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An unusually high amount of black leather and thick moustaches were seen in the Central City Mall parking lot last Saturday. The (mostly) furry-lipped patrons had taken over a section of the parking lot to display their two-wheeled passion projects as part of the ‘1st Annual Central City Motorcycle Show N’ Shine.’ The show, which was organized by the BC Coalition of Motorcyclists (BCCOM), was a featured part of Surrey Fest.
Adele Tompkins, Executive Director of BCCOM, was involved with organizing the show. For the past seven years, BCCOM also organized the Gastown Show N’ Shine, an event which has now been suspended. “[After we were discontinued] I was approached by the mall to see if we wanted to be part of Surrey Fest,” said Adele Tompkins, Executive Director of BCCOM. “So this is our first and it won’t be our last, but I think what we’re planning on doing next year is having a stand-alone Show n’ Shine in August, when the weather is nice.”
“Look at these people who showed up on a day like today,” she said, noting the rain. “That shows how much they love motorcycles.”
The event had about 15 entrants, and trophies were given for different categories of bikes. Mitch Hart, who was awarded the overall ‘Best Bike’ trophy, came all the way from Nelson, BC to participate in the event. His bike’s engine is what’s called a Harley Davidson ‘Knucklehead’ manufactured in 1939, so-called because the round knobs on the cover resemble knuckles. “It’s a Harley V-Twin built in ’39 so it’s kinda primitive. Talkin 73 years old. Brakes and lot of running gears are upgraded, still has an old look about it,” he says.
“It’s been a long time,” says Hart about his motorcycling career. “I’m 73 years old, and I’ve been riding for 50 plus years, I’m actually the same age as that bike. [Working on the bike was] very time consuming, I spent months… I’ve got four months of daily work on it.” When asked about how much a project like this costs, he says “I don’t know if you can put a price on it. It’s obviously not done for resale particularly. It’s a passion and it’s for the love of doing it rather than the financial reward.”
Shane Kutzy, an entrant from our very own City of Surrey, is like a younger, real-life Doc Brown. He won the Special Interest award with a convoluted and unique looking contraption that only resembles a motorcycle in that it has two wheels, though he does not hesitate to display his passion about it. “[My bike] is called the RAT bike, as in ‘Recycled Alternative Transportation. [I call it that because] it’s all found and recycled materials or scrap materials that I’ve gotten over the years. Took me about three years to build,” he says, noting that he’s put about 200-300 hours into it, along with a similar amount of money. “I bought the drive-train components, nuts and bolts and then all the rest was basically found and free.” He adds that the bike isn’t street-legal, due to not having the proper lights, horn, signals or other basic components a road-ready vehicle requires.
Kutzy is clearly proud of how much of the bike is made up of unique salvaged and found parts. He emphasized that many of the parts he found by chance, because on some days he left his house with the mindset of “’I want coffee, and I want to go out and find something,” he explains, “so I went down the street to the Tim Hortons and sure enough I find some tubing.” He welded the chassis himself from scrap metal he obtained at a machine shop where he worked, and about the seat on the bike, he says he “found in the alley – it’s actually from an office chair, those fancy leather ones.” The engine is also atypical for one found on a motorcycle “[It’s] what they call a six and a half force Honda clone… it’s meant for go-karts basically.”
One of the many noticeably unusual things about his motorcycle is that the front tire is much smaller and narrower than the other. “My rear tire is actually a Chrysler standard 5 bolt spare tire, and likewise I found it while coming home from work one day.” The front tire is set up just like a bicycle, with an actual bicycle wheel sitting between two metal forks. For a motorcycle this is an extremely unusual setup which he decided to use for practical reasons. “It would be difficult to make a setup where I had another spare and put it on the front. I’d have to build some kind of bearings and a hub to hold on to it because it’s meant for a car. With a bicycle, it already has that kind of assembly together, so I can just make something around it. A lot of this is actually just taking something and working around it.” When asked why he didn’t just go with motorcycle tires, he says “Money. I didn’t have a lot of money, and I was like ‘I can do this cheap’.”
This is Kutzy’s first bike that he has built or owned. “Overall it is an unconventional design. I just kind of went with it. Sometimes creative people, they’ve got an idea,” he says.
I like to build stuff, this is kinda my thing. I had my mind set – “I’m gonna build a motorcycle.” However he has no plans to stop now that he’s made one. “A street-legal machine. A brand new, home-built motorcycle that will be street legal. That’s what my goal is now.”
Connect with the BC Coalition of Motorcyclists for more information and events.