Norrtälje, Sweden, June 3rd
Arguably the world’s oldest custom motorcycle show, the Custom Bike Show in Sweden (June 3) saw some 230 bikes competing in eight classes for the chance to win expenses to compete at next year’s 13th AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building at ‘INTERMOT Customized’, Cologne, Germany, in October 2018.
The ‘Custom Bike Show’ was the first event to become an AMD World Championship Affiliate 13 years ago, and this year was the 43rd ‘Custom Bike Show’ organized by Sweden’s Twin Club MC since it started in 1971.
The show is a one day ‘Ride-In’ staged in the city park at the hugely supportive, motorcycle-friendly coastal city of Norrtälje an hour north east of Swedish capital city Stockholm – estimates suggest that this year saw more than 5,000 bikes and over 9,000 show visitors in total descend on the small community from all over Sweden and neighboring countries such as Norway, Finland, the Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) and Germany.
Sweden is well known as the “motherload” for choppers, and anyone who thinks Swedish style long fork choppers have been consigned to history should be reassured by the 60 bikes competing in the show’s largest class, the ‘Chopper Class’, with Sami Järvelä from Scrap Mc, of Rauma, Finland, taking the class win and the first of the three AMD World Championship prizes.
The growing popularity of BMWs as custom platforms was in evidence, especially among the 30-plus field competing in the ‘Cafe Racer’ class, though none made the podium, with the class win being taken by Jaakko Mäkelä, also from Finland (Nousiainen) with an NSU (remember them?), with second and third places taken by Swedes Dan Andersson from Borlänge second with a Triton (a cross between Triumph and Norton), and third place going to Johan Syrén from Sundbyberg with a Triumph Thruxton.
The always innovative creativity of customizers in Europe was in evidence with Petri Ruusunen’s ‘Velacimoteur’. From Turku in Finland, his brand new design of a hand-built 1910s style antique look engine may have had some of the other “old school” show purists scratching their heads (“how can you enter the show with an engine that never existed?”), but as an exercise in the purest form of custom craftsmanship, it had “original” stamped all over it!
AMD World Championship Prize Winners
(all seen here with AMD brand ambassador Onno Wieringa of Madness Photography)
Scrap Mc, Rauma, Finland
Even in the highly creative and often exotic circles of the European custom bike building scene, noted for its often eclectic platform choices, NSU engines are rare sights these days. Surprisingly so, given how popular they were in Europe, in the 1950s especially, and given how creative the ‘retro’ scene has proven to be in the past decade.
Founded in Germany in 1873, their first motorcycle appeared in 1901. During WW II it was NSU who produced the Kettenkrad, the NSU HK101 - a half-tracked motorcycle (with an engine from the Opel Olympia) that has become a familiar sight in European theatre period war movies.
Under the guidance of chief engineer Albert Roder, NSU grew strongly, and at one stage (1955) was, in fact, the largest motorcycle manufacturer by annual volume in the world. Bonneville World Land Speed records in 1951, 1953, 1954 and 1955 fuelled that popularity, with Wilhelm Herz becoming the first person to ride a motorcycle (an NSU) over 200 mph (322 km/h) at Bonneville in August 1956.
The company was also a car manufacturer, from 1905 until 1932, and re-entered the auto market in 1957, launching what was then the world’s first rotary Wankel engined car in 1964. However, that was ultimately to prove their financial undoing with NSU being swallowed up by present day Ducati owner Volkswagen in 1969 and folded into their Auto Union/Audi subsidiary; NSU motorcycle production ceased in 1967 – their last model was the ‘Quick 50’.