Since the early fifties, The Asbury Park Convention Hall, on the famous New Jersey boardwalk, has hosted countless doo-wop, punk and rock shows. And in 2016, the Convention Hall added the Cheap Thrills Motorcycle Show and Swap Meet to its roster.
Each year since, Walter (@kickstartcycle) and Dusty (@dusty_nj), with the help of a small army of friends and sponsors, like Old Bike Barn and Lowbrow Customs (to name a few), have been filling the convention hall’s Grand Arcade with 60-80 custom and vintage motorcycles.
Beyond the Grand Arcade, through the doors that lead to the 60,000 square-foot exhibition space, you’ll find the swap meet where vendors are set up selling nearly anything you might need to finish your chopper project or restore that old Harley you’ve been working on. This year, the crew from Strange Days (@strangedaysevent) were setup and showing off the bike that they’ll be giving away this summer at Strange Days Ten; a sweet, raked Shovelhead built by Retrofit Cycle Works (@retrofitcycleworks). On the stage overlooking the vendor area, tattoo artists were setup and staining peoples skin all day; while on the same stage, near the end of the show, Walter got on the mic to hand out numerous awards.
On the second floor, beyond the two lounge areas you could find a number of soft good vendors setup and selling enough clothes to keep you in style for miles and miles. Alongside the clothing companies, there were plenty of artists showing and selling their work while craftsmen (and women) displayed all sorts of handcrafted goods.
The show has been gaining more and more popularity each year. With so many people, understandably, jonesing for a good motorcycle fix during some of the coldest months in the Northeast, people started lining up to get into this years show by 9 am, a full hour before the show actually started. From morning through afternoon and well into evening, Cheap Thrills draws one of the biggest crowds I’ve seen.
If you’re coming for the swap meet, get in line early and find those treasures before they’re gone. Afterwards, grab a beer from one of the bars and catch up with friends while checking out all of the show bikes on display. From race bikes to vintage Japanese gold to historic Harley’s and full-blown custom choppers, there’s plenty to see for everyone.
Set on the New Jersey boardwalk, even in the middle of winter, Cheap Thrills has a very nostalgic feel to it that I love. Personally, one of my favorite moments of the show always happens at the end, when everyone is wrapping up for the day and the show bikes are being rolled out onto the boardwalk. The light at that hour during this time of year is always great and seeing so many beautiful bikes out on the beach in that light never gets old.
So, my advice… come early and stay late. You’ll score some great parts, see some great bikes and have one of the best times ever at the Jersey Shore.
Make sure you follow the Cheap Thrills on instagram at @cheapthrillsnj and look for the 2021 dates to be announced so you don’t miss the next one!