Laughlin River Run Custom Bike Show 2014

April 29, 2014
Bryan Harley
Bryan Harley
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Our resident road warrior has earned his stripes covering the rally circuit, from riding the Black Hills of Sturgis to cruising Main Street in Daytona Beach. Whether it's chopped, bobbed, or bored, metric to 'Merican, he rides 'em all.

It was a small and intimate affair at the 2014 Laughlin River Run Custom Bike Show with 22 custom motorcycles battling for a chunk of the $1500 prize money. What the competition lacked in numbers, it made up for in diversity as motorcycles entered in the show ranged from a 2011 Softail Deluxe decked out in over 25,000 Swarovski Crystals to a ratted-out Sportster dirt bike to several big-wheeled baggers.

But the bike garnering the most attention was Paul Ponkow’s raked-out 1973 Triumph T-14OV. Ponkow, of Bones Legacy out of Vegas, built the ‘70s style digger for the “Artistry in Iron” competition held annually during Las Vegas Bikefest. The motorcycle features seamless fabrication where the coffin-style tank, seat pan, rear fender and oil tank are all integrated into the frame itself. Designed by Bones Legacy, David Byrd built the frame while Sosa Metal Works helped out with the sheet metal work. It’s heavy rake is provided by a chromed Cyclops 14-inch over Mono Springer front end, the retro look complemented by long bars that sweep up and back to the rider with a ram’s horn curve. 

Ponkow’s show-stopper features a 750cc Triumph engine that’s been chromed and polished to a high sheen. The Triumph engine has been upgraded with Kibblewhite Valves and handmade rockers, its velocity stacks and intake manifolds built by Bones Legacy as well. Homemade ribbed pipes streak down the bike’s right side to complete the powertrain package.

Ponkow claims the Morris Magneto used on the build is a first for this kind of Triumph because it runs off the spindle and has an automatic retard and advance. Completing the package are a montage of one-off parts, including the bars, pegs,

This 2011 Harley Softail Deluxe is covered with over 25 000 Swarovski Crystals.
This 2011 Harley Softail Deluxe is covered with over 25,000 Swarovski Crystals.
The three winning custom motorcycles of the 2014 Laughlin River Run were wheeled to the front of the stage.
The three winning custom motorcycles of the 2014 Laughlin River Run were wheeled to the front of the stage.
Ponkow built this groovy 70s-style digger with a 14-inch over Cyclops Mono Springer front end and a 750cc Triumph engine.
Ponkow built this groovy ’70s-style digger with a 14-inch over Cyclops Mono Springer front end and a 750cc Triumph engine.

oil tank, seat, fender struts, taillight and headlamp bracket. Intricate, multi-layered striping by Sonny Boy out of LA took about three months to complete, but it was time well spent as the bike’s paint catches the eye and fits the theme of the bike’s styling to a tee. Ponkow received a well-deserved $750 for winning “Best of Show” honors at the 2014 Laughlin River Run Custom Bike Show.

Robert Byrd from Torrington, Wyoming, brought a clean black-and-gold hardtail with modern lines to the show and captured the $500 second place cash prize. The motorcycle features heavy duty oversized tubing for the frame with the rear fender nestled between the split rear rails. Power is provided by a big S&S V-Twin, the engine force-fed by twin forward-facing intakes. Tall chrome apehangers rise above an industrial-strength Springer, internal wiring keeping the front end tidy while the springs of the fork have been plated in gold. Gold accents are a common theme in Byrd’s bike, from grips to spokes to the motorcycle’s chain. Even the engine’s pushrod tubes have received the golden touch, the metallic accents standing out against the black frame, tank and fenders.

Michael Martinez of Bonneville County Choppers out of Idaho Falls, Idaho, rode home from the show $250 richer after winning third place. When asked what he put into the motorcycle, Martinez joked “A 100-year-old saddle and a bunch of junk out of the shop. It’s a 1979 XS650 with a Harley front end and a Japanese rear end and a custom frame. Everything else is custom.”

The most definitive feature of the motorcycle is its 100-year-old roping saddle. To mount the horse saddle to the motorcycle, Martinez said he kept the stock Yamaha cradle bolted onto the frame, then built the rest to accommodate the saddle. The wheels, tank and rear fender are covered in paint that looks like wood grain, the effect pulled off by the team at Eagle Rock Hydrographics. Its fender struts attach to an upturned horseshoe, contributing to the “saddle bike’s” Western theme. Martinez built the Yamaha XS650-based scoot for his honey Kat, a real doll-face with a “Fight Like a Girl” tattoo on her right arm to go along with her “Rosie the Riveter” attitude.

Martinez and Bonneville County Choppers brought out another custom that garnered plenty of attention, a dirt bike made from a 1200 Sportster. The “Dirtster” combines a dirt bike front end along with a monoshock rear and extended moto swingarm. Knobby tires and small wave rotor discs give it a bit more off road ability, as does the conversion to a chain final drive. Prepped and ready to kick up some roost, the “Dirtster” is primed to live up to its name.