Things in the chopper world have been changing over the last few years, if you haven't noticed. People are ready for a change-a change for the better. Bikes are getting more advanced and traditional at the same time; gone are the fat-tire circus bikes, frayed Levis, and tough guy second-mortgage choppers. Dudes are putting together old machines in their garages, building a mix of new and old in a friend's shop, or pushing the limits in their own space.
The same goes for the same old biker shows; they are a dying breed for a lot of people, especially for those building bikes they actually ride, not making payments on. Maybe it's a changing of the guard or just a needed alternative, not sure, but from coast to coast and in between you have more choices now of legitimate grassroots events to go to.
In Brooklyn there is a group of guys who have been building bikes for a while and decided to start their own show because they weren't happy with the choices on the East Coast. These guys call themselves the White Knights in The House of Color, and have for a couple of years now put on the Brooklyn Invitational Show. It, too, is a free event and starts in the afternoon and runs well into the night.
People and builders from all over the country were invited by the Knights to come with their bikes to New York for this affair which included but wasn't limited to Jeff Wright from Church of Choppers, Chopper Dave, Shinya, Matt Davis from Dice Magazine, Mike Davis from Born Loser, some of the Knights themselves like Paul Cox and Keino, as well as Max Schaaf and Chris Lindig from Oakland. The funny thing about the guys from Oakland is they were each astride their '69 Shovels along with Ken Nagahara who rode an old BSA 3,500 miles each way from Oakland to Brooklyn and back! They spent almost a month on the road total with rigid frames, peanut tanks, and bias-ply tires-heavy!
The night before the show there was a Dice party at the Matchless Bar, which was walking distance from the Root Gallery where the show was to take place. Danny G was spinning rock 'n 'roll records, people mingled, made new friends, but a few of the Knights were burning the midnight oil to get their fresh builds together for the show.
Saturday, September 18, rolled around and bikes began showing up from surrounding states for the shindig, and by late afternoon it was packed. There were free beverages, vendors, a raffle of some goodies, bands, and lots o' bikes parked outside. One of the coolest things there was Steve Bonge's, president of the New York chapter of the Hells Angels, photo exhibit covering one wall in the gallery with historical images from the club over the years. All in all there were about 2,000 people throughout the day and a couple hundred two-wheeled freedom machines lining the streets-as if you needed an excuse to go to Brooklyn! If you need another one, they've already set the date for next year, September 17, 2011; go to brooklyninvitational.com for more.