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Tuesday 3 January 2023


Swiss Customizing Gets Its Shop Window Back 

Text and photos: Horst Roesler, Motographer

After the churn of the past three years, the Swiss custom market has got its mojo back with TÖFFMÄSS - a well-received new custom bike showcase near Zurich ...

As everyone knows, the pandemic caused chaos to the motorcycle expo and show calendar, from the major national and international expo events right through to the custom bike show landscape. There are events that have managed to start down the comeback trail, but there are some markets where the motorcycle show environment will remain changed forever.

One such market has been Switzerland. There, the annual mainstream OEM and accessories expo, Swiss Moto in Zurich, which played host to Swiss Custom, has closed its doors permanently.

The international 'Best of Show' had to be decided by the public, as two bikes had come up with identical points. The winner was McSands' J-XR, a spectacular boardtrack interpretation and, thanks to its year, street legal! 

Fabio Bray of Chicano Custom Shop won 'Best of Show' in the Panolin Ride In Bike Show with his 2012 Softail Deluxe conversion thanks to its super-clean look featuring 'Chicano style' highlights, plus air suspension at the rear.  

The highest scoring bikes of the TÖFFMÄSS International Bike Show 2022.

In Harley and custom bike terms, the Swiss market has always been one where new motorcycle sales and custom design and building were a disproportionately strong part of the overall market in new unit registrations and enthusiasm terms. 

Indeed, Switzerland remains the strongest market for new Harley sales on a per capita basis of any of Europe's individual markets. In fact, riding motorcycles as a whole is disproportionately strong on a head of population basis, and many analysts have put that and the low motorcycle fatality statistics down to the fact that not only is driver education mandatory, as it is in all European markets, but to qualify for a full car license, drivers have to have passed at least some motorcycle awareness and riding course content.

Internationally, therefore, it was with some surprise that Swiss Moto closed permanently, but no surprise that, in custom bike terms, the vacuum was filled quickly - and the man to step up to fill that void was Christoph Schweizer, the former organizer of the Swiss Custom show-within-a-show at Swiss Moto.

Staged in October 2022 at the Dübendorf Airfield near Zurich, home of the Swiss Air Force Museum and a site that has resonance with the Swiss motorcycle community as the headquarters venue for the Swiss Love Ride in May each year.

The Panolin Ride In Bike Show Radical class was won against tough competition by "Bintang Racer", a Harley-Davidson Dyna CVO built by Bächli Motorcycles - a company with a 55-year history in the Swiss Harley scene and a reputation for superb custom bikes. 

Harley-Davidson Würzburg Village has a long history of outstanding custom bikes, and "Red Rooster" is one of those show bikes in the best US tradition, featuring gold plating and many handcrafted parts. 

Christoph and his "Ride Your Dream" team (RYD) managed to pull off a great start for the event - AMD's long-term collaborator, the photo journalist Horst Roesler, told us that "you can't say that Swiss customizers and custom bike fans shy from risks. The premiere of TÖFFMÄSS in Dübendorf saw a lot of new and very well engineered custom bikes roll in for the event - many of the essential Swiss names in customizing turned up, and with an extensive show program to entertain the visitors, even the challenging weather didn't deter the determination of Swiss custom enthusiasts from celebrating the return of a face-to-face opportunity to express their enthusiasm.

"Christoph and his RYD team didn't just give the show a new date and venue, a difficult enough thing to achieve, but TÖFFMÄSS was a complete reboot that took the Swiss custom market's opportunities to a new level."

With the opportunity to add outdoor show features to what had previously been an exclusively indoor event, the idea of TÖFFMÄSS was to integrate as many program elements as practical.

There were two bike shows, one of them a 'Ride In', a swapmeet, a stuntshow, Freestyle moto- cross, trial demos and riding schools, and even a local brass band to perform at the opening of the gates on the Saturday morning. 

"Saturday's Ride In Bike Show (sponsored by Swiss oil blender Panolin) saw some 30+ competitors in nine classes, plus a 'Best of Show' award - not bad for a show premiere - and with a very high standard of bikes too. 

"In order to encourage visitor engagement, public voting was used to determine the best bikes in each class. The stylish 'rigid frame' trophies for the class winners were handcrafted by Swiss sheet metal specialist Ezio, who also ran a 'customizing fabrication' demonstration class during the weekend event. The trophy ceremony on Saturday evening continued seamlessly into Swiss based riding jeans brand Rokker's 15th anniversary party. 

Premiering at TÖFFMÄSS, CCCP introduced its Sportster rigid frame conversion kit for air-cooled Sportster models from 1979 up to 2003. Available for Evo and Ironhead Sportster, a great variety of styles can be served - and it will be street-legal for Europe.

There were three Feuling W3 motorcycles at TÖFFMÄSS 2022. Two of them with the original Feuling frame, including the Bonneville Racer of Ruedi Steck, and one with a Penz custom frame by Sven Cycles in Waltalingen.

"The crowds started appearing earlier on the Sunday morning. Despite Switzerland's very strict regulations, many of the main players of the Swiss custom scene presented old and new projects, a true showcase for the excellence of Swiss customizing with plenty of street-legal modifications, conversions and custom builds.

"All things considered, TÖFFMÄSS lived up to, and even exceeded, expectations - and the general agreement among exhibitors and competitors was that Switzerland's custom showcase is back!"