A little celebrity appeal goes a long way. That fact was no more evident than at the 2011 Sacramento Easyriders Bike Show on Saturday as Charlie Hunnam, better known as Jax from the Sons of Anarchy
made a guest appearance and helped draw what appeared to be a record crowd to the event. Of course, many of those were starry-eyed teenage girls and their equally enamored mothers, but whatever it takes to draw people in only benefits the vendors and builders who filled the cavernous meeting hall of the Sacramento Convention Center.
It wouldn't be a good Easyriders show without a little eye candy posing on a custom bike.
Duane Ballard, leather craftsman extraordinaire and a member of the Limpnickie Lot, said the turnout for the Sacramento Easyriders Show killed the attendance of the L.A. show last week. Ballard just got back from an unforgettable trip to Japan for the Mooneyes Yokohama Hot Rod Show and was still grinning from the experience. His leatherwork is in high demand right now and his skills were on full display on the seat pans of numerous motorcycles at the show. The saddle Ballard did for the Arizona Copper Chopper, a bike built by Paul Yaffe and on display at the event, fit the bike’s Wild West theme perfectly as he masterfully captured the look and texture of wood in leather.
Rene Chavez of Primos Helmet Design was also representing for the Limpnickie Lot. Chavez retrofits vintage helmets
, making them wearable once again by replacing the inner padding and liner, making them even more comfortable than the sparsely-padded original. The Lot also had ground-up customs from Vagabond Choppers Athena “Chickie” Ransom
and Bare Knuckle Choppers Paul Wideman on display, showing the diversity of the group’s members. The third edition of the Limpnickie Lot Builder Manual should be available soon, a cornucopia of custom built frames, rollers, bars and parts built here in the good ol’ USA.
The Sacramento show featured another first, a photomontage by long-time Easyriders and industry photographer Michael Lichter. The collection of photos span the course of Lichter’s 30-plus-year career
and capture the essence of the biker community like no other photographer's work. The collection debuted in Sturgis at The Legendary Buffalo Chip and is now making the rounds with the Easyrider Bike Show tour. Having Lichter’s work on display added another dimension to the show. Folks checking out the exhibit pointed to places and people in the photographs, smiles on their faces evidence of the rush of memories rung out by the photographs of how the biker scene used to be. Lichter was busy doing what he does best, clicking pictures of bike show winners in a makeshift studio in between signing books featuring his work like Today’s Top Custom Bike Builders
. Having new additions to the Sacramento show like a guest appearance by Charlie “Jax” Hunnam, the Limpnickie Lot and Lichter’s exhibit were welcome wrinkles that kept the show fresh and boosted attendance numbers.
At just about every biker gathering, you run across a philanthropic cause that stops you in your tracks. The Sacramento Easyriders Bike Show was no exception. When we saw a sign at the Thunder Mountain Motor Sports booth that said “Help us Help Corben Walk Again” we wanted to find out more. Here’s the story:
“On August 22, 2008, Corben Brooks, an athletic 17-year-old high school senior, sustained a devastating C/5 spinal cord injury while playing for his high school’s varsity football team. This tragic and life-changing event rendered him a quadriplegic, conceivably paralyzed for the rest of his life.
With continuous physical therapy and many hours dedicated to alternative treatments, Corben has seen many functions slowly return… against great odds.
This boy was a little suspicious of the strangely dressed character but accepted a balloon animal from him anyways.
Our goal is to raffle this award-winning motorcycle (generously donated by Richard and Karen English) with hopes of raising money to continue Corben’s rehabilitation therapy.”
Corben’s Ride is a double entendre. It symbolizes both Corben’s crazy ride through life since an unfortunate accident changed everything. The second ride is the bike being raffled off to facilitate his recovery. Twisted Reality
was built by Kevin Brooks of Thunder Mountain Motorsports out of Mt. Shasta, California. What once was a stock Harley is now a custom chopper with high bars and 42-degrees of rake. The downtubes of the frame have an old school, Indian Larry-style twist, as does the shift linkage. The original 80-inch engine is beefed up with a Magna Charger Blower and a Weber carb. Custom wheels, custom seat, and an open-belt primary drive
complete the conversion. Anybody interested in contributing to Corben’s cause or who want in on the raffle can contact Kevin at (530) 926-6190.
The other raffle bike that caught our eye was the Arizona Centennial Copper Chopper. The motorcycle is on an 18-month tour promoting the 100th anniversary of Arizona’s statehood. The bike is full of Arizona imagery, from the state flag emblazoned on the top of its tank to the Arizona star gas tank inserts. The plates at the ends of the oil tank are stamped with centennial logos while its unique air cleaner
is in the shape of the state of Arizona. And we already mentioned the great-looking seat that Ballard fashioned for it. True to its name, many of its custom parts like its grips are made of copper while everything else is covered in copper paint. The bike is being raffled off for $5 per ticket with the proceeds benefitting the Arizona Centennial Foundation who will dole it out to unfunded projects and charities.
The 2011 Sacramento Easyriders Bike Show also gave us a chance to catch up on what’s happening in the Northern California custom bike building scene. We talked with our buddy Bryan Schimke of TPJ Customs whose latest project sources a Buell engine. Good to see people out there keeping the Buell legacy alive. Schimke was honored to be one of the featured builders in the 30 in the Wind exhibit at Sturgis last year and also entered a bike in the 2010 AMD World Championships
. We dig his work for its minimal style and industrial look. He also builds ‘em to be ridden hard and said his latest project will have “ a lotta suspension with a lotta travel” and can’t wait for the fun of riding it on the dirt roads surrounding Sturgis.
We also talked with Satya Kraus of Kraus Motor Co. Contrary to the majority, Satya is concentrating more on one-off, ground-up builds instead of parts and services. He’s got two customs in the works and is excited about using a Tuono for an upcoming personal project. He’s also looking forward to expanding the scope of his shop to more race-related jobs, mentioning trips to Infineon for road-racing projects and possibly ventures to the dirt track.
We also got to hang out with Jim Guiffra of AFT Customs. Jim brought two bikes to the show, one of our favorites called Er Hed, a modern board tracker with features like a univoir handle bar and oil in the frame which he made a few years back and the bike he and the AFT Customs Girls built last year, a Honda VT 750 Bobber called Kemosabe. He and the girls are currently working on a similar VT 750 Bobber for Jackson Rancheria Casino as well as another bike called Sentoh based around a CB750 Four engine. Sentoh means “The Beginning,” as the engine came from his first street bike and it represents the beginning of the relationship between Miller Welding and the girls of AFT who are learning the trade through workshops held by the people at Miller.
AFT Customs Jim Guiffra discusses some of the features of his custom Honda VT750 Bobber called Kemosabe.
The Purrfect Angelz posed for pictures in between dance routines at the 2011 Sacramento Easyriders Show.
In between talking to friends and shooting pictures, we caught a little bit of the high-energy dance routine of the Purrfect Angelz in between sets of the band Renegade, who played from a long list of ‘80s classics, from Journey to Styxx. Jason Pullen elicited big cheers from the crowd with his bag of tricks on his custom Sportster stunt bike. Pullen has also added a new motorcycle to his staple of tricks, a small dirt bike outfitted with a roll bar that flips the bike a full 360 degrees when he mashes on the front brake.
There were also plenty of spoked-out, slammed motorcycles with diamond-cut trim entered in the custom bike show. Easyrider was presenting awards in 55 categories, more than ever before. Custom Harleys were by far the most prevalent platform competing at the show. The rolling boombox from Conely’s Custom Cycles attracted a lot of attention with its 6000-watt stereo system whose bass you could feel from aisles away. We also dubbed the “Eye Bike” the most unusual in show. Its handlebars, tank and pipes were all made of interconnected orbs. In fact, “eyes” were everywhere on this bike, from the foot controls to the oil tank. It took Von Dutch’s “flying eyeball” to a whole new level. The one drawback with the bike was that its paint and detailing was incomplete, a fact pointed out in the note next to the bike written by its owner railing on the painter who failed to finish the job. Maybe we’ll get an opportunity to “see” it when it’s finished.
The 2011 Sacramento Easyriders Bike Show got our event season kicked off on a positive note. We hope the attendance barometer being up is an indicator for the rest of the year, but it’s still too early to tell. The 70th anniversary of Daytona Beach Bike Week is right around the corner and being an anniversary year, we expect it to be huge. T-minus Bike Week. Let the countdown begin.