When Chris called me and asked if I wanted to write something about the chopper scene here in Florida, I really had to think about it, as this place is about as diverse in what people think a chopper should be, as people's ideas of what a "biker" is. I mean I live in the county that is referred to as the Harley capital of the world. It seems every household owns at least one motorcycle, yet this is what makes it kind of hard to describe "our" scene. People like me don't see the many Texas Choppers here as real choppers or the OCCs attempts at being a cool bobber builder being actually cool. However, many in my area do. I guess I'll just try to shed a little light on what I feel Cycle Source readers would consider righteous places to go, plus throw out a few names you may need to know if you ever get to | ride with us here in the Sunshine State.
In Florida you have ten to twenty poker runs every weekend, add to that a Bikefest somewhere almost monthly, plus the toy runs, memorial rides, club events and several other bike related outings offered daily, making it possible for a biker to have something to do 52 weekends a year, and sometimes daily with bike nights each evening of the week. The weather is the attribute that kicks all these ventures into gear as we can pretty much ride here everyday, year round.
Statewide we have several big events, with the two biggest being Daytona Bike Week and Biketoberfest. Then you have the spring and fall Thunderbeach event up in the panhandle at Panama City Beach. Leesburg, Sanford, and Starke have full weekend events that are growing yearly. Over near Tampa, the Quaker Steak and Lube Bike Night draws as many as 2,000 bikes a week. And the toy run in South Florida pulled in 30,000 bikes just this year alone. We have the Key West poker run and the All Harley Drags in Gainesville each year that is attended again by the thousands, but are any of these places a destination for the down to earth, backyard garage builder of old school choppers and bobbers? I doubt it, because in reality this just isn't their bag. Fortunately, chopper builders can find similar individuals that are gathering at the "not so worn path" of the average Harley rider in smaller venues that offer some guaranteed good times for the build-it-yourself riders.
The chopper builders here, and we have many that are infamous and some who are just regular Joes, do have places to go and party and to show off their creations. Take Willie's bi-annual event each year in Ormond during Bike Week and Biketoberfest held at Tropical Tattoo. Here is the place to be seen and to see. Young and old alike build their one special chopper all year long to unveil at this national show. Aged men with their reincarnations of Flatheads and K Models do what they do, restoring, for this one. Young bloods travel thousands of miles to show off their newest ride. I call these times family reunions, as people you only see a couple times a year come to town for this one.
Roscoe's Chili Cook-Off over in Lakeland is another place of interest for the "way it was" crowd. Billed as one of the last true biker parties in the world, attendees will not be disappointed if they enjoy camping, drinking, listening to good music and having motorcycle intercourse with like-minded gearheads. This outing has no trailered bikes; you ride them here and are rewarded for such.
On the first Sunday of each month, many Florida builders go to a small place called Webster for the monthly offering of hard to find parts that are laid out for them there. You can buy sell at this huge swap meet. Fifteen dollars gets you a spot and two free drinks, and I've never met anyone yet that didn't sell more than enough of their wares to pay for it. From old Panhead rigid frames to running Shovel motors, you can usually find every imaginable part here.
Florida is flooded with talented "behind the house" builders. We have Roadside Marty and his pops up near Panama that have put together some of the coolest old motorcycles found anywhere as you can plainly see by this month's cover bike. Boston Mike's shop in Sanford is another place where old is cool, and right down the road you have Bobby, Brian and Ed of French Kiss Customs, with the sickest paint jobs found anywhere. Down in Melbourne, we have a group of young men that are choppin' and bobbin' anything that rolls and making quite a name for themselves there. They don't have a shop; they just hang out in each other's garages and TCB when it comes to rods and sleds. Their names are David, Jeremy and Ms. Micky Lynn.
In the Ft. Meyers hood you have cats like Buttas, Cabbage and Tony Baggadonutts that continually amaze the biking circles with their builds and far-out rides. The latter two made a crosscountry trip last year, with several others, on old iron, rigid frame choppers. These men eat, sleep and breathe simple, bare bones motorcycles. So these cats, like many of the aforementioned aren't going to trek all the way across the state just to hang out, listen to Molly Hatchet, and to get Paul Sr.'s autograph. Distance is no problem for any of them if same-minded gearheads are there, riding home-built scoots, drinking PBRs and checking out the babes.
Here in Daytona, we have Joey from Tee Designs laying down some cool pinstripes and slick paint for all the hot rods and bikes, while he and his dad cruise around town on their rats. Marcus and Sean from Trailer Trash Choppers are still throwing
together a few hardcore rigids for local boys as are a couple other individuals. Yours truly puts on about four events a year called "Black Sunday" so the local cats can ride in and show off their newest parts. Though this area isn't known for hardcore choppers, it does have a tremendous amount of older, stock Harleys, as witnessed each fall at OB's in Deland. You can check out this gathering of gray beards and young bloods every second Sunday of November.
Florida is a great state to live in if you ride a motorcycle, and if you want to belong to a club, there are many you can join, from the H.O.G. Chapters to One Percenters. There is a place for practically anyone and everyone to assimilate into, and that includes the real deal chopper freaks that ride and party on rigids. They may have to look a little deeper and get off the beaten path but they're here. You can find them in the backyard, garages, under the old oak tree, cuttin', grindin', weldin', drinkin', buildin' and then ridin' those "salt of the earth" motorsickles!!!
So jockey shift on down, and get to looking. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you'll find these folks, especially if the "in state" boys are heeding the motto of the Florida West Coast shithead's, "Ride It, Don't Hide It," which most faithful chopper riders here do.
juices' flowin' or distract you long enough to think about the events that will come up in the next year and hopefully motivate you to attend some of them. To show you how this works, we will take each state
The scene in the upper Midwest is alive and thriving, even though _ _ I am writing this, we are ^MM buried under a blanket of the ^ white stuff. The only riding we'll be doing is on snowmobiles. The winter gives us a short decompression time where we can work on projects or do heavy repair work without losing any riding time. It is a small compensation for our region but very Ingrained in to the way we live, so that is the way we do it.
So this report is to get those creative one at a time and report on what is going on. The one thing that all the states have in common is that they have the roughest roads in the US. Yet, we continue to plow thousands of miles on rigid framed customs or antiques with lousy suspensions and even worse brakes. But we love it, and can't wait for the next event to run to in our short 6 to 8 month riding season. So with that, here we go!
ILLINOIS - Of course the hub of activity in Illinois is Chicago, with events like the Mods vs. Rockers show and the parties the boys at Bravetown throw which always bring out some cool machines and good guys. Illinois is a large state and there are a lot of other good events such as the Cast Iron ride and the Walneck's swap meets, particularly the ones in Woodstock if you're searching for old parts for your vintage bikes of any type. There are a plethora of talented builders in Lincoln Land. There's Brian at Black Sunshine for one, as well as Sean, Rob, Harlow, Eugene and Slippery Pete who have all graced the pages of this publication in the past, and we look forward to what the future will bring.
IOWA - The great state of corn has some cool things going on every summer and fall. There's the Vintage Torque Fest, the drag races in Conesville, and the awesome hill climbs in Anamosa. Then of course there is the granddaddy of the vintage swap meets in the Midwest: Davenport. The combination of the 3-day swap as well as the Friday night vintage races is quite a thing to behold. I always try to make that event; I highly recommend it. There are also some small events to look forward to such as Papa Clutch's open house and J&P Cycles' open house and their museum are not to be missed. Also the riding down Great River Road is an event that everyone from this area should do at least once. As far as the builders go, Papa Clutch always has a bunch of sweet stuff under their roof and the Cycle Nazis are always building something cool, too.
MIKESQTTO - The folks in the land of 10,000 lakes are always doing something when it comes to motorcycles. After all, they have the largest bike show of the year. The Donnie Smith Invitational is one of the biggest bike shows and swaps and it always gives us an excuse to go to Minneapolis and cut loose, because we know that spring is just around the corner. The boys up there bring out their new creations from the long, cold winter for the first time that year. Teach always has whatever bike his kids came up with on display as well as one of his own. Jay from Jay's Garage usually has a great looking Pan or Knuckle at the show and he never disappoints.
The spring brings the first run of the year, The Flood Run, which is always a good time running up and down the Mississippi River. Summer has the Bearded Lady show and the Knuckles' Up show. This year, S&S is sponsoring the Knuckle Shuffle with one leg of the ride leaving from Minneapolis and the other leaving from Milwaukee then meeting in the middle. A whole weekend of fun should be had and I think it will be one to remember. There is also a great show in Stillwater that is getting bigger every year and I can't wait to check it out.
9AK03AS - South Dakota brings us some cool things every year, with new products from the Klock Werks crew being first
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on the list. When you think of vintage American bikes you can't help but think of Carl and Matt Olsen at Carl's Cycle Supply, the premier antique bike guys in all of our area. Of course, the one great event that occurs out here is Sturgis and that puts a whole season of events into one week.
Minot, ND hosts the annual Miracle City Bike Show every winter and it is amazing the bikes that show up for that event, from sick seven-second drag bikes to pristine antiques.
WISCOJiSIN - America's Dairy Land has about the most jammed-packed scene that I am aware of, with a bike event happening on every weekend from May until the end of September. We have the Harley Homecoming every 5 years and the S&S anniversaries on the same years. Then we have the Slimy Crud runs where you can view just about every kind of bike you can imagine.
There is a weird relationship that the people of this state have with bikes; someone once told me that there are more motorcycle registrations per capita in Wisconsin than any other state in the union. I don't know if that's true, but I don't know very many riders who live here that don't own 2 or 3 bikes at the very least. We also have eclectic events like the Rockerbox which a couple of friends of mine started about 10 years ago. It has now grown into a huge event that was just profiled on the cable TV show, Cafe Racer.
We also have some weekly events such as Two-Wheeled Tuesdays at around a dozen bars and then there's the Harley Museum which can also bring out bikes you just don't see very often. Events like the Tomahawk Colorama sees about 10,000 people over a weekend in their tiny town up north: great riding, great times. Then we have specific shows like the Knucklehead Reunion which is gaining popularity more and more as people are looking to use their old machines, and not just leave them sit. You know the old adage "ride 'em, don't hide
:em;" it holds very true around these parts.
All in all, the upper Midwest is not the hotbed of setting trends in the motorcycling world but we appreciate the beauty and style of motorcycles that are a little more on the classic side. Maybe it is because we are the birthplace of the one company that out-survived all the ones that were around 80 years ago, and hopefully our ingenuity and perseverance will keep us pounding pavement for at least 80 more.
THE "SOUTH BY MUTTON CHOPS
The south is some time a forgotten staple of the chopper culture. Within three hours of
Atlanta you have some of the best riding in the country not to mention some of the best bike builders and mechanics around. The south is a melting pot of culture and styles. Taste and color just depends on where you go and what you will see. The bars are hot and the streets are smooth.
The scene in the south varies
everywhere you go. There is everything from baggers to fat tire choppers. There are a lot of riders that just build what they can in their garage and then there are a few of us that hold on to the traditional style of chops. Some builders or shops that you may recognize from down south are Muttin Cycles, Jailhouse Choppers, Speed Driven Supply, and Slim's Garage. Even Hank Young from the heyday of Biker Build-Off and Brian Fuller reside in Georgia. There are a couple of great builders in Alabama as well such as MT Customs in Montgomery and Cycle Source "Builder of the Year," Larry Pierce, from Garage Company Customs in Birmingham. That's a lot of quality builders that are getting overlooked since we're not on the West Coast and there's plenty more I haven't mentioned or that I don't know.
There is a great show scene that is growing in the south as well. We have such a long riding season that you can find something going on just about every weekend, even up in to December there are rides and shows everywhere. There is a Web site radio station (www. garage71. com) that hosts several shows a year that are excellent events. The Drive Invasion is a well know show that has been around for years. It hosts a wide array and variety of motorcycles and choppers not to forget all the vintage cars and bands that come to play.
The Hell on Wheels show started several years ago. Hell on Wheels has a multitude of bands that play and vendors that set up to showcase their products and services. Several of us bike builders usually handle all the car and bike show judging. This year we had over a hundred bikes and at least that many cars. Both of these shows get over a couple thousand people coming through the gates. Now that's not as many as Born Free or Mooneyes, but for a show in Atlanta, that's pretty significant. The Easyriders' bike show came through Atlanta this year and one of its new features was the Limpnickie Lot. It also brought several really big names in the industry.
Alabama has several great shows too. They have the Vintage Festival that is held at Barber Motorsports Park and lasts for three days. There is a huge swap meet that has several hundred vendors just selling vintage motorcycle parts. If you are looking for a fender for a BSA or Honda, this would be a great place to start looking. There's also vintage bike racing and it's not only road racing, they have a vintage
itiníífísa motocross track that is just a few jumps in the field. It's along ways from my days on the motocross track; these racers get the hell beat out of them. If you've never seen a triple cylinder, 2 stroke go around a road course, it's a sight to be seen.
To the north, there's tons of stuff to see and do. This includes the infamous Wheels Through Time Museum run by Matt and Dale Walksler. If you haven't ever been there, it's a must-see if you are even the least bit interested in American motorcycles. Every motorcycle that they have in their showroom runs and they will crank every one of them to prove it. I have seen Dale do a burnout through the showroom on a hundred thousand dollar Crocker. Until the first time I went there, I had never seen a Crocker much less a burnout on one.
Another growing event that happens to the north of Atlanta is Cycle Source's Big Mountain Run. It starts in several states and winds up in one spot for three days of gypsy camping and fun. The festivities take place in Reliance, Tennessee at Hiwassee Outfitters right on the Hiwassee River. It is one of my favorite events of the year and is all about the ride.
As I said at the beginning of this article, the riding in the south never seems to stop. The only time you won't see a motorcycle is when it's snowing and that only happens two days a year. People have said that some of the best riding is here in the south. If you plan your trip right, you can catch several events and places as I mentioned while you're on your way to the Big Mountain Run. Some of the best roads to ride and sights to see are all over the mountains in the southeast. The famous Dragon's Tail (Hwy 129), has 318 curves in 11 miles. I'm telling you, it's not for the faint of heart or beginner. Once you start into the curves, they never seem to stop. A few miles down the road is the Cherohala Skyway (Hwy 165), that's at an elevation of 2900 to 5900 feet and 40 miles of nothing but mountain two-lanes. In the fall, most of the roads are too busy but catch them at the right time, and they're unbelievable. The Moonshiner (Hwy 28), is a little secret that the rubs haven't found out about yet and it runs through North Carolina. This road has about as many curves as the Dragon; it's just a longer road. One of the most famous around is the Blue Ridge Parkway which is
469 miles from North Carolina to Virginia through the Appalachian Mountains.
To wrap things up, the south is a staple not to be forgotten. When you pick up your copy of a magazine and all they talk about is the West Coast, well just look around. There's a lot more than what you think in your own area. There are great motorcycle builders and great riding all around, you just have to open your eyes and see what there is to offer.
What scene in St. Louis? STL has to be one of the lamest bike towns in the country. The biggest claim to fame St. Louis has in the biking world is the short stopover Indian Larry and Billy Lane had on the Build-off thing in 2003. Well, that's what I used to think, too. Truth be told, St. Louis and the surrounding areas are deeply rich in motorcycle history. This little piece of the Midwest also holds a particular and unique place in the history of the chopper. Maybe it was because I grew up in the area, or because I just didn't understand the significance of St. Louis style bikes, but I forever thought STL was boring as hell as far as custom motorcycles go. Friends and I would often bitch about how lame the town was. Of course this would always take place at one of the many watering holes scattered around the Mississippi and Missouri River valleys, offering scenic overlooks and killer windy roads.
St. Louis is best known for the derake chopper. A derake can come in many shapes and sizes, but it will always have a high neck and stock or less rake. The derake will have no backbone stretch at all, keeping the sky high downtubes tight to the front head. For the most part, these bikes are made for riding, and riding hard. To many, it defies logic. Many of these bikes look totally unrideable, but in truth they are just the opposite. They negotiate tight corners great and haul ass everywhere. Many of these bikes run old powerplants too. Pans and Shovels are very common derake powerplants, with the occasional Knucklehead and ironhead screaming around. If you ever get a chance to check out the annual Rat Run in St. Louis the first Sunday in October, you gotta do it. You'll see guys riding 12 o'clock wheelies on these old hand shift bikes. Some will even stand on the passenger pegs or shift while the tire is still up... with their hand! Crazy!
And where do you go around St. Louis for all that horsepower? Craig at D&C Cycle in Eureka is the man to visit for your American v-twin horsepower. Craig has been operating D&C for going on four decades now, and he knows his shit. His showroom has all your regular accessory store stuff, but the backroom is where the cool stuff is. He has a dyno room and a full machine shop right there, ready to handle anything and everything. Craig does headwork, balancing, full rebuilds, you name it. The time slips and records on the wall tell the story. He's also a damn fine all around wrench too.
As far as custom shops, all of a sudden St. Louis seems to be a hotbed of customizers. Darren at Liquid Illusions is right under the arch, basically. Darren lays down the gnarliest scooter paint you've ever laid your eyes on, and his airbrush work is unreal. Across town is Rich Grabbe, of Rich Phillips' Leather. Rich is more than just a fine leathersmith; fabricating some bitchin' products and cutting out a couple cool chops each year. On the east side, you have Rod "Grimey" Davis and Stripped Down Cycles. Grimey is an extremely talented fabricator, and THE man to go to for older engine rebuilds. This guy knows motors inside and out, and can repair any engine or trans you put in front of him, from Knuckle, to ironhead to TC. For your chrome needs, St. Louis Plating is the place to go. This family owned chrome shop has been around for over half a decade, and Buddy, Rob, and the crew know their business. The cool thing about the shops I mentioned is that while none of them may exemplify the St. Louis style derake, they do take into account all of the general ideas that the derake offers. Old powerplants, performance, and short wheelbase, all combined to form a functional chop, ready to hit light speed.
One of the coolest spots in the entire country to hang out and shoot the shineola is Shady Jack's Saloon. Jack's place is just a few blocks north of the arch on Broadway, but a world away from your typical downtown. Built in an old warehouse, Shady Jack's features a courtyard that you ride your bike into and park then walk into the adjoining bay which
is the bar. Upstairs you find a leather shop, a cigar humidor, and of course, a tattoo parlor. The third floor is an MMA studio. Jack is one of the kindest gents you'll ever meet, but he is a no-bullshit guy at the same time; a genuine standup dude. I remember many a night sitting on Jack's back porch long after the bar closed just talking with him and listening to his stories. The beer is cold, the barmaids hot, and the food is the best in town. DO NOT miss a chance to visit Shady Jack's!
If you find yourself in the STL area, and you're looking for a good ride, you can pretty much point your skinny tire in any direction and find gold. The river road running north from the city alongside the Mississippi on the Illinois side is killer. Along the way you will find Fast Eddie's in Alton, and the Loading Dock in Graffton; both great places for food and beer. If you are looking for windy roads and a little less traffic, then head south on MO-94 from St. Charles. This takes you through the Little Hills area of Missouri, where Lewis and Clark's expedition began. Around Defiance you will find some cool biker friendly bars with live music on the weekends. West from Defiance is the Femme Osage area, rich in American Indian history, as well as Daniel Boone's home. But better than that, the roads are incredible, and there is little to no traffic. I almost left this out for fear of increased traffic, it's that good.
After hanging around the area my entire life, I feel I have finally begun to understand and appreciate what St. Louis offers. It has certainly affected the way I build bikes, and what I expect when I ride in a different state. We truly are lucky around here. From the great bars and rides, to the talented craftsmen that make this their living, St. Louis is a great biker town.
So this is our look at the scene for 2011, but it's by no means meant to be taken as the only place the scene exists. We plan on coming back and doing this with other parts of the country, but you have to let us know, do you dig it? Maybe your town should have a scene feature. Send us an e-mail to give us your feedback at [email protected]
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ABOUT fifty years ago, when the subject of English furniture first began to be studied and to be written about, it was divided conveniently into four distinct types. One writer called his books on the subject The Age of Oak, The Age of Walnut, The Age of Mahogany and The Age of Satinwood. It is not really quite as simple as that, for each of the so-called Ages overlaps the others and it is quite impossible to lagt down strict dates as to when any one timber was introduced or when it finally, if ever, went out of favour.