While the industry gets a little taste of Cincinnati’s moto-culture each February when the V-Twin Expo rolls into town, Tim Burke wanted to give gearheads the full four-course meal instead of simply an appetizer. There’s a lot more to the Cincy scene than what goes on inside the Duke Energy Center, from local builders and restorers to collectors. So Burke rallied his buddies in the Cincinnati Café Racer club to create the Garage Brewed Moto Show, a curated exhibit of 50 motorcycles that showcases the level of talent in the region. It provides a vignette of the Cincinnati motorcycle scene and provides an avenue for builders and enthusiasts to congregate in a fun atmosphere, to wander around, check out bikes, and talk shop while enjoying a frosty cold beverage courtesy of host Rhinegeist Brewery. It’s a light-hearted affair, exemplified by the unique Growler trophies dubbed “Grophies.”
While prizes are awarded in four categories along with one for “People’s Choice,” there’s no judging panel here. The Garage Brewed Moto Show webpage states “Unlike most shows our judging is by the public attendees at the event using digital voting kiosks by sponsor: ElectronicArt.com. So there is no panel of snotty judges with white gloves and inspection glasses. No, the attending public choose their favorites and the chips fall where they may. You’ll have to impress your fellow garage builder or motorcycle enthusiast or bike curious public if you want to win a “Grophie.”
Brian Tome’s 2004 BMW 1150GS must have impressed its fair share of fans because it won the “People’s Choice” award. Maybe it was the water buffalo head mounted above it or the firewood bundle strapped to its back. Whatever the winning formula was, Tome’s 1150GS has quite the back story. His 2004 BMW is purportedly the bike that went the “Long Way Round” the world with Ian and Charlie, the British documentary that helped spur the adventure riding frenzy. Tome has done his own exploring on it, riding the Beemer from Cincinnati to Alaska and back. He’s also put his personal spin on it, removing the stock front cluster, beak and windshield. The oil cooler was relocated underneath the alternator cover while the rear frame was chopped and customized with a Home Depot campfire grill mesh. The motorcycle also received a new wiring harness, clutch, seals, and ultimately was painted and powdercoated black.
In the description of the bike, Tome wrote, “What was once a middle age white guy wannabee ride is now custom badassery.”
Another bike that had an interesting back story was Randy Hermes 1973 Triumph X-75 Hurricane. Funny part is, many walked by without realizing the depth of this motorcycle’s history, something we ourselves were guilty of before our friend and fellow editor Dennis Johnson pointed out its rarity. But one look at the streamlined tank flowing into its one-piece fiberglass bodywork is all it takes to realize this is indeed a special motorcycle.
The 1973 X-75 Hurricane was Triumph’s first attempt to create an “American-style California Chopper.” It was intended to be Triumph’s counterattack to Honda’s hugely popular CB750. What’s special about it though is that it was designed by Craig Vetter. Yes, that Craig Vetter, the aerodynamics visionary and splendid streamliner maker who created the Vetter Fairing Company (who’s also an AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer). The Triumph X-75 Hurricane represents the first time an American designed a bike for the British-based company. It was originally intended to be sold under the BSA banner, but BSA closed its doors in 1972. The X-75 Hurricane was rebadged as a Triumph and offered as part of Triumph’s 1973 line. It had a claimed limited production run of 1046, and low production numbers teamed to the fact that it was designed by Vetter makes it a highly collectible prize. It features a 741cc, OHV Inline Triple with triple upswept pipes streaking down its right side. It used the crankcases from a BSA Rocket 3, and its extended fork tubes helped designate the X-75 as a “cruiser.”
Some of our show favorites were the board trackers brought out by Carl Estes and the Pusherman Racing clan. This included “Big Jesus 151,” a 1925 Harley Board Tracker. “Big Jesus 151” is a true labor of love, the “result of a 25-year quest for pre-1930’s motorcycle parts.” It is a factory street bike that’s been cut down to Board Track specs. What makes it extra special is its 1925 JDL 74 cubic-inch engine, said to be one of only two known to still be in existence. Best part is, it’s a runner, as the Pusherman Racing Team actively competes in board track races at ACMA events in Wauseon and Davenport. Another Pusherman bike, a 1929 Harley-Davidson Board Tracker #B52, earned second place in the Race Bike Category at the 2016 Garage Brewed Moto Show.
While Pusherman Racing gave us glimpses of motorcycling’s past, Les Miller provided a glimpse into the possible future with his 1976 Yamaha XS650 called “The Mad Max.” If society failed, there’d no longer be local shops to lean on or dealers to get parts from. Necessity would be the mother of invention. His XS650 exemplifies that, the Yamaha a hodge-podge of materials that could be scavenged and salvaged in a worst-case scenario. Miller’s placard states it’s “a post-apocalyptic bike built with recycled, repurposed materials.” The heater fairing wrapped around the front is made from water heater metal and is only used for winter riding. “A lot of the bike is washing machine metal, coins for washers, a flashlight for a taillight, its temperature gauge is a cooking thermometer, buttons are rifle shells,” states Miller’s description of the bike. With thread-bare leather covering the seat pan and everything bathed in black, his 1976 Yamaha XS650 does indeed look primed for a role in the next “Mad Max” movie.
Meanwhile, Bill Hovis’ 1976 Honda CB500T that sat front-and-center of the stage is more on the polished side. Hovis’ CB500T called “Ava” is the “Golden Ticket” bike. Hovis entered the caféd Honda in Cincinnati’s Motoberfest rally last October, and after winning “Best in Show,” one of the rewards was automatic entry into the Garage Brewed Moto Show. Hence, the “Golden Ticket.”
The Garage Brewed webpage tells the story of how “The bike was recovered from outside a friend’s shop where, after years of neglect, it had become part of the garden landscape. But it did have a title, so was more than a collection of partially assembled parts. The tank, front wheel, brake and fork were all missing when we dug it out of the weeds.”
Hovis then began the three year task of returning the neglected Honda to glory, outfitting it with a beautiful aluminum tank and slick stainless steel exhausts. The rebuilt 498cc Parallel Twin now benefits from Keihin carbs. A drilled-out design dresses up the heat shield and assorted linkages. It rolls much smoother than the shaky original thanks to Excel Rims and EBC Brakes. Hovis wrote that his favorite feature “is the modification to the rear loop that allowed the use of a recessed LED brake/run/turn signals light. We used a 3/8 channel that was cut and formed to match the loop. It’s a clean and simple detail that almost goes unnoticed.” Besides being easy on the eyes, Hovis’ 1976 Honda CB500T looks like it’d be a hoot to ride, too.
While this is only the Garage Brewed Moto Show’s second year, word is definitely getting around about this little Cincinnati shindig. We attended the 2015 show, too, and it felt like there was easily twice as many people in 2016. Rhinegeist was standing room only, organizers stating on their webpage that “2 hrs in and we’ve surpassed 3000 guests!” As word of mouth and social media continues to create even more buzz, we suspect the Garage Brewed Moto Show will be on even more people’s radars next year.
- The 1973 Triumph X-75 Hurricane was designed by AMA Hall of Famer Craig Vetter.
- Skinny Ricky's 1977 Honda GL1000 Gold Wing features a custom one-off single-sided swingarm, custom frame, gas tank, frame, speed disc and more.
- Hangin' out with bros, drinkin' beer, and checkin' out cool bikes. Doesn't get much better than this!
- The Garage Brewed Moto Show got me feelin' like!!
2016 Garage Brewed Moto Show Winners:
Garage Custom Category:
1. Lance Rogers of Berea, KY – Yamaha custom bobber
2. Bill Hovis of West Chester, OH – 1976 Honda CB500T “Ava”
Pro Custom Category:
1. Ted & Charlie Tackett, Checkered Past Cycles from Kalamazoo, Michigan – 1985 Honda ATC250R “The Mongrel”
2. Jim Zemanek of Cincinnati OH – 1983 Honda CB1100F
1. Rocky & Beverly Corsmeier of Cincinnati OH – 1948 Indian Chief Period Custom
2. “Uncle Barry” Ratliff of Goshen OH – 1948 Norton ES2
Race Bike Category:
1. Ian Watson builder, Chad Francis, Retro Wrench owner of Louisville, KY – 1968 Triumph Rickman 650cc
2. Carl Estes/ Pusherman Racing from Loveland Park, Ohio – 1929 Harley-Davidson Board Tracker #B52
People’s Choice Award:
1. Brian Tome of Cincinnati OH – 2004 BMW 1150GS
A note from the Garage Brewed Moto Show: “Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to the sponsors who provided swag for winners including: REV’IT, Avon Tyres, Spectro Oil, TC Bros, Workshop Hero, DEI Power Sports and thanks to additional sponsors helping with making the show happen including: Dime City Cycles, Haney Printing, Excuterra Moto Excursions, Electronic Art, The Dunlap Cafe (host of our official after party) and the generous time and labor from members of the Cincinnati Cafe Racer club, who worked tirelessly to build, staff and execute the show. Without this stunning moto community that loves to come together to grow the community… this show would never happen. Kudos.”