Enthusiasm for motorcycling in general, the custom market in particular, is in robust shape going into the new year in Europe, if attendance at this year's Motor Bike Expo is anything to go by.
Attendance this year is said to have been some 20 percent up on 2010, at over 120,000 visitors, reflecting the upward trend at motorcycle shows seen in Italy a couple of months earlier when the 'Milan' Show in November also saw its best crowds in a decade.
In particular, the custom market in Italy has grown very quickly through the past five or seven years. It is growth that has continued throughout the downturn, and that has found expression in a number of ways, not least the increasing international custom bike show success that Italian custom bike builders such as Luciano Andreoli, Marco Cinquini, Gigi Esposito, Aldo Querio Gianetto, Gerardo Chillico, Sam Reali, Marco Scaccabarozzi and others have had in recent years.
The Italian market is also proving to be home to a number of exciting volume production projects, such as Headbanger Motorcycles and Roberto Crepaldi's CR&S programs in Milan, and the parts, accessory and performance engineering sector is also booming.
The International prize was won by Ken Nagai's 'Unchangeable' (left), and Garage65 will al
Whereas once the stylish output of OMP was the single best known such manufacturer in Italy, the market now also boasts businesses such as Kustom Tech, Rebuffini, Gray Indian's, MCJ, Free Spirits, Double Fire and Asso Special Bike.
There were many great bikes at 'Verona' this year, not least the remarkable new aluminium framed ASB 199R by Carlo Colombo of Asso Special Bike, which was second in the LowRide Magazine awards, and 'Apocalypsis' by Emiliano Damia's E-D Special in Rome, which won the Freeway Bike Magazine custom show.
In the AMD Official World Championship affiliate event awards, which were centered on the LowRide Magazine custom show this year, the 'Sturgis' prize for the best International Custom went to Kenji Nagai of Ken's Factory/Cycle Craft for his Harley-engined 1978 Shovelhead rigid called 'Unchangeable'.
The 'Sturgis' prize for the best Italian built custom bike went to Marco Cinquini's Garage65 for the second year running with their 'Kcosmodrive' follow-up, the remarkable 'Stargate' - a high-tech, hand-crafted lowrider that everyone will be seeing much more of in the months ahead.
Both winners receive a 5.000,00 euro expenses contribution towards going forward to compete at this year's 8th annual Official World Championship courtesy of Motor Bike Expo organizers Francesco Agnoletto and Paola Somma.
This was the sixth year that their show (formerly staged at Padua in northern Italy) has been a World Championship affiliate event, and on behalf of the program we'd like to express our thanks for their support and for the investment they continue to make into the development of the custom motorcycle industry in Italy.