2012 World Championship of Custom Bike Building

High-Concept Hardware from Sturgis

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Frank Sander

Last time we checked in on the World Championship of Custom Bike Building (Wild File, Nov. 2011), held annually during the Black Hills Motorcycle Rally at Sturgis, we praised the trend away from outrageous, OCC-style theme choppers toward café racer-inspired customs that might actually function as rideable motorcycles. Apparently last year’s event was an anomaly, because most award winners in this year’s “Freestyle” category look straight from Planet Yeahright. Here are three of the more outrageous examples:

Thunderbike, PainTTless
Featuring a 1000cc Ironhead Sportster engine mounted in a one-off, handcrafted frame, the admittedly stunning PainTTless, built by Essen, Germany’s Andreas Bergerforth and his Thunderbike crew, displays remarkable originality and attention to detail—in addition to a sheer lack of functionality. A rear shock sourced from a mountain bike, the opposite of ergonomics, and one of the most convoluted foot clutch/jockey shift arrangements ever committed to metal practically ensure PainTTless will never travel a mile under its own power.

LC Fabrications, Old Black
Straight up a mountainside might be the only place you could ride Jeremy Cupp’s Old Black, just like the old-school hillclimb bikes it’s inspired by. Old Black was one of multiple bikes spotted at this year’s show sporting tire chains, which might turn out to be the latest version of eyeball-endangering spiked fork caps, spider web-shaped saddles, or other chopper clichés.

RK Concepts, RK Thing
For the second year in a row, Lebanese-born, Texas-based designer Rafik Kaissi built the most outrageous “bike” in the show. Despite using a 1000cc Aprilia V-twin engine for power, the three-wheeled RK Thing can hardly be classified as a motorcycle. A front suspension consisting of what appears to be steering dampers and screen door springs further pushes the Thing into the realm of 3D thought experiment.

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