‘Steampunk’ by Copper Mike Cole of Gravesend Cycles beat out Stu’s Auto and its 1989 Custom Chopper for first place in the FreeStyle class. at the New York Ultimate Builder Bike Show.
The seventh round of the Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show headed to New York City with great anticipation. After all, it was the New York motorcycling scene that spawned enigmatic characters like Indian Larry and English Don. With this in mind, the level of competition didn’t disappoint as the winner of the fiercely contested FreeStyle Class entered a bike with a combination of engraving, hammered brass and a level of “mechanicalness” even Indian Larry could have appreciated. Throw into the mix a slew of antique gauges and flea market finds which have found second life in Gravesend Cycles’ “Steampunk” and you have the FreeStyle winner of the New York Ultimate Builder Bike Show.
One glance at “Steampunk” is all it takes to realize how Copper Mike Cole of Gravesend Cycles got his name, from the copper coils twisting off the back of the gas tank to the refurbished copper rear fender. It takes a lot of creativity to see the potential an antique fire extinguisher holds as Cole took an object as mundane as a fire extinguisher and gave it new life as a motorcycle fender, cutting it into sections and then layering it like a shell over the rear wheel. He would find other uses for antique brass and copper fire extinguishers as well, converting them into floorboards for the bike.
Other features which contribute to the “Steampunk” aesthetic include a maritime compass that’s inset on the copper tank, submarine cabin entry and warning lights which are now the headlight and taillights, and an air cleaner that’s an old torch which has been cut down. Other interesting styling cues include what look like barometric gauges fashioned into the ends of the oil bag and the bike’s lone saddlebag which once was a leather Russian ammunition bag. Leather was also used to wrap the wheels.
The incredible attention to detail on “Steampunk” carries over to its 1973 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead which has been rebuilt and now sports brass pushrod tubs and heavily engraved heads. Bending from the jugs are two beautiful ribbed brass pipes. The motorcycle runs an open belt primary and Cole built a hand clutch for it reportedly from an old Harley mouse trap. The front end has a clean little handcrafted Springer which is balanced out by the rigid rear. Funky, cool, and creative, “Steampunk” rolled away from the Jacob K. Javits Center with the $3000 prize as winner of the New York Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show along with an invitation to battle for the overall crown against winners from the other rounds at Daytona Beach during Bike Week 2012. They also received free entry and an automatic place at the 9th annual AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building to be held in Sturgis from August 5-8, 2012.
(L) The ‘Full of Hate Cafe’ by Roman Levin features a custom built chassis and Triumph single-sided swingarm built around a Suzuki V-Twin. (M) Steve Iacona’s ‘Challenger’ won the Hot Bike Modified Harley class at the New York round of the Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Shows. (R) Kickin’ it old school with Fred Montalto’s 1960 Panhead, winner of the Retro Mod class.
The Hot Bike Modified Harley Class brought out world class competition as Tribal Iron Choppers and Thundercycles 2008 H-D Street Glide both attracted plenty of attention. But it was Steve Iacona’s “Challenger,” a racy looking street tracker based off a 1996 XL that won top honors in New York’s Modified Harley class. The motorcycle also captured second place in the 2011 AMD World Championship’s Modified Harley class.
“Challenger” began with an 883 Sportster engine before Iacona tore into it, converting it into a 1200 with Buell heads and cylinders. The beefed up powerplant is fed by dual 30mm Mikuni carburetors. Iacona also reworked the ignition coils, locating them near the battery box along. He also moved the electrical connections there. The bike’s oil cooler has been mounted behind the slick front number plate which houses the headlight, too. He also upgraded to hand-formed stainless steel brake and oil lines.
TT Cycles ‘Tri Flyer’ is based on a 1970 Triumph TR6R. The motorcycle took third place in the Retro Mod class in NY.
Though based on a ’96 XL, he converted the frame to a hardtail, fobbing up a tail section that doubles as a rear fender. At least he hooked up a little shock for the seat so the ride won’t be so brutal. The bike has a beautiful compact tank accented with aluminum backing plates. He used the same form from the gas tanks on the tail to match up the lines along the bike’s backbone. In addition to building the tank and tail section by hand, Iacona also fobbed up the oil tank, exhaust, handlebars, rearsets and mounting points for the steering damper and engine. The abundance of handcraftsmanship helped “Challenger” earn the $2000 cash prize as the Modified Harley winner.
Roman Levin’s entry in the Performance Custom class may be called the “Full of Hate Café” but the carbon-fiber wrapped motorcycle received nothing but love from the judges at the NY Ultimate Builder Show and was announced winner of the class. The bike started out with a 998cc Suzuki V-Twin which Levin fabricated a Ducati-style trellis frame around. The custom built chassis features a Triumph-based single-sided swingarm. The custom tank, fenders and tail section are all composed of carbon fiber which has been painted to accentuate the panels of the carbon. Light, fast, and potent, the “FOH Café” is Levin’s personal bike and had all the credentials necessary to earn it the title in New York’s Performance Custom class.
Fred Montalto would claim the final Ultimate Builder category with his vintage 1960 Harley Panhead. “Spitshine” has that classic look from a bygone era, from its turned-down mini Apes to its tall homemade sissy bar. Its beautifully restored 1200cc Harley mill drips with chrome, from its pans to covers. The engine and five-speed tranny have been spooned into a custom bobber frame with a rigid rear end while upswept fishtails trail down the bike’s right side. The metal flake paint is a candy apple tangerine complete with a classic pin-up girl painted on the tank. Clean and classic, “Spitshine” outshone its competition on its way to a $1000 payday as winner of the Ultimate Builder Retro Mod class in NYC.
After a successful showing in New York, the Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show demonstrates no signs of slowing down as it heads to Cleveland, Ohio, this weekend and continues to travel around the country with the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows. The grand finale of the season will be held between the best-of-the-best from the 12-city tour in Daytona Beach during Bike Week 2012, from March 14-17.