The eighth edition of The One Moto Show opens this weekend in Portland, Oregon, with works of motorcycle art mostly in metal. At least 10 of those motorcycles will feature Ginger McCabe’s artistry, though she works in vinyl, leather and thread.
The founder of New Church Moto will be showcasing the incredibly detailed custom motorcycle seat upholstery that has made her a household name in the custom-build scene throughout North America.
“It's a pretty intimate process. That's why I love it, too,” says Ginger, of completing a seat for a client’s project. “It's kind of like the frosting on the cake. It's usually the last thing people do. But it's also sometimes the first thing that people see.”
As far as The One Show goes, Ginger has been somewhat behind the scenes for the past six years, curating artists and organizing with Thor Drake and See See Motorcycles, the crew that has been running the show since 2009. Meanwhile, her business has continuously grown since Thor first brought her into the See See warehouse in 2010. During that time, The One Moto Show has also grown to become one of the most popular motorcycle events on the West Coast. This will be the first year Ginger will have a booth of her own, though every year there are motorcycles in the show that carry her work.
While she proudly takes on builders of all statuses known and unknown, Ginger does custom work for some major outfits in addition to See See Motorcycles, including Icon Motorsports, Moto Corsa, Cognito Moto, The Gasbox, Clockwork Motorcycles, and many, many more. Her booth will display the wide range of styles she is known for, including everything from the modern Ducati Scrambler seats she makes for Moto Corsa to the more vintage stuff she does for brat and cafe bikes, to the intricate king and queen seats she hand sews for choppers.
“Sometimes, in the same day, I'll do like a 2017 Scrambler seat and then work on this seat pan that somebody had made out of an old skateboard, you know?” says Ginger. “So it is nice having larger-named builders and stuff like that, but I don't ever want to forget the little guy, either.”
Ginger’s career was fueled by a legacy of craftsmanship and hard work, an appreciation for artistry that’s practical, and enthusiasm for a DIY subculture that has thrived to become one of the most influential segments of the motorcycle industry today.
Ginger pretty much taught herself to sew. She grew up in her late father’s shop. It was called Long Valley Canvas and he made everything from tents to duffel bags.
“I would, like, literally be taking naps underneath the sewing machine,” she says.
It has been her inspiration to somewhat follow in her father’s footsteps especially since he passed away in 2003 after battling ALS.
“Me and my brother are both doing something that means a lot to us and meant a lot to our family,” she says of her brother, Clay McCabe, who now runs their father’s business Zipper Rescue. “I've been sewing my entire life. Everything from like wedding dresses to, you know, leather coats to giant speaker bags and ratchet straps for bridge construction.”
She worked for years at Langlitz Leathers of Portland prior to starting her own company. Her fashion degree helped her land the gig there. She made leather jackets, race suits, chaps, you name it. That was her stepping stone into the motorcycle world and meeting friends like Thor, who would help pave her way.
“At that point, I was just doing seats in my garage on the side, apart from working at Langlitz,” she says. “He had me come out to where he was opening his warehouse that was going to be the first location of See See at that time.”
Very shortly after came New Church Moto, with the name inspired by Ginger’s self-proclaimed “music nerd, freak, record collector” influences, namely the bands Lords of the New Church and The Adverts. This and of course the concept of motorcycles being like church for many of us.
Ginger has not had a bike of her own since her daughter, Waylon Rose, was born two years ago. It was a tough break for her to sell her 1977 Yamaha XS400, a beautiful custom build featured in Bike Exif, but after being hit twice on that bike, her priorities are on motherhood and her business for the time being.
She prides herself on family and keeping her business small enough that quality will never be compromised. Her favorite projects are the highly creative ones she works to develop with the help of her clients. The back and forth throughout the design process is very important to her.
The Portland scene
Overall, it seems New Church, The One Moto Show, and the whole Portland scene are about focusing on the experience, the story, and the reasons behind the motorcycle builds, restorations, and modifications people are doing.
“It's different than, like, say, Born-Free or some of the other big motorcycle conventions,” Ginger says of The One Moto Show. “It's kind of more homey, I guess you would say, and inviting.”
Just as Thor took Ginger in for the sake of helping get her work out there, he and his crew take pride in being inclusive with the event.
“He's kind of made it his mission to make sure that there's a wide range of bikes, like not just café bikes or, you know, not just modern technical bikes, not just choppers,” says Ginger. “That goes along with his whole philosophy that it's not just the One Moto, but it's the One Moto for each person.”
Thanks to great relationships with companies like Harley-Davidson, BMW, Icon, and local shops, the show remains free to the public. The goals are to give builders a way to show their work and make that show accessible to the public.
“He's so excited and enthusiastic about the whole thing,” Ginger says of Thor Drake. “About See See, The One Show, his bikes, the flat-track racing, that I think it's just kind of infectious to people around him. And they make it happen. It’s pretty inspiring.”