There was the big and the bold, the vintage and the old. In all, 48 motorcycles from around the Southwest competed in 10 classes at the Bikes, Blues & BBQ “Battle of the Bikes,” one contestant even riding the bagger he entered in the show all the way from Washington state. He would be pitted against some stiff competition in the hotly contested “Bagger” class as contestants filled the area in front of the stage of the Dickson Street Beer Garden Saturday afternoon all hoping to win the coveted “Battle Belt.”
One of the defining features of the Bikes, Blues & BBQ “Battle of the Bikes” is the way it gets the crowd involved. First, judges pick the top three bikes in each category. Then, the top three are pitted against each and a class winner is chosen based on cheers from the crowd. The motorcycle that registers the highest noise levels on decibel meters moves on. The top finishers in the 10 classes are then matched against one another. Two bikes are brought center stage, the one who gets the loudest ovation stays to meet the next challenger while the other goes. This head-to-head match-up is repeated until a winner is declared.
Scotty ‘Memphis’ Robertson holds the Battle Belt after winning best of show at the 2015 Battle of the Bikes.
When the final battle was waged, a familiar face raised the championship belt. Scotty Robinson, better known as Memphis, won the show for the third year straight. Each year, Memphis builds a bike specifically for the show. He has a knack for repurposing objects on his builds, this year’s winner “Sinister Kid” a prime example. For a headlight he chopped up a copper fire extinguisher. For the taillight he converted an Everlast flashlight. One of its most defining features was the old Jell-O mold serving as an air cleaner cover. Look closely between the downtubes of the frame and you’ll see the PBR oil filter. An Edelbrock valve cover breather now covers the master cylinder for the rear brake. Hot rod standards from Mooneyes and Cragar take on new roles as foot controls and a gas cap. The right side of the bike is chock full of character with tractor flappers on the end of the homemade pipes, a vintage Corvette plate sandwiched between the exhaust while an old coin rests in the middle of the points cover.
The clean little bobber has no speedo, with Memphis opting to mount a compass in the top triple clamp of the fork, joking the Sinister Kid comes with the original GPS. A horn from a Ford pickup ties right into the theme of the bike that has been pieced together with a menagerie of items he had laying around his house and shop. A Harley Twin Cam 88 engine and five-speed jockey-shifting transmission round out the winning package.
Making bikes has been a side project for Memphis, but his wife told him if he won “Battle of the Bikes” for the third year running he could quit his full-time job and pursue his passion for building bikes full time. After seeing all three customs he’s built for the show over the last three years there’s little doubt he’s got the skills to open his own shop.
‘ Sinister Kid’ won “Best of Show” honors with its unique hodgepodge of repurposed parts at the 2015 Battle of the Bikes.
One of our personal favorites was Justin Giddings’ striking black 2012 Road King. While it followed much of the same formula as many baggers today – 26-inch HD front hoop, air ride suspension, eye-catching paint and custom leather seat, its wooden bags, floorboards, front fender trim and fork gaiters set it apart. Giddings, of Kansas City’s Dirty Air Dirtyworks, said they built the bags in-house out of Cherry Wood with a walnut inlay. The uniqueness of the wood attracted a steady stream of admirers. The Road King is equipped with Dirty Air’s air ride system, a set of their own apehangers, and custom pipes. The bike won its first round in the “Bagger” class battle and barely lost out in a split decision to a bagger Guthery Customs brought to the show for top honors in its class.
Gail Lave’s 2007 V Star Classic was a big hit with the crowd, especially with the ladies in attendance. Decked out with almost 9000 Swarovski crystals, it’s little wonder why. Lave rides the consummate bling bike, pink paint and roses, a picture of her daughter painted on the tank and her two granddaughters on the back fender. Dana Nueneschnider out of Sparta, Missouri is responsible for the incredible paint, but Lave is the one who painstakingly applied the crystals one at a time. The 1100cc V Star has spinners on the front, a clean sound system, and a custom-made sissy bar. It’s impossible to ignore her bike when the sun gleams off its collection of crystals.
Gail Lave’s 2007 V Star Classic is decorated with about 9000 Swarovski crystals.
Emcee Laramie LaFarge kept the crowd entertained throughout the show with his humorous quips about the bikes with help from the DJ spinning beats between battles. LaFarge pointed out that the Vespa scooter entered in this year’s show was a first. Unfortunately, the clean little Vespa didn’t stand a chance with this crowd in the land of the “Hawgs” as the scooter lost out to a Honda Rune.
One of the most memorable moments was when LaFarge paid tribute to the U.S. military when a Harley Sportster called “Jarhead” rolled up for battle. Many veterans were in attendance, and some talked about how working on their motorcycles helps them with PTSD. The crowd gave a rousing ovation for our U.S. service members, not once but twice, in a show of love and support.
Earl “The Pearl” Stokes once again put on a fantastic “Battle of the Bikes.” Of course, he couldn’t pull it off alone as a host of volunteers and sponsors like Nabholz Construction and V8 Choppers helped make it happen as the 2015 “Battle of the Bikes” got the biggest day of the rally off to a rockin’ start.
- The top three bikes in ten classes all received a Bikes, Blues & BBQ Battle of the Bikes award.
- The "Crusader' gives new meaning to steel horse.
- Emcee Laramie works the crowd at the 2015 Stokes Battle of the Bikes.
- "Bad Luck" featured a '49 frame, a '55 engine and a 1940s front end.