Café to Café

Sound RIDER! logo

Since 1999                                

Home  |  SR! Store  |  Subscribe Free  |  Hot Deal Bikes  |  Used Motorcycles  |  Marketplace  |  News Bytes  |  Blotter  |  Calendar  |  More

Keeping it simple in Seattle: Backfire Moto

Backfire Moto

Once a month in Seattle's working-class Ballard neighborhood, motorcyclists gather for Backfire Moto, the Northwest's largest — and most casual — café racer ride-in. What started as a small event now draws hundreds of participants, and up to 500 riders arrive from Seattle and elsewhere during the summer months.

Backfire was started by Sean Dunlap, Sean Westlake and Todd Werny, three best friends who have been riding, wrenching and organizing café racer events in the Northwest for over 20 years.

"We just wanted a simple event where we could feel at home, hang out, crank our favorite punk rock and check out some cool bikes," says Werny. "Maybe have a beer, smoke a cigar, talk shop and go home in time for work the next day."

While all types of riders and bikes are welcome, Backfire is officially a café racer, rat bike and vintage motorcycle night, with scooters and mopeds represented in small numbers. "This isn't about chromed cruisers and trailers or brand new sportbikes," Werny says. "It's a ride-in for the large number of riders out there who don't relate to or fit into the standard bike nights."

Visitors are just as likely to hear the bark of small-displacement rat bikes as the irregular pulse of an oil-soaked Excelsior. "Obscurity, modification, rust, dirt, and style are what we hope to see at Backfire. The point is to bring together the overlooked and less celebrated genres of motorcycles that deserve a spotlight."

Even among its organizers, Backfire's atmosphere encourages diversity. "We're still pretty much café racer guys, but the night has helped us learn to respect much more than that. It's all about having fun doing what you think is cool. If someone is focused on something else, that's great, too."

In an age of specialized and occasionally intimidating motorcycle gatherings, Werny takes great pride in its accessibility, positivity and friendly atmosphere. "It's great to know that we've created an event that brings a lot of cool people together each month. People are there to socialize and network and make new friends. There's a free BBQ grill, no vendors and women feel comfortable riding out, too."

It's not just a social event either, Werny says. "Keeping a vintage bike on the road isn't easy, and Backfire is a great place to network and learn from others in a casual friendly atmosphere."

What of the rowdiness that is sometimes associated with outsider motorcycle gatherings? "We've been very fortunate to have had no fights, very little drama, only a few small accidents and just a couple parking tickets. People drink responsibly, too."

And what's the best part about organizing Backfire? "We get to see all our friends and all the cool bikes just like everyone else. It can sometimes be a lot of work, but we also have a lot of fun." Then Werny laughs. "And you'll definitely never hear us play "Born to be Wild."

Weather permitting, Backfire happens on the third Wednesday of each month, with 2013's season opener scheduled for March 20th.
For more information, visit

Story and photos by Levi Stroppel/Winter 2013

We've worked hard to upgrade this site. Click here to notify us of any problems we need to correct.

Dualsport Northwest Rally 8/29-9/1 2014


Subscription has its privileges - Each month Sound RIDER! publishes new features on rides, clubs, dealers and events. Don't miss out on these informative stories.

Sign up today for your FREE subscription and you'll get notification each month when the new issue comes on line. You'll also be the first to find out about special Sound RIDER! events. From time to time, we also provide valuable coupons that can save you hundreds of dollars on motorcycle services. What are you waiting for? Click here to sign up now!

South Sound BMW



   1.  2014 Sound RIDER! Event lineup

   2.  Ten motorcycle camping myths

   3.  Poker run basics

   4.  Top 10 tips for riding to Alaska

   5.  2014 Rally in the Gorge information

Seattle Cycle Center


Rich's Custom Seats - Ride more comfortably - LONGER!

Seattle Cycle Service - You one-stop independent service shop

The Ultimate Tire Repair Kit- Fixes tubes and tubeless right every time.

Washington Motorscyle Safety Training


Pacific Northwest Motorcycle Safety - Beginner to advanced rider courses available

Pacific Northwest Touring Books - Leave the main roads behind

Have you met my sister? - check out

I-90 Motorsports

Team Oregon

Used Bikes

Buy one here or sell yours today

The Big Skinny wallet

Less bulk, more comfort

New bikes for low prices

Shop hundreds now


Road conditions
Mountain passes
PNW weather
Ferry schedule
Tips & tricks
NW MC blotter
Dealers & Service
Other services
Editorial archive

Used motorcycles
Hot deal bikes (new)
Monthly Motorcycle Marketplace
Sound RIDER! on-line store
Island Fever Grand Tour
Cafe to Cafe Grand Tour
The Ultimate Road Trip Tour
Sportbike Northwest
Sport Touring Northwest
Dualsport Northwest
Maxi Scoot Northwest
Rally in the Gorge
Sasquatch Dual Sport Tour
Northwest Motorcycle Exhibit  
Adventure/Dual Sport
Maxi Scooter
Off-Road/Dirt Track
Sport Bike
Sport Touring
About us
SR! Events
Online store
Advertising/Media Kit
Write for SR!
Contact us
Site feedback/questions
Send us news tips
Send letters to the editor

Submit event listings
Request corrections
Copyright ©1999-2014 Mixed MEDIA   |   Advertise with us   |   Report a problem with the site   |   Privacy Statement