Portland Easyriders Centerfold Bike Show

March 29, 2007
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

The Easy Rider Captain America  or at least a replica.
Doesn’t this bike look familiar? This Captain America replica was the first of many custom builds which would grab the attention of visitors to the Portland stop of the 2007 Easyriders Centerfold Tour.

The Oregon Convention Center, located near Portland’s Rose Quarter, played host to a bevy of custom motorcycles as the latest stop on the 2007 Easyriders Centerfold Tour. Featuring the latest looks in the V-Twin custom market, the Easyriders shows give fans an opportunity to check out what’s fresh in the custom world.

The Portland crowd was made up of the general cruiser folks you would expect to show up at a big-city bike show. The $16 ticket price didn’t keep a healthy assembly of two-wheeled aficionados from congregating, and there was some diversity in attendees, with patch-wearing tuffs rubbing shoulders next to baseball cap-wearing teenagers.

The first bike to greet spectators as they walked through the gates was none other than Captain America. Not too quick on the uptake, our first inclination upon seeing the raked out chopper with red-white-and-blue fuel tank was an interior monologue that went something along the lines of: “Hey that looks kind of like the bike in that one movie – the cool hippie movie with Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson. The motorcycle film where they do a lot of drugs and then rednecks end up killing them in the final scene… ‘Easy Rider!'”

Pondering why the “Easy Rider”-Easyriders connection had never really dawned on me before, it was kind of cool to see a replica of the original. (A little nugget of Wiki-knowledge for our dear readers: The original bikes used in the film were all stolen except for the Fonda bike demolished in the final scene. That bike was later rebuilt and sold at auction by its original builder, Dan Haggerty, who handled the bikes on the set of the movie – Haggerty being better known by most folks as Grizzly Adams. Crazy, huh?)

Even with all the flashier stuff lit up in every direction, the classic Captain America bike had a lot of people zooming in for a closer look and touch once they made the same connection we did.

Paul Yaffe was at the show signing autographs and talking with his fans.
Paul Yaffe was on hand to sign autographs and chat with fans. The Arizona-based builder brought his current Tour bike and his Biker Build-Off winner – Suzy Q.

After the Easy Rider replica the bikes at the show ran the whole custom gamut, ranging from simple bolt-on modified Harleys to the just plain bizarre. The show wasn’t all about the latest and greatest (read biggest and longest) customs, however, as there were a handful of old-school Harleys, and even a couple Triumphs, scattered across the exhibition hall to satiate the vintage crowd. There was something for the entire cruiser crowd.

The headliners at the Easyriders Centerfold Tour are builders with national name recognition, who are also paired with some up-and-comers. The list of featured builders at the Easyrider’s Show includes: Paul Yaffe, Kendall Norman, Detroit Bros., Ralph Randolph, Bill Rucker, and Austin Weiss.

The most recognizable star in attendance out of the headliners was Paul Yaffe, who was on hand signing posters and shaking hands with his fans. Yaffe also had a display selling T-shirts and exhibiting components from his Paul Yaffe Originals accessory lineup.

Ralph Randolph was one of the builders featured in the tour. The owner of Rockem Sockem Cycles is also a commercial airline pilot and a Marine veteran.
Ralph Randolph was one of the builders featured in the tour. The owner of Rockem Sockem Cycles is also a commercial airline pilot and a Marine veteran.

The Arizona-based builder was there with his new Easyrider’s Tour bike, as well as the machine which he built for his victorious appearance on Discovery Channel’s Biker Build-Off. The orange Build-Off bike, which is almost the same tint as Yaffe’s hair, is an even sharper looking machine up close. If you find the sleek ride too appealing to pass up, we did notice a placard announcing it was for sale if the offer was right. Check out all things Yaffe at www.paulyaffeoriginals.com.

Another featured builder who impressed us was Ralph Randolph, the owner and founder of the Arizona-based Rockem Sockem Cycles. We chatted with Randolph about his hip designs, of which he is planning a production run in which the finished product would ring in right around the $20K mark.

The interesting thing about Randolf is his motorcycle business is just a part-time gig, as the former Marine is also a commercial airline pilot. Randolph was greeting fans and also busy fabricating a bike while he was in Portland. That’s right Randolph is building a bike throughout the course of the tour, giving spectators a chance to see a work in progress. Stay tuned for a more in depth story of Randolph’s company in a future article.

The Rucker Performance Assassin Trike.
The Assassin Trike is a wild-looking creation coming out of American IronHorse founder Bill Rucker’s latest business venture – Rucker Performance.

Another crazy ride from the show from a featured builder was Bill Rucker’s wild Assasin Trike. Rucker is perhaps best known as the founder of American IronHorse but has since moved on as the owner of Rucker Performance. He is also the founder of TET Laboratories, and helped get us up to speed when we researched our article on the new EPA emissions. We were bummed Rucker wasn’t on hand to chat with, but we were happy to take a closer gander at the Assasin Trike. The design utilizes a 124 cubic-inch V-Twin, which cranks out 121 horsepower, with the Frankenstein rear end and Centerline wheels completing the three-wheeled design. While it may not be for everyone, Rucker’s trike is a bold design to be sure.

While seeing the work of established stars is cool for fans of the genre, it is also rewarding to check out the work of custom builders right around the corner from you. As a motorcycle magazine based in Southern Oregon, we were a bit surprised at the breadth of custom builders right in our own Pacific Northwest backyard.

Nash Motorcycle Company custom bike.
Based in Vancouver, Washington, Nash Motorcycle Company produces about 13-15 bikes like this one.

Our favorite from the local crowd was Nash Motorcycle Company, which creates about 15 old-school choppers and bobbers every year. They were on hand showing off two of their latest custom creations. Nash’s founder, Taber Nash (he also runs the shop with the help of his two brothers, Trent and Teddy), was saying hello to the locals and also marketing his trick handlebars, which he bends and manufactures in the N.M.C. shop located just over the river in Vancouver, Washington. To get a closer look at Nash’s work, including the popular Gimp Hanger handlebars, check out www.nashmotorcycle.com. Also, stay tuned for a closer look at the Nash Motor Co. in a forthcoming MCUSA custom builder feature.

An exciting part of the show was a big orange beauty from Carolina Custom, built by CC owner Dorian Swanner himself and up for grabs in a drawing. Carolina Custom builds choppers from the ground up, with the customer getting to pick all their components online at www.carolinacustomproducts.com and their machine then made to order (CC also produces kit bikes if you’d rather build it yourself). The contest bike utilizes CC’s own chopper frame, an S&S motor, and a fat 300 rear tire. It will be given away to one very lucky show attendee at the end of the ’07 Easyrider Centerfold tour.

While getting a trick chopper isn’t in the cards for everyone but the luckiest of tour participants, there were various bits of Easyriders souvenirs being given away by the show’s emcee. The free drawings kept the crowd in the thick of things, as did the live entertainment.

The Angelz were there to greet their fans  young and old.
The Purrfect Angelz are the live entertainment at the show, where they show off their dance moves and meet their fans, both young and old.

Putting the centerfold in the centerfold tour were the sultry dance moves of the Purrfect Angelz. In case you’re unfamiliar, the Angelz are a dance troupe which perform at many major bike shows across the nation, including the current Easyrider tour. The ladies also perform for U.S. troops overseas and make appearances on television shows and music videos.

As you would expect, the Angelz ain’t too hard on the eyes and were a popular draw at the event. They were so attractive in fact that I almost forgave them for dancing to that brain infection of a song, Honky Tonk Badonky Donk – a song, by the way, which the Angelz star in the music video.

All in all, not a bad way to spend your Saturday. Check out the Easyrider Centerfold Tour as it hits a city in your area. Shows are still on tap for San Diego (March 31st), Denver (April 7th), Harford (April 14th), and Dallas (April 21st).

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