If you walk along Mission Road as it hugs the L.A. River just South of 101, you’ll pass by gray industrial buildings behind razor-wire fences, a high school, a mission, a large canned foods plant, and then seemingly out of nowhere, a curious and cheerful blue building that really sticks out. A red banner painted above the second story window reads “Lucky Wheels.”
For a DIY motorcycle shop that rents space, it’s surprisingly quiet. Bike owners with focused expressions tend to their machines, talk, and occasionally fire bikes up and speed out the garage door for lunch. Such is a normal day at Lucky Wheels Garage.
This day, however, it’s busier than usual. Helpers shouted back and forth and scurried around, tidying corners, setting up displays, moving bikes, putting up posters. This was the scene before MotoLady’s second annual Women’s Motorcycle Show, a raucous celebration of women in motorcycling at Lucky Wheels Garage in L.A.
In just a few hours, the ample garage space seemed tiny as nearly 500 people packed in to celebrate the amazing accomplishments of a small but growing segment of the motorcycle community: women.
Six years into her moto-blog venture, occasional MO contributor “MotoLady” Alicia Elfving (visible in the lead photo) has hit her stride. Every year since starting her grand experiment she has thrown a party to celebrate the year’s achievements, both for her blog and for women’s motorcycle culture in general. And every year the events have become a bigger deal, drawing more people, featuring more bikes, and shining the spotlight ever brighter on women in motorcycling. Last year’s show was the first to be titled and themed the Women’s Motorcycle Show, and it set a lofty bar with hundreds attending and 15 very unique bikes on display.
For this second go-around, Lucky Wheels was completely cleared and converted to celebrate women in motorcycling, from builders to merchandisers, diehard riders to complete non-riders, and everyone in between. The service counter was converted into a bar, Motown jams played from old speakers that the owner shoved up on the roof, people lifted each other up and made rude gestures in front of the photo-booth camera, all while a gravelly-voiced MC named Dumptruck barked, hawed, and cracked people up. Outside a food truck prepared barbecue to the hungry mass.
An upstairs clubroom became a raffle space featuring high-end gear items like Tobacco jeans, a three-season RevIt! jacket, a welding mask and various multi tools. Motorcycle artwork was hung up next to an arm wrestling station and a pool table.
Perhaps most notable was the sale of raffle tickets for a brand new MV Agusta Brutale 800, a custom-build project between Motolady and Sofi of GT-Moto. The build portion of the project is nearing completion, with a final winner to be drawn at the end of April. So far, the prize bike has raised $16,500, and when the winner is announced, all proceeds will go to the St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
The real jewel of the event was the display of 16 meticulously finished motorcycles specifically built by and for women, arranged in a horseshoe and lit from below by lights that were literally drilled into the cement a few hours earlier. Even more impressive is the fact that all the show bikes were ridden there – one coming all the way from Las Vegas. Despite their flashy appearances, nearly all of the bikes were regular daily riders.
Anticipation was at a fever pitch as the time came to announce awards and raffle winners. At this point the crowd was packed around Motolady, who after much cheering was convinced to climb a ladder to preside over the awards and raffle. She raised her hand to cheers, and announced the trophy-winning bikes of the night. This was followed by her announcing of raffle winners, who enthusiastically ran up to receive their spoils and grin for photos with her.
The crowd fed on this energy, and throughout the night remained remarkably steady, not waxing or waning. Those attending presented an array of backgrounds and approaches to biking: novices, expert riders, some dressed to the nines, some wearing tattered club vests, racers, weekend cruisers, vintage enthusiasts, mechanics, Boomers, Gen X’ers, Millennials, children, women, men.
The bikes out front reflected the diverse crowd – modern street bikes, choppers, Harleys, adventure bikes, dirt bikes, vintage bikes, rat bikes, bikes that defied categorization. It was a show featuring the increasing influence of women in the motorcycle industry and culture, but it couldn’t have been farther from exclusive.
“The show was really rewarding to put together,” Elfving told us after the event, adding that it went smoothly for such a new show. “Having hundreds of motorcyclists all in one spot, and you look around and see that half or so are women, it’s magical.”
There was something special in the air, all you had to do was look at the crowd it drew. The theme was women in motorcycling, but the feeling was acceptance, respect, and passion.