Riders, as it turns out, all have stories. I’m sure you’ve heard, “This one time, I almost went down but I totally saved it!” or, “I found this amazing twisty road up north!” Maybe even, “Ya dude, I installed this pipe and it totally added like 500 HP to my powerband.”
So where can we find other like-minded riders and hear these amazing stories? I’ll tell you a secret about motorcyclists – we all like food. Here’s a list of my 5 favourite motorcycle meet-ups, and they’re all about the food (and drink).
It’s mainly a cruiser crowd, however all bikes are welcome. It’s very well organized with a DJ, door prizes, 50/50 draws, and sometimes vendors. Even motorcycle parking is organized – I’ve never seen such neat rows of bikes! Riders show up from all over – their attendance record was 1522 bikes!
Pro-tip: Note that the majority of people leave after the prize draws at 8pm so show up early enough to eat some chicken, have a real ice cream milkshake, check out the bikes, and maybe even win a prize! Check their website for their big season finale.
When: First Wednesday of the Month, 8 – 10pm
Unlike the Haugen’s Cruise-in, this crowd tends to be more hip and urban with a wide range of bikes from bobbers and café racers to sportbikes and sport tourers to cruisers and even scooters. The location is a different independent coffee shop every month in Toronto proper. Attendance reaches into the hundreds with people coming and going throughout the evening. The vibe is relaxed (probably because of the coffee). #TheMotoSocialToronto has a large presence on social media so use their hashtag to see what the meets are like and post your own photos.
Pro-tip: Show up early enough to get good parking (generally on the street), and keep an eye on the lineup to buy coffee when the queue is shorter.
3. L&L (Lakeshore & Leslie)
Location: 731 Eastern Ave, Toronto, ON in the joint parking lot of Tim Horton’s and Freshco
When: Thursday evenings, 7pm to after midnight
This is Toronto's largest motorcycle meet and where I learned to pose. The predominant bikes here are sportbikes, but there are pockets of cruisers, dual sports, vintage, and other styles too. While the various groups in attendance look to be cliquey, don’t be shy – ask about their bike, or ask if you can take a photo of their bike and most are happy to oblige with a smile.
Pro-tip: Due to construction at the time of writing, it may be easier to approach from the Freshco parking lot off of Mosley St just off Eastern Ave. Oh, and don’t be “one of those people” that feel they have to ride off at 90,000 rpm on their bike. We all know you’re compensating.
Location: 9 Stavebank Rd. North, Mississauga, ON
When: Tuesdays, 6pm – 11pm
Come for the burritos but stay for the bikes. The bike night special gets you a free drink with your order and the burritos are delicious. The staff have been here for years and are like family (Hi Glorry!). And if you’re a regular, they’ll make it just the way you like it, off by heart. The bikes are mainly sporty, but again all types are represented here. Walk up and down both sides of Stavebank to admire the bikes.
Pro-tip: Their End of Summer Bash at the end of August (the 18th for 2015) is not to be missed with a DJ and lots of prizes.
1. La Paloma, Piazza Del Sole
When: Mondays, 7:30pm – 11pm
This is the smallest of the meets listed and there is no prevalent style of motorcycle at this bike night. There are several benches and low retaining walls to sit on while you eat one of their dozens of flavours of gelato (it’s not ice cream!) which they make in-house. If it starts to rain, don’t worry, there’s a small covered area you can park your bike in.
The best part for me is sometimes people bring their animals here. I’ve seen dogs, parrots, and even a lemur* and a Canadian Lynx kitten!*
Pro-tip: Another perk of bike night at La Paloma is the classic car meet nearby at the AMC Interchange parking lot at Hwy 7/Hwy 400.
*The lemur and lynx kitten are not pets and are owned by the animal shelter, Hands On Exotics.
I’ve made some of my best friends at bike nights. And while I can’t go to all of them every week, I believe these meet-ups are a big part of the motorcycling experience.
If you have other bike nights you like going to, let us know where/when they are and why you like them
P.S. Motorcycle meets can be dangerous: they may cause babies. I know more than one couple who met their spouses at a meet and have since had kids!