Skip to content

Newmarket Bike Night draws motorcyclists from GTA and beyond

'For some people, it’s a sport, others it’s a hobby. For many, it’s a lifestyle,' says rider of the friendly weekly summer gathering for motorcycling enthusiasts 

Motorcycle instructor Justin Gang is one of the hundreds of enthusiasts who have found a place to gather on Thursday nights in Newmarket.

Come 6:30 p.m. throughout the summer months, Gang will take his ride to the parking lot at Food Basics on Yonge Street, where he is joined by dozens or hundreds of his fellow riders from across the GTA and beyond.

“They ride to socialize and gather in a space where we can talk about motorcycles,” he said. “We just connect. It doesn’t matter what we believe in, or where we’re from, as long as we ride two wheels, we talk about that. 

“I love it. It’s a whole, real, tight-knit community.”

Newmarket Bike Nights has become one of the biggest regular gathering for bikers around. With 2,800 members on its Facebook group, participants said it can get hundreds of people out on warm summer days, along with vendors looking to pitch to the audience.

Tim Heintzberger was one of the founders of the grassroots event three years ago. He said Newmarket emerged as a strong, central location for such a gathering.

“Lots of the (bike nights) in the city, people don’t like going. People out west, people out north, people out east, don’t want to go,” he said, adding that Newmarket is more central. “There are great routes to get here. We, as motorcyclists, don’t like to take highways. We like taking back roads. We like taking twisty roads. We like to enjoy ourselves.” 

Bike Night blossomed over time, he said, after starting with only about a dozen people. Once pandemic public health measures were lifted, he said that the number of riders has ballooned in the past couple of summers. Now, about 200 to 400 people, on average, turn out for the gathering.

“We are one of the largest bike nights in all of Ontario at the moment,” he said. “I kept it going for the community of bikers.” 

The group organizes day rides on weekends, but Thursday nights are for gathering. Bikers will come in small groups or individually to park and hang out with fellow enthusiasts.

It is a way for them to talk about what they all love. Glenn Dickson described riding as bringing peace and freedom.

“When you’re on the bike, your worry goes away,” he said. “I always had stress jobs, but as soon as you’re on the bike, it’s gone. It’s just you out there.” 

William Thompson said he only got into riding in the past couple of years, using an extra-wheeled bike due to leg problems. After starting to come this year, he said he plans to keep attending.

“It’s great,” he said. “It gets everybody together. We’re all peaceful. We don’t do any crazy crap because we don’t want to get kicked out of here.” 

The group tries to avoid causing a disturbance, Heintzberger said, adding that no one has approached them with any complaints. Although he said there a handful of "bad actors," they are less than one per cent of bikers and they do not tolerate anything at their gatherings. 

“We’re not doing any stunt shows, or any burnout competitions here. We're keeping it respectable,” he said. “I love to work with the community.” 

It is a friendly atmosphere, Gang said, and a great way to meet people who share the same passion.

“For some people, it’s a sport, others it’s a hobby. For many, it’s a lifestyle."