Arizona Motorcycle Expo

January 17, 2006
Story and Photos by Billy Bartels

One of Winter’s Hidden Gems

Wicked Bros is a exhaust manufacturer who also makes some of the trickest-looking bikes on the planet. The jockey shifter has the clutch lever mounted right to it  and the strip of snakeskin up the tank is capped by an actual snake’s head  encased in glass.
Exhaust manufacturer Wicked Bros also builds bikes, including this one complete with a snakeskin strip on the tank capped by an actual snake head.

Chances to gawk at large numbers of custom bikes tails off markedly in the winter months, with most of the industry shutting themselves in for the duration to work on bikes for the big spring shows, starting with Daytona Bike Week in March. A little known exception to that rule is the Arizona Motorcycle Expo that typically takes place in early December in the Grand Canyon State’s capital, Phoenix.

Not only is there a vast stable of chrome ponies to feast the eyes upon, there were several debuts of recently completed or almost-completed machines by local builders of the American Southwest. Not that the term “local builder” in the Phoenix area means “sub-par,” as several of the most respected artisans in the biz are located in the Valley of the Sun, and many of them use this little Expo to gauge crowd reaction to their latest and greatest.

And what a great sounding board it is. An estimated 16,000 people walked through the gates of this event that is in just its fourth year of existence. It’s already outgrown its first venue, Phoenix’s Civic Plaza, but has now found a happy home at the Arizona State Fairgrounds. From the looks of the parking lot, it may outgrow this spot before too much longer, but it will certainly continue here later this year, December 8-10, 2006.

Months in the making  this fine machine from Steed Motorcycles is ready for the ’06 show circuit. It made its debut at the Arizona Expo.
Months in the making, this fine machine from Steed Motorcycles is ready for the ’06 show circuit, making its debut at the Arizona Expo.

Amongst the builders debuting new creations at the Expo were Steed Motorcycles, Spartan Frameworks, and Paul Yaffe Originals. Steed Motorcycle Company is actually a microbuilder churning out production-line bikes from their Scottsdale factory, but owner John Covington is also a noted builder who spent almost a year building the copper-colored beauty seen here.

Tucson’s Spartan Frameworks builds bikes just like the name implies: simple and sparse. Their new Knucklehead-engined machine features not only their own frame, but also a handbuilt springer front end and numerous other one-off parts on this sleek, classic chopper.

Paul Yaffe hadn’t yet debuted his new bike at the time I was at the event, but he promised that this hand-built H-D Twin Cam-powered Softail-style custom would be done by the show’s Sunday afternoon finale, and then sold for $35K.

Paul Yaffe was one of the show’s draws. This photo was taken about three hours into the show  by the end of the show it was a completed custom.
Custom builder Paul Yaffe built a bike at the show which he planned on selling for $35,000 once finished. Here is the work in progress at the three-hour mark.

Other notable builders on display were Kraft Custom Cycles, Insane Custom Cycles, Wicked Bros, Rockem and Sockem Cycles, Ron Simms, Titan, Vegas City Choppers, US Choppers, American Eagle, and way more.

Far from just a one-dimensional show, the Expo also has Sand Toys and Trucks for those of you so inclined. About half of the total acreage is covered with the largest assortment of toy haulers (trailers that haul motorcycles, quads, and small 4x4s and transform into sleeping accommodations at your destination) I’ve ever seen. Buggies, golf carts, Quads and more are available for the same $12 admission that got you all the cool bikes. 

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