For the second year in a row the World Championship of Custom Bike Building, held annually during the Black Hills Motorcycle Rally at Sturgis, shows custom bike trends migrating even further away from traditional V-twin choppers. Young builders using unconventional powerplants, superbike technology and styling cues cribbed from cafe racers, art-deco automobiles and elsewhere are creating a new breed of no-rules customs that any motorcycle enthusiast can appreciate. Here are three of 2011's most outrageous entries.
1ST PLACE, PERFORMANCE CUSTOM
With its steel perimeter frame wrapping around a breadbox-style fuel tank, AFT Customs' green-on-green "Sentoh" is reminiscent of Honda's very first streetbike, the Model D, sold exclusively in Japan in the early 1950s. The inline-four engine comes from another iconic Honda model, the 1970 CB750, while Race Tech shocks, a Yamaha R1 fork and Beringer brakes grant modern cafe-racing credibility.
2ND PLACE, FREESTYLE
From the unlikely combination of a 1951 BSA Gold Star single and a pair of 17-inch Talon supermoto wheels, British builder Larry Houghton of Lamb Engineering created the stunning "Son of a Gun." The delicate framework is recycled bits of scrap steel, and the bodywork is inspired by '60s-era Honda GP bikes. Don't let the gold metalflake paint fool you-Houghton has less than $10K invested in the entire build.
3RD PLACE, PERFORMANCE CUSTOM
Steampunk meets supercross in Lebanese-born, Texas-based Rafik Kaissi's "Spring Frame." Powered by a 450cc Yamaha motocross motor set atop a minimalist mainframe that doubles as a leaf spring rear suspension, the RK Concepts machine is one of the most bizarre bikes we've ever seen. The fork is also leafspring suspended, and the finned fuel tank and fold-up tractor saddle deliver a decidedly turn-of-the-last-century look.