Ted Smith of the Rat’s Hole knows that pretty girls and cool custom motorcycles are the recipe for a successful bike show.
With a sky full of glorious Florida sunshine, the Daytona Lagoon was the place to be on the final Saturday of Bike Week 2011 as the 39th annual Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Show pitted over 70 motorcycles competing in 22 classes, all vying for the prestige and honor of being declared “Best in Show.” The Rat’s Hole is a Bike Week institution, a fact that brought out the crew of the Travel Channel who was on hand with cameras rolling as part of the Bike Week feature it was filming.
It was a party-like atmosphere as Ratmate models in string bikinis pranced around and posed for pictures on stunning custom motorcycles, attendees flashed their best ink in the tattoo contest highlighted by one contestant who dropped his trousers to show off his, um, tattoo while emcee Radical Randy kept the crowd entertained with his unmistakable booming voice and humorous commentary. Special guest Ron Finch greeted people just inside the Lagoon’s front gate, signing autographs and taking pictures with fans. Finch is a celebrated custom builder whose work has appeared in almost every major motorcycle publication and books like “Art of the Chopper.” His work has even graced the Clinton Presidential Library. Finch brought along his latest custom motorcycle equipped with a sidecar called “Outsider” to share with fans. The unique build demonstrates both his mastery of three-dimensional rod work and paint and has features like gas and oil tanks hidden in the trunk of the sidecar.
This year’s event was billed as the World Bike Showdown as custom builders from Abu Dhabi, Australia, Canada and the US squared off for international bragging rights. The winner was chosen by popular vote as every person received a ballot to vote for their favorite international builder when they walked through the gates. To ensure impartiality, the audience was not informed which bike came from which country.
(L) The Chief checks out the show from the seat of his custom Indian trike. (M) Custom builders came from all over to compete in the prestigious Rat’s Hole Show in Daytona Beach. (R) Check out the new tri-colored Rat’s Hole trophies.
In the end, it was Chopper Kulture’s Mario Kyprianides from Abu Dhabi who took top honors in the World Bike Showdown for a stunning old school bobber with a plethora of handmade parts and dazzling orange metal flake paint.
It’s encouraging to see current bike builders paying homage to the style of scoots that paved the way for the industry. At the heart of the bike he calls “Just Add Violence” is a restored ’65 Harley Panhead with ultra-cool glass window rocker box covers. Above it sits a custom tank that houses both fuel and oil, with the lower section serving as the oil reservoir. In keeping with the retro vibe, Mario went with a slim one-off Springer front end with the springs stacked vertically. The bike features an open primary and kickstarter to go along with its rigid tail section which has a small sissy bar fashioned above the back fender. The wickedly bent bars, stubby pipes and drilled-out forward controls are all Chopper Kulture originals and details like its engraved air intake and cam cover helped it earn the laurels of crowd favorite. Its sparkling orange metal flake and pinstriping applied by Robert Pradke out of the US was the perfect complement to Mario’s artistry in iron which also won the title of “Best Bobber.”
This orange metal flake bobber by Chopper Kulture won the World Bike Showdown at the 2011 Daytona Beach Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Show.
Australian Shaun Ruddy made this slick speedway-inspired custom motorcycle that weighed a whopping 166 pounds.
Shaun Ruddy of Phat Choppers, originally a resident of Queensland, Australia, ran down some of the features of his entry into the World Bike Showdown for us. Ruddy made a formidable speedway tribute bike that weighed only a claimed 166 pounds. For power he sourced a 500cc, four-stroke, four-valve Single with a claimed 92 hp. It has an astounding 18:1 compression ratio and runs on methanol. The engine hangs low on the custom frame and serves as a stressed member of the bike. There’s no gearbox, so Ruddy says the single sprocket it utilizes is geared for 140 mph. A tall, knobby 23-inch front wheel anchors the front. In true speedway fashion, there’s no front brake and suspension duties are provided by two small coil springs mounted to the fork tubes. The throttle is internally wired keeping the bars tidy. The lone fender and tank are black while the rest of the bike is polished chrome and steel. Metal studs run down the tank and fender, giving it a certain Mad Max appeal. Ruddy is an Aussie, after all.
Here’s a breakdown of the World Showdown Results –
1. Mario Kyprianides (Chopper Kulture) Abu Dhabi
2. Joe Palermo (World Class Customs) USA
3. Shaun Ruddy (Phat Choppers) Australia
4. Tako (Sickasso) Canada
After the World Showdown winners were announced, Radical Randy began the lengthy process of announcing the winners in the other 22 categories. Contrary to the World Bike Showdown, these bikes were selected by a panel of professional judges, with Tony Massaro once again presiding as Director of Judges. Each bike entered in the Rat’s Hole contest is first inspected by two judges who aren’t allowed to compare notes. The bikes are thoroughly scrutinized based on multiple criteria. After primary judging is completed, the head judge then inspects the score sheets to look for any anomalies in the process before they are handed over to a third-party that tallies the scores. The process is highly professional and as fair as possible.
Walking the grounds of the Daytona Lagoon waterpark, Motorcycle USA created an unofficial list of categories we created for some of the notable bikes in the show. Our vote for “Most Outrageous Backside” goes to Street Muscle Choppers for its dragster-style chopper with a monster drag wheel mounted to its tail section. This thing ranks right up there with the 2007 Hayabusa we saw at the Lone Star Rally with the 1500mm Hoosier rear tire. Powered by a big V-Twin with a high-performance intake mated to a large open belt primary, it has twin upswept fishtail pipes that wrap around a monster chunk of rubber. Street Muscle Choppers claims it’s the “World’s Widest Fat Tire Chopper” and lives by the motto “Size Does Matter.”
Street Muscle Choppers stakes its claim to the World’s Widest Fat Tire Chopper.
We’ve seen plenty of dragon-themed motorcycles before, but this one goes above and beyond any we’ve encountered before.
The “Craziest Bodywork Award” goes to a motorcycle we can only refer to as the “Dragon Bike” out of New York. How would you like to ride with a dragon’s head hanging above you? Obviously, this bike’s owner is fairly fond of the idea because the back end of his V-Twin powered chopper has been converted into a long-necked dragon complete with green scales and a mane of flame. Its sissy bar is a two-handed, medieval sword. The end of the bike’s fork tubes are fashioned into dragon’s claws and the seat is made of alligator hide. Dragons are a common theme on motorcycles, but this one goes above and beyond any we’ve encountered before.
Our “Built with the Best Intentions” award goes to the 2008 “Dreams of Avatar” Liberator Trike. The trike is operated entirely by hand controls. It is intended to give people restricted to wheelchairs the opportunity to ride again, hence the Avatar reference. The Liberator Trike has a full wrap-around seat that supports a rider’s upper body and swings out over the left side to make it easy for the wheelchair-bound to climb aboard. They can opt for a full wheelchair rack, too. Once they’re behind the controls, look out because this thing is running a 327 Chevy engine with aluminum heads and custom exhaust headers. It has an automatic transmission, independent coil-over suspension and disc brakes front and rear. Motorcycle cues are retained via its Harley front end and fender. We give Liberator Trikes out of Canby, Minnesota, a big two thumbs up for empowering the disabled with the “Freedom to Ride.”
In the “King of the Horsepower” category, our vote goes to Jack McCoy for his 1340cc twin-turbo 2008 Suzuki B-King. The name of the bike is “Twice as Nice” from M43 Powersports and courtesy of its twin-turbos puts out a claimed 550 hp. The engine internals feature JE Pistons, Crower rods and its high performance cams and cam gears have been adjusted. To accomodate the turbos, McCoy relocated the radiator under the tail section. “Twice as Nice” features Tricky air ride suspension front and back and has 21 inch RC Components Raven and matching brake rotor on the front. We saw a nitrous-powered Hayabusa with a stretched swingarm that also looked like it would put out some serious straight-line power, but the pro street stance and more compact wheelbase give the B-King a definite edge.
There was an abundance of talent and creativity on display at the Rat’s Hole Daytona Beach show. NLC (No Limit Custom) out of Germany builds industrial-looking bikes based around the Harley-Davidson V-Rod. NLC gives the Rod an aggressive makeover with an angular tank, a new swingarm, and by removing the front fender and reworking the tail section. They’re CFL version features a monochromatic yellow paint scheme on the bodywork, radiator, and engine offset by a black frame, bars, fork, wheels, swingarm and pipes.
On the other end of the spectrum is an 858cc 1973 Norton Commando café racer owned by Thomas J. Dukes out of Clermont, Florida. The nostalgic bike was beautifully restored and has what appears to be a Dunstall race fairing and clip-ons but has been updated with Brembo calipers on the front disc. This kick-starting screamer was entered in the Antique/Classics Restored class but looks primed for the racetrack.
This year’s event celebrated the life of long-time Rat’s Hole judge, Keith (Andy) Anderson. According to the Rat’s Hole publication the Ratty Rag, “Andy was a judge for 14 years and specialized in the Rat Class. Old Raggedy Andy will be sorely missed but you can bet he is flipping us all off somewhere with Big Daddy Rat judging bikes in Heaven.”
The Daytona Beach Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Show not only saw the return of the popular publication the Ratty Rag, Ted Smith also had new tri-colored custom trophies to hand out to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers in each category. We couldn’t stick around for the final results, but Smith will be mailing us a list of the winners next week, so check back to find out who took top honors in each of the classes.
The Rat’s Hole heads to the Leesburg Bikefest 2011 on April 9, 2011 for its second of six shows planned for this year.