The Davenport Antique Meet, the Real Old School

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September 15, 2010 | By: Patrick Garvin

Sometimes you just get lucky, and we here in the Midwest are lucky. One reasons is because one of the world’s largest antique motorcycle swap meets is held right here in our backyard — down the Mississippi in Davenport, Iowa.

In fact, it’s called the Davenport Antique Swap Meet and it takes place each year around Labor Day on the sprawling Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds. This year’s event was fantastic and the smart money says you should make plans to be here next Labor Day weekend. This is where you’ll find motorcycle parts that you may never have seen before — or may never see again.

Now if you’re looking for a fuel-injection controller or the latest Kuryakyn bling, you’re probably out of luck. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t come check this stuff out. There’s a veritable museum of motorcycles and parts, with everything from old gas headlamps to shovelhead parts, Triumphs, XS650s and anything else you can think of. We’re talking acres of parts and bikes and most of them are a half-century old — and older!

And you don’t have to be an old bike expert to recognize cool when you see it, hell half the time I’m bouncing around from aisle to aisle just because stuff looks cool! Most of the time I don’t have a clue as to what this stuff is, what it fits or where it goes. But it doesn’t really matter because, if you’re a gearhead then you’ll appreciate the mechanical artistry on display. With “off the shelf “ parts out of the question for the bike’s rolling around there, innovation is everywhere and if innovation is the mother of necessity, there are enough inventions here to keep the patent office in business for the next decade.

If that wasn’t enough there are flat track races! And not your typical vintage flat track nut jobs and I’m not just talking about the bikes. It’s not unheard of to see bikes dating back to 1912 out on the track, handlebar to handlebar tearin it up. This is where you’ll see hand-shift classes as well as vintage metric classes,

If you haven’t been to this shindig, then mark it down on your calendar for next year. If you’re into motorcycles of any sort — old or new — you owe it to yourself to take a few days off and head on over to the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds and check out the living history that is the Davenport Antique Swap Meet and Races.

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