The Handbuilt Motorcycle Show 2019: Top Picks
Since its inception in 2014, The Handbuilt Motorcycle Show has grown into one of the most recognized custom motorcycle shows worldwide. Hosted by local Austin-based Revival Cycles, The Handbuilt Motorcycle Show pulls in top custom builds from around the globe. Builders such as Roland Sands, Walt Siegl, Bryan Fuller, Craig Rodsmith, Cristian Sosa, and deBolox Engineering were all represented at the 2019 show.
Taking place over the same weekend that MotoGP comes to Austin to race at the Circuit of the Americas, The Handbuilt Show is a no brainer. There’s no doubt that the surge of motorcycle enthusiasts arriving in town for MotoGP helped the show gain traction, but now in its 6th year, the event can surely stand on its own.
In past years the “Wall of Death” was a big draw, and a wild spectacle for first timers especially. In 2019, there was no Wall of Death; instead, the RSD Super Hooligans National Championship – set up in a nutty TT-style course – was added to the bill. The Super Hooligans have been here in years past, but never in the TT dirtless fashion.
Take an already fun town, cram it full of motorcycle nuts, add a hangar full of custom motorcycles, Super Hooligan racing, and booze (for the spectators, of course), and you’ve got a recipe for a good time. For those who weren’t there, I’ve narrowed it down to 14 of my favorite builds from this year’s show.
In no particular order:
1. Custom Works Zon’s Departed BMW
The first build based around BMW’s new prototype 1800cc engine and transmission, Japan’s Custom Works Zon built a truss-style frame around the engine with oversized wheels (22-inch +) and minimal bodywork to let the new massive boxer take center stage. There was always a crowd around this one at the show. More here.
2. Craig Rodsmith’s The Killer
Craig Rodsmith is an amazing personality. Such a fun-loving goofball in person or on camera, it’s easy to forget that he is such a talented builder. He’s the kind of guy who will build anything, making something amazing from old discarded materials. When Bobby Haas challenged him to build a front wheel drive (three-cylinder engine) art deco bike without the aid of CNC, Rodsmith was up for the challenge.
3. Gregor Halenda’s BMW R 100 GS Dakar
Taking my top spot for the bike in the “I want to steal and ride out of here” category, Gregor Halenda’s BMW R 100 GS Dakar dual-tanked, all-aluminum, air-cooled, dirt-loving beast looks all too fun. I want to ride it now!!
4. Sosa Metalworks’ Harley-Davidson Panhead
Cristian Sosa is a metal work master. Always going raw/unpainted so his work can speak for itself. Not usually a Harley fan myself, this 1950 Harley-Davidson Panhead was mesmerizing with amazing craftsmanship and details everywhere!
5. Suicide Machine Co’s Husqvarna 701 Supermoto
This beautiful was fresh and clean when it got to the show but on Saturday, Aaron Guardado of SMCO (Suicide Machine Co) couldn’t resist pulling it out of the show to race in the Super Hooligan races. How cool is that? Going from show bike, to race bike, then back!
6. Walt Siegl Motorcycles’ Ducati Superbike
Walt Siegl is a master builder and this is one of his finest to date. The WSM SBK #1 took the WSM team over three years to create and a beautiful blend of timeless design with modern technology.
7. Moto Mucci’s KTM 300 XC-W Six Days
David Mucci got his start as a Transportation and Industrial Design student and I’m a big fan of his work. He definitely takes a unique approach and comes up with some pretty bold designs. This little KTM 300 XC-W Six Days underwent quite a transformation.
8. Paul Hartman’s Triumph Bonneville Flat Tracker
I almost overlooked this little beauty as it was kind of crammed into the corner. Upon further inspection, I found a fully race-ready flat tracker. This motorcycle is making me want another Bonneville!
9. Revival’s BMW Birdcage
Built by Revival, the hosts of The Handbuilt Motorcycle Show, this bike truly was one of the most interesting, and challenging, builds here. At first glance, it might be easy to overlook the level of craftsmanship that went into this bike, but I can assure you it’s staggering. Too much to get into here – read our full feature here.
10. Walt Seigl Motorcycles’ Bedeviled Ducati Racer
Yes, I’m aware that I pulled two of Walt Siegl’s bikes in the list. What can I say? I’m a huge fan of his work. To me, he mixes raw power, vintage lines and complete cleanliness in his builds. This build was commissioned by the Haas Moto Museum to push the limits of WSM’s acclaimed racer-style craftsmanship. This old Ducati bevel kills it for me.
11. Merlin Cycleworks’ Honda CB350 Cafe Racer
Having built a frame-up Honda CB350 myself, this one struck a chord it might not have otherwise. Builder Mark Kouri did some solid work in-house; the engine was over-bored 2mm with new pistons and cams, updated the front end with Suzuki GSX-R750 forks and all-aluminum bodywork.
12. Palhegyi Design’s Yamaha TZ750 Tracker
Stunning and frightening at the same time, the Yamaha TZ750 is one of those motorcycles that gets the blood flowing just looking at it. Even King Kenny famously said, ”They don’t pay me enough to ride that thing,” upon winning the 1975 Indy Mile on a motorcycle with an over-powered liquid-cooled, four-cylinder, two-stroke 750cc engine designed for road racing. Builder Jeff Palhegyi has rebuilt a number of these machines and does it in expert fashion.
13. Colt Wrangler Motorcycles’ KTM Duke 390
Another bike that looks like a damn good time to ride was Colt Wrangler’s KTM Duke 390. Raw, post-apocalyptic aesthetics, a custom subframe and seat, chunky tires, and a flat number plate style headlights make this build appear ready for action. Frenched into the tank was a large eight-inch LCD gauge – a unique touch.
14. Dustin Kott’s BMW R 80
Kott Motorcycles are known for their striking CB cafe racers. Lately, Dustin has been mixing it up with a number of BMWs. He also built Ryan Reynolds a lovely Triumph Thruxton but this raw R 80 was pretty epic. The dual upswept exhaust going under the lower aluminum fairing and ending under tail was a nice touch.
This is just a small spattering of amazing builds at this year’s The Handbuilt Motorcycle Show. No disrespect meant to builds not selected in my list above. It’s just one of those shows you really do need to see for yourself. Book your trip to Austin for next year. If you start now you might actually be able to find an affordable ticket. Thanks for reading and we’ll see you there!
Photography by Patrick Flynn