no exception. Here are five bikes that drew me to a beautiful spring Saturday in Carmel Valley, California.

Square barrel Triumph Trophy TR5 1950. Photo by Nathan May.

Square barrel Triumph Trophy TR5 1950

My first motorcycle was a Triumph Thruxton, so, admittedly, I belong to the British brand. However, this TR5 immediately popped into me. With classic proportions, a black frame and silver and chrome paint, visually this motorcycle has something to love. Looking away, the square-barrel engine was originally used as an electric generator and created energy for the British Lancaster bombers. Triumph needed to do something with the supplements and decided to put them on the bike. Lightweight and powerful, these engines have enjoyed great success on the street and among amateur racers.

Triumph Trophy sensors
Triumph Trophy sensors. Photo by Nathan May.

1951 Vincent Rapid commissioned by Max Hazan
1951 Vincent Rapid commissioned by Max Hazan. Photo by Nathan May.

1951 Vincent Rapid commissioned by Max Hazan

Choosing five bikes from 250 entrants is hard, but this one was easy. Max has built some stunning bikes over the years, and this Vincent is a new appreciation for a builder from Los Angeles. When his client dropped the donor engine, his only guide was to “do whatever you want”. If you give any of Max’s talents freedom, the results can be extraordinary. The man even built his carburetors! This motorcycle has won this year’s Best of Show award and is among a number of motorcycles that are considered the best of the best.

wooden inlay on the handle to order Vincent Rapide
So many unexpected custom touches in Vincent Rapide. Photo by Nathan May.

BMW R69US 1968 in blue metallic color
BMW R69US 1968 release. Photo by Nathan May.

BMW R69US 1968 in blue metallic color

Blue metallic was a special order option in 1968 and was extremely rare. It took more than five months and five attempts to pick up the color for this restoration. The R69S was a BMW sports bike of its time, and this color lends a stunning style to an already classic car.

R69 in chrome color on BMW
Detail on a BMW. Photo by Nathan May.

1937 Norton Racing International
1937 Norton Racing International. Photo by Nathan May.

1937 Norton Racing International

As a photographer, I’m a sucker for a patina bike. Especially if this character is the result of a long history of racing motorcycles. Beginning his life as one of six motorcycles built by Norton for the 1937 Manc Grand Prix, Bertie W. Rowell participated in it and took third place that year. In 1938 he will take part in the race, also taking third place. After World War II he participated in the Menza races in 1947 and again in 1948. However, during the 1948 competition, he suffered a major disaster. After the renovation was completed by the Norton plant, it spent most of the next 30 years in dismantled condition. Now, back in working order, this is an amazing example of a Norton racer.

rubber footrest
A rubber step on a racing bike? In 1937 yes. Photo by Nathan May.

1950 BSA B34 to order
1950 BSA B34 to order. Photo by Nathan May.

1950 BSA B34 to order

Owner and builder Richard Mitchell caught a bug in cycling after visiting Quail a few years ago. This BSA order is his second build, it’s just gorgeous with a great fit and finish. His goal was to create a sleek and modern design that still retains the character of the original bike. There is something to see on this bike. Check out these solid brass carburetors!

brass carburetors
Custom brass carburetor BSA. Photo by Nathan May.

Children's tricycle of 1928 release
Children’s tricycle of 1928 release. Photo by Nathan May.

Honorary award: 1928 children’s tricycle

Quail accepts an incredible variety of machines, but you can count on them all to be unique and impeccable quality. This children’s tricycle is perfect. So casual and absolutely cool.

Previous articleK-PAKS WINS TO ZERO
Next articleThe Indy 500 pole is a “huge” result, but only a “first step” to victory