2013 Annual “Motorcycle As Art” Sturgis Exhibition Is ‘Ton Up! Speed, Style and Cafe Racer Culture”

Lichter1Lichter2Lichter3This summer, “Motorcycle As Art”, the flagship annual exhibit curated by Michael Lichter at the legendary Buffalo Chip during the Sturgis Rally, will be focusing on the origins and renewed popularity of the Café Racer movement. As I wrote many times, shades of the 50’s and 60’s are everywhere in our motorcycle industry with a huge revival of the Cafe Racer Subculture, not only in its birthplace of England but everywhere around the world.

Co-curators Michael Lichter and Paul d’Orléans have assembled a comprehensive display of 32 machines from 12 makes and 6 decades, plus never-published photography – from the original café racing scene in 1960s England to the present, paintings by Triumph ‘resident artist’ Conrad Leach, images from the Ace Café Collection, vintage leather ‘Rocker’ jackets from the Lewis Leathers archive, the “One-Show” 21-helmets display of custom painted helmets, painting by Andrea Chiaravalli and photography by Erick Runyon with other artists to be announced.

Lichter5Each year, the “Motorcycles as Art” exhibition is a prominent event during the Sturgis Rally, garnering tremendous media coverage from around the globe, and thousands of enthusiasts in person visiting it.  This year’s exhibition will certainly get even more recognition as it will live on in a coffee-table book “Ton Up – Speed, Style and Cafe Racer Culture,” published by Motorbooks International. Michael Lichter will photograph in his Sturgis studio all the motorcycles, jackets, artwork, and photographs from the exhibit. In complement, Paul d’Orléans is writing a comprehensive history of the Café Racer movement, from its deep origins in speed-modified road bikes to the ‘classic’ period in England in the 1950s/60s, through its various resurrections in the 1970s, 80s and especially with the advent of Internet motorcycle blogs, TV shows, and ‘Café Racer’ magazines, the explosive popularity of the style in the 21st Century.

Lichter4All ‘Motorcycles as Art’ exhibitions are hosted each year at the Buffalo Chip’s® 7,000 square foot Exhibition Center 3 miles east of Sturgis. “Ton Up! Speed, Style And Cafe Racer Culture” offers free admission to the public and will be open from August 3rd to 9th (entrance next to the east gate of the Buffalo Chip).

Sponsors include GEICO Motorcycle, DHL Worldwide, Handy Industries, Hot Leathers, Keyboard Motorcycle Shipping, Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys and Spectro Performance Oils.

Featured Motorcycles And Builders.

Included in the show are original or modified machines by BMW, BSA, Ducati, Honda, Harley Davidson, Moto Guzzi, Norton, Rickman, Triumph, Vincent and Yamaha

The 30+ confirmed bikes for this exhibit include premium examples of 50s/60s Café Racers (Gold Star, Norvin, Triton, Dunstall, etc) from Herb Harris (Harris Vincent Gallery), Yoshi Kosaka (Garage Co), Mark Mederski (National Motorcycle Museum), Gordon McCall (Quail Motorsports Gathering), plus Willie G Davidson’s #0001 1977 XLCR,

Cafe Racers from:

Alain Bernard (www.santiagochopper.com), Arlen Ness (www.arlenness.com), Barry Weiss, Brian Klock (Klock Werks Kustom Cycles), Bryan Fuller (www.fullerhotrods.com), David Edwards (www.bikecraftmagazine.com), David Zemla (www.burlybrand.com), Dustin Kott (www.kottmotorcycles.com), Giuseppe Carucci (www.southgarage.com), Greg Hageman (www.docschops.net), Jason Paul Michaels (www.dimecitycycles.com), Jay Hart, Jay LaRossa (www.lossaengineering.com), Kevin Dunworth (www.loadedguncustoms.com), Ray Drea (Harley-Davidson design director), Richard Varner (www.championsmoto.com), Roland Sands (www.rolandsands.com), Shinya Kimura (www.ChabottEngineering.com), Skeeter Todd, Steve “Brew Dude” Garn (www.brewracingframes.com), Steve “Carpy” Carpenter (www.cb750cafe.com), Thor Drake (seeseemotorcycles.com), Vincent Prat (Southsiders MC) and Zach Ness (www.arlenness.com).

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Zipper's

17 Responses to “2013 Annual “Motorcycle As Art” Sturgis Exhibition Is ‘Ton Up! Speed, Style and Cafe Racer Culture””


  1. 1 Sean Hasting May 29th, 2013 at 9:37 am

    I visited last year. Will be back in August.

  2. 2 Drake May 29th, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Better show than any bike show competition around Sturgis. And you may bump into some of the movers & shakers of the industry including Cyril that I met while he was shooting pictures..

  3. 3 John E Adams May 29th, 2013 at 10:23 am

    A winning team on this project, Paul and Michael both do amazing work -;0)

  4. 4 Rodent May 29th, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Show should be moved to Daytona Bike Week

  5. 5 Mike Greenwald May 29th, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    You mean to tell me that “Ton Up” doesn’t mean the weight of some dude and his old lady riding across a truck scale two-up on a bagger with all their gear?

  6. 6 Greeko May 29th, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    Visited the one with Jeff Decker work 2 years ago. It was excellent.

  7. 7 Doc Robinson May 30th, 2013 at 6:15 am

    I would not miss them. Every one has been superbly organised and mighty interesting with different themes. Absolutely one of my Sturgis highlights each year. Michael Lichter rocks!

  8. 8 Tom Keefer/Franklin Church Choppers May 30th, 2013 at 7:11 am

    Great exhibit last few years! Looks like some more great builders were chosen for this year, looking forward to seeing it again this year.

  9. 9 Rollin May 30th, 2013 at 7:31 am

    One of the best events in Sturgis and it’s free!

  10. 10 Cris Sommer Simmons May 30th, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Wow! I think these two creative guys will make a great team… both for the exhibit AND the book! Can’t wait to see it!

  11. 11 nicker May 31st, 2013 at 12:29 am

    Looking at the Victory pictured in a previous thread made me think about a stripped down Victory as a Cafe racer…… and here it is.

    And so “old is New” (NEVER throw any thing away)
    Nice to see that the type of scooters we were riding to school are still interesting to some people.

    -nicker-.

  12. 12 Terence Tory May 31st, 2013 at 3:17 am

    It would be a good idea if there was more RACER and less CAFE in this fashion trend carny show.If a bike does not have clip-ons and can speed competently around twisty roads at speed it is not a caferacer:it is a fashion item like a Louis Vuitton handbag.Like it’s good to look at in Starbucks,but little else…..For the people who have no idea of what a genuine café racer actually is like,well have a look here: http://raresportbikesforsale.com/r-a-b-rare-amazing-bikes-ducati-450-desmo-switzerland/

  13. 13 Terence Tory May 31st, 2013 at 7:24 am

    Correction:” CAN’T speed competently around twisty roads.”

  14. 14 barney89 May 31st, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Less emphasis should be placed on the “café racer” end of it when in fact much of this movement derives from a simple wish for more sensible and classically styled street bikes and is a rejection in many ways of the “modern” motorcycle overlaid as it is with GP style aesthetics (no matter what cc or model of bike it may be) and all that implies in terms of their complexity, ugly ‘transformer’ styling and being way over powered in many cases; this rejection includes all the garishly branded ICON and ALPINE apparel and star trek booties in favor of more laid back classic styles of leather jacket etc.

  15. 15 Steve The Producer Johann May 31st, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Should be a wonderful show. Mike is great guy with a lot of talent. We will get him back on the show to chat about what is going into this years exhibition.

    As for trends lets face it, every sport bike on the street today was born from the cafe racer world. They draw from the race world by offering the very latest in technology styling designed to corner well and go fast in a slumped over the tank position. That being said, it’s still fun to see what people do to take a non sport bike and convert it into a race styled bike.

  16. 16 Dag n Bill Jun 1st, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Looking forward to seeing the show and also you Mike!! We will be heading out your way in August.

  17. 17 Dave Jul 8th, 2013 at 7:11 am

    Michael Lichter ROCKS!!!

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