It was cold in Cincy thanks to a storm that closed down most of the mid-Atlantic seaboard and prevented a few unlucky people from making it to the show.
‘Snowmageddon’ may have threatened to close down the Eastern seaboard, but it didn’t prevent Motorcycle USA from making the trek to Cincinnati for the 10th Annual V-Twin Expo. And while it was cold and wintery outside, the action heated up inside the Duke Energy Convention Center as the V-Twin industry’s largest trade show rolled into town. It was a cavalcade of custom wheels, exhausts, and accessories galore as dealers and manufacturers mixed and mingled while looking to strike a deal. It also served as a platform to honor the 2010 Industry Leaders, highlighted by Bruce Rossmeyer’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
For every established player like Custom Chrome and Drag Specialties in attendance, there were 20 more small independent shops like Flash2Pass with its handlebar-mounted garage door opener for motorcycles or Enigma Concepts with its Continuous Airflow Oil Cooling System for hot-running V-Twins that hungrily sought the big sponsorship that could take their business to the next level.
Just when I thought they couldn’t go much bigger than a 23-inch front wheel, this custom bagger by Ballistic Cycles pushes the envelope with a 30-inch tall front hoop.
Besides the opportunity to peruse the latest wares for the cruiser and custom crowd, the seminars at the Expo are always first-rate. At the Eternal Combustion: Opportunity in the Wind event it was standing room only in Conference Room 262. A collection of media reps and industry peeps gathered for a panel disc
ussion with representatives of the new and old guard to discuss the current climate of the V-Twin industry. Moderated by famed photographer Michael Lichter and presided over by a panel consisting of Kevin ‘Teach’ Baas, Bryan Fuller, Brian Klock, Gary Mauer, Dave Perewitz, Matt Olsen, Kirk Taylor and Paul Yaffe, the gathering of professional bike builders discussed the changing face of the industry and how they’ve had to refocus their energies to adapt to the trying times. Perewitz talked about how he’s diversified his business, going from making high-end customs almost exclusively to bobbers, baggers, and even sportbikes.
“You have to have a passion to work on anything motorcycle,” Perewitz said. He also mentioned that he looks to his daughter and younger crew members for current styling trends.
Marilyn Stemp of IronWorks fame brought up the topic of the passing of the guard and ways of passing the passion down to the next generation of custom bike builders. ‘Teach’ Baas got a rousing ovation for his work teaching students chopper class at Kennedy High School in Minnesota as did up-and-coming custom builder Matt Olsen who, despite his young age, can restore a knucklehead with the best of them. Olsen also heads up the Youth Program of The Antique Motorcycle Club of America where he headed up an essay contest that recently presented a WLA Harley to 18-year-old
Double trouble in Cin-cin-nati! Regardless of what you’re selling, booth beauties are a sure-fire bet to stop traffic.
motorcycle enthusiast Ryan Mackey.
Lichter also revealed the theme for his 10th annual Motorcycles as Art exhibit. The annual displays is set up at the Buffalo Chip in the Lichter Exhibition Hall during Sturgis. The title of this year’s exhibit is Eternal Combustion 30 in the Wind in celebration of Lichter’s 30th year of covering the Sturgis Rally. The display will include 30 custom motorcycles from 15 pairs of custom builders and for the first time ever will feature the photography and limited edition prints of the acclaimed shutterbug, including never-before-seen images.
The Expo is also a great place to get face-time with iconic figures in the industry. We met up with the legendary Arlen Ness for a quick on-the-spot interview and talked to our buddy Ron Finch, another man who knows a thing or two about building custom bikes. Finch brought the most-talked about motorcycle at the show, a fantastic sidecar made completely of rodwork, recycled tools and gears. The master of metal has really outdone himself this time. You could spend an hour looking at his latest creation and still not pick out all the details in his latest build Finch calls Outsider. What’s even more impressive is the fact that despite the intricate rodwork and welding involved, it took him only four months to complete his latest project.
Metal master Ron Finch really outdid himself this time. The rodwork in this sidecar he created, called Outsider, is incredible.
Where else but the Expo can you find Rick Fairless, Brian and Laura Klock and Cyril Huze talking shop. We waited for their conversation to end for a chance to ask Laura, the fastest woman on a bagger, what it’s like to run on the Salt. As she spoke, her eyes lit with excitement.
“Running on the Salt is awesome,” she exclaimed.
There were plenty of other people at the show who know a thing or two about going fast. Besides the Klocks, we met NHRA motorcycle drag racing champion Hector Arana at the S&S Cycle booth and later saw Hector and Denis Manning, the mind behind the BUB 7 streamliner, engaging in friendly conversation.
And despite the news that TLC is pulling the plug on ‘American Chopper,’ Orange County Choppers isn’t ready to close up shop just yet. On the contrary, OCC was one of the few reps to introduce two new bikes at the show.
Bike Sales Manager Mike Burkhouse demonstrated the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation Bike, a motorcycle for handicapped riders who are bound to a wheelchair. An electric ramp drops down the back and a person can wheel aboard a metal carriage, strap themselves in, and ride away under their own power. Braking and shifting is hand-
OCC was on hand with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Bike, a motorcycle for handicapped who are bound to a wheelchair but still have the desire to ride.
controlled as riders run through gears via a Pingel Electric Hand Shifter. A custom linked steering system stretches back to the carriage, and power to the rear is provided by an S&S 96 cubic-inch engine connected to a Baker Left-side Drive Transmission that operates a dual chain drive. Burkhouse said the innovative trike will sticker for around $45K.
The Orange County crew also debuted the 2010 OCC Sport Bagger. Spearheaded by a beefy 41mm Showa fork up front and the smooth lines of Corbin bags on the back, the bagger is noticeably void of the standard OCC badging. Instead, the clean lines of the bike speak for itself. The OCC Sport Bagger rolls on 40-spoke wheels, 130/18 up front and 200/17 out back. An EPA S&S 96 cubic-inch Black Engine provides the power to the Baker 5 speed LSD tranny, and a sweet set of Samson dual exhaust stretch down the side. And while OCC’s 2008 Bagger was priced in the $50K range, the 2010 version has an MSRP of $32,800, putting it at level comparable to Harley’s CVO Street Glide (MSRP $30,999) and the Ultra Classic Electra Glide (MSRP $35,999).
We also stopped by the Limpnickie booth to pick up a copy of its bigger, better Limpnickie Builder Manual Vol 2. We talked to Taber Nash from Nash Motorcycle Company how the garage-builder movement has continued to gain steam and how the manual is
chock-full of hand-crafted, American-made parts. He also informed us that crew of the Limpnickie Lot is holding its third annual Rod and Chopper Show in Daytona Beach during Bike Week on Friday, March 5.
One other mentionable story surrounding the Expo comes from Mike ‘Kiwi’ Thomas who found a 1930 101 Indian Scout in New Mexico on his way to Cincy. Thomas and his Kiwi Indian Motorcycle Company make the next best thing to an original Indian, so it’s cool that one of the good guys in the biz who will restore the motorcycle to its former glory was able to find such a treasure.
After the work was done, we
finished off the weekend at a little party called the Biltwell Bro-Down at the Mainstay Rock Bar. With a raucous crowd on hand and the band Dandelion Death providing a GWAR-like show, complete with a big-horned beast belting vocals and Mother Theresa in tights on bass, the high-energy gig was a great way to culminate the party that was the 2010 Cincinnati V-Twin Expo. Thanks for the invite, guys, we had a blast. See ya next year around the same time?