Easy-Riding RUBs

What do ape-hangers, springers, canucks, pans, and evos have in common? They are a few of the possible components of a V-twin motorcycle. The V-twin, an internal combustion engine that earned its name from the "V" formed by two 45-degree offset cylinders, was invented by Indian motorcycles in 1903. Harley-Davidson introduced its version of the V-twin in 1909. "All of the bikes in our shows are V-twins, though we do allow early British bikes and Triumphs," says Bruce Henderson, competition coordinator for the Easyriders V-Twin Bike Show. The show will be held in San Diego on October 29, the penultimate stop of the tour. Competition for top honors will be held in Houston the following weekend.

Serving as a musical backdrop to the vast display of gleaming metal will be the band Blackberry Smoke. "They don't play a lot of original music; they play a lot of cover stuff because that's what people want to hear," says Henderson. "The first song they play will be 'Orange Blossom Special' by Johnny Cash because I tell them, 'I want that to be my first song.'" Other crowd pleasers are songs by Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, and Alabama.

Motorcycle builders and enthusiasts may enter one of two categories: Spectator (winners determined by popular vote) or Judged. Each category is broken into classes. The Spectator's Early Riders class, or Old School, includes antique bikes or bikes that have been built recently but resemble the classic chopper. "A Biker [class] bike is generally going to have higher handle bars, be chopped up a little bit, look hard core, and have a rigid frame," says Henderson. "[I just saw a bike] in Phoenix -- it was a new-looking bike, but it was built hard core. It had a coffin engine [or engine shaped and painted to resemble a coffin]."

Bikes that belong in the Easyriders class are "more custom, with cut-down frames or frames that have been chopped in front so the handlebars set a little lower, with gas tanks curved to match the frames." The In the Wind class is for bikers who travel long distances or like their ride to be cushy. "In the Wind [class] bikes have more padded seats, saddlebags, and sometimes they have floorboards."

The Judged category includes Street Custom bikes, Antique Early Riders, Specialty bikes, and Radical bikes. "The Radical class is for more hard-core bikes. It's like the Biker class, but much more customized. [I've seen] a gas tank made to look like a dragon's head, spikes coming off the seat -- specialty stuff."

Henderson remembers a bike that recently took first place in the Radical class. "One of the things that caught the judge's eye is [that] everything was all indented -- you can't buy them molded like this. It was black on one side of the tortoise-shell gas tank, and it was all indented, pounded in [evenly]. It takes a good metal-man to do that and keep it smooth. There was a springer front end, which is a slick deal."

Celebrity bike builders will be in attendance to show their creations and judge the competition. Ron Finch (who started his custom-bike-building company in 1965) "has been known to relocate the gas tank to the rear fender, the floorboards, or even the saddlebags." Billy Lane (who won the 2002 Best of Show award for his psychobilly Cadillac bike, featuring a hubless wheel) is known for his appearances on the Great Biker Build-Off series on the Discovery Channel. Aaron Greene of Paramount Custom Cycles, Kim Suter of KC Creations, and Paul Yaffe of Paul Yaffe Originals will be at the show.

Henderson refers to people who purchase and custom build Harleys as a hobby as "RUBs," or rich urban bikers. "An inexpensive bike in our show is a $25,000 bike, and they can easily go up to $250,000. You've got to have some money to compete in the bike-show world." For professional bike builders, competitions like this come with the job. "One of the biggest boosts they can get is to win an award at an Easyriders show. If they get best-of-show they get featured in a magazine, and they want that exposure."

A fashion show will feature mostly T-shirts, modeled by members of the Purrfect Angelz. "They are a group of professional dancers, actresses, Playboy models, and ex-professional cheerleaders out of L.A. There are 46 of them, but 5 of them come to every show to [perform] choreographed dance routines to music and display our shirts that we sell." The day after the show's finale in Houston, members of the Purrfect Angelz will rendezvous in Iraq, where they will entertain U.S. troops for a second time. -- Barbarella

Easyriders Bike Show Tour 2005 Saturday, October 29 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. San Diego Convention Center 111 West Harbor Drive Downtown Cost: $15 adult; $7 children 5-12 Info: 800-962-9857 or www.easyridersevents.com

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