Photography Credit – Vanessa A. Schaeffer
At Biker Pros we put on custom bike shows across the country with the objective to support the industry and keep customizing alive and well in the USof A. Our 2015 series kicked off in Sturgis and will visit 13 cities and award over $90,000 in cash and prizes.
On Tuesday, August 5, 2014, I was up early and in Downtown Sturgis prepping for the Ultimate Builder show on Wednesday. As I walked down Main Street I noticed a guy snoring as loud as a chain saw on a booth table.
It turns out he was the guy they left to close up shop and to secure the money. Before heading back to the hotel, he stopped in for a cocktail and ended up buying rounds for the house with the firm’s cash. In the wee hours of the morning he staggered back to the only place he could remember. Ahh, the life of a Sturgis virgin. As they say, it takes a team to raise a village idiot.
We made the rounds to bars, builders and bike shows promoting the J&P Ultimate Builder. When our day started out it was blue skies and lollipops. By mid-afternoon it was Storm’n Norman with unrelenting sheets of rain and cracks of thunder that made the hair on your neck stand up and salute.
Wednesday morning started off as a dark and cloudy day with black and gray boiling clouds so close you could almost touch them. Would that keep the custom bikes away? No.
All morning the rain gods threatened but they stayed away. The bikes came rolling in slowly at first and then at a quick clip. By 1PM we were close to capacity. We had cool MOD Harleys, killer Radical Baggers and out of the box FreeStyle sleds. But my favorite bikes at the Sturgis show were the Retro MODs. And the coolest of the cool was a 1941 H-D WL from Dennis Crabtree.
He calls it Baby Stroker. The Bobber, when not at bike shows, gets an annual shake down at hill climbs. And he has rubbed on the engine to the extent that it now makes 5 times the horsepower that it did when it rolled out of the factory.
The bike features a flathead mil. The model number breaks down with the W family of motorcycles. The W series at the time was the newest incarnation of the 45-cubic-inch (740 cm3) flathead motor, and was developed from the earlier R family 1932–1936. The L designates a “high compression” engne.
Retro MOD J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show Class – Winner receives $1,000 Arlen Ness Gift Certificate
1 – Dennis Crabtree – “Baby Stroker” – 1941 H-D WL
2 – Allen Malmin – 1974 Shovelhead
Another sled that immediately caught your attention as it rolled in was “The OZ”. It looked familiar yet different.
Turns out the frame from our last year’s winner, Shaun Ruddy, was built by TD Ward and that board tracker stance was unmistakable. Basically, this is a hand-fabricated sled with chrome gas tanks that were hammered-out until TD’s arm almost fell off. It boasts a bullet-proof 74” S&S Panhead.
FreeStyle J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show Class – Winner receives a $2,000 Gift Certificate from Belt Drives LTD
1 – TD Ward – “The OZ” – 2015 Rods & Rides Motorcycle Co.
2 – Julie Guilford – “No Reservation” – Kustom’s Inc.
Gotta say that the King Customs’ 2009 Fat Bob motorcycle stood out in a sea of custom sleds. It only had 2 colors, black and copper. The tough looking bike features 15” wheels front and back. The mil sounded like thunder and no wonder with cams, heads, tuner and exhaust updates.
Richard King, King Customs’ President, is building bolt-on packages like Kyle Shorey of Shade Tree Fabrications and Paul Wideman of Bare Knuckle Choppers. The idea is to give enthusiasts a way to transform their stock bikes simply and easily with kits in just a few short hours.
MOD Harley J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show Class – Winner receives $1,000 Gift Certificate from Rinehart Racing
1 – King Customs – 2009 HD Fat Bob
2 – Kristen Riley – “Annie Oakley” – 07 Dyna Low Rider Trike
Our new class this year is the Radical Bagger class and we started the season out with a bang. The craftsmanship, the imagination and enthusiasm was off the chain.
We met up with Vic Baggers last year and they took a top 3 with their custom Victory. This year they built a special Indian that really popped. It featured three colors, flat black, iridescent green and tin.
Does it have power? Ah yes, the bike called Crazy Horse featured 10.5 to 1 custom pistons and hand fabricated plenum, intake and exhaust. The go-fast parts were custom fit to pump up the power. The Indian includes modified Springer front end with air ride and Air FX rear suspension. The rear fender and bags feature an all steel tail section.
Radical Bagger J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show Class – Winner receives a $1,500 Fat Baggers Inc. Gift Certificate
1 – Vic Baggers Customs – “Crazy Horse” – 2014 Indian
2 – East Coast Baggers- Gold Dust – 2014 Road King
At the awards ceremony Zach Parham came up on stage and talked about J&P Cycle’s commitment to the motorcycles, customization and the J&P Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show.
Paul Widman, President of Bare Knuckle Choppers and our 2014 J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder National Champion, took the stage and said that for him, the Ultimate Builder was one of the best show series that he has attended.
He also stated that he was gunning for the MOD Harley championship in Chicago on February 13 -15, 2015 and was aiming for the Harley-Davidson 120R engine as the grand prize. Wideman is building a FXR custom bike for the championship. Bringing it on Champ!
The Adventure Rolls on—Each year Sturgis is an adventure. You never know what will happen. Last year one of our guys got banned for life from the Buffalo Chip and his escapades were captured on a YouTube video.
This year I caught up with Bandit at the Buffalo Chip when he was yelling at Bob Kay during the filming of the wrap up of the Biker Battleground Phoenix. Biker Pros was engaged to handle the voting and awards ceremony at the Chip.
Kay selected the judges (Bandit being one of them) and they needed more energy in the scene so Bandit yelled, “your full of shit” and then they went at it. It was fun to watch but I’m sure it will remain on the cutting room floor.
This year we had lodging set up and then lost it, got it set up again and then lost it again. So we put a call out to Danny Gray. He owns the Deadwood Roadhouse, which is a private lodging, party and entertainment venue in Deadwood, SD. Hot damn, this was going to be fun.
Unfortunately it was booked. But he did have room for us… in his horse barn. He assembled a few bunk beds and pushed them to the corner and presto change-o we had a suite of beds betwixt and between a Jeepster, a snowmobile, a Smart Car, (4) Harleys, a Segway, tools and a Suzuki Samurai. It had the unmistakable aroma of battery acid, oil and petrol. The shower was in a makeshift area that is used for dressing his deer during hunting season.
Even so, the Horse Barn was close to the action in Deadwood and Sturgis as well as being a nature wonderland that was just a garage door away.
So Sturgis 2015 is in the books. And a good time had by all.