Though heavy traffic prevented the Rat's Mates from making to the World Famous Show on Saturday, at least Miss Rat's Hole 2010 was on-hand to represent the ladies. Sorry guys, it was a tad bit cold for bikinis.
Ted Smith and the Rat’s Hole crew were more ambitious than ever this year, scheduling five shows over a one week period during the annual Daytona Beach
rally. This year Smith expanded the lineup to include a Ride-In V8 Motorcycle Show and an Old School Rat Rod Car Display. He also divided the World’s Famous Show in between two Saturdays. Despite a switch in venues from the Daytona Lagoon to the Coca-Cola
Pavilion at Bruce Rossmeyer’s Destination Daytona, the 38th annual custom bike show once again attracted some of the most creative talent from North America and beyond. The move did make accessibility more challenging due to the traffic jams that always surround Destination Daytona, a fact that compelled the Rat’s Mates to abandon hopes of attending the show after being stuck in traffic for over an hour-and-a-half.
For the second year in a row, the three winners of Italy’s Padua Bike Expo Show flew over to America to compete in the ‘Italian Showdown II.’ The international competitors represented a diverse slice of European pie, hailing from Italy, Austria and Romania. What a thrill it had to be for them to fly across the pond and pit their custom bike building skills against competitors from around North America and beyond.
It should come as no surprise that the crowd favorite amongst the European contingency was called ‘Il Padrino’ (The
'Il Padrino' sources a Sportster engine that serves as a stressed member of the frame and features a tank suspended below the thick tube of the backbone.
Godfather). Jerry Caronte won top honors in the Padua show and was nominated by the US crowd as the favorite among the European trio as well. Look close at ‘Il Padrino’ and you’ll notice the lack of a downtube. Its Sportster engine is a stressed member of the frame and supports much of the bike. It is a stunning black bike with gold accents on many of the covers and air intake. A thin tank is suspended below the thick tube of the backbone that has bullet casings set in the frame. It is, after all, called ‘The Godfather.’ More bullets in the swingarm add to its wise guy demeanor.
The Austrian entry was equally compelling. If you didn’t know better, you’d think this thing came right out of the American chopper scene of the 1960s and ‘70s. With a thin front tire sitting at the end of a handmade girder fork at an insane rake angle, the only thing missing is a crazy-high sissy bar. The Norton Chopper called ‘Walton’ is the product of Austria’s Blech & ruber. The raked-out, old school chopper sources a Norton Commando engine that’s accentuated by brass tubing. The rigid
This is the first chopper I've seen powered by a Norton Commando engine. The old school chopper looks like it came straight out of the American biker scene of the 1960s and '70s but was actually built in Austria.
chop features a homemade frame, tank and handlebars and has a stance worthy of the classic era it represents.
The final European entry was on original bobber called ‘Rising’ created by Romania’s Basty Bikes. The bike is based on a Dneper MT 11, but Basty Bikes has taken it far beyond anything the Ukrainian manufacturer may have imagined. ‘Rising’ is loaded with handcrafted parts, starting with its frame, Springer fork, and kickstarter. Its brass knuckle designed-suicide shifter’s lever was hand-cut out of a skateboard. It’s a clean, simple design with plenty of handcrafted details, details that earned it a trip to compete in the Rat’s Hole Show.
While the European custom bike builders displayed plenty of talent, there was no shortage of creativity from the US competitors as well. A trike called ‘The Predator’ had a photo-snapping crowd around it most of the afternoon. And with good reason – the trike looks like something straight out of the mind of H.R. Giger. With chrome vertebrae and rib bones encasing the tank and human-like bones supporting the frame, it comes as no surprise that the trike conversion was done by a company
The Predator trike could easily star in the next Evil Dead
movie. The Area 51 bike (below) sported its own wicked design.
called Nightmare Custom Cycles. But it was owner James Santos who handmade its ribcage and concocted the skulls motif that runs front to back. He also created the coffin on the rear of the trike that is also an auxiliary gas tank. Other custom touches like flame throwers, a smoke machine, and rear wheel spinners make this one evil mutha.
And speaking of hard-core motorcycles. The Area 51 Bike entered in the Over 1000cc Radical division was another industrial-strength build. With tons of unique bodywork, from its wide CNC-machined fork to its battle axe-shaped rear fender, the fact that the bike features all-steel construction makes Wikked Steel’s accomplishments that much more impressive. Mounted just below the ProTube Frameworks frame with a six-inch stretch is a beefy Ultima 120 cubic-inch engine with a claimed 130 hp boosted by a few Wikked Steel mods. The big Ultima V-Twin is mated to a Baker 6 speed (the Big Dog Motorcycles version) that spins the chain driving the big 330mm Avon rear meat. With paint by RC Customz and airbrushing by War Paint Studios, the bike looks like it’s wrapped in the skin of an alien, making its Area 51 moniker most appropriate.
Of course, the motorcycle that captured my attention the most came from the ‘Most Unusual’ class. You couldn’t miss Steve ‘Doc’ Hopkins ‘The Timeline Motorcycle’ as it’s 24 and a half-feet long, seats 10, and has seven Big Twin
'The Timeline Motorcycle' is a rolling history of Harley-Davidson and features seven Big Twin engines dating from 1909 to the present day.
engines. The motorcycle is what ‘Doc’ dubs a ‘Rolling History of Harley-Davidson’ because it features all of The Motor Company’s Big Twin engines from 1909 to the present. It starts with an F-Head IOE (1909-1929) and ends with the Twin Cam Fathead H-D started using in 1999. Each engine has its own oil tank and contributes power to the motorcycle via 40 feet of chain strung between primary drives. The top frame rail and a rear reserve tank in back store nine gallons of fuel. All together, ‘The Timeline Motorcycle’ pushes out 8,790cc of power from its cumulative 538 cubic-inches. Best of all, it’s a fully functional motorcycle. Might not have believed it myself were it not for the video footage of the bike rolling down the roadway loaded with ten passengers. Something tells me this thing has a future date at the Harley-Davidson Museum, but until then, ‘Doc’ has been showing it at
Skulls and demons were a common theme for paint jobs for the custom bikes entered in the 2010 Rat's Hole Custom Bike Show.
events like Sturgis and Daytona Beach.
With approximately 100 motorcycles competing in 21 classes for the second round of the World’s Famous Show on Saturday, March 6, head judge Tony Mazzaro had his work cut out for him. When it was all said and done, Ed Tooley of Palm Harbor, Florida, rode away with ‘Best of Show’ honors. The Over 1000cc Radical class was the most hotly contested, with 14 motorcycles vying for the top spot in the class. And while the 38th annual Rat’s Hole World Famous Bike Show is a wrap, Ted Smith is already gearing up to head to Leesburg BikeFest 2010 on April 24. Just look for the inflatable 20-feet-tall green rat and you’ll know you’re in the right place.