Bike Week New Orleans 2010 Review

May 12, 2010
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.

The Broken Spoke Saloon bartenders flash us a great smile.
The Broken Spoke Saloon bartenders flash us a great smile.

Motorcyclists from around the south who rolled into the Big Easy and made New Orleans their temporary home for a few days last week may have returned to the grind, but the images of the fun linger. From Charlie Ransom and Wahl E. Walker burning laps perilously close, riding side-by-side around the wooden barrel known as the Wall of Death to local boy and former Saints football player Kyle Turley strumming and singing away on the Riverwalk Festival stage while the Broken Spoke Saloon bartenders strutted their stuff on top of the bar, there was plenty going on at New Orleans Bike Week 2010 to stimulate rally-goers’ senses. I still have a vivid picture in my head painted by Vagabond Choppers’ Athena Ransom of American Motor Drome’s Ransom, Cycle Source’s Chris Callen and some of the other Limpnickie crew squeezing seven people on a motorcycle and riding around inside the locked-down grounds of the Whale Lot at four in the morning after partying it up on Bourbon Street before a N.O. policeman brought a halt to the shenanigans. Yeh, there was plenty of fun to be had in good ol’ N’Awlins.

But where were you? The Broken Spoke Saloon’s Jay Allen offered up one helluva deal, but few people took him up on it. You couldn’t beat it for the $59 three-day admission fee. For that price, you got free concerts from an almost non-stop

Silver Man is one of the many street performers you will find around New Orleans Jackson Square.
A trip to New Orleans is almost worth it to just for the unique people you meet on the street. The Silver Man entertained crowds in the plaza that surrounds Jackson Square.

lineup of live music, you got live entertainment like the Wall of Death, Ball of Steel, and freestyle motocross riders included with the price of admission, you got free food prepared by local chefs, free motorcycle parking, and a free custom bike show. The person with

Chillin out at the LED SLED Customs trailer.
Chillin’ out at the LedSled trailer.

the winning hand from the Plantation Poker Run won a Harley-Davidson Sportster and a Bourget custom motorcycle was given away just for signing up online when you bought your tickets. And the citizens of the Big Easy are quick to share a smile and exude a friendliness you won’t find in most big cities. The weather was ideal, sunny and warm, and there are no other big rallies to compete with so it confounds me as to why more people didn’t jump on the opportunity to party it up in New Orleans. All I’ve got to say is, you missed out this year.

The sounds of engines approaching redline meant motorcyclists were keeping the crew of RoadHog Motorcycle’s mobile dyno tuning center busy dialing in riders’ engines and giving them info on exactly how much power they were putting to the rear wheel. Others took advantage of Can Am’s offer to take a test ride on its avant-garde three-wheeled Spyder. The curious but timid spun laps between cones on a makeshift course set up in the shadows of the mural which gives the Whale Lot its name while more experienced riders tested them in real-world applications on the streets surrounding the Riverwalk Festival. Others took advantage of the steady-handed skills of Dave ‘Letterfly’ Knoderer who was busy decorating tanks and fenders with murals and pinstriping painted the old-fashioned way.

Oak Alley Plantation was one of our favorite stops on the Plantation Poker Run.
Oak Alley Plantation was one of our favorite stops on the Plantation Poker Run.

The event offered two great runs, the Plantation Poker Run and the Wetlands Plantation Ride. These offered a great opportunity to break away from the stop-and-go of the city and go riding through the countryside. The bayous are beautiful this time of year, so green, lush and teaming with flora and fauna. We even saw a few ‘gators sunning themselves on a river bank. And you can almost feel the history oozing from the hundreds-of-years old antebellum mansions and historic plantation homes.

A handful of the member of the Limpnickie Lot were on hand, including LED Sleds, Vagabond Choppers, Nash Motorcycle Company, MT Customs and a couple others displaying their slick hand-built custom motorcycles and

Jay Allen made sure that the Festival Stage at the Whale Lot had a steady stream of live music.

peddling their handcrafted goods. A few of them even took part in the Cycle Source Chopper Show where we saw the coolest local custom Harley with a New Orleans-style Mardi Gras jester paint job, a custom air filter engraved and inlaid with gold to go along with an alligator seat next to an old school kick-starting, rigid chopper with a Springer fork and a sissy bar, its tank mounted high on the backbone underneath its big apes. The chopper’s big Knucklehead engine suited its style perfectly.

New Orleans Bike Week has a ton of potential, but a few bugs still need to be worked out. Last year the event was held inside the Convention Center while this year it was moved outside to a hot parking lot with little shade. And it was hot – not unbearable, but hot enough that the crowds definitely were thicker at night than during the day. This was a gamble because if it rained, it would have cut into the numbers even more.

Some suggestions that might make it even more successful in the future are to hold the event in City Park or

The unique trophies for the Cycle Source Chopper Show were cut from sheet metal.
The unique trophies for the Cycle Source Chopper Show (above) were cut from sheet metal. The radical trike at the  N.O. Bike Week chopper show drew plenty of attention.
This radical trike at the Cycle Source Chopper Show during New Orleans Bike Week 2010 drew plenty of attention.

somewhere like that. Bikers like the outdoors. Throw it somewhere where there’s plenty of grass and trees so people can take shelter under the branches of the mighty oaks that populate the area. And get more local biker-friendly bars to participate. There are plenty of other biker-friendly venues that would have catered more to the tastes of the people who attended this year better than the House of Blues. Do some local radio promos, make a map with all of the bars and restaurants who cater to that crowd year-round, and get them more involved. My new buddy Joe Burgess of EagleRider New Orleans says there’s plenty of them. The House of Blues wasn’t so biker-friendly and their security seemed more intent on keeping bikers in check than letting the fun flow. They wouldn’t even let me in with my camera without signing a media release form and told me I couldn’t shoot pictures inside, and that’s not in the same almost-anything-goes variety of fun I’m accustomed to at a Broken Spoke Saloon party. Needless to say, no Baker Burnout contest was going on inside the House of Blues, that’s for sure. Finally, word of mouth only goes so far. The event needs to be advertised more. There are still a lot of people who don’t even know that there’s a Bike Week New Orleans. I saw an ad in The Limpnickie Builder Manual Vol. 2 that I picked up in Cincinnati at the V-Twin Expo, but the Broken Spoke Saloon is everywhere. Pump the event up when you’re set up in Daytona, Laconia and Sturgis. We had a blast and are already looking forward to attending next year. Maybe we’ll see more of you there.

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