When Steve Drane attended the Vancouver Motorcycle Show late last month, he met a lot of friends.
After 47 years in the motorcycle business, Drane is a bit of an icon in the trade and even though he sold his Harley Davidson shop in Langford three years ago, his love of the motorcycle culture he helped build continues.
“I came away from the business with more friends than you can imagine. Way more friends than enemies,” he explained with a chuckle.
“Old school guys like me are few and far between now, but there’s one thing that never changes. When people get on a bike today, there is still that thrill – a little bit of danger mixed with this feeling of freedom that you just don’t get in a minivan. It’s like flying a plane, three feet off the ground.”
Drane attended the motorcycle show to man a booth promoting this year’s induction of new members to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. He is part of the team hosting the November event in Burnaby, and his attendance at the Vancouver show is part of his role to raise awareness and promote the event and the organization.
“I’m here just shaking hands and kissing babies,” Drane said with a laugh.
Drane also mentioned his foray into YouTube fame. He’s one of the hosts of a show called Farkle Garage, an eclectic show on all things motorcycle, covering everything from street riding to racing to cruising.
Farkle has been defined in Rider Magazine as a term that combines “sparkle” and “function” and refers to those modifications that bikers make to their machines to add “bling” while still serving a purpose.
“Our show celebrates the motorcycle culture and is entertaining at the same time. We even have a house band,” chuckled Drane.
The show is filmed on location at Drane’s home near Goldstream Provincial Park, where he still maintains a full shop and several garages full of all manner of motorcycles.
“I have about 50 bikes in there and it’s where I keep my hot rod, too. There’s everything from an old World War II bike (complete with rifle scabbard) to big, vintage cruising bikes, to customized racing machines,” Drane said. And while Harley Davidsons tend to dominate, his collection includes other makes, sprinkled throughout the vista of gleaming paint jobs and chrome.
His love affair with motorcycles goes back further than most people realize. Drane started riding at the tender age of seven, and by the time he was 13 he was working in a motorcycle shop, learning the trade to which he’d dedicate his life. He was building his own bikes while still in his teens and went on to ride in just about every style possible.
“I’ve seen it all … done it all,” Drane said. “Motocross, sidecar, hill climbing, sand dragging, asphalt dragging, asphalt road racing, speed trial events … I wasn’t an expert at all of that, but I did it, and enjoyed it all.”
That depth of involvement earned Drane a spot in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2014 for his lifetime of dedication to the culture. That induction also recognized the fact that his hill climb record, set 37 years ago, still stands in the books with a time of 5.18 seconds.
“[Setting that record] was the proudest day of my life. I was young and felt hard as nails and came flying over the top … what a feeling. I’m older now, and there’s a lot of grey hair, but the child inside me is still the same. I still have that bike and I took it out and did the climb again a while back. There were a lot of grey haired folks watching and, afterward, they came up to me and said they remembered when I set the record. They said the sound of the engine was exactly the same and they looked so happy. That’s what this culture is all about,” Drane said. “It’s hard to explain, but when you’re part of it, you understand.”