The Fremont Street Experience offered bikers music, dining, shopping, gambling and official BikeFest merchandise.
Blocks from downtown Las Vegas sits the Cashman Convention Center, the current home base for the Las Vegas BikeFest motorcycle rally. The large facility offers plenty of room and parking for the 30,000-plus motorcyclists who venture to the city that never sleeps looking to enjoy a weekend of biker fare.
Aside from the well-planned rally itself, Las Vegas offers shows, shopping, music, clubs, dining, bars, casinos, warm weather and all the high-energy action expected of the self-proclaimed, “Entertainment Capital of the World”. One popular destination is the Freemont Experience located in the heart of downtown Las Vegas, centrally located among the hotels and casinos, including the host hotel for BikeFest, The Golden Nugget. In conjunction with BikeFest, Freemont Street offered official BikeFest merchandise, popular tribute bands, celebrity appearances, bikini contests and motorcycle raffles as part of the BikeFest experience. It was a place where bikers and tourists intermingled but you could feel the biker vibe as motorcycles roared up and down the city streets and customs sat parked all around for people to feast their eyes on. Bikes and Vegas seem to go hand-in-hand when it comes to being flashy and sporting some bling.
Ten bikini babes battled on stage for the Las Vegas BikeFest bikini model title and a $500 first place prize.
Some 200 vendors ventured to BikeFest, offering the usual broad array of motorcycle everything, from leathers to T-shirts, jewelry, sunglasses, parts and accessories, insurance and legal services. There was Affliction offering lifestyle clothing, the Law Tigers offering legal help and companies offering new innovative products such as Lockstrap with its great locking tie-down system or Convict Cycles which offers Lockdown Stor-Bordz, a product that allows riders to store a variety of valuable assets safely and securely in a custom motorcycle foot board.
There was a menu of competitions, including Bikini, Wet T-shirt, Miss and Mr. Las Vegas BikeFest, Hog Out competition offsite at the Harley-Davidson Café, custom bike shows, the World’s Strongest Biker, as well as two poker runs. A Ride for Kids charity run was held, and on the other end of the spectrum were the slot and poker tournaments. Of course, live music is a must and BikeFest featured the likes of rock bands Nurse Ratchet, the Crashers, Voodoo Cowboys and others to round out the event. Other headliners played at various venues around town but were still linked to BikeFest including Bush, Duran Duran and ZZ Top.
Artistry in Iron presented 20 of the hottest custom builders with their latest bikes in an “invitation-only” custom builder’s bike show. Chris Richardson of LA Speed Shop was selected by his fellow builders as the 2011 Artistry in Iron Master Builders Champion. All these bikes were works of art but one specifically caught my eye. A bike named “Steam Punk” built by Copper Mike Cole with Gravesend Cycles featured many antique copper parts such as old fire extinguishers, industrial gauges and a really neat old maritime compass inset into the copper gas tank. Sponsored by American Cycle Magazine the show was held at the Cashman Center Friday and Saturday only but included autograph sessions along with a meet and greet to learn more about the builders behind the masterpieces they created. You can see all the Artistry in Iron bikes in our Las Vegas BikeFest Artistry in Iron 2011 photo report.
(L) The Strongest Biker Competition involved motorcycle tires and beer kegs. (M) Custom buider Chris Richardson with LA Speed Shop won the 2011 Artistry in Iron Master Builders Championship. (R) Hatred Customs entered a slammed custom in the bike show
The Cashman Center was also the scene of BikeFest’s Custom Bike Show. The event had a good turnout, with the majority of bikes entered in the Radical Class vying for the $2000 top prize and an invite to be one of the featured builders in the 2012 Artistry in Iron competition. AFT Customs with operator and builder Jim Giuffra took home several trophies for two different bikes entered in the show, one a metric custom named “Asumati.” Built from a Honda VT750 this bike combined custom paint, leather, detailed engraving and hidden radiators along with many other customized parts to form an award-winning package.
Tribute bands such as Ultimate Van Halen rocked the Jagermeister stage at the BikeFest Vendor Village.
Admission to the Vendor Village cost $15 per person for the weekend, which mostly gave you access to shop, view many of the contests and listen to local bands under the large party tent hosted by Jagermeister. Registration packages were also available, ranging from $25 to $55 per person and offered some extras like a t-shirt and special access to some hosted parties both on- and off-site.
Some of the better parties were out of the confines of the Cashman campus. Establishments such as the nearby Hogs and Heifers and Double Down Saloon are true biker bars. For more local flavor, try Fremont Street where the night never seems to end and anything you could want is available foot steps away. Las Vegas has much to offer and for 2011 BikeFest lived up to the reputation of the “Entertainment Capital of the World.”