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The lack of custom-motorbike shows in the UK

Bikes Culture

There seems to be a distinct lack of custom-build motorcycle shows in the UK, forcing enthusiasts to travel to Europe for their fix, but why is that? Danni Bagnall does some probing…

Here in the UK, we are pretty lucky to be blessed with some awesome pockets of custom bike enthusiasts scattered across our beautiful country, but we’re not so blessed in the way of bike shows and I can’t for the life of me fathom why.

For years now, the custom bike scene in the UK has been a hive of activity, with individuals, along with custom-bike builders such as Attitude Cycles, The Bike Shed and Sickboyz Customs building some fascinating and phenomenal machines. If you attended the House of Vans Assembly Chopper Show back in July you’ll know what I’m talking about.

And that’s just it, the Assembly Chopper Show is really the only fully-fledged show we have in the UK to show off our custom-built motorcycles to the masses but even that is full of pre-approved metal only. Granted, you’re guaranteed the best of the best, but as an enthusiast myself I think it’d be nice to be able to talk to and pick the brains of all walks of two-wheel fanatics. I personally attended the 2018 Assembly Chopper Show and it definitely lived up to the hype – see my ramblings on it, here – but it did leave me wondering about everyone who came. It was crazy busy and being a bit of a people watcher I wondered what everyone’s background was – a musing as to what they had in their garage… in the way of two-wheel porn only, of course.

The car scene in the UK, however, is completely different; the calendar is chock-a-block from around March time to October, every single year, with events ranging from dedicated marque shows, the celebration of specific models or automotive eras, and various other (often somewhat bizarre) themes etc. and the list goes on. Some follow a pre-approved structure, but more often than not it’s a turn up and show kind of gig. Which I can’t help feel is much more relaxed and affords a more varied display. Yes, there’ll be some utter shit try and get in, but I guess that’s what the people on the gate are for; take their money and escort them straight to the car park vibes. But why is it not the same for the UK motorcycle scene? I realise the bike scene is a much smaller affair than the car scene but surely that’s exactly the pull and attraction to attend?! The joining of what is a close-knit community of people sharing the same passion, often building their bikes at home in their garage.

Speaking to a close friend of mine and somewhat well-known custom-bike builder, Jay Shepherd, from Hertfordshire – owner of the pink 69 Shovel over at last year’s House of Vans Assembly Chopper Show – he tells me social media outlets such as Instagram have been great for bringing those people together, but does feel the scene is lacking some more UK shows which can be ridden to.

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More often than not, the diehard enthusiasts take their bikes across to Europe for huge shows such as the Matchlight Motorcycle Show in The Netherlands, the Art and Wheels show in Switzerland, or the Wheels and Waves festival in Biarritz, France. All huge European shows. And while Euro shows are awesome, bringing more of the world together to bask in the same obsession, it’d be nice to have a bit more choice on home turf. Jay also helps to organise The Hook Up show – now in its fourth year – over in South Wales, which is limited to 250 tickets.

It’s safe to say that the UK needs some more excuses for two-wheelers to get together, so I propose this; we pull together to organise another opportunity for not only the custom-build enthusiasts to showcase their handy work but something where all two-wheel obsessives can share their passion, whether they arrive on two-wheels or not.

If there’s anyone seriously interested, hit me up @dannibagnall on Instagram or Twitter and let’s try and make something happen!