2012 Dirtbag Challenge Biker Build-Off

A Day Among Dirtbags

By Ed Milich, Photography by Rebecca Hinden

Brown's favorite part of the event is the mandatory ride. "We used to require bikes just run the length of one city block. We expanded that to 120 miles, now, and I think it's benefitted the build quality. For me, the high point this year was charging up Tunitas Creek Road. When I got to the top of the hill and looked around at our pack of homemade café racers, I had a grin a mile wide. No money in the world can buy that feeling." There is no chase truck. Bring your own tool kit. It's all part of the fun.

The Dirtbag Challenge has evolved over the last five years that I've been paying attention. Hose clamps, zip ties, and gaffer's tape are being replaced with actual fabrication and craftsmanship. Brute force has given way to finesse. Call it a Dirtbag Renaissance. It's pure proof that you don't need lots of money to have fun on a bike.

Dad enjoyed himself, too. After the third or fourth burnout, I actually saw him smirk. Before he got all respectable, you know, pops wrenched on heavy trucks and tooled around Northeastern Ohio on a Harley "45" and a Whizzer. And I concluded correctly that he'd appreciate this mechanically mischievous yet fun-loving event. Now even Dad is down with the Dirtbags.

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