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Motorcycle riding in Dallas: Hot spots, routes, and more!

Motorcycle riding in Dallas offers many options from "biker friendly establishments" to routes.
Motorcycle riding in Dallas offers many options from "biker friendly establishments" to routes.
Raine Devries - Copyright 2014

Dallas is a true hot spot for motorcycling action for both the V-twin and Metric world. The area ranks sixth in terms of motorcycle ownership in a bike-friendly state. The Dallas area is the home to the likes of Richard Rawlings and Aaron Kaufman of Gas Monkey Garage, women’s land speed record holder Leslie Porterfield of High Five Cycles, Rick Fairless of Strokers Dallas, freestylist Patrick Stephens, Jimmie Lee and John Coen of Three Two Choppers, Scott Arndt, Mike DuSold of DuSold Designs, and Joe and Jason Martin of Martin Bros Bikes.

If you are new to the area, or just passing through, here are some tips on things to know to make the ride just a little smoother:

  • Riders in the suburbs tend to stick with their own kind. The Honda Wing Dingers will hit the ice cream parlors, the HOG’s will hit a burger and beer joint, and the sport bikes will hit up the local Sonic Drive-In’s to hang out.
  • Once you ride outside the loop (north of 635), most riders tend to notice that the cagers become more frantic in their driving. The theory is that they are restless after being stuck in construction zones that seem to be never ending on I-35E and 635.
  • If you live, or predominately ride within the city center, things seem to be a bit more laid back – including the cops.
  • The downtown riders don’t show as much brand snobbery and it’s quite common to see Ducati, Triumph, and Harley riders all making the rounds with one another….sometimes there is even a Vespa or Lambretta thrown in for fun!
  • Thursday is “Bike Night”. The sport bikes like to head over to High Five Cycles which is owned by women’s land speed record holder Leslie Porterfield and the V-twin tend to congregate wherever radio station Lone Star 92.5 is holding their weekly event. It’s quite common to hear the sound of motorcycles riding westbound on I-30 into downtown and then rev up on the overpasses as they head toward northbound 75, 35E, or the Dallas North Tollway – and the motors will be heard until 2:00 A.M easily. There’s something just cool about the sound of the motorcycle motors ricocheting off the high rise buildings and downtown canyons.
  • Dallas property owners are really good about implementing “motorcycle only parking” at venues like Mockingbird Station to the gayborhood of Cedar Springs / Oak Lawn.

If you are simply visiting Dallas for a couple days here are the suggested shops and BFE’s (biker friendly establishments) to check out:

  • Reno’s Chop Shop and Saloon. This bar and live music venue is located in the Deep Ellum area on the east side of Downtown and it primarily attracts the V-twin crowd, 1%’ers / colors / patched M/C’s (motorcycle clubs). The Deep Ellum area was established more than 140 years ago and acquired its funky name as a result of the black farmworkers that used to hop trains from the outlying farms to head to Elm Street. The dialect of those workers made Elm sound like “El-u-M” and the name simply stuck. Deep Ellum is known mostly for the residential lofts, art galleries, live music venues, and quirky retail shops. (210 N. Crowdus, Dallas, 75226)
  • Just around the corner from Reno’s is Elm Street Tattoo which is the headquarters of none other than Oliver Peck whose claim to fame is being a judge along with Dave Navarro on the hit TV series “Ink Master”. If you want a memory to take home, plan a visit to Dallas on any Friday the 13th because Oliver and his team will be working 24 hours straight to crank out as many “13” tattoos as possible. There will be news crews and there will be a line down the block of people wanting their ink. (2811 Elm Street, Dallas, 75226)
  • On the west side of Downtown is Advanced Motorsports which is deals exclusively in Ducati motorcycles. Jeff and Toni Nash are certain to be around and handle any needs you might have whether you are jonesing for a Monster or a Diavel. (1318 N Riverfront Blvd, Dallas, 75207)
  • About 2.5 miles north of Downtown is Motopia Café and, while they are bike friendly to all brands, they are predominately known for being a hangout for the Euro crowd that enjoy track days and destination riding such as Iceland and Ecuador. (4123 N. Central Expy, Dallas, 75204)
  • Strokers Dallas is the hub for all things related to Rick Fairless and is located just six miles north of Downtown on Harry Hines Blvd. They are one of the few venues in town that keep their garage open seven days a week. Strokers is noted for their tricked out customs and they are a dealer for Victory and Royal Enfield motorcycles. Strokers can also get your taken care of with a tattoo, some live music, or a cheap burger and beer, or simply help yourself to complimentary water out of an old Igloo water jug and a plastic cup. (9304 Harry Hines Blvd, Dallas, 75235)
  • A mere couple miles away is the recently opened Gas Monkey Bar & Grill – and they appeal to a more posh crowd which some riders may call RUB’s (rich urban bikers). A burger is more likely to run closer to $10 at Gas Monkey and ultra-chic Voss water in glass bottles is what will be served up for the dehydrated rider that rolls in. The food is excellent, the ambiance is top-notch, and they are booking in some named talent. It’s definitely worth the experience to visit. (10261 Technology Blvd E, Dallas, 75220)
  • If you are looking to visit Gas Monkey Garage, that is relatively near to the Grill and will only take about five minutes to ride over. (2330 Merrell Rd, Dallas, 75229)
  • Saddle up and ride over to 635 and exit Abrams Road and you will find High Five Cycles on the north side of the freeway. This is the base camp for the wonder woman that is Leslie Porterfield. She’s amazingly personable and genuinely loves visiting with the bike crowd who remain in awe of her legendary prowess at the Bonneville Salt Flats where she set multiple speed records. (9311 Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway, Dallas, 75243)

Now that you’ve made an appearance at all the primary motorcycle venues, you are now jonesing to hit the open road and experience some riding around Dallas. These are some suggestions for the routes and day trips with something to appeal to every time of rider:

  • North Dallas Twistys is about 48 miles in length and covers some great country roads between Denton and McKinney.
  • The Lizards Tail is 30 miles in length and is west of Dallas; it’s great riding for the sport bikes.
  • Frisco to Lake Ray Hubbard is 47 miles of mellow riding with lots of twists and turns to the road; riders should time their ride to end to have lunch or dinner overlooking the lake.
  • With 82 miles of riding fun, the North Dallas 455 to 697 provides lots of adventures for all flavors of riders.
  • East Dallas Bowtie provides 57 miles of riding fun but should definitely be avoided during rush hour.
  • …and when a simple mellow time is all you crave, simply head over to White Rock Lake which is just 10 minutes east of Downtown and is a true oasis within the city.

And one last tip when riding in the Dallas area, make sure you are signed up with the BAM Benefit Card which offers free breakdown and legal assistance. It's complimentary to join and there's simply no reason to not be signed up because being on the road is not the place to be shopping for legal or mechanical help. Get signed up at this link.

Keep the shiny side up!