Austin, Texas is well known for it’s music scene and it’s food. As you walk through the airport, upon arrival, you’ll notice that every restaurant, cafe, kiosk has a stage, a microphone, and at least one guitar and one amazing musician belting out some form of rock, country, blues, or fusion of all three. This past week, I had the pleasure of experiencing Austin for the first time, and I’m glad to say it’s an epic city through and through.
From where I sit in the industry, creating both physical and digital art, I have a fantastic view of the landscape of the motorcycle culture. While it’s always inspiring, mind blowing, and beyond pleasing to watch, there’s nothing quite like seeing custom motorcycles in the flesh, and the experience of making new friends, meeting world class builders and the people behind the culture and events. This is the basic premise of The Handbuilt Motorcycle Show. Featuring bikes from all categories and styles, and top builders from all over the world, this is the quintessential show of the Spring season.
I had the pleasure of spending a great deal of time with John Christenson of Staghead Moto, and more importantly the almighty Oil & Ink Motorbike Print Expo. John curates the Oil & Ink Expo, and travels from coast to coast to events like this showcasing top notch motorcycle based art. All of the artists who are part of the show are as skilled as the builders, the art as good as the bikes, providing an amazing backdrop for the event.
Hanging on the wall near John, where he could be found for most of the show, was Jeremy Lacy, aka Downshift Studio. This man has drawn some of the most amazing bikes, and his talent is second to none. Jeremy and his wife are great people and we got to spend some quality time with them over the weekend, including Sunday’s final race at MotoGp. Jeremy’s work is incredible and one of my favorite aspects of this work is that it usually includes bikes from the show. If you are not familiar with his work, you must check it out in person at the Oil & Ink Expo, or online at www.downshiftstudio.com.
On the scene too, was the crew from Dime City Cycles, including Jason Paul Michaels and Leticia Cline, two of the most friendly people I’ve met at these events. Always a pleasure, and although I didn’t get a chance to get out to the ranch for Saturday’s epic barbecue shenanigans, I was honored to be invited and able to live vicariously through Instagram. Also involved was Steve West of Silver Piston who, like me, was off duty this weekend. As Steve does with everything in he’s involved in, he took the party to an entirely new level. If you’re brave enough, browse through the photos: #ranchdelamoto. Warning… you cannot unsee what you will find.
The bikes… ahh the bikes. Too many to go into detail in one article, so besides saying “you had to be there” and “go next year” – I should probably send you to Iron & Air’s FB page for some of the more detailed photos and write-ups. There are some amazing photos from Matthew Jones (@matthewjonesphoto on IG). However, I did have a few favorites and I’ll attempt to keep it at a chewable level. Read on…
Wes of Threepence brought a killer build which he was working on right up until go time. The bike, based on a 1975 Yamaha RD 350. Wes is riding the Trans-America Trail (TAT) on this 1975 Yamaha RD 350 which he built in honor of his sister. The Trans-America Trail is an epic 5000-mile dual-sport westbound moto adventure, from the back woods of Tennessee to Oregon’s Pacific Ocean – mostly off pavement. The route uses dirt and gravel roads, forest roads, and farmland so that, logging about 200 miles each day, the adventurous rider may finish in a month’s time. After his month on the trail, the bike will be raffled off, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Childhood Leukemia Foundation.
For more info and to donate and enter the raffle click here.
The show had so many world class builders, it would be difficult to name them all, but with names like Roland Sands, Kott Motorcycles, Max Hazan, Fuller Moto, Loaded Gun Customs, Dime City Cycles, Alex Earle, Suicide Machine Company, and Revival Cycles themselves to name just a few, the show was truly all inclusive.
Another bike which stood out from the crowd was a build by Analog Motorcycles out of Gurnee, IL. With all of the hype surrounding the new Ducati Scramblers being released this season, Analog has taken a step back and built the original 1975 Ducati GT860 as if it were a brand new bike. This thing is flawless, and even sports Cotter Pin tool and gear rolls on the tail. The details of this build are perfect. Watch a great video preview of the bike in action here: https://vimeo.com/grantedphotography/analog-ssd.
As with The One Moto Show up in Portland, the variety of bikes at The Handbuilt Motorcycle Show is amazing. Everything from choppers and bobbers, to flat track bikes and custom race builds, and everything in between, there’s literally something for everyone. The show allows all types of builders to showcase their strengths, without prejudice, and there’s definitely something to be said for that.
One thing you don’t get anywhere else, is the Wall of Death Thrillshow, put on by the American Motor Drome Company. The show was incredible and ran every two hours throughout the weekend. With only 5 of these antiquities left in the U.S. it’s a treat to watch and experience the thrill of these skilled performers as they race around the wall, collecting dollars right out of people’s hands, and performing stunts to the delight of the audience. Definitely a performance you should catch in your lifetime.
A huge thank you to Revival Cycles for hosting the event, bringing your A game for this year’s show. See you next year!