Born Free 4 Part 1 The Invite Bikes

It was CRAZY! The show was so big I really didn't get the chance to photograph or check out every bike I would have liked to. I took 117 photographs (many were duplicates), but had to trash about 30 of them because they were just plain blurry. Partly due to having to get a quick shot before someone stepped in front of a bike. Those that tried to take photos will know what I mean.

I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't get to meet or chat with many people too. Being asked to judge "Best Shovelhead" forced me to spend quite a bit of the day scouting out every Shovel that had potential.

Now some words about the Invited Builder's Bikes. Sorry I missed a few. They were all pretty impressive and I respect all of the builders talents even if I don't completely agree with their execution or tastes.

Some of the bikes would probably have come off better if they hadn't been so closely surrounded by so many other intense machines. I understand why, but also think putting the bikes right in front of the stage probably wasn't the best way to display them. That said, I know it's very hard to imagine the effect of the crowds before the gates opened.

About Judging and the results. If your invited a builder, you're already a winner. The show is all about fun so, Mike and Grant like to keep it pretty informal and except for best in show, put their trust in those they asked to make the choices.

One more thing before the pix. It's a vintage chopper show, but the two top winners weren't choppers! Some might bark.

Matt Olsen's highly modified 1947 Knucklehead took "Best of Show" and it might be a hard case to argue otherwise. The stance, tanks, taillight, and cut of the fender makes me think Crockerized Knucklehead.

Why did this bike win? The tanks and dash panel do some of the explaining.

Due to the crowds this was the best shot (not a very good one), I got of Max Schaaf's pan. I could tell it was his bike even before I read the show info stand. While many times black bikes get overlooked, I found the tank relief flames and gold striping very tasteful.

Once again Caleb of Cro Customs fetched the very high honor of "Builders' Choice" from his peers. I really like his choice of an opaque solid color (no pearl or flake). Caleb's is a smart guy and therefore knows it's a good idea to put your bike on a stand. From seeing bikes in the back of trucks to on lifts in shops, I've noticed how most bikes look even better when raised more towards eye level. Also, Note how good Max's bike looks (background) in this photo.

This wild Knucklehead built by Michael Barragan of Evil Spiritwas was the first bike to catch my eye as I approached the Invited Builders area. It reminded me of the extreme bikes I drew when I was a kid. If the show bikes were judged strictly on being choppers, it might very well have deserved top honors. I believe it won "Best Knucklehead". Strangely, it was one of three bikes featuring rigid forks. What were the odds of that?

A very nice '48 Flatty by Joe Lingley.

Jeff Leighton's latest is a clean and sanitary chopped 1965 Panhead. Somehow I knew he wouldn't win "Best Paint".

The other half of the Wretched Hive, Dave Polgreen entered the only digger in the bunch. It's has a light and jewel like look. I love the highly polished drive train.

Speed Metal's entry. The crowd made it very difficult to get the whole length of these long bikes in frame.

Andy Carter/Pangea Speed. While not normally what I go for, I was surprised how well this mix of styles came off. Probably due to good integration of details and finishes. I wish I got a shot of the turbo charger with it's very cool exhaust casting. Does anybody know what the (metal sprayed?), finish is that was used throughout?

You could also tell this was Rene Astengo's (of Dago's Speed Shop), bike. He always builds them clean and uncluttered.

Brandon Casquillo of Mullins Chain Drive got my choice for "Best Shovelhead". While I usually prefer an older style, the details of fabrication, use of 12 point fasteners, and his choices of metal finishes, really came off nicely. The photo doesn't do it justice.

If this bike by Todd Asin didn't get "Best Triumph", it should have. Tight and light is the way I like 'em.

This ShoVeL by Shawn Donahue just keeps growing on me. Love the color.

Bacon brought out this long bike and wowed everybody with it's detailed and polished water cooled Drake Knucklehead. It was probably the longest of the long bikes.

Wil Thomas' Sportsters featured a very unusual spaced out alien girl paint job. The stance is accented by the pipes and the Sugar Bear forks.

Steve Buchanan's very nice Panhead usually had a crowd around it so I hopped up on stage to get a clear shot. I'm told the interesting risers are from an antique exercise machine.

Hat's off to Mike and Grant for once again throwing the mother of all shows. The next day I could only think one thing... NOW WHAT?!!!
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