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2010 Arlen Ness Bike Show Report

Wednesday, April 28, 2010
It was all about the custom motorcycles at the 4th annual Arlen Ness Bike Show.
It was all about the custom motorcycles at the 4th annual Arlen Ness Bike Show. Springers, bobbers, baggers and more flooded the floors of the San Mateo County Event Center. Oh yeah, and our favorite industry spokesmodels, the AFT Customs girls, just happened to be at the show as well.
The AFT Customs girls were on-hand with Jim Guiffra and one of the show bikes that they helped build called LowLa.
What do you get when you combine hot rods, custom motorcycles, companies like Sinister Wheels and Custom Chrome and sprinkle in a little celebrity in the form of the most acclaimed custom bike builder around? The fourth annual Arlen Ness Bike Show, that’s what you get. Arlen and Cory’s bike show featured rows of custom bikes spread throughout the San Mateo County Event Center April 17-18 as competitors vied for a slice of the $7500 in cash up for grabs in the Pro and Open Classes. Mike Avila walked away the big winner for his custom bagger and rolled out with the $1000 grand prize as the best of the Pro Class. Jeff Federoff of California Choppers earned the most votes from the crowd and was crowned the Spectator’s Choice winner while Michael Medeiros was the Judge’s Choice for his Panhead.

Motorcycle USA made the trip to Northern California to check out show where we got a chance to talk to the ‘King of Choppers’ who was busy mingling and posing for pictures with fans. He chuckled when we asked him if he had a bike in the show.

“I haven’t entered a bike in a show for about 35 years,” he said. And even though he doesn’t have to compete in shows any longer, he admires the craftsmanship of the determination of the builders out there who are striving to make a name for themselves. Arlen did bring three examples of his world-class craftsmanship to share with fans. There was also an assortment of Arlen Ness production motorcycles on display, like the sharp-looking 2009 Softail Chopper with its thumping 124” S&S engine.

Custom Chrome’s President Holger Mohr was on hand closely inspecting the work of the talented custom builders. Custom Chrome, the show’s primary sponsor, was handing out copies of its monolithic 2010 catalog and had a few
Arlen Ness  always the a generous ambassador to our industry  was busy talking shop with patrons  posing for pictures and signing autographs.
The class act that he is, Arlen Ness was busy greeting the crowd, signing autographs and taking pictures with fans.
custom bikes on hand that featured an assortment of the company’s aftermarket Harley-Davidson accessories. It’s no wonder they were at the show as the majority of custom bikes entered were based on the Harley-Davidson platform. I also saw Mohr talking shop with the mind behind Custom Design Studios, Kirk Taylor.

CDS’s Taylor brought an old sofa and coffee table and made the San Mateo Event Center floor his temporary living room for the weekend. He also brought a couple of bad bobbers, one that has graced the cover of Easyriders magazine twice and one he built for his wife. The double cover-earning bike started as a customer build back in 1997. After the bike was finished in 1999, it earned a feature spread in the pages of Easyriders and then headed for the garage of its new owner. Years later the bike would make it back into Taylor’s possession when the owner was feeling the pinch of tough economic times. Taylor bought it back for about the same price he sold it for at $12K and set about tearing it down and rebuilding it. He started by renovating the 96 cubic-inch Panhead with a bunch of hand-picked parts. He kept it old school with a brass knuckled-
Custom bike builder Kirk Taylor told us the story of his bobber that graced the cover of Easyriders twice after being rebuilt after its first run.
Kirk Taylors bobber is an old-school kick-started  hand-shifted 96 c.i. panhead with engraved engine covers.
Custom bike builder Kirk Taylor told us the story of his bobber that graced the cover of Easyriders twice after being rebuilt after its first run.
handle for a kick shifter, a bone knife handle for a hand-shifter, and threw on a moon eyes oil bag. With no front brake and a suicide shifter, the tall bars are ultra-clean. To top it all off, the air filter cover is engraved with a top-hat wearing portrait of his namesake winged Diablo. Ten years after it grabbed its first cover, the bobber came full circle by earning a spot on the June 2009 cover of Easyriders as well.

One of the other popular attractions was the flame-streaked top fuel dragster at the Top Dog Performance Cycles booth. Mike from Top Dog is the crew chief for Chicago Joe of Trust Me Racing and had Chicago Joe’s Top Fuel V-Twin Dragster on hand. The nitro-injected Harley-Davidson dragster can cover the quarter-mile in seven seconds at over 200 mph. Another man who knows a little something about going fast, Denis Manning, was also in attendance with BUB 7’s compartment open to display the engineering wizardry that powers the streamliner. Manning is an amicable guy who doesn’t hesitate to share tales of his experiences on the Salt Flats of Bonneville in his exploits as the mind behind the team responsible for the ‘World’s Fastest Motorycle.’

The Arlen Ness Bike Show also provided ample opportunity to peruse the various vendors’ wares and to expand our network of friends. We had a spirited conversation with Paul Jeruss of Dynamic Coatings and Fabrication
Motorcyclists perused the swap meet looking for that hard-to-find piece to complete their project bike.
A swap meet gave bikers a chance to find that elusive piece they needed to complete their works in progress.
who developed a process to pump powder coating through an air brush gun. Jeruss developed the process six years ago which allows him to create killer 3-D graphics with amazing detail provided by the control of an airbrush gun. Running a full fabrication shop as well, Jeruss can break a bike down for powder coating on the spot and can reassemble the bike in-house, making it a convenient process for customers. A motorcycle he did for Cuz Custom Choppers has won 47 awards.

If you’re looking for that little something to set your bike apart from the crowd, Mark Godzilla and his crew at Cool Windshields are doing some awesome work hand-etching windshields. The detail on the finished piece he had on display was amazing and the fact that it was done by hand only heightened our appreciation. He says that his artists can pull off almost any design, be it a logo, picture, portrait, or wild fantasy scene. Cool Windshields also offers a colored lighting system that will make the artwork glow like it’s drawn in neon. The lights are only used when the bike is parked, of course, for rider safety. They’re doing some awesome work, so check them out if you’re looking for something different to customize your bike with.

We also got a chance to talk to our buddy Jim Guiffra of AFT Customs. He and the AFT Customs girls have almost finished work on their latest build called Kemosabe. The bobber-style motorcycle is based on a Honda VT750 and is scheduled to make its debut at the 2010 LA Calendar show. The girls of his modeling agency not only helped build it, but they are also going to take it to Bonneville to attempt a world-record run after showing it at the AMD World Championships in Sturgis. Guiffra just fired Kemosabe up a couple of days ago for its first test run before he sends it out for paint and powder coating by none other than Dynamic Coatings, who we mentioned above.

Famed photographer and author Tom Zimberoff, best known for the Art of the Chopper, was another popular draw. His compelling photographs would catch the attention of
Tom Zimberoff prints and the Peligroso bobber caught the attention of many a passer-by.
Tom Zimberoff prints and El Peligroso the bobber caught the attention of many a passer-by.
passers-by and if that didn’t work the craftsmanship of the bobber called El Peligroso made many stop in their tracks to check out the bike. Zimberoff was busy selling and signing copies of his work.

When asked how this year’s turnout compared to others, Arlen said that it’s about the same, but admitted that it was hard to tell because it was still early Saturday morning. But there was no shortage of killer customs as rows and rows of baggers, baggers and choppers filled the floors of the event center. Besides checking out all the cool bikes, a small group in back was also conducting a swap meet that provided a chance to find that rare piece to complete that unfinished project bike while the Lean Mean Blues Band layed down some serious licks to close out the party.
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2010 Arlen Ness Bike Show Winners
AFT Customs LowLa heads a long row of custom motorcycles. The motorcycle won third place in the Pro Class.
Pro Class Winners (received a trophy and a limited-edition Arlen Ness Show jacket)

1. Mike Avila - $1000
2. Road House for ‘Alien’ - $750
3. AFT Customs for ‘LowLa’ - $250

"Best Of" Categories

1. Best Paint - Curt Scarrit Custom Chopper
2. Best Display - Jim McCauley 
                               2007 H-D Street Glide
3. Best Lighting - Julio Martinez 
                               1978 H-D Shovelhead
4. Best Antique - Julie Alden 1941 H-D 45 CI
5. Best Bagger - Roger Vaughn
                               2001 H-D Road King
6. Best Bobber – Troy and Dina Kenzy 
                               2009 Special Edition Panhead
7. Best Chopper – Richard Strle 
                                Special Edition H-D Route 66
8. Best Pro Street – Gino Ilacqua 
                                2007 Custom Build
9. Judge’s Choice – Michael Medeiros Panhead
10. Spectator Choice – Jeff Federoff 
                                California Choppers

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Comments
Steve in Wi -Mike in WV  May 13, 2010 08:15 PM
Mike rant all you want about Harley, they deserve it. But don't you dare call someone from WI a "flatlander". Those are Illinois folks ya know. WI has many great cycle roads, and hey the elevation even changes. Your stereotyping WI people to jab someone isn't right. Do I beleive tht everyone in WV marries their sister???
Baffinkid -HDs vs others  May 6, 2010 04:22 AM
Grew up on Honda's very durable bikes but haven't try'ed a Polaris.. yet. I love any kind of motorcycle, say I haven't seen much write up on the polaris don't see very many on the road when I ride my Dyna. For the boys who can't afford a Harley or were not a true HD riders we love them just the way they are met or sae. A good biker appreciates the uniqueness of all brands of bikes.
RT Rider -Harley Buy Out  May 1, 2010 07:18 AM
I have never seen any other bike manufacturer offer to give you back what you paid for your bike if you trade it in on a another new one. Harley must be in deep trouble to offer a stupid deal like that. What are they going to do with all the used ones that they paid way over market for? The newspaper are already flooded with used Harley for cheap prices. I guess the buyers realized what they really bought and want out at any price. If I had HD stock I would take my loss now and get rid of it. Harley should have spent R&D money years ago and designed a modern motor and a new lighter line of bikes that would appeal to the youth market. There current outdated line-up will not carry them into the future and the HD management doesn’t seem to realize that with the shutdown of Buell which will cost them more than the 125 million they said it cost. A aging line of overpriced bikes, an aging buyer and too many bikes in there current line up does not spell relief. I predict a major shutdown and a buyout of HD.
RT Rider -Harley Buy Out  May 1, 2010 07:17 AM
I have never seen any other bike manufacturer offer to give you back what you paid for your bike if you trade it in on a another new one. Harley must be in deep trouble to offer a stupid deal like that. What are they going to do with all the used ones that they paid way over market for? The newspaper are already flooded with used Harley for cheap prices. I guess the buyers realized what they really bought and want out at any price. If I had HD stock I would take my loss now and get rid of it. Harley should have spent R&D money years ago and designed a modern motor and a new lighter line of bikes that would appeal to the youth market. There current outdated line-up will not carry them into the future and the HD management doesn’t seem to realize that with the shutdown of Buell which will cost them more than the 125 million they said it cost. A aging line of overpriced bikes, an aging buyer and too many bikes in there current line up does not spell relief. I predict a major shutdown and a buyout of HD.
RT Rider -Harley Buy Out  May 1, 2010 07:15 AM
I have never seen any other bike manufacturer offer to give you back what you paid for your bike if you trade it in on a another new one. Harley must be in deep trouble to offer a stupid deal like that. What are they going to do with all the used ones that they paid way over market for? The newspaper are already flooded with used Harley for cheap prices. I guess the buyers realized what they really bought and want out at any price. If I had HD stock I would take my loss now and get rid of it. Harley should have spent R&D money years ago and designed a modern motor and a new lighter line of bikes that would appeal to the youth market. There current outdated line-up will not carry them into the future and the HD management doesn’t seem to realize that with the shutdown of Buell which will cost them more than the 125 million they said it cost. A aging line of overpriced bikes, an aging buyer and too many bikes in there current line up does not spell relief. I predict a major shutdown and a buyout of HD.
Skipper -Harley needs to cut cost.  April 30, 2010 05:13 PM
I look for Harley to move there production to Mexico or the deep south to avoid the high union cost. They are going to have to cut the model line up way down. Too many bikes at too much cost. Harley has been making the same old outdated bikes forever with no research into newer engines and frames etc. Now it is coming back to bite them. There sales are all pumped up and have been for years. Harley has relied exclusively on HDFS to finance anyone who can crawl in the door. Now they are giving you back what you paid for your bike if you trade it in on a new one. What the hell kind of management is that? Harley's have poor resale, just check your local newspaper that is full of used Harley's for sale. I don't see any Honda or BMW dealers offering to sell you a bike and then give you back what you paid if you trade it in on another Honda or BMW. If I wanted a Harley I sure would not buy a new one. My local newspaper is full of used Harley's - 23 last count. All of these bikes are priced cheap with many ads reading "make an offer". Watch for a major shake up with Harley in the next few months. They will have to shut down production to cut costs and do a major layoff of employees. Of course they could always go back to Mr. Buffet and get another 15% interest loan. Years ago Harley should have designed a bike for the youth market and a new water cooled engine. Now they are stuck with a single bike (the cruiser) and selling to an aging buyer. The bikes are way overpriced for the old technology and they are underpowered and overweight.
Victory Rider -Mil Mike  April 30, 2010 12:00 PM
It looks like Milwaukee Mike is buried in the past with his infatuation with Harley Davidson. Harley sales are dropping off the chart but he fails to mention that HD dumps bikes on dealers and then calls those bikes as "sales". Actually, up to 1/2 of HD "sales" are bikes sitting in showrooms. I could really care less what HD does or does not do. I am not riding a Harley any longer and I am glad. I can never recoup the dollars that I spent on all the Harley lifestyle crap. I was a sucker for everything. I had Harley decals on everything, Harley clothes and worst of all I bought into the Harley performance parts. As you know, most Harley's come from the factory with about 60 to 70 hp. Dealers love that because then they talk you into the performance parts. My Victory came from the factory with enough performance that I can actually pass cars now without having to have a mile long straight to "get a run at it" like I did with my Harley's. I really believe that HD should put the Porsche designed V-Rod motor in all there bikes. I believe that it has around 110 or 115 hp. The old air cooled v-twins are just out of date and underpowered. My Victory is so much more a smooth running bike with a lot more power. It is just a joy to ride. My Harley days are past and I do not miss the vibration, noise, no power and most of all - the moron Harley dealers with the same attitude that this Milwaukee Mike guy has. Maybe I can sucker him into buying my boxes full of Harley aftermarket stuff. I even have Harley ash trays, clocks, pants, shirts, a HD hat for my dog and over 38 different belt buckles. Another very important note is that Harley Davidson borrowed 650 million dollars from Warren Buffet at 15% interest to cover the loss at HDFS. That's almost 100 million a year in interest alone. Harley is in deep trouble with massive debt and the stupid closing of Buell Motorcycles. Most analysis will tell you that a rescue of HD is needed with a pairing down of there model lineup to maybe 5 or so models. Dropping the old air cooled motor in favor of the V-Rod motor and designing a new V-4 water cooled motor. Honda will be out with the all new Gold Wing for 2011. This bike is light years ahead of the Ultra and this new model will put HD further into the woods.
Mike in WV -Milwaukee Moron.  April 30, 2010 08:29 AM
What's wrong Milwaukee Mike...can't answer the question I've asked you so many times. How does a unit of measure make one bike better than another? Metric vrs SAE? Impress us with your amazing knowledge. lol Here's a number for you moron...Victory sales were up over 83% this first quarter as compared to last quarter and no, that's not including other Polaris products. HD can't say the same can they. How about all those bike loans HD gave out to anyone and everyone. There's your "exclusive" club moron. HD was so desperate to sell their junk they approved people who now can't afford their junk bikes. Here's something else moron...Victory bikes don't break down like HD's...facts are facts. It's good and even neccessary that there is a HD dealer in every other town...you'll need one when your ass breaks down. lol Now...who are you calling a "real" rider? I think "Past Harley Rider" stated he has put on 4,000 miles on his new Cross Country which has just been out a few months. Look and see how many HD's are for sale with less mileage than that. While we're at it moron...you're in freakin Wisconsin...you're a flat lander. No wonder you like Harley's...you don't need any power on flat roads...you'd be just as good on a John Deere riding mower as a HD. lol So tell us moron, how can you discount former HD owners, including myself who have made the switch to other bikes and are far happier with them? How can you account for us all consistantly saying the bikes are better, smoother, more powerful than our previous HD's? It's you who has to worry about "your" MC company, not us. I'm surprised the SEC has not investigated the clever book keeping HD has managed to produce so their numbers don't scare off their share holders. It's bad enough you're a moron, but you're a poser as well. It's funny you mention the Suzuki M109R...that's still a better bike and better value than any of your Dyna's or Softails and would smoke everyone of them! The V-Rod is the only who would compete with it and let's see...isn't the V-Rod a METRIC? LMAO Go back to your fantasy moron..."real" bikers know better.
Tim B -milwaukee mike  April 29, 2010 09:22 PM
Are you serious when you write that garbage? Or are you playing a character? You are very good at playing the part of the stereotypical, ignorant Harley rider who is so drunk from the H-D marketing campaign that you will buy anything and everything that they sell just as long as it has their name and logo on it. Too bad so many "American" Harley Davidson items are made abroad, including countries such as China and Japan!

Harley is not a lifestyle. Harley is hardly even about motorcycles anymore. When is the last time Harley released an ALL NEW model from a clean sheet design, including the engine? I'm pretty sure the V-Rod was the last one and that came out way back in 2001; that's almost 9 years ago now. Harley is all about greed and the almighty dollar now.

And the top guns at HD are doing a good job at running it into the ground. Harleys were so over-produced these past few years that H-D dealers everywhere have a massive inventory of leftover bikes. Supply is more than demand and prices are dropping. Plus, they just lost their best engineer, Erik Buell. Yes, he worked mainly for Buell, but many of his innovations and improvements were used on Harleys.

If you are being serious I think we need to cut your hands off so you can't type that ignorant, untruthful garbage anymore. Harley is not the only motorcycle brand. In fact, their quality and reliability is not even close to being near the top of the rankings. What manufacturers are? That's right, the Japanese manufacturers. They make a better bike for less money. Sure the Japanese manufacturers won't sell you toilet paper with their logo on it like HD will, but thier bikes will run forever without any big issues. Oh and they won't leak or burn oil! Last I checked Harley considered a motor that burns 1 quart of oil every 1,000 miles to be acceptable! Yep that screams quality to me. Oh wait, no it doesn't. This is 2010 and not 1945. Maybe they should bring their engines into this era.

Nobody cares to read your ignorant bullshit. Do us all a favor. After waking up sleeping next to your Harley Davidson teddy bear on your Harley Davidson bed spread, get on your Harley Davidson motorcycle while wearing your Harley underwear, Harley jeans, Harley chaps, Harley T-shirt, Harley boots, and your "cool" Harley tattoos, Harley watch, and that Harley chain wallet that screams washed up "bad ass" and ride far away. Please don't ever get near a computer again. We don't want to see anything you have to type. You should feel dirty using the computer since it doesn't have the Harley Davidson logo on it and it sure as hell isn't made in America!
milwaukee mike -Past Harley Rider  April 29, 2010 07:34 PM
I'm glad that your Victory is making you so happy. Of course you could have probably bought a suzuki M109R and been happy as well. But those of us that really ride motorcycles (not just on weekends or to the local bike night) and put some real mileage on year after year appreciate the continuatey of having a dealer network that can be relied on should a problem arise.
Now you may not put many miles on your bike and in those scenarios it doesn't matter if you can depend if your local dealer is in bussiness next year or even next month. You're proably buying any parts and accessories over the internet anyway. So when Polaris closes your local Victory dealer in a few months, you'll just sell your Cross-Country and buy a honda stateline,...right?
The facts are right in front of you, and you may well just choose to ignore them. Just look at the number of Victory dealers that have closed their doors in the last year. It's up to you, it's your money.
Have fun riding your Cross-Country.
But my money is on a proven winner.
Past Harley Rider -Victory Rider  April 29, 2010 05:25 PM
Ness does a nice job on the Victory motorcycles he does his work on. I bought a Victory Cross Country and it is far superior to the Harley's that I have owned in the past. It has much better fit and finish and no engine heat or vibration to the rider like my Harley's. It is refreshing to ride with a group of bikers that are not dressed up like a bunch of outlaws. I have left the Harley lifestyle behind and I could not be happier. My Victory dealer is so superior to any Harley dealer. Every Harley dealer I ever dealt with was all about selling me more Harley crap. I lost so much money getting rid of my Ultra and Wide Glide plus all the Harley junk. I will admit that I was taken in by the Harley lifestyle. I went the whole route with the clothes, decals on everything and every piece of chrome that HD sold that would fit on my bikes. I have over 4000 miles on my Cross County and I have never enjoyed a bike more. The engine is so smooth and has so much more power than any Harley that I have ever ridden. I now wish that I had not been so closed minded about other bikes as I would have unloaded my Harley's sooner.
Mike in WV -Milwaukee Moron  April 29, 2010 11:36 AM
Ness and family are a class act...not that you would recognize one. Maybe the Nesses prefer a more contemporary canvas on which to create their art. Mike...you're a moron. Victory V-twins smoke the HD's and Victory is more American Made than HD. How about those reports of HD's financial issues? They will be lucky if they don't have to sell the company again...fortunately it wouldn't be AMF because we know what crap they turned out. Not to fear Mike...HD merchandizing is still going strong. I bet you got a bar and shield neon light in your livingroom window. lol I'll ask you again Mike...what is it about a unit of measure that makes one bike better than another? Your disdain of the term metric is comical...you can't even defend your prejudice. You're a poser.
Colton -Metrics??  April 29, 2010 08:12 AM
Victory motorcycles have more American made parts on them than hardley davidson. Hardley's are about 45% american made where as a victory is over 80%.
milwaukee mike -Arlen Ness  April 29, 2010 05:59 AM
He was a true ledgend until he started styling bikes for Honda and Victory. Money from the metrics corrupted a genius,...that is too bad.