Ken Tabata and his wife with the winner of the Freestyle Class at the 2011 AMD World Championships in Sturgis.
He traveled across an ocean to compete in the AMD World Championships of Custom Bike Building in Sturgis, a relative unknown in the custom building scene. But Ken Tabata from Yao City, Osaka, Japan, didn’t let his lack of notoriety prevent him from claiming the biggest prize at one of the most heralded bike shows around as Tabata’s unique creation earned Tavax Engineering first place in the Freestyle Class for its Tavax 2011V.
“We didn’t expect anything, so it’s unbelievable,” said Tabata courtesy of the translation of his wife, her eyes still moist from the tears of joy she shed onstage.
According to Tabata’s bio on the AMD World Championship webpage, the project has been a three and a half year labor of love.
“Ken set out to build a bike that represented, in metal, a cheetah chasing its prey across the African Savannah. The bike has been designed to look as if it has muscles rippling under its metal skin as it travels down the road.
At the front of the bike, the suspension begins as a trailing link, similar to that found on many European scooters in the ’60s, before it goes through a further set of linkages to finish with a centrally mounted shock more usual on a Springer style fork.”
Under the ornate bodywork sits an S&S SH93 engine and a five-speed transmission with a Primo belt drive. Marchesini modified wheels front and back and Lockheed 2 pod brakes complete a bike worthy of the title of “World Champion.”
(L) Jim Guiffra and the AFT Customs girls celebrate their victory in the Performance Custom Class. (M) Emotions overcame Ken Tabata and his wife after they learned they had won the prestigious Freestyle Class in the 2011 AMD World Championships. (R) The guys from Abnormal Cycles held a big celebration onstage after winning the Modified Harley-Davidson Class.
Tabata was able to edge out Lamb Engineering’s “Son of a Gun,” a slim, racy beauty powered by a 1951 BSA 500 db32 Goldstar engine mated to a BSA M21 gearbox. Satya Kraus of Kraus Motor Co. out of Northern California earned a well-deserved third place for Bolide which is injected with Satya’s usual racing pedigree. For his build he sourced an S&S 93” Shovelhead mated to a BDL primary. Beringer brakes and a slew of handmade components top off a build which Satya says “has everything you need and nothing you don’t.”
Probably the most elated winners of the day were the crew from Abnormal Cycles out of Italy. The group jumped jubilantly on the stage as their shop was crowned winner of the Modified Harley-Davidson Class, much like football players mobbing a teammate who scored a touchdown. Their elation only elevated when they learned they had additionally won a Screamin’ Eagle 120R engine courtesy of Harley-Davidson. Making their accomplishment all the more impressive is the fact that Abnormal Cycles entered the first motorcycle/sidecar combo in AMD history.
In the new Performance Custom Class, Jim Guiffra and the AFT Customs girls won top honors for its café-style racer called Sentoh with a perimeter frame and a suspended tank. What started as a 1970 Honda CB750 engine has been bumped up to a CB836CR. Bryan Schimke of TPJ Customs and AFT girl Cyndi get an assist for fobbing up the frame, while an R1 front end, Race Tech rear suspension, a custom Leo Vince pipe and Beringer brakes add up to another world class custom.
The final big winner of the day was Dar Holdsworth of Darwin Motorcycles in the Production Manufacturer Class. The 2011 RLX has a monster S&S 132” X-Wedge engine with a Baker 6-speed tranny to go along with its Baker King Kong clutch. Holdsworth shared with us during our interview at Daytona Beach Bike Week that he wanted to make an “American Muscle Bike” in tribute to racing legend Bobby Rahal. Holdsworth, a veteran, is raffling off the motorcycle to support the Steel Anchor and Pros4Vets organizations.
As AMD’s Bob Kay said, this year’s World Championships “brought a new level of artisanship and craftsmanship to the show.” We can’t wait to see what 2012 brings.
2011 AMD World Championship Results
1. Tavax Engineering Tavax 2011V (Japan)
2. Lamb Engineering Son of a Gun (UK)
3. Kraus Motor Co. Bolide (USA)
4. V-Twin Mechanic Spacester (France)
5. RK Concepts RK S (USA)
6. Garage65 Stargate (Italy)
7. SE Service Slugger (Sweden)
8. Fitil Metal Works/ Moscow Harley-Davidson Skywalker’s Caddy (Russian Federation)
9. John Reed Gold Yamaha (USA)
10. Roquechop Design Minautore (Canada)
Modified Harley-Davidson Class
1. Abnormal Cycles Union (Italy)
2. Iacona Custom Cycles Challenger (USA)
3. Shaw Harley-Davidson Nascafe Racer (UK)
Performance Custom Class
1. AFT Customs Sentoh (USA)
2. Fuller Hot Rods Rodan (USA)
3. RK Concepts RK Spring Frame (USA)
Production Manufacturer Class
1. Darwin Motorcycles RLX (USA)
2. Kiwi Indian Motorcycle Co. Kiwi Chieftain (USA)
3. Zero Engineering Type 6 (USA)