A Look Back At Born Free 6
A Look Back At Born Free 6 - Saturday
Born Free 7 is right around the corner and with only a few weeks away I thought to myself what better way to get stoked on the biggest motorcycle show in the states and possibly the world then relive last year's show through some photos I have never posted anywhere before.
The lost archive per se, that or I was just too lazy and had no reason to put them together anywhere until now. Born Free to me is the most overwhelming and beautiful take on motorcycles, the builders, and the over all culture. The whole show is so well put together; it truly is the Mecca of all motorcycle shows in my eyes. Every which way you turn your head there is some type of amazing bike, or tank art just gleaming in the California sun. It's the perfect setting for a motorcycle show.
I walked around the entire show grounds last year probably 5 or more times and I was still able to discover something new every single time I turned my head. Not to mention that if you walked out to the general parking area there was over 18,000 bikes in attendance from all over the world.
To walk around and see so many different state and countries' license plates probably was one of the coolest things at the show to see. Also seeing all the ingenuity and craftsmanship put into so many styles of bikes by everyone that came to the show, makes your brain fill instantly with envy and thoughts of how you want to make your bike better or build something new all together.
Born Free just gives off this inspirational feeling all weekend long that I wouldn't trade for the world. See you in a few weeks Cali, but until then I will stare at these photos to get pumped for the show. Here is a ton of photos from day one, I'll put up day two next week. Hope you enjoy them!
Sunday at Born Free 6 was a lot more laid back for me personally. My friend Walter from Kickstart gave me a press pass and told me to come super early on the second day to shoot the invited builder's bikes before the crowd rushed in. I remember waking up super early that morning, excited like it was Christmas Day or something; I looked out the window and got pretty bummed.
It looked like it was going to rain really hard, gloomy, and not looking like it was going to be a good day. Then I remembered I was in California, where every day has this weird overcast till about 10 or 11am sometimes even longer. It was an interesting ride by myself to the grounds, a bit chilly and that overwhelming feeling like I was about to get poured on by the biggest storm. Even though I knew it was just the dumb overcast. As I pulled up to the gate, I flashed my fancy press pass. They let me in the gates as if I belonged and I went straight to work.
The craftsmanship, details, and hard work that went into all of the invited builder bikes was absolutely out of this world. I could only imagine the time and care that went into every single bike. Each and every single guy that was invited last year put forth some of the most innovative techniques and skills together to create stuff no one has ever seen and yet completely functional and they looked like real bikes that anyone normal person could ride.
It blows my mind still to this very day to see there are endless possibilities when it comes to the way a motorcycle can look and function. I feel like with cars you can't get that unless you had a million dollar team working round the clock to make something new. Here it can be one, two, or even three friends in a backyard garage and they can create a masterpiece out of sheet metal, two wheels and an old tractor motor. It's insane to me to even think about this as I am writing it now.
It was so nice to actually be able to sit there and stare at all the invited builder's bikes without a million arms, butts, and legs in the way of your view and shot. I just can't say enough when it comes to how much every single bike blew my mind. It was also super fun dreaming about winning one and which one I would have chosen if I had actually won. The guy that did win the previous day did make an excellent choice on Ryan Mullion's Triumph Trike. It's so clean and looks like a ton of fun to rip around.
After the sun finally came out I took a few more pictures of the over all show but I really just drank in the whole atmosphere. I wanted to have a few memories for myself as selfish as that sounds. Born Free is so large it is absolutely impossible to see everything in one day let alone two. I feel it is even more impossible to find people. My wife Kat and I played the telephone game to different vendor booths as we lost each other countless times.
“Hey Mikey, Kat is over at the Biltwell booth” , I would go there and then they would tell me “Oh she said she was going to the VNM table.” This went on for a long pretty long time. With no cell phone service, it got to be quite annoying but in the end I look back at it now and it is pretty funny. I met a ton of great people and got to see a ton of friends I have met over the years. Over all it was a pretty perfect second day.
A Look Back At Born Free 7
Born Free will forever be the mecca of all shows in the United States when it comes to vintage and custom motorcycles. I cheated this year and flew out but it gave me 4 great days of fun! This was my second year attending, I knew a little more about what to expect but I still couldn't get rid of that overwhelming feeling you get while walking the grounds during the days of the show.
It's just so surreal to walk through a sea of bikes with license plates ranging from all over the world. I felt a little more at home this year though and pretty much knew where everything was located for the most part. I was lucky enough to get inside a couple days ahead of the show to check out most of the invited builder's bikes. Also, I was able to witness the show set up and tear down; there is a lot that goes into making this show what it is. A huge THANK YOU to Mike Davis and Grant Peterson for all their hard work each and every year, their hospitality and their friendship.
Mike Vallely and Revolution Mother played the party as well! I geeked out a little, because skateboarding has been my whole life before motorcycles! They even ended their set with a few of my favorite Black Flag songs!!! It was an over-all awesome party!!
First Day Awards:
JP Rodman won Show Class People's Champ with this amazing and art inspired Shovelhead. I watched this build for months on social media, words can't describe how happy I was to see him win!
Richard Minino won the Art & Fuel Paint contest with an amazing paint, mold combo. Super glad to see him win. He's an amazing artist and great friend!
Dalton Walker took third place with his free hanging Panhead hybrid digger. That bike was absolutely insane, a masterpiece really, and one of my favorite bikes there. It made jaws drop all weekend long.
Arie VanSchyndel took second place with his rendition of a 1950 Panhead he saw in a David Mann painting. It was pretty amazing and the details where flawless from the painting.
Oliver Jones took the top prize with his 107 Cubic Inch Generator Shovelhead. It's one hell of a lane-splitting, high-stance, aggressive, and extremely innovative machine. Not to forget to mention the see-through primary, head, and trans cases, carbon fiber in the paint, and killer one-off wheels you can't find anywhere else. Oliver is a friend of mine and when he won I couldn't have been more stoked to see his face filled with emotion. Seeing his hard work being recognized by his fellow peers was inspiration to everyone. Well-deserved!!!!
They raffled off not one, but three bikes on the first day this year. They gave two H-D Lowriders to one very lucky person and a Pabst Evo Sportster by Speed Merchant to another lucky show attendee!
Israel Cortes won two bikes!!! A 2015 and 1977 Harley-Davidson Lowrider.
Edward Givis took home the PBR Speed Merchant Evo Sportster. The funniest part about this dude winning, was he was in a porta-john when they called his name.
The entire day was extremely fun, laid back and just a little on the warm side. I couldn't have had a better time anywhere else. If you have never been to a Born Free show, I highly suggest to make plans to attend in the near future. I promise it will bring memories for a lifetime! Till next year! Cheers!
-All words and photos by
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A Look Back At Born Free 8
Rhett Rotten showing off his skills before his Wall of Death routine at Born Free 8 to the patiently waiting crowd.
Born Free 8 was one to remember forever, it keeps on getting bigger, better, and even crazier. From over the top and amazing builds from this years invited, to death-defying stunts by Rhett Rotten and Death Riders Inc. on The Wall of Death. It's no wonder thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts travel from all over the world to experience this all-encompassing show. Let's take a look at some of this past weekends festivities.
Friday, Show Class Magazine People's Champ Pre-party
The festivities over the past few years always start out at Cook's Corner. A small bar just outside the Born Free show grounds. Show Class Magazine has thrown the People's Champ contest pre-party there the past few years. What is the People's Champ you ask? It's a social media competition where the average joe builder can make a name for themselves. They submit photos of their latest builds through out the past few months, people vote for their favorites and the final 6 get a chance to win an actual spot into the invited Born Free area. The final voting is by everyone who attends the Cook's Corner Pre-party. Here are the 6 finalists.
Reuben Mcchancey's Harley-Davidson Panhead, People's Champ 4 finalist.
Reece Zylstra Harley-Davidson Evo Big Twin with a dual magneto set up, People's Champ 4 finalist.
Vince Nygra's beautiful Harley-Davidson Shovelhead with an all original up sweep frame. People's Champ 4 finalist.
Louie Hartley's crazy purple Harley-Davidson Panhead. People's Champ finalist.
Jake and Jesse Keough's Harley-Davidson Shovelhead is killing it in the length department. People's Champ finalist.
Through out the day hundreds of bikes jammed in and out of Cook's Corner.
A sea of bikes at Cook's Corner.
This is such an amazing Sportster! With great stance, amazing exhaust, hand made seat pan fender combo and hood on the front, this bike has some real style.
People rolling in from all over the country on some of the most brilliant bikes.
Really simple and neat Sportster. It was really great to see so many women riders.
The stance on this Harley-Davidson Shovelhead is out of control and really amazing.
I think my favorite part about Cook's Corner's pre-party is checking out all the tank art. You can walk down the line of bikes and every other bike has something amazing painted on the tank.
The winner of the 2016 Show Class Magazine People's Champ is... Daril Borba! Congrats again Daril.
Daril Borba celebrating an emotional win. He told me he built his Panhead in his backyard and the paint was done by a friend in a backyard garage. Just an average guy taking top prize! So Cool.
Darill Borba's immaculate Harley-Davidson Panhead. People's Champ 4 winner.
Saturday, First Day Of Born Free 8
The gates opened early this year and you wouldn't believe the amount of bikes that filled not one but three lots. People flocked to the Invited builder section to get there first looks at this year's wild creations. I watched people's faces in awe as they looked over the unreal amount of talent this year's builders brought to the table. To be honest every single person in the show set the bar even higher than last year's builds.
Matt Machine built this crazy Harley-Davidson WL. Watch your eye on that sissy bar. The artistic talents are shown really well on in his metal work and a really great visual from all angles.
Big Truth and Jay Medeiros from Choppahead absolutely killed it on this Triumph. The chrome and gold combo with the light blue paint really makes this bike pop. Big Truth said they were making a bike that represents their style, they could do something off the wall and crazy but it wouldn't be them. They took home the "Best British Bike" award.
Jim Harper executed this 1940 Harley-Davidson UL flawlessly. Clean lines and done with great sense of taste.
Jake and Zack Hindes fabrication skills on this 1941 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead are unreal. Everything was made by hand, they even made their own molds for forging the front end.
Uwe Ehinger from Hamburg Germany talked to me for a while about his Harley-Davidson Knucklehead build. The patina and detail on the motor, the tires, the paint, so much passion from one man and it shows in this build.
Jason Sheets has one of the greatest eyes for old bikes. Check out this 1936 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead, and the super tiny gas tank!
Justin Walls from Columbus, OH built this beautiful alcohol only running 1927 Harley-Davidson JD. He fired it up a few times and it sounded like a gun going off over and over again, so loud.
Andy Carter from Pangea Speed has his design on lock with this sick Harley-Davidson Shovelhead. The small details on this bike really take the cake, from the little devil guy on inter tube to the footboard on the casing.
Kiyo Mitsuhiro of Kiyo's Garage in Gardena, California, USA won 1st place with this Dual engine Honda CB750 race bike. It was so awesome to see this bike from the beginning stages and now to see it not only finished but win Born Free 8. He will be racing it next month at El Mirage, and we can't wait to see how fast he goes!
The mad man him self JP Rodman and his groovy Harley-Davidson Knucklehead trike. There is so much to look at and so much time and effort that went into this build. You can tell that Jp put all of his heart into this build.
I don't know what it is about 4Q Conditioning / Max Schaaf's builds, they have a timeless style. This Harley-Davidson Panhead has ic style and perfect in every way. Just extremely clean lines and looks like a bike you could ride forever, an instant ic.
Joe Lingley's 1947 Indian Chief, stunning and y with just the right amount of patina. The fork tubes are a nice touch to this and the tires make the stance perfect.
Aaron and Shawn Gurdado thinking outside the box and building one really awesome Harley-Davidson 750 Street. The frame and seat pan look absolutely incredible on this bike.
Arie Vee just knows how to make a proper chopper. Love everything about this Harley-Davidson Knucklehead. Check out the German helmet oil tank and those handlebars. Arie took home 2nd place with this build, he won second with last year's build as well.
Bryan Thompson built this super clean Pre-Unit Triumph.
Matt Jackson's ic style can be seen in this Harley-Davidson Panhead chopper. The tangerine color looks so good and flows amazingly with the pipes, set off by the thin black flames.
Jeff Leighton's 1942 Harley-Davidson UL took home 3rd place at Born Free 8. Those pipes are insanely cool and the engine in spotless.
Tim Vander's 1961 Harley-Davidson Panhead is looking good with the twisted sissy bar, internal throttle and narrow 21 inch front wheel.
Aki Sakamoto of Hogkillers doing things different in this flashy, but performance-built, Harley-Davidson.
Daril Borba's 1949 Harley-Davidson Panhead and Show Class Magazine People's Champ winner!
Jay Hart's 1937 Harley-Davidson WLDR. Not sure I have ever seen this motor before. Pretty awesome!
Ryan Grossman's 1947 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead took home the "People's Choice" and "Best Chopper" awards at Born Free 8. Love the oil tank integrated into the rear fender, which was made from a Lowbrow Customs Manta Ray Fender.
Jeremiah Armenta built not one but two Harley-Davidson Knuckleheads. What is cooler than a hillclimber Knucklehead getting transported on race day by another Knucklehead? Both riding and running bikes oozing style and patina!
Oliver Jones killed it yet again with this amazing Harley-Davidson EVO Big Twin. His style is the chopper of a new era and he always brings fresh design to his builds.
Go Takamine's 1939 Indian Sport Scout. Go's shop is named Brat Style, and funny enough has been co-opted by custom motorcycle fans all over the globe as it's own style under the same name, 'Brat Style'.
Matt Walksler's 1928 Harley-Davidson JDH-XR. Matt is part of Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, NC. The chrome tank and fender make this bike extremely clean and different.
Last but certainly not least Dalton Walker's brilliant Classic car Triumph combo. This turned more heads than any other thing in the show. All I can think to myself every time I look at is, "How did he have enough time do all this?". The fabrication, the perfect lines, and the design were all flawless. You could stare at this thing for hours and still find something new to look at.
Just when you thought you couldn't see any more amazing bikes, the general parking area throws you a curve ball and you realize it's full of even more amazing vintage bikes, choppers, diggers and trackers. Sometimes you even find a bike and wonder why it isn't in the actual show as well. I love seeing people's renditions of what they think a motorcycle should look like and or function like, it's like our DNA, no two are truly alike.
The Pan-American in one piece, with not a single problem on it's cross country voyage to find it's spot at the S&S Cycle's booth.
Just a small part of the show grounds.
Just lounging and keeping cool on a beautiful Shovelhead. This bike has a really great springer front end and extremely clean.
Show patrons taking a break and doing whatever they can to keep out of the California blazing sun.
Did I forget to mention there is tons of beer!
Just a few amazing choppers in a sea of more choppers. Turn your head one way see an amazing bike, turn your head another and see 20 more just as good. Born Free is the mecca of custom bikes.
At the end of the day, Grant Peterson and Mike Davis give out the first days awards and also give one lucky show attendee a bike via a raffle drawling. This year's bike give away was a 1953 Panhead built by Chopper Dave.
Mason Burke wasn't the first name called to win. The first person never showed, he had his doubts and wasn't even paying attention when Grant called out his name. His friend standing next to him pushed him in shock saying "Dude they called your name!". I met Mason in Vancouver last year, such an amazing dude and to see the raw and utter emotions pouring from his face from winning was amazing to see. This couldn't have happened to a better dude.
This is what winning a 1953 Harley-Davidson Panhead feels like. Thanks Twila for bringing a model to the party!
Sunday, Second Day Of Born Free 8
There is just a copious amount of things to do and see at Born Free and completely overwhelming if you have never been there before. Make sure to plan to go a second day if you have never gone, just to catch up and see anything you may have missed. I'm truly grateful I got to back for Sunday because I'm missed out completely on the art and fuel section, most of the vendor area and Rhett Rotten's Wall of Death show the first day.
If you missed the Art and Fuel display, here's a recap on the tanks.
Richard Minino aka Horse Bites. He took home first place with this insane dragon tank. This is his second year in a row winning Art and Fuel, which is also voted on by show attendees. The Rest in order - Denny Babin, Gen Love Ear Art, Jon Raleigh, Chad Carter, Buck Wild, Sonny Boy, Taylor Schultz, Chemical Candy Randy, Hot Dog Kustoms
Death Riders Inc. and The Wall of Death
One of my favorite parts of this year's Born Free was Rhett Rotten and the Death Riders Inc. Watching death-defying stunts on oldest Wall of Death still standing in America is no joke and something everyone must see. Dare devil, leader of Death Riders inc. and living legend Rhett Rotten has been cheating death and riding The Wall of Death for over 22 years. It is an intense moment to witness the raw emotion and passion he has for what he is doing with his life. You can really tell he is extremely grateful to be doing what he loves and he doesn't take anything for granted.
They ended up doing a show every hour for Born Free attendees both days, risking their lives and putting on the best show. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to shoot photos twice on Sunday from above and below The Wall of Death and I will forever remember the overwhelming feelings of emotion I had while experiencing it so close.
Rhett Rotten on the red Harley-Davidson 48 Sportster, top tower. Josh Kohn on the blue Harley-Davidson Flathead. Balancing on rollers and showing off to the crowd a little before each show.
Rhett doing the "Jesus Christ" on the tower rollers. This takes extreme balance and technique.
Rhett Rotten standing on the pegs on this 1937 Harley-Davidson on the oldest Wall of Death in America. Truly unreal.
The emotions are real and Rhett is in complete control over his destiny. Just making it look easy and staring me down.
Rhett Rotten is a showman through and through and passionate about everything he does.
The adrenaline rush I had shooting right underneath Rhett was something I will remember forever.
In conclusion Born Free is one of the best custom motorcycle shows in the world for a reason. Mike, Grant and Chris dedicate all their efforts into making an atmosphere that is enjoyable and laid back; all while giving plenty of exciting things to look at, watch, and do. If you have never been, you must experience it at least once in your life. I promise you will never be disappointed if you love motorcycles and having a good time. Born Free 8 is a wrap and I can't wait to see what Born Free 9 has in store for everyone. Till then, Cheers.
Photos and words by:
Oak Canyon Ranch is the perfect setting for Born Free and has been it's home the past 4 years.