Whew! Another Born Free in the history books. Grant, Mike, Huber and the whole crew sure know how to throw one hell of a bike show. We were glad to be a part of it yet again and we went big this year with a huge tent so there was plenty of room to relax in some shade, have a cold beer and chill out and soak it all in. Big thanks to all of our friends who let us display their bikes in and around the booth. We thought it would be fun to show off an eclectic mix that reflects our style, and that of our friends and customers.
This event has been the deep end of the talent pool since the first one held at the old Classic Cycles shop in Orange, CA seven years ago and 2015 was no let down. The Show Class magazine People's Champ party at Cook's Corner on Friday night was packed and the six proud finalists had their hard work on display while onlookers cast their votes for the ultimate winner who would go on to be an "invited" builder at Born Free the next day. The amount of time and quality of work that went into these bikes was every bit as mind-blowing as some of the more famous guys in the "Big Show". JP Rodman's insanely intricate and molded shovelhead rose to the top through the democratic process and was crowned the winner. Somehow, we didn't get any photos of his bike (sorry J.P.) but there are some video clips of it in our Part One video below.
Saturday and Sunday was packed and the grass area had hundreds of bikes worth looking at. Not all of the Invited Builder bikes were 100% finished and several dudes didn't even make the show, but every single bike on display was fantastic. Anyone who's ever turned a wrench can't help but admire the long hours, skill and hard dollars that was poured into each of these machines.
It's easy to get overwhelmed when checking out so many hand-crafted motorcycles in one place, but at the end of the day, you gotta pick a favorite. This has to be a difficult chore for the guys running Born Free. All of the bikes are creative and well-crafted, so narrowing it down to one just isn't a simple task. Mike and Grant get around this by designating a lot of different categories and awards so a big percentage of the Invited Builder bikes go home with some sort of win. Hell, just getting invited in the first place is an award in itself. My personal favorite was Jason Webber's Booger Sugar. It was show-quality but looked like a bike you could actually do some miles on and live with for a long time. -Bill
The official list of winners in each category is listed below:
Art & Fuel Paint contest - Richard Minino Born-Free Award - Elliot Grosshands Panhead Rider Award - Peter Jackson Panhead Philly AMCA Award - Larry Doane big inch VL Best Paint - Duane Boatrip '60 Panhead Alabama Best Competition - Mark Atkins Rusty Butcher Best Modern - Andy Carter Hot Bike Sportster build Best Bobber - Nick Toscano Harley UL in VL frame Best Chopper - Thom Jones panhead Best Japanese - Jeff Wright Church of Choppers Best British - Matt Machine Norton from Australia Best Pre Unit Triumph - Jeff Leighton Best Indian - Go Takamine Brat Style LBC/Tokyo Best Flathead - Uwe Ehinger Harley UL from Germany Best Sportster - Brandon Holstein Speed Merchant Best Shovelhead - Johnny Branch Best Panhead - Dalton Walker Best Knucklehead - Arlen Ness "Untouchable" Born-Free Founders Pick - Arie VanSchyndel People's Champ - JP Rodman Invited Builder 1st - Oliver Jones Invited Builder 2nd - Arie VanSchyndel Invited Builder 3rd - Dalton Walker Best in Show - Ryan Grossman "Quicksilver"
Winner of 2015 and 1977 Harley-Davidson Lowriders - Israel Cortes Winner of the PBR Speed Merchant Evo Sportster - Edward Givis Winner of the 1946 Knucklehead Chopper - Shonda Mullins
Weâ€™re finally going to Sturgis! Weâ€™ll have a booth set up all week from July 30 - Aug 8 in the all-new Sturgis City Park at 599 Lazelle Street, right at the end of downtown.
There will be good stuff going on in this area all week; stunt shows by our friends at Unknown Industries, our own custom-painted helmet show called the Gringo Garage and different bike shows each day. Our bike shows have no entry fee, so show up before 11:00AM enter your machine. Find out more about this new venue here: http://www.sturgiscitypark.com
AUG 1 - 8
NAKED TRUTH at the BUFFALO CHIP
Weâ€™re proud to be a sponsor of our friend Michael Lichterâ€™s exhibit at The Sturgis Buffalo Chipâ€™s called â€œNaked Truthâ€. All 35 bikes will be displayed in raw metalâ€“no paint or bondo to hide the craftsmanship. It is free to the public and will be open from Saturday, Aug. 1 through Saturday, Aug. 8 in the Buffalo Chipâ€™s Russ Brown Events Center. More info here.
SATURDAY AUG 1
ROLAND SANDS BIKE SHOW
Roland Sands Design is a motorcycle, product and apparel company that has its roots in racing, custom bike building and design. Roland Sands will host 7 show classes to kick off the bike shows at the Sturgis City Park.
SUNDAY AUG 1 and 2
STURGIS AMA SUPERMOTO
Named the â€œElephant Runâ€ in tribute to Metzelerâ€™s iconic brand logo of the blue elephant, the race will take place over August 1-2 in Downtown Sturgis City Park. Sturgis AMA Supermoto Race will provide Sturgis attendees and off road racing enthusiasts with a chance to see quality race action from the world class series live on-site.
SUNDAY AUG 1
FXR ONLY BIKE SHOW
3rd Annual Sturgis FXR Show held in the historic Sturgis City Park. The first two years of the FXR Show have brought back what some have called the â€œGood Ol Daysâ€ in reference to the motorcycle shows in the City Park.
MONDAY AUG 3
BILTWELL DYNA ONLY SHOW
Biltwell and The Speed Merchant have paired up to present the The Custom Dyna show on Monday, August 3rd. Any modified Dyna can enter. Top 3 will win a Biltwell X Speed Merchant prize pack. Admission to this bike show is Free!!
TUESDAY AUG 4
STREET CHOPPER MAGAZINE WINNER TAKE ALL
Street Chopper Magazine is back in Sturgis for a down and dirty contest to find the worldâ€™s best custom chopper builders. No first -thru- fourteenth prizes, or honorable mentions, just a single winner per magazine will win all of the cash, glory and prizes!
WEDNESDAY AUG 5
HOT BIKE MAGAZINE WINNER TAKE ALL
Hot Bike Magazine is back in Sturgis for a down and dirty contest to find the worldâ€™s best custom motorcycle builders. No first -thru- fourteenth prizes, or honorable mentions, just a single winner per magazine will win all of the cash, glory and prizes!
THURSDAY AUG 6
BAGGERS MAGAZINE WINNER TAKE ALL
Baggers Magazine are back in Sturgis for a down and dirty contest to find the worldâ€™s best custom bagger builders. No first -thru- fourteenth prizes, or honorable mentions, just a single winner per magazine will win all of the cash, glory and prizes!
FRIDAY AUG 7
BILTWELL TRACKER ONLY BIKE SHOW
Biltwell and the Rusty Butcher have partnered up to present the Street Tracker show on Friday, August 7rd. Top 3 bikes will win a Biltwell X Rusty Butcher prize pack. Admission to this bike show is Free!!
Well, that was the biggest El Diablo Run to date. Thanks to people who came from as far as Argentina (accidentally ending up on the EDR), Australia and a big group from the East Coast and all over other parts of America and Canada. I didnâ€™t believe the facebook events page when 800 people swore they were coming. But the crowd was bigger than ever beforeâ€“somewhere around 500 people. With attendance this high, I was worried that it would lose some of the original spirit but that anxiety proved unfounded. If anything, the added bodies made the whole thing feel more festive and interesting. There was zero shortage of neat, modified motorcycles. From custom Sportsters to scratch-built panheads, it was easy to find cool bikes to gawk at. The road conditions were the best theyâ€™ve ever been and the weather really couldnâ€™t have been more perfect. Despite a lack of gnarly pot holes, there were still a half-dozen flats and plenty of maintenance and repairs going on under palapas. Our chase truck was filled to capacity when it crossed the border on Monday. With larger numbers, the field games were more fun since we had more participants and spectators. Adding a PA system and publishing the schedule of events helped things run a little smoother and McGoo did an awesome job of running the mic and keeping things on track. The new starting line for the Circulo de la Muerte was insane and the racing was tight and exciting right up until the finish. Iâ€™m still bummed that I bobbled in that sandy first turn and stalled my bike, but as they sayâ€“thatâ€™s racinâ€™! I think weâ€™ll require helmets during practice from now on after a near death experience nearly claimed Adamâ€™s (@hairmetalgreaser) life. That bastard is tough as nails and he unbelievably went right into the Coctagon after being released from the hospital. That battle royal was off the hook and we had our first real Coctagon injury when Carl from LA separated his bicep. Gruesome as it was, he sucked it up and we helped get him to Ensenada and the border as soon as possible the next day.
Sometimes the photos of this event give the impression that itâ€™s just one big filthy frat-party. Surely, that is part of it, but itâ€™s not the whole thing. The monotonous stretches of brutal highway help to enforce that requirement of self-reliance and the act of helping people out along the way builds camaraderie thatâ€™s impossible to duplicate any other way. Itâ€™s a great feeling when you can give someone the part, tool or knowledge they need to make it the rest of the way. Handing someone your spare inner tube to get them back on the road doesnâ€™t make a great insatgram photo, but it sure makes that other dudeâ€™s day better. Sure, the partying is real and nothing makes a person thirsty like a long ride through the dusty and strange landscape that ends at a beach where you sleep under the stars (or skyrockets as the case may be) but even our sober friends had a blast.
The ride to Ensenada claimed a couple more bikes, but seemed less eventful than usual with the road being in slightly better condition than previous years. Once in Ensenada, the bikes poured into the parking lot at the Villa Marina and the scale of the crowd became quickly apparent. Our host JC from Baja Voyager worked his ass off making sure there was music and cold adult beverages at every turn and the cool weather was a welcome change. This part of the trip is always a nice contrast to the Sea of Cortez side the peninsula; cooler weather, hot showers and a real bed, insane strip clubs and plenty of cops. We sold some shirts, handed out the little rocker patches and worked on bikes, just like every year before. McGoo as always delivered succinct speeches as he handed out the three simple awards, and it was a wrap. Riding home the next day almost seemed easy and the whole time I was already thinking about the next one in 2017 and a few tweaks we can try to make it a little better without changing the original vibe or intent. Weâ€™ll see you and your time machines in two years, Amigos!
Thanks to Geoff Kowalchuk @twofoursixer and our buddies at Ivestor design @stewivestor & @sheldo117 for shooting stills and video. Weâ€™re editing the video now, and will put it up on our YouTube channel as soon as itâ€™s done. This year was such a banger that itâ€™s gonna be around 15-20 minutes long. Sometime over the summer, we are going to print a low volume of some high-quality, hard-bound photo books using Geoffâ€™s images. The books wonâ€™t be cheap, but they will be memorable and should be a trip to look through again in twenty years or so. Also, thanks to our perennial chase-truck driver, Matt Frick. Matt is starting an off road expedition called Camp4Lo, so if you are interested in exploring northern Baja in a Jeep or other 4x4, hit him up here.
On May 16th 2015, Classic Cycle Events hosted the 47th annual Hanford Vintage Motorcycle Rally. Held at the King's Fairgrounds in Hanford, CA and in conjunction with a motorcycle parts swap, this show has always been a vital stop on the swap circuit. Real pickers arrive the day before and wait in line to be the first in and the first to score crusty gold, mined from the local central California valley. Friday nights are spent talking about old bikes and bbq'n a few dogs and tossing back some brews with the boys, both young and old. The fact the show and swap takes place in a grassy section of the fairgrounds gives it a back east feel that many of the other California swaps donâ€™t posses.
After a night spent sleeping in the dirt, the gates open up to spectators looking to grab whatâ€™s left of the parts for sale and lay eyes on some of the killer show bikes that make their way to the event. As people pour in, the bikes quickly get mobbed by guys talking about how they used to have this same bike but theirs was different. Marshall Baker, the man that hosts the show, gives out a few awards in predetermined classes of bikes ranging from early dirt bikes to later model Brit bikes. The show concludes about noon and most of the vendors clear out a little bit earlier after having hopefully sold what they brought and loaded up with more junk for the following years meet.
There was no shortage of quality bikes inside or outside of the show, lots of cold beer, walls jam-packed with artwork and photos. It was good to catch up with some old friends and meet some new chopper nerds. I wanna go back next year on a bike so I can ride all those crazy bridges Cleveland has everywhere!
Here's a few snappies for those who couldn't make it.
A taco shack, live music, raffle prizes, and a dozen custom painted Biltwell helmets! Thatâ€™s how MotoLady likes to celebrate. To ring in the 4 year anniversary of MotoLady, Alicia Elfving and Jeff Wolf decided to get creative. They chose to have some fun and host a helmet art show: Quality Control. The third host, Dumptruck was kind enough to donate his garage space in Signal Hill, California for the event.
Including his own work, Jeff Wolf of Wolf Designs invited 5 other artists to each submit two painted Biltwell helmets. One of each of the artistâ€™s helmets would be raffled off and the other would be sold. The artists included the likes of Spencer Getty of Spagettyâ€™s Garage, Bryan Scott, Bombshell Deluxe, Jason Prouty of Garage 31, and Jeff Yarrington. Each artist brought a unique style and approach to their Biltwell lid, showcasing a broad assortment of artistic expression.
With tons of people heading home with custom painted helmets and some other goodies from the piÃ±ata the Quality Control show was a hit. Congratulations to MotoLady on the 4th anniversary and a great show.