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Old Bikes Highlight New Show

They say everything that is old is new again.

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They say everything that is old is new again. Certainly a case can be made for the motorcycle industry as we see bobbers and old school choppers popular with builders once again, and on the OEM side we see bikes like Yamaha’s venerable SR400 and Suzuki’s TU250X returning to the 2016 “new” model mix.

EO_IMG_6733Even the concept for AIMExpo itself is an update of an idea proven by the EICMA show for the past 100 years as the Milan Show celebrated its “100 Years Of Passion” centennial in 2014). While a “new” idea for North America, bringing together the industry, media and end users to one giant show has served EICMA well since 1914. It is an idea whose time has come… at least for the U.S. motorcycle scene.EO_2014ama-hof-ceremony

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Last year, Ducati opted to debut the ultimate retro bike at AIMExpo as the Scrambler made its North American debut in Orlando, weeks before the Milan show, emphasizing the importance of the show, the U.S. marketplace and the retro nature of the motorcycle industry.

AIMExpo has the vintage scene well covered with exhibits from Ace Cafe, a special Retro Affair showcase, AMA’s Hall of Fame Ceremony and Garage Party Ambassodar Leticia Cline (above).

AIMExpo has the vintage scene well covered with exhibits from Ace Cafe, a special Retro Affair showcase, AMA’s Hall of Fame Ceremony and Garage Party Ambassodar Leticia Cline (above).

This fact was not lost on the event organizers. “We have recognized our roots at the two previous events, starting with Kenny Roberts and Kevin Schwantz as our AIMExpo Champions, and including a strong presence from the vintage motorcycle community,” notes AIME VP and General Manager Larry Little. “Last year we kicked off the Retro Affair, Vintage Motorcycle Show that was presented in partnership with the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club (VJMC) and it is back by popular demand for 2015.”

EO_IMG_6759The Retro Affair is a judged motorcycle competition showcasing historic, restored and customized American, Japanese and European motorcycles built before 1984. “The form and function of motorcycle craftsmanship is one of the most intriguing things to come out of 20th century industrial manufacturing,” adds Peter Slatcoff, VP and Event Coordinator for the VJMC, the premier worldwide club dedicated to the preservation, restoration and enjoyment of vintage motorcycles.

“Nothing makes a motorcyclist stop in his or her tracks faster than a beautifully restored vintage motorcycle,” says Slatcoff. “Because it’s a bike that takes them back to their youth or it’s a bike ridden by their heroes of yesteryear, it instantly takes them back in time.” The Retro Affair returns with an eclectic mix of bikes including cruisers, sportbikes, mini bikes, sidecars and scooters from Honda, Indian, Kawasaki, Norton, Suzuki and Yamaha.

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But that is just the beginning of the “old is new” theme for AIMExpo. All new for this year’s event will be the Chopper Legends Showcase featuring builders and bikes from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s alongside the young builders of today. Hosted by Pat Patterson of Led Sled Customs, the focus will be on V-Twin diggers, choppers and bobbers. The list of builders is quite literally the “who’s who” of the American custom motorcycle movement and include icons like Dave Perewitz, Charlie Hadayia Sr, Jesse James, Freddie Arnold, Kyle Shorey, Paul Ponkow, Denny Berg and Pat Patterson.

“We had a strong desire to grow the American-made motorcycle sector in the right way,” says Little, “so we brought in Bob Kay as our V-Twin director.” An old hand in the V-Twin sector (including working at dealerships and later at NEMPCO, Bikers Choice and American IronHorse), Kay has some new ideas for AIMExpo that the event is investing in.

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Among the first things Kay did was partner with the world’s leading custom bike building series, the AMD World Championship of Bike Building, to create the AIMExpo Championship of the Americas. In keeping with the all inclusive nature of the event, the competition will showcase design, engineering and creativity by custom bike builders from as far north as Greenland all the way to the tip of South America.

Kay says the show will feature four classes based on different platform combinations of engine and chassis configurations. Since everything old is new again, the Retro Custom class is specifically for builds based on pre-1984 platforms. In the Free Style class, builders will be vying for the opportunity to move on to the World Championship and has no rules!

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The other two platforms are: Street Custom, which limits builders to major OEM engine and chassis configurations, and the Performance Custom category (bikes do not have to be street legal and full tilt race bikes are eligible to compete in this class).

As if the Retro Affair, Chopper Legends Showcase and Retro Custom class in the AIMExpo Championship of the Americas weren’t enough of a nod to our bike building roots, there is a good old-fashioned “Garage Party” on the floor plan.

This unique section of the show is set to feature exhibitors supplying parts and building retro café bike and bobbers. There will also be engine suppliers and artisans, including Pat Patterson’s Road Trailer and Rat Rod.

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The Garage Party, complete with live music will take place on the show floor on Saturday afternoon and early evening. This will be the perfect time to meet Garage Party Ambassador Leticia Cline.

You may know her from her recent feature story in Racer X (where coincidentally she road tested the aforementioned retro Ducati Scrambler). Motorcycle rider turned super model, Cline most recently graced the cover of Hot Bike magazine on Roland Sands’ board tracker-inspired rigid Indian Chief custom build.

Then there is the after party at Orlando’s newest old school biker hang out, the Ace Cafe. A continuation of the original Ace in London, England where the Cafe’ racer culture was created and dust-ups between the mods and rockers made history, the Ace Cafe Orlando is the perfect place for petrol heads to gather after the Garage Party winds up.

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If you attended AIME last year, you will remember that Ace Cafe brought the original Stray Cat Lee Rocker into the show hall to perform for the industry party… can’t wait to see what they have in store now that they will be up and running here in America.

What’s old really is new again in the North American market in general and at AIMExpo in particular! Old bikes, old friends, iconic builders and even the legendary Ace Cafe, AIMExpo will have something for everyone from the old guard industry types, new media outlets and the motorcycle riding public! See you in Orlando in October.

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