Before we get to the bikes, I'd like to point out some trends I've noticed lately on the web and at the show: Single down tube frames, custom frame work, the use of chrome frames or accenting frame castings, more use of the color white, and styling borrowed from racing bikes.
Racing style or race inspired styling cues seem to be more popular than ever. Even though Born-Free was started for the appreciation of vintage/classic choppers, this year several of the invited builders entered race inspired bikes or featured bikes with styling cues from racing. A couple of which took top awards. At a chopper show? What's that say about this trend?
A few years back, the more mainstream custom Harley shows were sort of going the same route with the popularity of the board track racing style.
I appreciate many types and styles of motorcycles, but guess I'm just old and have my own hang ups. As far as custom bikes go, I prefer classic choppers and arguably big Harleys make the best choppers. Conversely "Race Styled" big twin Harleys just don't make much sense me. The style seems much better suited on Triumphs, Sportsters, and Japanese bikes.
On the other hand I did like Jeremiah's big H-D Flathead semi-streamlined bike (in the last post), which reminds me of Joe Petralli's 1936 Knucklehead which was built for straight line high speeds.
On a side note, a friend of mine says, there's always a Knuckle, Pan, or Shovel, bias, so a Sportster, Triumph, or Japanese bike, will never win best of show at venues like this. He's probably right.
I'm aware that a lot of custom or show bikes aren't exactly practical, and it's mostly about looking cool. So go ahead and choose what you think is cool. It's just that racing bikes look the way they do, because form follows function. Following that edict, if a bike looks like a racer it shouldn't be just for looks. An example would be, many of today's race inspired bikes are inspired by Cafe Racers but are too low for anything but going straight which kind of defeats the purpose.
Some might say that none of this is really new and we've seen this before.
Whatever your opinion, this and other trends are likely the reaction of builders influencing each other and wanting to do something different after building several traditional choppers with their associated cliche' styling cues.
Kevin Bass took the "Best Panhead" award with this drag race inspired bike. Note the similarity of the seat/fender combo to Masa's Knucklehead a few photos down.
Michael Barragan"s Tattooed Panhead. One might even say the drive train and front mag gives this chopper a race inspired look.
Last year Caleb Owens took the top honors with a race inspired bike which may have influenced a few of this year's builders. Been there done that, so this year he went more traditional.
Masa's knucklehead features a single down tube frame with chrome accents. It also gives a nod to race/drag bikes with it's buttoned down seat fender combo. Drag bars and a S&S "L" series carb adds to the drag bike look.
Max Schaaf also built a single down tubed bike. That's not a new thing for him. Two years ago he entered a Pan in a VL frame. Max has a look of his own. If someone had asked what bike he built, I could have picked it out.
I believe this was Yani Evans entry. Single down tube chrome accented frame. Although the styling is a bit over the top for me, the fabrication is top notch.
Last years top winner Matt Olsen brought his wife Brittany's new toy. In this case, It's truly built to race. I believe it's a newly constructed frame and single down tubes were the order of the day when bikes like this were made.
Joey Cano's Knucklehead. Yet another bike that featured a single down tube. Along with Big Scott's, Alan Richards and Todd Asin's bikes, all could possibly be mistaken as early sixties show bikes.
Domenic Mingureli's1949 panhead. A father and son competing was a first. His son Dylan's bike is to the right. I found it interesting that the father built a somewhat contemporary styled chopper while the son went pure old school.
This exceptionally clean custom 1964 Duo-Glide by Mike Pilaczynski was accidentally left out of the last post. The bars, seat, wheels, and overall stance even give it a bit of a drag bike look.
Builders are constantly looking for ways to make every inch custom. To this end, engraving has been used off and on through the 70's, 80's, 90's, It seems to have enjoyed wider use and popularity ever since Indian Larry's fame.
Mattias LeBeef's 1960 Panhead. Half Bagger half Chopper? This bike is growing on me. That's a whole lot of white!
This will be the last post focusing on the invited builders bikes. If you noticed a few are missing, it's because I didn't get pictures of 6 of them.