Willy goes swapping

Although we’ve had a great winter here in Winnipeg, there’s still a fair bit of ice and sand on the roads, so we aren’t riding just yet.

No worries though, there’s plenty of biker-related activities to keep us occupied, including one of my favorites — the motorcycle swap meet.

Last Saturday, my buddy Trevor and I each loaded up a pile of our motorcycle parts and headed to the Bondslave Motorcycle Club’s annual swap meet. The event took place about 45 minutes west of Winnipeg at a hotel in Portage la Prairie, a small Manitoba city that’s home to about 13,000 people,

According to their website, the Bondslave Motorcycle Club was founded in 1989 in Winnipeg, and has established chapters throughout Canada. South of the border their brother club, Bondslaves MC, currently has 14 chapters throughout the USA.

The Bondslaves are a traditional club with about a dozen members locally. They wear a three-piece patch on the back of their club vests. Members ride North-American-made bikes only — Harley-Davidson, Indian or Victory motorcycles.

They are a friendly and fun-loving club and my friends and I are regulars at their annual rally, held each summer near the town of Stonewall. The summer rally is home to amazing motorcycle grass drag races and is an annual highlight for local bikers. This quote sums up the mantra of the Bondslaves perfectly: “We love Jesus, love to ride and have a big heart for the motorcycle community.”

Willy’s truck is not the tidiest of places, and there’s not much point in pulling out those Harley stock mufflers.

Although we’ve both been to numerous swap meets in our day, this was Trevor’s and my first trip to the Bondslave meet. Things kicked off at 10 a.m., so we had the truck loaded up and were on the road by 9. We rolled into Portage at 10 a.m. sharp, just in time to get one of the last remaining tables, which thankfully we’d reserved in advance. The place was packed and after unloading all our treasure and laying it out on the table I left Trevor in charge and did a quick tour of the place.

Inside at the swap meet, it looks just like the back of Willy’s truck, except with more people.

Between hugs and handshakes from all my brothers and sisters in the local biker community it was tough to get a solid look at all the cool stuff for sale, but I did manage to buy a few decals and got a lead on a back tire I’m after for that Suzuki TC 185 I’m restoring. Trevor also bought some vintage decals, which he later forgot in my truck. Score!

Just what you’ve been looking for: the tattoo special from Easyriders back in the mid-’90s. It’ll be worth it for the Dave Mann poster, though.

Sales at our table were initially slow, but I did manage to sell a Harley-Davidson Road King front tire, a small leather tool bag, a pair of handgrips and a few other small parts. Although it was only about $150 in total, any added scratch is always a bonus. Trevor, on the other hand, made out like a bandit. He didn’t bring as many parts as me, but quality over quantity was the rule of the day. Every time I looked his way he was stuffing bills in his wallet.

Willy’s friend Trevor doesn’t look happy, but he’s being coy – he raked in the cash at the swap meet.

I brought along quite a pile of parts, including a few seats, and about seven sets of stock Harley mufflers I’ve taken off the various bikes I’ve owned or worked on for friends. Here’s a quick swap meet tip: Never bring stock Harley mufflers to a swap meet. No one will buy them. Ever. You’ll just have to load them back into the truck at the end of the day. On a good note though, when I got all my stuff back home again I found a much better spot in the back of the storage container beside my shop, to hide those pipes away, likely forever.

After buying the helmet, you could paint it with silver enamel. Maybe,”If you can read this, my head fell off.”

Some folks show up at the swap meet with piles of parts to sell, others just look around and bullshit with their buddies, while a few dudes are hardcore shoppers with an eye for good bargains or an elusive part they’ve been searching for to complete that two-wheeled puzzle currently in a thousand pieces in their living room (it’s a Manitoba thing).

Hats off to the Bondslave Motorcycle Club for hosting a terrific swap meet. It was a fun way to beat another winter day. If there’s a swap meet coming up near you, make sure you check it out. It’s a great way to buy and sell parts, accessories and motorcycle gear face to face. And it’s also a great excuse to support your local motorcycle club, hang out with your friends and talk about how great the upcoming summer is going to be!

Willy also made some cash. That should cover breakfast for two at the Portage La Prairie Timmys.


  1. Stock Harley pipes are a very durable replacement for rotted OEM Japanese mufflers, as XS650 owners will attest. They are well made. Someone at the local Harley shop said they ship them back to the factory to be reused.

  2. Now that was hilarious……”Never bring stock Harley mufflers to a swap meet. No one will buy them. Ever.”

    I’ve always wondered why Harley even bothers putting mufflers on their bikes when they ship them from the factory. Imagine the amount of chrome sitting in garages and storage units all over North America right now.

    • Harley probably can’t sell the bikes legally without the stock pipes installed. Some day when non stock pipes are completely banned from use, all those original excellent condition pipes will be the next retirement nest egg.

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