Check out Gotham Ducati, NYC's first and only official Desmo Owners Club

9th Annual Brooklyn Invitational Custom Motorcycle Show 2017

I stopped by North 14th Street with my buddy Eric last weekend for my fifth consecutive year attending the Brooklyn Invitational.
If you don't know, the Brooklyn Invitational Custom Motorcycle Show is a custom bike show in Greenpoint, Brooklyn each year, started less than a decade by custom motorcycle-builder Keino Sasaki, artist John Copeland and photographer Jeffrey Schad.

About 20 bikes are curated each year held in Root Studios, but often the most interesting bikes line up outside on 14th street, which attracts a grungy mixture of highly modified, Triumph, Harley-Davidson and other machines.

The most prevalent style is the chopper, bobber and brat (not a style to which I call myself a devotee), but if you can get past the "scene" and the amateur photographers (including me), there are some amazing bikes to be appreciated.
Walt Siegl "Superleggero"
Here are my recaps from the last several years:

Brooklyn Invitational Custom Bike Show 2013

6th Annual Brooklyn Invitational Custom Motorcycle Show 2014

Last year I didn't really take too many pictures, as a bunch of us were out riding up north, and the invitational crowd had dissipated except for the rowdiest bikers by the time I arrived. 

Keino Sasaki's Indian Scout Streamliner Bobber 
Indian actually sponsored the event, launching three new "bobber" motorcycles at the show.  Now that Victory is out of the way, Indian seems to be reclaiming the mantle of innovative American motorcycles, with competitive flat-track racers, to modernizing the American post-war bike fervor of the chopper / bobber era. 

The Show:

Despite going on for close to a decade, the Brooklyn Invitational still has a fairly disorganized and "pop-up" feel,
with everything from irreverent t-shirts to ink on-demand, to commemorate the event. 
As a sportbike rider and unabashed Ducati enthusiast, I get some queer looks showing up with Dainese gear instead of sleeve tattoos, but it's all worthwhile when I walk in and see one of my favorite motorcycles, one of Walt Siegl's "Leggero" custom Ducati 900S bikes.  
Siegl was actually at the event, and though I profiled his legendary MV Agusta Bol D'Or at the Brooklyn Invitational a few years ago, the Leggero is one of the greatest custom bikes of all time.
I had a chance to chat with Stuart Parr, an antique Italian motorcycle collector with whom I coordinated an epic bike night at his "Art of the Italian Two-Wheel" exhibit a few years ago, who was checking on one of his MV Agusta 750S Grand Prix bike below. 
Stuart mentioned he's planning an upcoming Art of the Italian Two Wheel event as part of Art Basel in Miami, and I hope I'm not breaking any news here-- but that he just bought the entire Laverda Museum in Holland and plans to move the entire collection to the United States,!!
The museum was a collection of over 80 Laverda motorcycles, prototypes and assorted memorabilia and collectibles.  I can't wait to see what he does with it! 
Among the cooler bikes was this "hand start"
(---yes, that's what that lever is for on the side)
BSA "The Manipulated" MadHouseMotors.
This custom Harley was neat, but after chatting with the builder, he mentioned that the bike
had never and likely would not start, leaving me with a queasy existential feeling that an assemblage of recognizable parts (however cool) don't actually qualify as a motorcycle.
This custom Harley was designed Eric's buddy from Buffalo,
and most of the parts he fabricated and machined himself.
There was a big focus on Indian machines,
and American bikes. 

I snapped a bunch of pics, 
and the show is definitely getting a bit more organized,
(if not a bit more corporate)
and it's great to see such works
of love and engineering,
get their place in the sun. 
I took a few videos, 
and headed back outside for the real action.

The Mayhem: 

There were just as many custom bikes lining 14th Street as there were outside. 
This custom "HarDley" Davidon was stretched and low.
A cool custom bike.. but I couldn't imagine cornering the thing.


Hanging out with Jim from Works Engineering,
 they had a couple cool flat-track bikes outside,
 and a couple side-car racers.

Apparently one of the mechanics race vintage sidecars.
As the day wore on, 
the bikers go rowdier,

and a greater chance to crash.
As dusk approached, I didn't stay too long,
and wished the Hell's Angels NYC adieu, 
took a few more bike art shots.
admiring a number of rides that I never would,
like this "Ghetto Blaster" chopper,
some cool Triumphs
and Harley Davidsons.

© 2017 Tigh Loughhead


Rides gone by...