Photographer: Steve West
Photographer: Steve West

The Craziest Bikes From the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show

Each year in April, hundreds of scoundrels, ruffians, artists, and oglers—and everyone in between—gather in Austin for the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show. The centerpiece event is the Wall of Death, where stuntmen ride motorcycles around a vertical wooden wall with the proverbial greatest of ease. But the rest of the weekend, characterized by galleries full of the most bespoke, creative, and unusual motorcycles in the world, is what keeps everyone coming back. Here’s more of what we saw.
Motorcycle Market
Motorcycle Market

The Fair Market in downtown Austin, just outside the show, which attracts thousands of viewers, riders, artists, and stuntmen.

Photographer: Steve West

Modified Honda CB750
Modified Honda CB750

A Honda CB750 by J. Webster Designs. Organizers of the show said the goal is to celebrate motorcycle design and “the satisfaction of creation inherent in the craft.”

Photographer: Steve West

Revival Team Members
Revival Team Members

Workers from Revival Cycles spent hours setting up bikes for the show. Renowned builders who featured work in this year’s event included Max Hazan, Roland Sands, Shinya Kimura, and Walt Siegl.

Photographer: Steve West

Vintage Ducati
Vintage Ducati

A customized Ducati 860 made by Bryan Heidt of Atlanta-based Fuller Moto, a complete design shop that sells accessories and gear as well as motorbikes.

Photographer: Steve West

Custom Racer
Custom Racer

This board track racer was custom-made by Jon MacDowell in a small shop called Bonneville Customs, in Idaho Falls. 

Photographer: Steve West

Custom Moto Guzzi
Custom Moto Guzzi

A custom Moto Guzzi built by Cliff Fisher, who owns Stasis Motorcycles. Fisher has also worked on Thruxtons and other Scrambler-type bikes. 

Photographer: Steve West

Vintage Excelsior
Vintage Excelsior

A vintage Excelsior motorcycle. Excelsior was a British maker of bicycles, motorcycles, and autos that started production of a motorized bike in 1896. It last made motorcycles in 1964.

Photographer: Steve West

The Crowd of Fans
The Crowd of Fans

At the third annual Handbuilt Motorcycle Show in downtown Austin. There’s no theme of specific motorcycle brands or types that attend. Rather, the spectrum runs from crazy one-offs to customized versions of well-known brands including BMW, Harley-Davidson, and Honda.

Photographer: Steve West

Olds Motor Replica
Olds Motor Replica

A replica board tracker from Olds Motor Vehicle, which was founded by Ransom Olds in 1897 and eventually became General Motors’ Oldsmobile brand.

Photographer: Steve West

Harley-Davidson Shovelhead
Harley-Davidson Shovelhead

A Harley-Davidson Shovelhead by Kim Boyle of Boyle Custom Moto, which closed its entire shop to attend the show. Boyle has created many special bikes, including an SR500, vintage Harleys, and a Norton café racer. Last year he made a white 1978 BMW R100/7 for the Handbuilt Show.

Photographer: Steve West

Stunt Riders Prepare
Stunt Riders Prepare

Stunt rider Charlie Ransom from American Motor Drome’s Wall of Death preps his bike for the wild ride. The Wall of Death is a tall, 30-foot-wide wooden cylinder; daredevils perform tricks and acrobatic riding inside its walls.

Photographer: Steve West

The Wall of Death
The Wall of Death

Ransom is the most famous rider of the Wall of Death. He uses antique Indian and Harley-Davidson motorcycles; others ride hand-built four-wheel racing machines around the edges.

Photographer: Steve West

Amy’s Twisted Bobber
Amy’s Twisted Bobber

Amy’s Twisted Bobber, made by Timothy Scates, was named after Scates’s daughter. A “bobber” motorcycle is a bike that’s been stripped of any superfluous parts and components so that it’s superlight and looks very minimal.

Photographer: Steve West

Tintype Photographs
Tintype Photographs

A gallery of tintype photographs by Paul d’Orléans, who runs the well-known motorcycle blog the Vintagent.

Photographer: Steve West

Custom Yamaha XS650
Custom Yamaha XS650

A customized Yamaha XS650 made by Heath Reed of River Rat Cycles. Yamaha made the model from 1968 to 1979, and when the bike premiered it had the most advanced engine configuration in its class.

Photographer: Steve West

Apparel
Apparel

Attendees could buy apparel from Revival Cycles at the show in Austin. The company repairs, services, and designs motorcycles, and also sells gear and products. 

Photographer: Steve West

Custom Triumph
Custom Triumph

A custom Triumph outfitted by Iacona Custom Cycles. The initial British brand has been making motorcycles since 1902.

Photographer: Steve West

A Walt Siegl Bike
A Walt Siegl Bike

An MV Agusta Bol d’Or by Walt Siegl Motorcycles. Siegl is an Austrian national who builds bikes in Harrisville, N.H. He started designing motorcycles in 2007 and still races V-twin engine bikes when he has the time.

Photographer: Steve West

Kids Learn the Ropes
Kids Learn the Ropes

Charlie Ransom shows a little guy the basics of trick riding.

Photographer: Steve West

Full Parking
Full Parking

Outside the 2016 Handbuilt Show in downtown Austin. Bikers lined their best motorcycles for blocks to show off, compare, learn, and network with other riders and enthusiasts.

Photographer: Steve West