Running out of parking, Backfire Moto moves motorcycle meetups to Sodo

Once a month during spring, summer and fall, hundreds of motorcyclists descended on Ballard. They were drawn to 17th Ave. NW and Leary, originally the site of the 2 Bit Saloon. They parked in long rows and packed Shelter Lounge, NW Peaks Brewery and other surrounding watering holes.

For those who didn’t know about Backfire Moto, it was a loud, mysterious event. For those who came every month, it was family.

But now as Backfire Moto approaches its tenth year — and the number of attendees continues to grow — the event is moving to Sodo.

“Why move from Ballard? Well, if you didn’t notice that the amount of available parking in Ballard for attendees was dwindling each year for the past few years, many of us did,” explain the event’s founders Sean Dunlap, Sean Westlake and Todd Werny. “Unfortunately, this new parking situation has progressively made it harder for our attendees to show up and park for the event.”

They said they were also concerned about the Missing Link’s impact on parking as well as future developments in the area. So beginning with their first spring meetup in March, Backfire Moto will be held outside “The Shop” along 6th Ave. S in Sodo.

“We are sorry, but this change is beyond our control and the new location is going to be awesome,” they write. “We would like to thank Shelter Lounge and NW Peaks Brewery, Stone’s German Garage, Lux, Filson and all their friendly staffs for their support over the years. We will always remember their warm hospitality to our moto-community!”

The spring opener of Backfire Moto is March 21st at 4 p.m.

(Photos by Todd Werny on Backfire Moto’s Facebook page. Thanks Ian for the tip!)

29 comments on “Running out of parking, Backfire Moto moves motorcycle meetups to Sodo”

  1. This is the best news to hit Ballard in years!

    I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s not going to miss these obnoxious motorcycle riders invading our neighborhood. They’re only there to make noise and spectacles of themselves– I saw one dumbass doing a wheelie on Market last year.

    See? Sometimes local things DO improve!

  2. This is very good news. As much as I’m all for meet ups of whatever floats your boat this was quite disruptive to people living in the neighborhood. The noise, congestion and exhaust was just too much! Kudos to the group for finding a new spot they like. Win-win!

  3. Sean Westlake of Backfire has also take the job of “Moto Ambassador” at “The Shop” so moving the motorcycle meet there is likely a clever business decision to promote that business.

  4. To the people that are saying this is a positive thing that its moving? I went to every one of these in Ballard and it was very low key overall. Never saw a fight or anything. People walked around and admired other peoples motorcycles. Did I find the music to loud? yeah I personally did. But once a month won’t kill you people. You people remind me of the people who complain about the blue angels coming to the PNW once a year and say its too loud. The bars around there loved the amount of business that it brought it. Next youll want the Ballard farmers market moved too.
    And buddy, people do wheelies everywhere, and you’re right it is stupid. But they happen on freeways, side streets and pretty much all over the city.
    My rant is complete, I hope you people aren’t afraid of your shadow when the sun pops out on Saturday.

  5. I’ll trade all the scumbag junkie thieves and their moron enablers for weekly biker rallies any day.
    Wheelie as much as you want, it’s not like Seattle drivers are paying attention anyway.

  6. I for one am going to really miss this event as it was one of the things that made Ballard a unique and diverse community. It was within walking distance which was a big plus for me, and something that was a little edgy and unexpected and therefore interesting. Seattle as a whole is becoming so overly sanitized and void of so many things that gave this city character in the past. I don’t own or ride a motorcycle, yet I have an interest in them enough to appreciate a gathering like this of eclectic people, their culture, and their fascinating machines. Obviously businesses will miss the added income, and Ballard will become just a little bit less interesting for those who are looking for something that isn’t just a celebration of Nordic culture.

  7. @Stephen

    If there is one thing that Seattle is guilty of, it’s not being over sanitized.

  8. @Common
    “If there is one thing that Seattle is guilty of, it’s not being over sanitized.”
    Nice zinger!

    You’re right, but the blue hair brigade loves to stamp out displays of so-called “toxic masculinity”. Overall the trend in town is either soy fest beer tastings or our lovely outdoor zoo of disgusting human failure.
    Oh and the Sea-hawks. Go Team. This event was probably *way* too blue collar and red meat/testosterone for the cat ladies and the assorted other busybodies, even if there was never any violence. Loud music? Oh gee not like the hobos aren’t blasting their mindless crack noise 24 hrs a day (can’t afford earbuds?) or screaming nonsense at the top of their lungs.

  9. These people are contributing to climate change, which will adversely affect PoC and the poor, and they do this simply as a hobby! Quite disgraceful.

  10. Great news! Thank you for giving us our parking back and best of luck finding enough parking in SODO as the city starts ripping up streets and installing bike lanes :-)

  11. holy crap people, PARKING? you’re complaining about PARKING? IT WAS 1 DAY A MONTH.

  12. The event itself was fine. It was the immature behavior of some bikers as they drove to or from the event that did not make it as nice as it could be.
    I totally blame the lack of parking on the influx of new apartments with no parking provided to tenants.

  13. Never witnessed this event in the 18 years I’ve lived in Ballard. So, YAWN…..

  14. I didn’t mind these guys. Once a month, on a Wednesday, they took over a portion of 17th. They kept the streets and sidewalks open and promoted local businesses. Sure you had the “HEY LOOK HOW LOUD MY MOTORCYCLE IS BRMMMBBBBMMPPPPBBBBBBMMPPPBBB!” morons, but the vast majority were normal human beings. That being said, the event’s excuses for leaving were pretty lame.

    Parking? They took over the four-ish block radius and filled it with motorcycles, what more do they need?

    Missing Link?!? The closest the Missing Link is going to get is three blocks down 17th, across Leary Way, 48th, Ballard Ave and finally Shilshole. They may as well be blaming the price of tea in China for their move to Sodo.

    I think one commenter hit it on the nose that this is a move to promote The Shop. Why weren’t they upfront about the real reason and instead choose to hide behind lame excuses? I have a hunch they don’t think people will react positively and the event risks splitting, with a unofficial event in Ballard continuing.

  15. @ Truth

    you’re spot on. once I read the “missing link” bulls*t line, you could tell the guy had a personal problem with it, and tried to use his group as a way to complain about it, giving it more weight.

  16. “Ballard a unique and diverse community”

    Slap some more mayo on that white bread, Honky!

  17. @Ballard So White

    You can get that mayo over at the Safeway on Market and 15th.

  18. BHSALUM208 had it right: one day a month, and people complain about parking. Sigh. Some people just want to whine about everything. I, for one, will miss being able to walk down to this monthly event. As a motorcyclist, I was fascinated by all the varieties of machines, home-built projects, sleek new models, and everything in between. But, like the people who buy a house near an airport and then immediately file complaints about noise (!), there will always be the whiny brigade making gross and incorrect generalizations about groups having fun because those complainers don’t know anything about having fun.

  19. @ Rick

    Did you read the original post? The motorcyclists are the ones complaining about parking.

  20. @ READING COMPREHENSION – if we were having a conversation in person, would you be this abrupt, condescending, and rude in your interactions with me? Here’s your question, rephrased with civility:

    “Hi Rick. I totally get where you and the other poster you referenced are coming from. I would note, too, that the organizers themselves refer to parking as the substantial and dominate reason for the move. What do you think?”

    See? See how easy it is to frame your conversation and questions with civility? Listen – paraphrase – acknowledge – ask.

  21. Pretty sure the typical emasculated, Prius driving Ballard soy boy wouldn’t be allowed to ride a four-banger. His wife wouldn’t let him.

  22. @ Rick

    I think you just called yourself a moron with reading comprehension issues. Well done.

  23. this won’t help with parking but still is a neat little life hack i saw on the facebook:
    mix some water in with your gasoline once you’re running low so you can make the most out of what you’ve got before refueling.

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