The Past and the Future

December 1 2008

 

For over one hundred years, the motorcycle has held a special place in many people’s hearts. At first it was strictly a mode of transportation, an alternative to the horse. This new ‘iron horse’ could now be manipulated into a purpose built machine. Sidecars were added for family members or to carry more cargo. Suspension and brakes were added and improved. Wartime as well demanded certain changes be designed and implemented.

After the Second World War when the flyboys were returning from active duty they found civilian life boring. It’s not hard to imagine that their day-to-day life, an adrenaline filled existence on the edge of life and death, was in massive contrast to waking up everyday in their own bed, far removed from any danger.

Their answer was to ride motorcycles. But they wanted more – more speed and more excitement. Increasing horsepower was not an option because of the lack of available parts and the lack of money, so they started chopping unnecessary parts from their bikes to make them lighter and faster. These were the first choppers, and the trend to customize motorcycles began.

Today is no different except for greater imagination, better tools and improved metallurgy. Motorcycles are being altered for many reasons, more suspension travel for the dirt, more powerful engines for the track, better ergonomics for the road, and sometimes as a functional art form. They may be built as a one-of-a-kind to standout from the crowd or because of a deep-seated need for rebellion against the norm, while some are built strictly for show. Regardless of why someone builds a custom, they are an integral segment of the motorcycle industry as a whole.

As you will see in this second installment of our Canadian Custom Showcase, the calibre of the builds and the quality of the airbrushing we are showcasing in Canada by these talented craftsmen is continuing on an upward trend. The quality of workmanship and attention to detail continues to exceed the wildest imagination.

I’ve said before and I’ll continue to say it, we have some of the most talented builders in the world, right here in Canada. The people and shops showcased on these pages are working harder than ever to promote and achieve greatness in Canada and abroad. That is evident, as many of these shops have garnered substantial awards across Canada and the United States. The willingness, talent and drive that they possess can sometimes make the most complicated thoughts seem simple and easy in their hands. Just as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Keith Richards produce music that could only come from talent and years of dedication, the artisans who build and paint the motorcycles on these pages are masters in their own right.

Be sure to attend a bike show or two in your area across the country this year and see for yourself. Many of these builders will be displaying their award winning bikes as well as their regular rides for you too see firsthand.

Now just try to imagine what the motorcycle might look like in another one hundred years.

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