The International Motorcycle Show (IMS) makes its way around the country every winter to keep all of us hibernating bikers chomping at the bit for the upcoming riding season. Billed as “The World’s Largest Motorcycle Show,” it features all of the major motorcycle manufacturers, as well as helmet and gear companies, aftermarket parts manufacturers, motorcycle insurance companies, stunt shows, food concessions, and about anything else you can think of related to the lifestyle.
I headed for something else, as I work at a dealership and had seen all the new gear months ago (plus, stock bikes don’t really do much for me—except give me ideas about parts I want to utilize on my own bikes in the future).
There were electric motorcycles, real and fake. Zero Motorcycles had a nice display of a half-dozen production models, and the Tron movie bike was present. You could hardly get within range to look at it, though, as the masses were flocking to get a picture taken with it. I was in front of the Tron bike, trying to look at a death-trap GSXR that had been converted to electric, so I was yelled at numerous times to move out of their cam-phone pictures they wanted to post on fb, bloody wankers.
There was a decent showing of naked motorcycles surprisingly; I see that it is making more of an impact here in the US. Aside from the factory standard naked bikes, Zach Ness (grandson of Arlen Ness) debuted his first full custom, which was a Victory Judge-based café bike. Aside from the exhaust, it was nice looking, especially for a cruiser-based custom. A naked flat track styled Gregg’s Customs CBR 250 was being raffled off to benefit children with brain cancer—hopefully my girl’s five entries will bring her home a new bike!
BMW had Stellan Egeland’s new build, the Slugger, on display in its giant booth, giving me a chance to speak with him for a few minutes about the bike and previous builds. He was an interesting, smart fellow and his bike was amazing to look at. The mechanical/industrial feel of the predominantly metal bike was intoxicating as I looked over the welds and hubsteering setup. The Slugger, similar to the Harrier built in ’09, was built with parts from BMW and this time, a turbo—which (as indicated by the tires) certainly seems to move this machine up to a brisk pace.
However, we were there for the Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show, to see the new creation being unveiled from Roman Levin of FOH Cycle Fab. As expected, the competition was made up mostly of chops and cruisers. There were less than a dozen sportbike-based customs in all of the classes—half of them naked sportbike entries, thanks to FOH and one other cheeky fellow with a Ducati clad in bolt-ons. The other half were, well… traditional American sportbike builds—ruined. Hundreds of hours of run-of-the-mill airbrushing and chrome dipping. Miles of wiring for LEDs to blink in rainbows of colors all over the chrome-dipped components. And of course, poorly executed modifications rendering the bikes dangerous.
One such machine, built by JDA Custom, was a GSXR 600 with a bolt-on 240 tire/swinger setup. Upon inspection I found not only was the tire about 4 inches off center right, but that the chain was literally rubbing the inside of the frame away. I spoke with the builder about it, and he told me, “Oh yeah, they all do that”. I asked if he thought it might be a safety concern and he didn’t seem the least bit worried…must have been distracted by the DVD screen on the gas tank. Yet he took home first place in the People’s Choice Freestyle class (head shaking and sighs).
Roman’s new TLR based streetfighter, also in the freestyle class, featured a custom frame, swingarm, carbon fiber bodywork etc., etc., etc., and was overlooked in the judging. This is more than likely due to the fact that his fabrication and finish skills reach a level that make the bike look factory, and most passersby just thought it was a Ducati. Damned shame, as it was ABSOLUTELY the most custom bike in the freestyle class, and it’s reached a place in my mind with the top TL fighters ever!
A chopper adorned with trinkets from junkyards and copper plating took home the Builder’s choice in Freestyle Class… again, surprising (sigh).
The Performance Custom class (“High performance-based vehicle with motorcycle-based drive train”) featured a couple of blinged and stretched sportbikes, the aforementioned catalog-enhanced Ducati, three bikes from Full of Hate—RC51 monocoque carbonfiber fighter, DRZ 400 cafe, and the TLR Cafe-fighter—and a god-awful Volusia with ape hangars (more head shaking). The Cafe TLR took home first prize and got FOH a nice $1,000 check for his efforts. The rest of the judging, I don’t agree with, especially in a PERFORMANCE CUSTOM class, so I’m not mentioning it—because a Volusia is not a high-performance vehicle and LED’s and heavy swingarm/wheel combo’s don’t increase performance.
All in all, the show was as expected but it was nice to see the FOH Rage TLR unveiled (keep your eyes out for this bike), Roman bringing home a 1st prize, and hanging out with our CF family! A good number of the crew came out to the show to meet, greet, and support FOH as well as tell the ignorant passersby not to touch the fucking bikes! Seriously is it too much to ask for people to NOT TOUCH the show bikes?! I mean you’re a bike rider, why would you touch someone else’s bike on display?! Either way, fun was had in the big city, and I look forward to the chance to do it again!
Words: Adam Frantz | Pics: Adam Frantz