Tag Archives: customs

Motor Bike Expo: Biking Italian Style

Story by Marilyn Stemp
Photos compliments of Motographer Horst Rösler, Madness Photography/Onno Wieringa and by M. Stemp

It was five years ago that I first went to Motor Bike Expo (MBE) in Verona, Italy. I recall being astounded at the remarkable attendance, the enormous spectacle and the exuberant ambiance. Then, riders gushed with gusto into the venue, driven to learn what was new, anxious to see stunning custom bikes, and eager to share the time with other riders.

This time, in 2018, all of that remained, exploded times two! You can discuss all you like the reasons that European shows like MBE hold such massive interest: motorcycling as transportation, a broader POV, a more accepting culture for various brands. Whatever it is, the rest of the world needs to pay attention because they sure know how to make the most of motorcycling!

This year marked the 10th year of MBE in Verona, resulting in a fourth day added to the show and instigating several new features: a helmet painting contest, the Indoor Trial Italian Championships, and the King of Verona crowning – won by a custom called MAG 1919 from Abnormal Cycles in Milan. Custom Chrome Europe named Italian champs in their International Show Series – Rocket Bob’s Pete Pearson from the U.K. took top honors with a bike called Swamp Water. And top Euro magazine editors named winners in the Magazine Awards. With over 500 custom bikes on hand, it was a challenge for judges to narrow the field.

Speaking of customs, bobbers, choppers, old school builds, café racers and scramblers ruled the scene. Baggers? Not so much. Handcrafting was widely evident and imaginative details ran the gamut from engineering genius to frankly functional. American, United Kingdom and European builders were joined by those from as far as Asia and Africa.

The Veronafiere venue had eight packed halls and five outdoor pavilions, 700 exhibitors, swap meet, used bike sales, food and drink, stunt shows, a dozen OEMs, demo rides, hot rods, racing… all presented with fierce excitement and unchecked delight. Attendance was recorded at 167,000! Bald heads were airbrushed, pretty girls showed off bikes, and wine flowed.

First, look at the pictures we’ve collected for you here. Then make plans to be at Motor Bike Expo next January to experience a biking event unlike any you’ll find stateside.

Modern Retail: How Lowbrow Customs Does It Right

lowbrow-customs-buildingEditor’s Note: As bike enthusiasts, we at Iron Trader News have had the opportunity to order from and work with the people at Lowbrow Customs. The people on Lowbrow’s team are riders, too, and they make it easy to find the right parts and move a project along. We’re glad to share this input from Lowbrow’s Tyler Malinky on their business processes and philosophy.

lowbrow-customs-employee-photoThere are changes sweeping the aftermarket motorcycle parts industry. The change is fueled by new technology and the increasing adoption of e-commerce. From toilet paper to automobiles, this shake-up continues to offer positive outcomes for the consumer. One indicator of this in the motorcycle industry is Lowbrow Customs.

Founded in 2004, Lowbrow Customs originated in the early days of e-commerce. They ignored the standard practices of motorcycle shops and took a different path. “I was a customer myself, and options online for motorcycle parts were limited. The poor selection and especially the bad service frustrated me,” said Lowbrow founder and CEO, Tyler Malinky. “I thought, I can do better than that.” He focused on procuring unique parts for a wide range of motorcycles. Lowbrow stocks thousands of motorcycle parts and accessories that they design and manufacture. This array of innovative products is not available anywhere else. Creating their own niche meant there wasn’t much competition. lowbrow-customs-motorcycle-tech-support-Todd-Muller“We need to give customers as much information as possible. As if they were holding the parts in their hands,” says Malinky. “Which is why we spend so much time and energy producing how-to videos, writing articles, and providing free motorcycle tech support… even for products we don’t sell.” This leads to a customer with confidence. Lowbrow’s passion and authenticity showed, making them a mainstay in the custom motorcycle scene. “We are our own customer,” said Malinky. “It’s easy to advance and evolve when your job is also your hobby and passion. If I need a particular part for my own motorcycle, chances are, someone else does as well.” 
Traditional motorcycle part retailers are stocking showroom shelves and printing thick catalogs. Progressive brands, like Lowbrow, warehouse retail direct, ready-to-ship inventory to customers world-wide. Instead of a catalog, the focus is on keeping up with modern technology; from inventory management to user experience. The direct-to-retail model allows complete control of their brand and lower prices for the customer. An affiliate program is the most recent technical expansion undertaken at Lowbrow. The Lowbrow Customs affiliate program allows key partners to help advertise for Lowbrow. They benefit by earning a commission on the resulting sales. This process is a departure from traditional print advertising and online banner ads. An affiliate program works with individuals and companies who create high-quality content. With it, they earn passive income by adding links to their articles, videos, and online content. In a world saturated with ads, curated content is becoming a valuable resource. Useful articles containing links, should a reader want to learn more, are an asset and tool. 
“With the amount of information online, it is easy for customers to identify exactly the parts they want,” says Malinky. “They are now often more informed than their local motorcycle dealers. We help customers be confident the parts will fit their motorcycle. They can place their order and have it arrive on their doorstep days later.” With constant advances in technology and communication, the consumer now plays an active role. Transparency and accountability are assets to a company. As long as they’re doing it right. lowbrow-customs-warehouse-3

Handbuilt Show 2017

Walking around the Fair Market in Austin, Texas—the location of the Handbuilt Show—it doesn’t take long to notice the eclectic composition of the exhibit. It’s a good thing this is an invitational event because there’d be no way to organize or codify the range of styles assembled here; each machine is in a class by itself.


With no hooligan racing this year, the focus was truly on the motorcycles and in addition to the show inside the venue the street was packed with a secondary show of bikes, a second tier if you will, joined by the hundreds that rolled in simply to attend. It’s a cool scene with a humming vibe, with background noise compliments of regular shows by the American Motordrome Wall of Death.

Our favorite bike in the show rose to the top not based on critical judgment but due to sheer strength of historic presence. A Knucklehead dubbed “Tramp,” originally owned and raced by George Smith, the founder of S&S Cycle, was the showstopper. The Smith family had looked to acquire the motorcycle for decades and though they generally knew where it was, it had not been rolled out for public viewing. As it happened, Tramp’s new owner Gary Wattis took possession of the bike just a day before Handbuilt opened and he was pleased to have it seen and appreciated for the artifact of motorcycle history it is. If you missed it, you have another chance to see Tramp in Sturgis, at the entrance of the Motorcycle As Art Exhibition at the Buffalo Chip.

If you haven’t been to Handbuilt, we recommend you attend. It’s a clear case of creativity and craftsmanship on display—with the emphasis kept on machinery and an absence of hype. Kudos to the crew at Revival Cycles for keeping it that way.

Progressive Laconia Motorcycle Week®: A Long History

June 10th-18th, 2017 – New Hampshire – home to America’s Original Riding Rally®
Jennifer Anderson – info@laconiaMCWeek.com


May 2, 2017 – Laconia, NH –  This June, Laconia Motorcycle Week returns to New Hampshire for its 94th year, leaving some wondering how this popular, time-honored event first came to be.  Don’t try doing the math – because there’s a bit more to it than just counting back 94 years… The rally actually started in 1916, organized by local motorcycle dealers in central and southern New England, with a couple hundred motorcyclists traveling north for a get together (dubbed a “gypsy tour”) at Weirs Beach.  The tour was first sanctioned by the Federation of American Mo-torcyclists in 1917 and when the FAM disbanded in 1919, the Motorcycle and Allied Trades As-sociation (M&ATA) took over the sanction until 1924, when the American Motorcycle Associa-tion (AMA) was formed.  Back then, the weekend event centered around races and hill climbs.  The number of participants grew each year as did the event’s duration.  Over time, the rally blos-somed into a week-long event, eventually suffering in attendance and popularity after getting wrapped up in the upheavals of the 60’s.  The rally reverted to a 3-day weekend and would re-main so until 1991, when organizers revived the week-long event after seeing the success of Sturgis’ 50th Anniversary Rally in 1990.  Laconia Motorcycle Week reclaimed the support of local businesses and the AMA as a week-long rally and the oldest gypsy tour in the country.WelcomeBikers

Today, Laconia Motorcycle Week® is a much-expanded version of the early “gypsy tour” years offering attendees lots of fun, food, music and, of course, a forum to share in their passion (big or small) for riding.  Over 230,000 riders are expected to descend on the Lakes Region for the Ral-ly, holding the honor of the oldest of the three national rallies with Daytona and Sturgis being Laconia’s sister rallies.  Sure, the rev of motorcycles and sight of leather (lots of it) may be overwhelming, but don’t be fooled.  Behind those leather jackets are just regular people; a multi-generational group of enthusiasts, from all walks of life, who all just happen to share in the ex-hilaration and liberation that riding brings.slide01

“It’s a rite of passage,” says organizer Jennifer Anderson, “Many of us grew up hearing about “Laconia” and couldn’t wait to experience what all the buzz was about.  It’s easy to assume that the Rally is just a big party enjoyed by those on two-wheels, but it is so much more than that.  This is the one week of the year when riders get to hang out with thousands of other people, from all around the U.S. and world, who enjoy the very same thing they like – getting out and riding.  The Rally offers us all a chance of camaraderie while still having fun, packing on the miles, and even raising money for much deserved local charities”Laconia2

And its boundaries have expanded, too.  You’ll notice an uptick in motorcycle traffic throughout the state (not just limited to Laconia, Weirs Beach, or Loudon).  Motorcycle enthusiasts come to the state to enjoy the scenic riding as far east as the seacoast and as far north as the picturesque Kancamagus Highway, proving half the fun is getting here.
So be a part of the continuing history.  Plan a ride to New Hampshire for this year’s Motorcycle Week (June 10 – June 18).  Whether it’s your first or 94th visit, you’ll find the passion for riding, around which this event was founded, has never changed.

Laconia Motorcycle Week® gives great appreciation to all of our sponsors, especially our Pre-senting Sponsors: Progressive, AMSOIL, and Hot Leathers as well as the State of New Hamp-shire for their large financial support of our rally each year.  For more information on visiting the State of NH, check out www.visitnh.gov.

Ride Safe and Keep Away from the Centerline!


2017 Las Vegas Motorcycle Hall of Fame Inductee Dave Nichols


Las Vegas Motorcycle Hall of Fame announced Dave Nichols as inductee into the 2017 class.
An avid motorcyclist since the age of 15, Dave is the editor-in-chief of Easyriders and V-Twin motorcycle magazines since 1998 currently overseeing ten automotive, motorcycle and tattoo-related magazine titles for Paisano Publications.
Nichols was the on-camera host of V-Twin TV, a 26 episode motorcycle-related television series seen on SPEED Channel. He is also the best-selling author of Top Chops; Indian Larry: Chopper Shaman; One Percenter; One Percenter Code; and One Percenter Revolution published by Motorbooks/Quarto Publishing.
Dave worked closely with TV producer Hugh King to create the content and direction of such motorcycle-related TV series as Motorcycle Mania with Jesse James, and The Great Biker Build-Off for The Discovery Channel. He was an on-camera expert on the biker culture for:

History of the Hells Angels – Two-hour documentary for History Channel
History of Choppers – Two-hour documentary for History Channel
The Wild Ride of Outlaw Bikers – Two hour documentary for History Channel

“I am thrilled to be an inductee into the Las Vegas Motorcycle Hall of Fame!  After all, bikers and Sin City go together like… like two things that really go together! Special thanks to Branscombe Richmond and everyone at Las Vegas BikeFest!” says Nichols.
Dave is a member of the Imagine Guild for the Seattle Children’s Ride and created the V-Twin Biker’s Ball for the Seattle Children’s Hospital. Since 1997 Dave has helped organize and promote the annual B.A.D. Ride, benefiting Juvenile Diabetes.
From 1996 – 2005 he helped create and promote the V-Twin Biker’s Ball and ViQe Awards that takes place during Daytona Bike Week benefitting the Boys & Girls Club of Broward County.  The ViQe Awards honored custom bike builders and was the Academy Awards of the two-wheeled world.
“Dave is not just an icon in motorcycle publications and television, but in the community as a whole.  His experience and involvement with this industry shows his love for the ride.  We are very excited to have him inducted into the 2017 class”, states Mindi Cherry, Vice President and Event Manager of Las Vegas BikeFest.
Las Vegas BikeFest, in partnership with Branscombe Richmond, launched the Las Vegas Motorcycle Hall of Fame at the 2016 rally.  “The Hall of Fame is designed to honor the iconic ambassadors, influential heroes and people who put their interests above and beyond for the motorcycle community.  This honor celebrates, illuminates and preserves the rich tradition of motorcycling in America”, says Cherry and Richmond, curators of the Hall of Fame.
A ceremony to honor the inductees will be held on Friday, October 6 at the 17th Annual Las Vegas BikeFest held in Downtown Las Vegas.  Additional inductees will be announced soon.
The 17th annual Las Vegas BikeFest will be held October 58, 2017 in the heart of downtown Las Vegas on Fremont East.