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Changing Lanes

“Biker Battleground Phoenix” New History Channel Series

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History is going inside the cutthroat world of custom bike building, giving viewers a never-before-seen look at how adrenaline, craftsmanship and rivalries determine who’s who among the country’s top custom bike builders in the new series Biker Battleground Phoenix, which premiered this week.

In the desert city of Phoenix lives a subculture unknown to many – the custom bike building capital of the world. A place where shop owners compete day and night for customers who are willing to pay upwards of $150,000 for a fully personalized Bagger motorcycle. Choppers and Cruisers are out and Baggers are in. In this dog-eat-dog world, design ideas are money and top custom bike shops compete around the clock, for both business and bragging rights. Biker Battleground Phoenix follows five of the most determined and hungry shop owners, from the well-established ‘Godfather’ to the young up-and-comers. When passion and egos collide in this world, the explosion is heard throughout the city.



Meet the bikers of Biker Battleground:


Paul Yaffe – Paul Yaffe Originals/Bagger Nation: Considered the “Godfather” of the group, Paul Yaffe is the founder of Paul Yaffe Originals and Bagger Nation custom motorcycle shops. The first in the bagger game in Phoenix, he claims to have spawned the entire bagger craze when he started Bagger Nation, which is now valued at $10 million dollars. As a maverick builder, he is known for taking an average bike and transforming it into a head-turning, street-scorching custom piece. While his critics might claim that he is past his prime and no longer lives up to his hype – his business continues to flourish. Yaffe brags that he taught John Shope of Dirty Bird Concepts everything he knows.



John Shope – Dirty Bird Concepts: The self-proclaimed “King of Baggers,” John Shope is known for having a hot head and cool designs. He started as an artist and sculptor before entering the custom bike business in the 80s, modifying, building and fabricating custom Harleys. He entered the bagger game with a little help from Paul Yaffe, but quickly grew to become a premiere rival. Shope says Yaffe is the Michael Bolton and he is the Motley Crue of the biker world.  Shope now run his own hugely successful business, Dirty Bird Concepts, where he builds custom baggers and parts.



Len Edmondson – Azzkikr Customs: Originally from Canada, Len Edmondson started an extremely successful multi-million dollar construction business in Vancouver, which he ran for nearly 30 years. In 2004, Len created Azzkikr Customs – pursuing his real love, motorcycles.  In 2010, Len sold his construction business to concentrate full time on building high-end, luxury custom bikes. Len has built more than 180 bikes and won many “Best Bagger” prizes. He is known for his contemporary, artistic flare and classic lines. But accolades aren’t enough for Len, he wants to be No. 1 in the custom bike world. To compete with the best of the best, Len moved himself to Phoenix, just down the street from John Shope. The two builders are friends, but only until the competition gets tight and then it’s all business and both men plan to win.


Kody McNew – Voodoo Bikeworks: McNew’s name says it all: a new-comer to the custom bagger scene. In 2013 Kody was the surprise winner at Sturgis taking top honors in the “First Place Build” category and the prestigious “Best of Paint” awards in the Easy Rider’s Bagger Show. With those wins under his belt, McNew and his shop Voodoo Bikeworks rose overnight from relative obscurity to become one of the strongest contenders on the scene and he has no problem claiming that he could beat more experienced builders Yaffe and Shope.


Brian Jenkins – Hatred Customs: Brian Jenkins, a former friend of John Shope, is the founder of Hatred Customs. Jenkins named his business, Hatred, following a fallout with Shope. A loner and a rebel, Jenkins disassociated himself from the Web and social media sites. He only recently joined Facebook in order to advance his shop. He moved to Phoenix from Baltimore in 1992 to work construction, where he started a successful excavating business. Jenkins lost everything when his business went bust as the Phoenix economy crashed. While he had always had custom street rods and other bikes, Jenkins first tried his hand at real estate before customizing his first bagger in 2007. The bike was such a hit that he opened his own shop and continued making custom rides. Jenkins’ latest bagger has won six top awards in the last six shows it has been featured in, including winning “Baddest Bagger 2013″ in Arizona and Reno. While he remains a relative underdog, Jenkins is unique among his rival builders because he can brag that he is the only one who hand crafts every single part of his bike–from scratch.



Watch a sneak peak of the show here:

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