S&S 50th Anniversary Celebration. And The Winners Are…(Part 3)

Announce in this Blog of the list of winners of the competition held during the S&S 50th Anniversary Celebration provoked a flurry of comments. First, let me say that I love the winner bike but that I don’t know if it would have been my choice because I was not there and didn’t have the opportunity to check the bikes from close. I have been Head judge of the Rat’s Hole Show during many years and judge in many others, and I can tell you for sure that you can’t evaluate the quality of a custom motorcycle without spending time around it. A picture will never tell you/show you all the fabrication, mechanical, paint, etc details and tricks.I think that what infuriated some readers is the understanding that it was a public vote made online that they could not do because not all bikes (a minority) were featured on the S&S website voting page. Also, I perceive a certain lassitude of the public with the “New Old School” style bikes. From far, like any other style of bikes, they may seem the same, even when they are not. Finally, regarding the US nationalist comments, I attribute the bitterness of some readers to the fact that our economy and our industry are in bad shape and that we are losing leadership in many areas. My opinion is that when European & Japanese builders dominate a US Bike Show by winning most of the classes, they don’t take anything from us. At the opposite, they actively contribute to our industry by emulating “The Art Of The Motorcycle”. Custom motorcycles: It’s One World.
Thanks to Buck Lovell at Maverick Publishing (American Bagger and American Cycle magazines), for providing a new picture of the Best Of Show Keiji Kawakta from Hot-Dock Custom Cycles (Japan). All bikes of the show shot in studio by famous photographer Michael Lichter will be featured later on his site.

15 Responses to “S&S 50th Anniversary Celebration. And The Winners Are…(Part 3)”

  1. 1 Doc Robinson Jul 4th, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    Spot on Cyriil, once more you’ve pegged it with your very wise and well considered words.

  2. 2 Regis Jul 4th, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    I agree with you Cyril. Well said.

  3. 3 Nicker Jul 5th, 2008 at 3:22 am


    Thanks much for the link to all the pictures.
    It’s nice to see that there are still builders with some creativity.
    The same old formula gets tiresome after a while.


  4. 4 Nicker Jul 5th, 2008 at 3:33 am

    And congrats to lichterphot….. Good-eye!
    Mike, you’ve made those cafe racers look drop-dead gorgeous.

    HD should get the Buell design guys to look at these.


  5. 5 Biker DATA Jul 5th, 2008 at 7:40 am

    Cyril: Well put, and it was a very hard event to judge. With out a doubt BikerDATA picked the Hot-Dock bike the first day it rolled into the S&S factory technical center. You do really have to of been there to see and appreciate the talent, design and engineering that went into the bike.

    I also picked Fred Kodlin to win his class, which he did. Fred and I have become friends in the pass year and I have concluded he is a genius and has a very strong passion. The white bike spent three day inside S&S plant getting a couple tech issues (wiring) fixed and I had a lot of time to eye that beauty over. Fred started the project by turning the engine backwards. Then has a one-sided front suspension.

    Another side note that if the public would like to see these bikes in person, most will be on display at the AMD build off in STURGIS this year. The event is at 3rd at Lazell.

  6. 6 Kephas Jul 5th, 2008 at 10:54 am

    Thanks for the great link.

  7. 7 Mike Tomas Jul 5th, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    This really seems to have gotten away from what it was really about, S&S 50th anniversary celebration. To me it was never about the competition but more about the bike build. I for one was excited to be selected to be 1 of 10 to build a bike in the X-wedge class. Judging and money always seems to be a controversial area and in all honesty it was one of the few times I have ever judged other than the AMD world championships. I don’t think it was ever political as to who the builders were as I’m not an S&S engine customer yet I was given an opportunity. One can twist things around however I’m pretty objective and I saw no evidence of favoritism at all. The tally judge was Neil Blabber from AMD magazine whom is the most ethical and upstanding guy I have ever known. He will not be swayed by anyone nor would he stand for it. It was S&S 50 year celebration with 50 bikes builders invited to build their bike their way. Pretty simple if one could see it in person for themselves.
    I will cherish this celebration for the rest of my life.
    Well done to everyone involved who made this into a very memorable occasion. Mike Tomas. Kiwi Indian.

  8. 8 Biker DATA Jul 5th, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Opps! The Lichter link has now been re-directed to his home site.

  9. 9 Paul Beamish Jul 6th, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    I would like to say thank you to S&S for putting on the event. I like the other builders was invited to compete, no one was made to compete and I had a blast with all the other builders. Especially after the prizegiving when some of us from the US, Europe and Japan and decided to rip up the town. The bikes that won were the right bikes. I think that this and the AMD shows bring us all together from around the world and is the only way our lifestyle will continue.

  10. 10 Geoff Jul 7th, 2008 at 6:27 am

    Mark on Cyril, once more you’ve hook it with your very astute and well thought-out words.

  11. 11 Nobody Jul 7th, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    It was really a privilege to meet all the builders, many were old friends, and some I have never met until the show, what a great experience. I did not hear one complaint from anyone concerning the outcome of the show, which is rare in itself. AMD did a great job. My thanks are to everyone that supported and put on a great event.


  12. 12 Revolution Manufacturing Jul 7th, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    We had a great time at the event. It was one of the best i personally have been to. The bikes were incredible, the people were great, and my hat goes off to s&s for a great show. I cant wait till the next one and hope to be included again at the 75th and the 100th!


  13. 13 Big Joe Jul 7th, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    Thank you to S&S for inviting us and all the other builders to take part in this historic event. To Howard, you did a great job my friend. Looking forward to an annual S&S event. Had a great time in La Crosse and enjoyed all it had to offer.

    As far as the haters out there complaining about the winners and their respective countries. Why waste your time being so angry?

    The public and some industry representatives did vote on the bikes. However the builders votes accounted for I believe 60% of the voting process. If you want to blame anyone blame us, the builders who were there who voted on the bikes.

    Hot-Doc was by far not my favorite bike there, but it did score well when we cast our vote. Why? Bikes were judged on creativity, craftsmanship, engineering, originality, curb appeal and other criteria. It wasn’t a popularity contest.

    All the bikes that came away with awards were deserving. Maybe they were not the most desired motorcycle but who cares. Could one of the other bikes taken the top prize, sure but the voting that weekend put Hot-Doc as the winner. End of story. Congratulations to all the winners!

    I’m sure everyone’s list is a bit different but my personal favorites came from Bennett Performance, Kiwi Indian, Bill Dodge, Cory Ness, Donnie Smith, Fred Krugger, Wakan, Special Parts Supply and Covington Cycle just to name a few. Why, because I’d love to own them and because I could see myself having fun riding them. Isn’t that what it is suppose to be about Riding and having Fun?
    But who am I? I’m just some kid in South Dakota lucky to do what I do and earn a paycheck doing it.

    Thanks again to S&S and all the other builders. It was fun to be there!


  14. 14 Revolution Manufacturing Jul 8th, 2008 at 10:43 am

    the only regret i have is i would have loved to do the 120 mile ride with all the other builders. That would have been a great ride! i instead did a good burn-out as we left the tent on sunday – im sure someone has pics of it.


  15. 15 Brett Smith Jul 8th, 2008 at 11:32 am

    Hello All:

    Judging from the various posts on this website, we are as passionate and enthusiastic as ever–a great thing. I think many of you know that I typically do not respond to posts on websites, but on occassion, I feel it necessary to try and clear up a few points. Many of these points have already been made, but perhaps hearing them from me might carry some weight–if you can trust me to speak truth. If you can’t there’s not too much I can do about that.

    #1: It is absolutely correct that the builders were volunteers and the contracts they signed had as much to do with the possession of limited edition 50th Anniversary Engines as anything else. They were also required to attend in person–barring significant conflicts or personal issues. All the builders knew this well in advance, except for those gracious individuals (such as Chopper Dave, Flyrite Choppers, Trevelen, Kris Krome, and Blake Sabers) that stepped up to fill in at the last minute (within two months of the 50th) for a few builders that had personal/professional issues precluding their attendance.

    #2: It is ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE that if a builder failed to show up or elected not to participate, that they could never buy from S&S again. That is simply a farce and libel against our company. S&S would never endorse such a policy and anyone that knows me at all would tell you that.

    #3: It is true that the builders accounted for 60% of the vote and there were 50 of them, so the builders could essentially decide the winner if they all agreed. It is true that the media accounted for 20% of the vote, and there were not that many media member voters. Finally, there were many sponsor and VIP voters–over 30 if I’m not mistaken and of that number, I believe there were 5 S&S representatives (I WAS NOT ONE OF THEM). So, while S&S had a vote, it amounted to somewhere around 3.33% of the total vote–hardly enough to sway anything.

    #4: I had no idea who the winners were until they were announced on the podium. I wanted it that way and demanded it. AMD was contracted to oversee the entire process vote counting process. You can ask Robin Bradley, Neil Blaber, or Chris McGee if you must–they spent 17 hours tallying all the votes–NOT S&S.

    #5: The voting criteria was very focused, the builders were informed of it before they built their bikes, and was as follows:

    30% Engineering and Innovation
    20% Craftsmanship
    17.5% Creativity
    10% Celebration of S&S 50th
    7.5% Overall Aesthetic Appeal
    15% Rideability

    #6: As many of you know, the ride from La Crosse to Viola and back with all the builders was cancelled due to the continual rain we had. We wanted to attempt to do it later during the weekend, but the logistics proved to be far to difficult to overcome with continual scattered showers and the traffic (we lost the window for the state police escorted ride after the first day). Further, all the builders put their heart and soul into the bikes and we didn’t want to risk damage during a ride in the rain. For that reason, we gave each builder full credit on Rideability because the judging at that point would have been subjective and arbitrary, rather than objective through a 110 mile round-trip ride.

    #7: S&S didn’t make a dime off the event. As a matter of fact, all the profits from the engines we sold to the builders went right back to the builders in the form of accomodations, meals, jackets, river boat cruises, MAC toolboxes, prizes, etc.

    #8: The admission to the event ($5 for the entire weekend) went directly to the Oktoberfest committee that graciously lent the land so any builder/vendor that showed up didn’t have to front the money for space (at other rallies similar space would start at $5K and go up to $25K for a week). All the profits on the apparel we sold at the event was done through 3 charities: The Boys & Girls Club, the Children’s Museum, and Riverfront (an organization that employs the disabled and handicapped). In total the Oktoberfest committee raised over $50K and our three charities raised over $18K each.

    #9: S&S is not moving to China, Europe, or anywhere else. We are a Wisconsin-based company that distributes products globally and always have. The relationship between builders from the United States versus other countries was nearly directly proportional to our sales in those various regions–FACT.

    #10: To say that we intentionally master-minded the winner and ensured the foreigners had such a respectable showing is simply false and completely ludicrous. As a matter of fact, some of these foreign builders had to overcome huge obstacles to get here and got no special favors (other than our international shipping rates) to get here. They had challenges with overseas shipping, the EPA, customs, etc. I’m thankful for all the builders and proud of their spirit, teamwork (many of them helped each other out with last-minute challenges), and support of our event. The dedication was so remarkable, that even a few builders that ran into snafus with their bikes and didn’t get them totally completed, STILL SHOWED UP AND DISPLAYED THEIR BIKES! That took remarkable courage in my opinion and I look foward to the completed versions of those bikes when they compete at the World Championships in Sturgis. THANK YOU TO ALL 50 AND GOD BLESS THEM ALL!

    #11: I’m glad I was not a judge for the very reasons I’m responding to these blogs. I’ve travelled all over the world and attended custom bike shows in many different countries. I can tell you that the talent assembled at our 50th and the competition was unbelievable and nearly every builder I spoke to regarding their resposibilities as judges said they were overwhelmed. The builders and all judges took their roles very seriously and many spent well over 4-5 hours judging at a time, came back, and judged some more. To say that the voting was rigged is a discredit not only to the builders that won, but all the builders that took their role as judges very seriously. I am dissapointed that some of the posters on this site have such little regard for the integrity of S&S, the media, and most importantly, the 50 builders that were the primary judges of our celebration. I wish those of you that didn’t make it could have been there to experience it and enjoy it as enthusiasts of this great industry.

    I hope this post clears up any confusion. Thanks much and God bless,


Comments are currently closed.


Facebook Google+ Twitter