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Tuesday 25 April 2023

The Bohemian Custom Motorcycle Show 2023

Bohemian Custom Motorcycle Show

Prague, Czechia,
March 2-5, 2023

Words and pictures by Onno Wieringa, Madness Photography (

The Bohemian Custom Motorcycle Show in Czechia (Czech Republic) is part of the Prague Motorcycle Exhibition (Motocykl Praha) held in March.

There were two halls hosting the custom market and builders - with some well-known 'AMD stars' of prior AMD World Championships present - including innovators such as Pavel Malanik and Tomas Pitlik, who presented some incredible new builds at the Bohemian. 

Best of Show & Radical Winner - Pavel Malaník - J.A.P. V8

It came as no surprise that Pavel won 'Best of Show' with his completely self-built J.A.P. V8 motorcycle, a stunning piece of engineering and craftsmanship. Another mind-blowing bike was Marek Foltis' ten-cylinder Jawa called 'Bistella'. The Czech law states that you are allowed to alter one major part of your motorcycle as long as the rest of the bike still fits to that part, so you can change the engine, which Marek did, but it still had to fit in the original frame. 

How young builder Marek did just that is nothing short of a miracle…he built a ten-cylinder, two-stroke engine that fits perfectly in the stock frame. Ten cylinders! And so well designed, such ingenuity and precision craftsmanship. A huge technical challenge, but he managed to solve all problems and made it into a perfect running, well, 'screaming' engine that does an easy 10,000 rpm! 

Modified Harley-Davidson Winner - Jiri Riha - Hamasakr - H-D Sportster 1200 

Both men rolled out their bikes to admiring gasps of astonishment and applause. Marek's 'Bistella' fired up with just one kick. Starting Pavel's V8 is a little more complex, requiring an external starter, but it too runs like a dream, with all the 'internals' now 'externals', it is a work of engineering art - poetic in its synchronous motion, harmonious in its sound - steam punk meets precision.

Then came Tomas with his crazy 'trike' - very appropriately named 'Eczentric' - as nothing seems to be in the right place, but still it runs, powered by a 1938 CZ 175 cc engine! 

Iron Redskins Winner - Purple Haze - Indian Chief - Bike Farm Melle - Germany

Sector 66 decorated the show with cool sculptures made out of motorcycle and car parts - pieces of art just like many of the other 85 motorcycles in the custom show.

There were seven classes - Café Racer/ Brat, Chopper/Cruiser, Iron Redskins (Indian motorcycles only), Modified H-D, Old School and Radical, with additional awards for Best Paint, Old CZ Motorcycles by origin and Best of Show. 

Organizer Martin Rybar explained that the voting was done by the builders themselves, with owners and builders not allowed to vote for their own machines, and additional scrutineering and evaluation conducted by a selected expert jury - who had the same point evaluation options as the competitors themselves.

The Czech/ Czechoslovakian engineer-ing pedigree goes back nearly 150 years, and since the start of the 20th century, there have been over 100 Czech motorcycle brands - many of them short lived and with low production numbers, of course, but with the likes of CZ and Jawa, the market there has produced world leaders in the past.

Old School Winner - Marek Foltis - 'Bistella' 500

Throughout the history of the 'AMD' we have seen many outstanding examples of outstanding craftsmanship, innovative, high-quality engineering, creativity and stylish originality. 

Over four days, Motocykl Praha attracted nearly 60,000 visitors who came to enjoy what, by any measure, was a great show - even if the Prague traffic and parking issues made getting in more difficult than it needs to be.

But once in, the show itself proved to be a great success - the Czech motorcycle industry seems to be alive and well. Most of the major brands were there, presenting their 2023 line-ups, with Royal Enfield, in particular, continuing to prove its growing popularity.