Issue 17 Jul-Aug 2008
Back Issues

London customs

Earls Court custom show

Over ten thousand visitors made the first London international custom show at Earls Court. The initial success that has led organisers to believe that they have a winner which will become a regular feature of the motorcycle event calendar.

MAG was there with a recruitment stand that signed up new members at rate per attendee that was about four times that at the NEC show.

While some people would have liked to have seen more in the way of general traders the standard of bikes on show was pretty top drawer, with many of the big names from the custom world in attendance.

In terms of engineering excellence, aesthetic quality and novel innovation, the exhibits provided a good showcase for the British custom motorcycle scene. For a prestigious venue like Earls Court to have been secured for such a show confirms the legitimacy of an art form and lifestyle that was once considered too fringe to be taken seriously.

Top Chop award went to Steve Rhodes from the MAG-affiliated Isle of Wight 'Toe Rags MCC.' Looking at the quarter mile extended front end of 'Deliverance' and knowing the island's roads quite well, I could not help smiling at the commitment to culture that the combination illustrates. Maybe Steve plans to use it more on the mainland, who knows? To be fair, having studied the bike for a bit I noticed that the ground clearance is amazingly close to stock bike level, the low seat height having been achieved by more fundamental geometric manipulation. Actually to be honest Steve pointed it out to me and I said "oooh so it is." One thing is for sure, it's going to raise an eyebrow or two among the blazer and cravat set from the Royal Yacht club at Cowes.

Deliverance springs from the energetic camp of creativity that is Nick Gale's emporium, he who is also building the S&S-powered cafe racers. The design concept however was Steve's and it's still evolving, the bike may have taken a top award but it's not actually finished.

Best Lowrider went to Nick la ppage whose Yamaha Wild Star has been five years in the building. The slow birth has put off the Christening which will ultimately see the bike emerge from the fount with the moniker of 'Midnight Lightening.' Nick and Steve shared the 'Best in Show' award along with a brace of £1500 cheques the decision being down to the visiting public.

Not all the bikes were radical chops. A totally chromed Hyabusa took an award for brightwork while a spectacular Rocket Three called 'Hellflare' collected 'Best Paint.'

Since the show coincided with MAG's AGC I only grabbed a quick look around the show late on Sunday but for me a few items really stood out. That Norton Commando special from Lamb Engineering was something else. In the outrageous handlebar division the Chopper club had to take a first with the bars pictured here top left. Totally over the top prize goes to another chopper club machine with a back tyre so wide and square it didn't need a side stand. Apparently it did need a gigantic engine though.

"Is that a Chevvy?" I asked the owner.
"It's a Moper" he replied.
"So it is" I said, reading the large raised lettering on the engine cover beneath the supercharger. Silly me.

I heard a few of the usual whinges about the cost of things in the capital. "It needs moving up north" said one. Yeah well that was tried and the point made that most of the builders are in the South. You can't please everyone.

Ian Mutch

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