2009 Laughlin River Run Custom Bike Show

April 29, 2009
Bryan Harley
Bryan Harley
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Our resident road warrior has earned his stripes covering the rally circuit, from riding the Black Hills of Sturgis to cruising Main Street in Daytona Beach. Whether it's chopped, bobbed, or bored, metric to 'Merican, he rides 'em all.

This radical trike in the Custom Bike Show looks like it could hook up and move out.
This radical trike at the River Run’s Custom Bike Show looked like it was ready to hit the drag strip for a sub 10-second run.

Souped-up trikes, bad-to-the-bone bobbers, baggers, extreme radicals and even a custom three-wheeled Boss Hoss with NOS were on display at the 2009 Laughlin River Run Custom Bike Show. It would be winner take all as thirty motorcycles vied for ‘Best of Show’ honors and the $1500 cash top prize on the riverwalk of the Colorado Belle Hotel & Casino.

Judge Tim Bishop had a challenging job. All contestants were lumped into one category and trying to apply the same set of criteria to such diverse motorcycles is difficult. Where one bike’s strength might lie in its copious amounts of chrome and incredible paint, another’s artistry could come in the form of its intricate amount of hand-pounded metalwork and its old-school suicide shifter.

But in the end, it was the stretched-out radical custom motorcycles with big engines, tons of chrome, and high-dollar paint that swept the top honors. First Place and a cool $1500 spending cash went to Bruce Weibelt of Huntington

The winner of the River Runs Custom Bike Show was built by Kevin Alsop of Big Bear Choppers.
The winner of this year’s custom motorcycle show was Bruce Weibelt out of Huntington Beach, CA, with a bike built by Big Bear Choppers.

Beach, CA, for a fantasy-themed custom motorcycle built by Big Bear Choppers. The motorcycle traces its lines back to the original Athena bike BBC’s Kevin Alsop won the Biker Build-Off in Daytona with, sporting the same Devil’s Tail swingarm and sculpted fuel cell. The paint has a Franzetta feel, with the tank, rear fender and oil cover splashed with images of dragons and sexy women warriors with swords. An S&S engine with a custom-made upright air filter and 2-into-1 shorty pipes add to its imposing presence. Bruce’s motorcycle won this same competition in 2007. (I know, I was there.) So I dug out the photos from his the bike the way it looked two years ago, and since then it has received a burlier fork,

What would a great custom motorcycle be without a little eye candy to dress it up
What would a great custom motorcycle be without a little eye candy to dress it up?

new pipes, a new hand-carved leather seat that matches the motorcycle’s fantasy theme, and a new headlight. When I asked Bruce’s wife, Christine, if his winning meant steak and lobster tonight, she laughed and said, “He’ll probably put it right back into his bike.”

Art Leveritt out of Las Vegas, Nevada, walked away with second place honors and a $1000 gift certificate. His motorcycle featured a hot custom frame with the seat, rear fender and swingarm fobbed cleanly into a single piece. Third Place went to Paul Binford from Manteca, CA, for the Soprano Bike. Complete with brass knuckle foot pegs and a bullet hole-riddled tank, the cool theme bike from Binford’s Custom Cyles was good for a $500 gift certificate.

And while there could only be three winners, plenty of other quality customs deserved mention. The lines on a super-stretched, 11’6” radical custom were flowing and smooth. The burnt orange and silver motorcycle had an insane 26-inch MetalSport front wheel set at a 59-degree rake angle. Custom exhaust shoot off the right side of the engine then twist back around and exit off the left. The bike, made by Todd Anglani

A 59-degree rake on an 116 custom with an insane 26-inch Metal Sport front wheel had clean  smooth lines and wide  sweeping bars.
This custom cruiser had smooth lines, wide, swept-back bars, a 59-degree rake and was 11’6″  long with an insanely large 26-inch MetalSport front wheel.

of After Hours Bikes, sources an Ultima 113” engine, uses an open primary drive, and has an air bag that drops it to the ground when it’s time to show.

One of my favorites was a copper chopper made for the guy who owns Smith & Wesson, according to its builder, Joe Magliato out of Orange County, CA. Magliato, a blacksmith by trade, used hand-pounded copper for the motorcycle’s tank, front fender, and primary cover. It has a handmade exhaust that looks like the extended barrel of a six-shooter’s cylinder. The custom taillight is also fashioned in the shape of a revolver’s cylinder. It has an industrial-strength Durfee girder up front and is loaded with Exile accessories. The beauty of this bike is its meticulous copper craftsmanship and rust patina finish. No $10,000 paint job here, just raw metal in all of its natural luster.

Baggers were representing at the Laughlin Custom Bike Show.
Baggers were representing at the Laughlin Custom Bike Show but didn’t receive a whole lotta love.

John Shope of Sinister Industries and his 2009 Street Glide Koi also were prize-winning caliber. The Sinister Bagger featured a drilled-out front fender and wheels that matched. The bagger’s hand controls, saddlebag latches

The three prize winners of the 2009 Laughlin River Run Custom Bike Show pose with their money winners.
The three prize winners of the 2009 Laughlin River Run Custom Bike Show pose with their money winners.

and exhaust tips also carry the same drilled-out theme. A custom-vented front fairing and crimped handlebars give the Street Glide more street cred, and a custom air cover serves as a palette for the Japanese koi and bamboo artwork that decorates the motorcycle. The paint runs down the fork, is on the inside and outside of the fairing, shoots up the handlebar and then down the length of the bike. The detail is fantastic, and looks like something you’d see tattooed on a samurai warrior. But baggers and bobbers got no love at this show, because on this day, it was all about the bling.