2012 Michael Lichter Sturgis Exhibition. Come Together, The Spirit Of Born-Free.

Always a prominent event during the Sturgis Rally, the annual Michael Lichter’s “Motorcycle As Art” event returned to the Buffalo Chip’s® 7,000 square foot Exhibition Center with an all new exhibit titled “Come Together, The Sprit of Born-Free” celebrating freedom of expression, contemporary motorcycle design and the vision of today’s most innovative artists and custom bike fabricators.

Yesterday Tuesday August 7th, the who’s who of the custom motorcycle industry was invited by curator Michael Lichter to preview this 2012 exhibition as much about the culture and times it was born of as it is about the machinery itself. Over the last few years, custom bike building has been returning to its roots and the work of about 30 builders was displayed to explain & illustrate this prominent emerging movement within custom motorcycling.

To the guests, Michael Lichter and the featured custom builders explained the Spirit of Born-Free, a return to the roots of bike building the way it was done during the 1950′s to the 1970’s: most often builders working in their garages to build with their best friends machines made to be ridden very hard and reflecting their personality. They dislike catalogue ready billet-cut machine-made parts and prefer to create their bikes from the ground up using old pre or post World War II original parts, restoring or repurposing them and searching them in swap meets or online on eBay.

All the bikes displayed at the “Come Together” exhibition were chosen by Michael Lichter among those participating to the annual “Born Free” show, a young annual event created in 2009 by Grant Peterson of Freedom Machinery and Accessories and Mike Davis of Born Loser. The one-day gathering is about the love of old motorcycles and like minded individuals having a good time together and riding their bikes from all over the USA to participate to the show. They ride all types of bikes from Harley Knuckleheads to Panheads and Shovelheads, from Triumphs to BSA’s to Hondas and Kawasaki’s. Most of the exhibition builders are experiencing Sturgis for the first time and and its spirit of “Born-Free.” (see below the list of all builders and artists featured)

If participating to the rally, visiting this exhibition at the Buffalo Chip is a must. Open daily to the public with free admission from August 4th through the 10th, from 2 pm to 10:00pm. Directions: From Sturgis, continue 3.4 miles east on SD Highway 34, look for the “CHIP” buffalo sculpture on the horizon. From SD Highway 34, turn right on 131st Avenue, then veer left immediately on Alkali Road for “CONCERTS.” Travel one mile east on Alkali Road, then take a right on 132nd Avenue and another right into the Buffalo Chip’s east gate. Upon arrival into The Chip, the Lichter Exhibition Hall at the Russ Brown Event Center will be on the right at 20603 132nd Avenue – Sturgis, SD 57785-6635. Plenty of free bike parking.

Bike Builders Include:

Aki Sakamoto
Andy Carter
Ben Jordan
Bill Dodge
Caleb Owens
Clayton Record
Dale Yamada
Dan “Bacon” Carr
Dave Barker
Dave Polgreen
Jason & Wayne Alquist
Jason Weber
Jeff Leighton
Jeremiah Armenta
Kiyonaga “Kiyo” Mitsuhiro
Larry Pierce
Lock Baker
Matt Olsen
Michael Barragan
Michael Lewis
Scott Jones
Shawn Donahue
The Speed Merchants’ Brandon Holstein
Wil Thomas
Yaniv Neevo Evans

Artists Include:

Adam Nickel
Adam Wright
Dave Mann
Mark Kawakami
Michael Lichter
Nik Pew
Paul Resnick
Scott Pommier
The Harpoon

19 Responses to “2012 Michael Lichter Sturgis Exhibition. Come Together, The Spirit Of Born-Free.”

  1. 1 Vintage Twin Aug 8th, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Yeah well ……. if all the doing is being done in garages….. where’s our parts support?

    All you have in the knuckle & pan industry are small clubs spending an untold fortune to make parts wrong.
    Not just wrong, but diabolically wrong. Like even though the part looks perfect, there is always some demonic feature that makes any modification useless.

    God-damn frickin’ al-co-hol is the root cause of all misery and bad parts.

    So have another Sturgis Budwiser and get wiser? 🙂

    Fools……ye fools…. have another “hic!” 24 oz. of chemicals and git on yer’ Harley and twist the throttle. Go ahead…. somebody in advertising figured it out for you….. you can not be a biker without being a boozer. Drink up and die. “It’s America’s favorite pastime”… “All American”…. get drunk, get stupid, be all you wanna be on al-key-hol. Have a 6-pack and go home and beat the kids.
    More alcohol. All the “greats” drink beer and plenty of it. Get fat. Get sloppy. Get drunk to-nite !!! Feel like Hell tomorrow morning, but go out and tell everybody what a great time you had.
    When’s Budwiser ever paid a dividend for all you’ve invested in alcohol?
    Screw Bud-wiser and their whole roadshow. Bite me.

  2. 2 jaymanr11 Aug 8th, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Damn, and I thought the article was about the exhibit. How did beer get in the conversation?
    I saw the exhibit and it is awesome, and no one made me drink a budweiser!

  3. 3 burnout Aug 8th, 2012 at 10:44 am

    This exhibit is always a must-see. Had to choose a wedding (NOT mine) over Sturgis this year. peace

  4. 4 Shifter Aug 8th, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Great report. Will not miss the next one (unfortunately leaving Sturgis in a couple of hours). Cyril, are you going to do a full feature on all these bikes? Would be very interesting

  5. 5 Paul Aug 8th, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Great bikes. The way to build, the way to ride.

  6. 6 PJ Hyland Aug 8th, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Thanks for the coverage Cyril. I’m stuck here in SoCal in 100+ temps. I live vicariously through you. I’m especially bummed that I’m missing Michael Lichter’s exhibit this year. I can see by the list of exhibitors that Michael chose to display the work of a number of builders from The Born Free Show (12,000+ attendees), held in, The OC in June.

    Keep the good stuff comin’ Mr Huze.

  7. 7 steve Aug 8th, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    Would love to know how some of these builders got picked, cause there were bikes that were way better then some of the ones on exhibit at born free.

  8. 8 melissa smith-siggers Aug 8th, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    Wish that Chip & I could have been there this year. Michael’s work is a must see for anyone.

  9. 9 ROGUE Aug 9th, 2012 at 8:59 am

    To each his own about attending the Born Free Exhibit at the Buffalo Chip. There are a lot of exhibits and shows throughout the area and they attract different people.
    I personally attend Michaels Shows because I enjoy them. The theme is Motorcycles as Art and that is done Extremely Well.
    To the best of my knowledge Michael has photographed more motorcycles and events than anyone and I believe that alone makes him better qualified on what motorcycles should be in the show than someone who thinks they built a nicer biker.
    Any way Thank You Michael for putting on Another Great Exhibition!


  10. 10 Vintage Twin Aug 9th, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Yes thank you Michael Lichter, for the life-long monumental effort to keep the history of motorcycling alive and available for everyone to see. Where would we be without an anchor?

    To the WIVES & Families, of any father, husband, son or daughter, whomay be planning to build a 1941-1959 OHV BIg Twin, with one of the Q.C., V-Twin (Taiwan, NY, KC) frames,
    Do Not let the forenamed builder take any advise from the crew at Classic American Iron, or Hydra-Glide.net/ those people are not experts and have almost ruined a guys motor, before I stepped back in, made (11) posts and was banned. 🙂 Mission accomplished. Fabe stopped running his motor until he found the source of metal chunks from the oil tank.

    If you can convince your builder to build a solid lifter motor, then direct him/her to our site.

    “Search” your “subject” at the top bar. It’s ALL in there or I’ll find the answer by email.
    We don’t need an argument, only compliance with the flow of established facts.
    In otherwords, a KnucklePan-epedia, so use it or suffer time, money and stress. 🙂

  11. 11 Pat Simmons Aug 10th, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Congratulations Michael, for another wonderful presentation! Always incredbley imaginative and satisfying on so many levels. I recommend a visit to anyone attending the rally in Sturgis. This is simply one of the highlights of the year for me personally. I always come away inspired, and energized by the whole experience. Thanks for bringing it to us once again. I can hardly wait to see what you come up with next year.

  12. 12 Vince Aug 10th, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Im glad they took pics of our white chopper before we took it out and rode it on some of the most amazing roads in the area. It came back muddy, warm and ready to do it again.

    It was a great time but I would have like to see Grant and Mikes bikes there. After all they are the brains and the fuel for the Born Free shows and they don’t get enough credit for all the hard work they put in through out the year to put on a fantastic show,

  13. 13 Michael Lewis Aug 12th, 2012 at 10:03 am

    I enjoyed the exhibit and was truly honored to be a part of it. The only downside of having my bike in there was that I didn’t get to blast it around the Black Hills. Thanks again for the invite Michael.

  14. 14 Vintage Twin Aug 12th, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    In the spirit of keeping the early OHV motors alive, there is no one (advertised) on earth better educated and equipped, to re-manufacture a D-ring stripped-holed, worn spigot, missing fin set of aluminum Pan heads than Berry Wardlam @ Accurate Engineering, Dothan, AL.
    He (himself) is finishing all the back-logged work, before they accept any new work. Steve runs the show. Has for years as shop manager. He keeps in contact with the customers, “But it’s still the same, then next guys in line always get upset when someone goes before them 🙂 but it’s a matter of production logistics. One week Pan head aluminum another week knuckle iron and tin fitment. But, it’s all from Berry.”

    I’m a repeat customer, because Berry keeps the original exh. spigots attached, and then lays bead-welds side by side (oil contamination an issue), then mills the spigot back to spec.
    Steve said call him before Thanksgiving to re-man a set of beater-but-working- ’48, Colony 0-ring convert Pan heads. The ones in Vol. 1 that were bleeding badly.

    Note: The shops backed up, due to the pile of junk from the past that Berry’s committed to repair. Steve said they’ll have be more particular which work they take on in the future.

    It’s always a good idea to send them clear-pics of your heads beforehand for evaluation. Communication starts there,

  15. 15 Michael Lichter Aug 13th, 2012 at 10:48 am

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank Cyril for his thorough write-up, all of the people that took their time from all of the incredible offerings in and around Sturgis during Bike Week (especially the riding) to visit the exhibition, the many great sponsors (especially Keyboard Shipping, and the Mag Group’s J&P, Burly,Mustang and Roland Sands Design for sponsoring the bike filled truck from California at the last minute) and to the participants that gave their time, their bikes and their art to allow me to tell this story through their work. I agree with Vince that it would have been great to have Grant Peterson’s and Mike Davis’ bikes in the exhibition, but after their monumental efforts to mount Born Free 4 just several weeks ago, they were not able to get to Sturgis this year. I applaud Grant and Mike here as I did in the exhibition and at the industry reception, for what they have accomplished in four short years. As they have written in their blog; “Born Free is about the love of old motorcycles and like minded individuals having a good time together…” My goal with this exhibition was bringing the types of bikes they invite as guest builders for half of the bikes and then the incredible parking lot bikes that appear on the scene for the other half. I never try to be so presumptuous in any of my exhibitions as to say the bikes I pick are the best bikes anywhere, but rather to say each bike that is invited tells part of the story of the exhibit. It isn’t about who has the biggest motor, biggest tires or the most chrome but rather about the passion that bike builders can pour into their creations. Part of my attraction to these bikes is that for the most part, they were built by younger builders, they are lighter, simpler, less expensive, easier to ride, easier to work on and more accessible than the majority of top level customs that have been out their for years. In fact, they are much more stylistically similar to the bikes that our most acknowledged builders were building in the 1960’s and 1970’s. All of the bikes will be featured in magazines (some have been already) with some of the builders being seen by a wider audience for their first time. If this exhibition with the artwork and bikes in it get riders and the industry to reflect at all on where the custom bike world is today, where it has been and where it is headed, then I will consider the show a success. I hope we can support diverse styles of bikes and whenever possible, encourage the next generation that is coming up to keep custom motorcycling going strong.

  16. 16 Grant Aug 13th, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Thanks to Michael and everyone involved with the exhibit! To those that attended and also had bikes and art work there, thank you! We appreciate Michael’s enthusiasm for Born-Free and all the work he put into making this exhibit happen.
    Sturgis is something a little out of the Born-Free realm, but obviously is still “the big one”. The bad part is that so many of us spent every last penny, minute, and time off days to make Born-Free happen that we just couldn’t make it to Sturgis for Michael’s exhibit. We are thankful for those that did and we’ve heard glowing reviews and seen pictures and it looks like another great show! Mike Davis and I would have loved to have been there with our bikes, but it just wasn’t in the cards. But Born-Free is not about us, it’s about everyone and the love of old motorcycles.
    Thanks again to everyone that has supported us and anything Born-Free related and thanks again to Michael!

  17. 17 Vince Aug 13th, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Grant and Mike= Class act. Cant wait for Born Free 5 next summer!

  18. 18 Blackmax Aug 13th, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Michael is THE BEST !!!!
    Congrats on another sucessful project

  19. 19 Kevin "TEACH" Baas Aug 15th, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    First Sturgis I had to miss in a long time, wish I could have been there to see the exhibit. What a great bunch of guys/bikes/souls…this is what makes the custom bike scene fun..young like minded, energetic people coming in to revive old stuff, develop new stuff and share there passion and creativity for custom motorcycles. Vintage Bike addiction is running strong!

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Cyril Huze