Most years I try to attend because the show is also the final of the prestigious AMD Official European Championship of Custom Bike Budding.

This year, I decided not to fly as I usually do, but to drive and take 'The Mantis' to show off to some of my European friends. 119 custom bikes from twenty different countries take part and I wanted to be part of it!

The standard and quantity of bikes was far higher than last year and it's a shame more Brits don't get involved. I do understand it's expensive and there are rumours of tactical voting by Johnny Foreigner making it difficult to win anything if you are British, but that's not true. There were a few UK builders with some lovely bikes - both Thunder City Cycles and Krazy Horse were both there and, yes, we were flying the flag too, but I feel we could've had a bigger representation. There was another large show elsewhere in Europe, I know, and some of our finest were there so I guess that didn't help.

Garage 65 from Italy followed up their Verona, Zurich and London successes by taking the win in the 'Freestyle' class, claiming the title of European Champion, with their fantastic hub-centre steered, radically styled 'KCosmoDrive' low-rider. Headbanger Motorcycles of Milan were second with 'Morning Sunrise' by Luciano Andreoli, which features a radical rigid fork and pivot frame, down-tube shocks chassis concept. And the top three was rounded out by 'One Eyed King' by the Japanese/US based Cycle Kraft operation.

The three builders who won Sturgis bike freight vouchers were Luciano Andreoli for 'Morning Sunrise', Blech & DrĂ¼ber of Austria for their Norton engined 'Walton' and Hungary's Miicechoppers with their much admired Communist-era East German-made Simson two-stroke styling masterpiece.

Speed Dept/Mayhem Kustomz with the 'Energicer' (luverly bit of kit this one) low-rider and Fine Custom Mechanics (FCM) of Moscow, Bertrand Dubet's Odyssey Motorcycles (France), Hogtech (Sweden) and Dutchman Paul Funk, and A.T. American Cycles (Germany) also got pots in the 'FreeStyle' class.

The 'Modified Harley-Davidson' class was taken by Abnormal Cycles (Italy) with their FL '48. Second was 'Forsaken' by Unique Custom Cycles (Sweden), and third place was taken by Germany's Sasse van Essen with 'Skull Racer'. The Custom Chrome Motorcycles class saw a clean sweep for German builders with 'Coppster 36' by Kraftwerk Customs taking first place, second place went to Deathfield-Choppers for 'Gold Nugget', and third place went to Tobias Guckel (TGS Motorcycles).

The defining character of this year's show was diversity. The 119 bikes included American V-twin power plants alongside Italian V-twins, a Norton, a Yamaha single, a pair of single cylinder Simsons and a pair of Japanese in-line fours. Bike styles ranged from traditional choppers through board-trackers and bobbers to streetfighters and beyond - machinery that gloriously defies conventional categorisation as the European custom industry continues to maintain its reputation for creativity, individuality, originality and craftsmanship.

The weekend was fantastic - thanks to Holger Mohr and the CCI boys and girls, and AMD. Can't wait to do it again. *


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