It was an important year for the Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Show at Sturgis. One of the most distinguished custom motorcycle competitions around, Ted Smith and the Rat’s Hole family was celebrating its 25th anniversary in the Black Hills with over 60 handmade awards signed and numbered by Smith ready to be divvied out in 18 classes. TV cameras were rolling like a red carpet affair, with CMT, the Travel Channel, and Discovery all filming this year’s Sturgis contest. Lines were deep at the Rat’s Hole Bar inside the amphitheater as refills of the 34 oz. Rat’s Hole mugs was the best beer bargain to be found. Several custom Rat’s Hole motorcycles sat in front of the mobile retail store and Ted once again designed a fun set of commemorative t-shirts which are always popular mementos from the show.
Competitors came from the four corners of the US, Canada and beyond to compete in the 2013 Sturgis Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Show. The gathering filled up a large section of the new paved parking lot at the Buffalo Chip’s CrossRoads overseen by the giant green inflatable 20-foot-tall Big Daddy Rat.
While there were many commendable builds at this year’s show, the work of Chop de Villle’s Shaun Ruddy outshone them all for “Best of Show” honors. His board track racer-inspired bike is an amazing piece of craftsmanship. Twenty-six-inch wheels front and back keep styling of the bike balanced. The tall, narrow front wheel is mounted between a homemade fork designed and modified by Ruddy that features motocross-style shocks. It has a split gas tank divided by the backbone and a split rear fender to match. Below the dual tanks sits a 127 cubic-inch Ultima El Bruto V-Twin, a Panhead rocker box resting atop the front cylinder while an Evo is perched on the rear. Shifting the six-speed transmission requires the skills of operating a hydraulic foot clutch and jockey shifter. The short exhausts have been designed to shoot about a two foot flame out of them. Wooden grips, wooden side panels on the tanks, and an ostrich seat confirm Ruddy pays attention to the finer details.
Is it coming or going? Walt Moss’ crazy twin-turboed trike used the front end of a big rig for its back end.
A little rust on an old Harley only adds to its rustic charm. Unrestored classics are always a hit at the Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Shows.
Lean, clean and muscular, this trimmed to the core brute entered in the Sturgis Rat’s Hole Bike Show looks like it’d be a blast to ride.
“Everything’s hand machined,” said Ruddy, who put about 1200 hours into the bike. After receiving the Rat’s Hole trophy for ‘Best of Show,’ Ruddy and motorcycle were quickly whisked away to the stage of the Buffalo Chip’s amphitheater where he was pronounced the winner in front of thousands gathered for the Brantley Gilbert, Lynyrd Skynyrd show that night. Ruddy and his show winner are headed to Milwaukee next for Harley’s 110th celebration to compete in the second annual AMD Invitational Custom Bike Show.
Sam Baldi’s “Lost Angel” was also a strong contender. The motorcycle had already won ‘Best of Show’ honors at the LA Calendar Motorcycle Show and captured the ‘Over 1000cc Radical Class’ at the Rat’s Hole, too. It features the work of Profile Cycle’s Jimmy Todorovitch who built the custom frame, swingarm, a fantastic girder-style fork, and fabricated the tank. A Patrick Racing 113 cubic-inch engine sits jewel-like in the frame, while a Baker 6-Speed with a trans brake puts the power to the rear Rampage wheel. An Air Ride monoshock slams it to the ground while a leather seat by Paul Cox tops off the custom touches. The bike got its name because Baldi’s daughter lost her first unborn child, so he dedicated it to his family’s “Lost Angel.”
Another over-the-top machine was Walt Moss’ “Three Wheeler Class” winner, ‘UNDRPSI’. The front end is a chopped-out trike with an industrial-strength Springer while the cab of the trike is actually the hood, bumper, grill and wheels of a diesel truck. Come to find out, Moss owns a trucking company in Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin, so the direction of the design is a little lest surprising. It reminded us of Doctor Dolittle’s “Pushmi-pullyu” because you don’t know if it’s coming or going. It’s powered by a twin-turboed 3208 Cat Diesel Motor, includes a big rig horn, and comes complete with black smoke bellowing out of the stacks when he gets on the gas. It even has a big chrome trucker fuel tank mounted on the side of the crazy hybrid.
Other “you gotta see it to believe it” entries in this year’s Rat’s Hole Sturgis Show included another oversized trike with twin blower-fed V8 engines and enough chrome to blind you in direct sun called “Never E’Nuff.” Another crowd favorite was a bike with giant Jameson Irish Whiskey bottles for gas tanks. Dennis Crabtree of Cayuga, Indiana, brought both a 1949 Panhead and a 1941 WL Flathead to the show to walk away with the top two prizes in the “Antique/Classics Restored Class.”
Clips from this year’s show can be seen in the CMT special titled Biker Battles. We also put together a little video of our own for you to enjoy as well.