7 Badass Motorcycles from Vancouver’s History



Vancouver is a nice city.

You always hear that. ‘Nice’. Sure, it’s pretty and green, but Vancouver has some edge too. It’s also got grit, speed and a lot more leather, denim and road rash than one might have assumed. It may not be what you think the city’s known for, but Vancouver is a motorcycle mecca, especially when it comes to vintage bikes. Maybe it’s our decently warm weather, or maybe just our wild-west spirit, but Vancouver has more vintages motorcycle on the road than any other city in Canada.

Don’t believe Van is a biker haven? We’ve got the history to prove it. Check out these 7 badass motorcycles from Vancouver’s past:

1. Northwestern Messenger Motorcycle – 1932

Photo: Vancouver Archives. Ref: CVA 99-4152.

Northwestern Messenger was located on Richards St., but this Harley Davidson must have made its way all over Vancouver. Used as a courier vehicle, the sidecar was filled with whatever documents needed to make the rounds. How about the driver and his infinitely cool leather jacket? We’ll definitely be scouring the Internet for one of those.

2. Coast-to-Coast Ripper – 1928

Photo: Vancouver Archives. Ref: CVA 99-1862.

3. Homewood and Dalgleish Display – 1947

Photo: Vancouver Archives. Ref: CVA 180-1446.

Homewood and Dalgleish Ltd, who typically sold boat engines, display the snazzy new Challenger Scooter by Powel Motors. They may not have been able to keep up with the Harleys, Triumphs or Broughs on the road, but they were on sale for only $369!

For more on Vancouver’s badass motorcycle history and the city’s underground vintage cycle scene, check out Episode 2: Let It Ride of Kijiji’s Second Hand Van web series:

4. Stunt Drivers on Beatty Street – 1937

Photo: Vancouver Archives. Ref: CVA 99-4502.

Seven drivers, two bikes, one extremely worried audience.

5. Couple on a Ride – 1918

Photo: Vancouver Archives. Ref: CVA 260-1102.7.

One of the oldest motorcycle photos in the city archives. This lovely couple was snapped taking a cruise downtown by the Union Steamship offices in 1918.

6. White Rock Police – 1931

Photo: Vancouver Archives. Ref: CVA 99-4025.

White Rock police straddle their Indian-brand motorcycles in what must be one of the most badass motorcades ever commissioned for a picnic. Pictures like this remind us that there’s tons of history in our city, hidden just under our noses. What stories have occurred where you’re standing right now?

7. Victoria Motorcycle Club – 1946

Photo: Vancouver Archives. Ref: CVA 586-4469.

This motorcycle club had a strong crew! We like the bikes, but we love the matching white shirts and tie-tuck. Very stylish.

It’s easy to see that motorcycles are definitely a part of Vancouver’s identity. I mean, we’ve been riding, revving and ripping through our streets and viaducts for over a century now! You can learn more about Vancouver’s motorcycle past by watching Episode 2: Let it Ride of Kijiji’s new web series, Second Hand Van. The series follows host Daniel Fu as he explores Vancouver’s vintage and second-hand economy, which tells the story of our city’s rich history piece by piece.

Watch all the episodes from Kijiji’s Second Hand Van series HERE.