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Ace Café Motorcycle & Custom Show at the Ally Pally 2010

An indoor custom show?
With our reputation?
What were they thinking?

The English are a strange breed. While we don’t actively celebrate success we don’t really expect to succeed either. Don’t believe me? Well just look at the history of indoor custom bike shows. In recent years there has been the Doncaster show, the Newark show and the Earls Court, London show. Okay so a second Earls Court show was planned for last year it never happened - cancelled just weeks before it was due to happen.

See what I mean?

The strange thing is that ‘ordinary’ consumer orientated bike shows seem to succeed. For example, the NEC show just keeps on rolling and for many years there was the MCN show at Ally Pally, which then moved venues to the Excel Centre in London’s Docklands.

Despite that move, many folks had fond memories of the Ally Pally venue and one of those was Andrew Greenwood, the man behind Classic Shows: a company that has been organising classic bike and car shows for many years. It was he who resurrected the Ally Pally show last year.

Anybody who went to that show would remember that alongside the now traditional offering of budget priced leathers and lids, the West Hall looked a bit empty but it did have a display of bikes by the Ace Café and a handful of custom builds by Nick Gale.

Somewhere along the way in the run up to this year’s show someone had a brainwave and a plan was put into action to stage a full-blown custom show in the West Hall, with the backing of the Ace and AMD - the people behind the World Championship of Custom Bike Building.

Getting AMD involved was a master stroke as it brought with it a really rather good prize fund, as well as the kudos of winning a round of the prestigious championship. How does £5,000 to the builder of the winning bike to help him take it to the World Championship at Sturgis’ 70th Anniversary in South Dakota sound?

It certainly helped raise the show’s profile and attracted a number of European builders... not that there was any shortage of domestic builders wanting to take the money and run off to Sturgis on it.

Among the many shed builders looking to get a slice of the action were the pros, including Warr’s, Shaw Harley-Davidson, Nick Gale and Krazy Horse Customs. However, even this who’s who of Britain’s top talent couldn’t blag the money.
Come the awards ceremony, Russell Mitchell, who’d travelled over from Hollywood to attend the show, handed the top prize over to Erick Martens of Special Products Supply in the Netherlands who had entered his S&S powered Speed Demon, last seen in the UK at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
All was not lost for those gallant lads and lasses from Blighty, however, and just when everyone thought the prize giving was over, HOG Europe’s head honcho, Jeremy Pick, came onstage to announce that Harely-Davidson had put up a second £5,000 travel expenses prize to compete at Sturgis 2010.

And the lucky recipients?

The boys from Shaw Harley-Davidson whose True Strike II bike had already taken the honours in the Harley UK-sponsored Modified Harley class.

The V-twin wins didn’t stop there either. In the Old School class ‘Huggy’ Leavers’ wonderfully ratty ’57 Knucklehead was a clear winner, despite looking like it had been left outside since it first rolled off the production line. It’ll be interesting to see what he does with the Zero Engineering frameset he got for his class win…
Anyone who made the trek up the hill to the Great Hall at the Palace and then got inspired to get busy in the shed with the spanners after checking out the custom show was well catered for too.

Dominating the custom show was Zodiac’s massive show truck, which’d made the trip across the North Sea, as had Motorcycle Storehouse, but there was vital wider industry support – essential to turn this into the UK’s flagship indoor custom event – from the likes of Alchemy Bikes, Oberon, Sickboyz Customs, Harrison Billet and, of course, Exile Cycles.

Meanwhile, for those wanting to take things a step further and ride away on a complete there was the very visible presence of some notable Harley-Davidson dealerships, as well as bikes from Victory and Zero Engineering, and a growing number of small scale manufacturers, including Krazy Horse and Nick Gale Customs.
While traders reported modest takings, it was a promising start in tough times.

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