Culp Street Fighting S1000RR Vs. Sport Bike: Ready to Rumble!

The last Saturday of Daytona Bike Week is traditionally the big Rat's Hole Bike Show, a place for bike builders to see and be seen. Rat's Hole has been good to Shreveport, La., bike builder Steve Culp in the past, handing him wins for every bike he has ever entered. But this year, Culp decided to bypass Rat's Hole to take his custom BMW Street Fighter to the home turf of a different biking community.

At its core, of course, the Culp Street Fighter is a BMW S1000RR sport bike, but in its transformation, the plastic bits have been stripped away, leaving less Rickey Roadracer and more of something completely different.

How would the true and pure sport bike afficianados react? To find out, Steve decided to take the double-R to the heart of the competition, to the popular Maravilla Productions Sport Bike Fest in Daytona. It was a gamble, to be sure. To compete in the Sport Bike Fest, Steve would have to bypass Rat's Hole, on the heels of his Boardwalk win. It is a risk not many builders would take.

Sport Bike Fest is all about big. Big bikes done in big colors with big ideas and big bling. It is truly a place to go big or go home.

The themes transform the bikes into skeletons, sports teams, cartoon heroes, military operations. Swing arms are lengthened, bikes are lowered, lighting and chrome are added.

The bikes become highly individual and oftentimes, insanely expensive works of art. On the flip side, the Culp Street Fighter is understated, retro, muscular. Bling is in relatively short supply, but meticulous fabrication work is not. Would the Sport Bike Fest judges overlook lack of bling for concept, finish and execution?

The answer came when the announcer called the name of the winner of the Hottest Bike. "I was amazed," said Steve. "When I heard my name, I just couldn't believe it. I'm still stunned. The crowd at the Sport Bike Fest is not the biking crowd I normally am around. I didn't know what they would like and whether I had any chance at winning." Now he knows. Biking people may like different styles of bikes, music and clothing, but the appreciation of a creative idea executed well seems to unite us all.

A photographer asks one of the models to pose with Steve's Street Fighter for some publicity photos.

Culp S1000RR Blows Away the Boardwalk

In the more than 20 years that the Daytona, Fla., Boardwalk Custom Bike Show has been going on, it has gained the reputation as being a gathering place for top flight builders. 2011 was no different, drawing competitors from across the U.S. as well as Montreal and Ontario, Canada, and several European nations. The Boardwalk show also attracts international press to see the latest, greatest and most interesting...from antiques to radical customs. The show has a special charm, and is always held seaside along the historic Daytona Beach Boardwalk, near the beach where automobile and motorcycle racing history was made in the 1920s and 30s. It seems somehow fitting that daring and imaginative men (and women) would be drawn to this spot.

The bikes entered in the Boardwalk Show, which is sponsored by Full Throttle magazine, come with a reputation of always interesting and meticulously executed. One of the competitors told us the judges at Boardwalk expect the best and always look for technical expertise. The bikes run the gamut, and no matter whether they are your cup of tea or not, they are unfailingly well-executed with amazing attention to detail.

It was into this that Shreveport, La., builder Steve Culp brought his 1969 Suzuki T500 cafe racer, his antique 1966 T200 Suzuki and his newly-minted 2010 S1000RR Street Fighter.
Within moments after arriving, the S1000RR was surrounded by photographers and curious onlookers.

Boardwalk judges took special notice, too, giving Steve a one-two sweep in the hotly-contested Custom Metric division (S1000RR-1st, Cafe Racer-2nd), and a first in the Antiques class for his pretty little T200.

But perhaps even better than the adulation of the pretty 'trophy girl' and the additional awards was the attention from Germany, in the form of a photo shoot for Custombike magazine. Custombike is a European publication constantly looking for the new and unique, both in the US and across the pond. Within moments of spotting Culp's Street Fighter, the editor and his photographer were making plans with Steve for a full-blown photo shoot for both the magazine and a soon-to-be-printed book on BMWs.

Photograph of the photograher taking a photograph. Not at all clever, but I was out of ideas and I was getting hungry.

German photog's crack thoughtfully blacked out for your increased viewing pleasure.

Magazine editor Heinrich said Steve's BMW was 'sick' and that his readers wouldn't believe it without photographic evidence, which Steve was happy to provide.
 All in all, a good day in Daytona as Bike Week 2011 winds down. The fun times are not over, though, not by a long shot. Stay tuned for more!

Bike Week Part II-Victory Is Ours!

In my last post, I mentioned that Main Street during Bike Week or Biketoberfest is an event that must be enjoyed at least once in life. Where else might you see a tubby and smiling Captain America--- mask, cape and all--- pull up on his equally decked-out Boss Hoss, read t-shirt sogans so gross you fear blindness or see a crusty old dude wandering the street wearing a handmade cardboard sign saying "Will Work for Sex or Filet Mignon"? Alas, the wonders and delights of Main Street are but one reason Daytona during a motorcycle event is so special.

Equally as enticing is the fact that during most Bike Weeks, Triumph, Harley Davidson, Victory, Boss Hoss, Yamaha, Can-Am, Suzuki, and Kawasaki spend millions to set up lavish tents and trailers and allow anyone with a motorcycle endorsement to ride anything they would like...for free, mostly. (Boss Hoss is the exception, but with gas nearing $4 a gallon, paying $10 to ride a big 13mpg V-8 Hoss is still a bargain.)

To anyone who loves motorcycles, this group dealer demonstration ride set-up is just one step removed from heaven. Once upon a time Moto Guzzi, Buell, and BMW also participated...but the cost of the event became daunting or the brand went away. Ducati also used to come, but never let you ride. Of all the major players, only Honda refuses to allow riding, claiming the liability is just too great. Oddly, Suzuki and the others do not seem to agree. In fact, one wag at Kawasaki told me several years ago that not being at the show does their reputation harm. It seems people are far too quick to jump to the conclusion that the brand is in trouble if it is not represented at Bike Week.

At 8:30ish each morning, the manufacturers start taking names for the days' rides. Plan well and get a bit lucky, and you can go from ride to ride for most of the day. Since Steve and I have ridden most of what is available, we now tend to be more choosy, and so today, started at Victory to ride the as-yet unobtainable High Ball, which comes standard with 6-speed overdrive, 97 horsepower 106 Freedom V-Twin, 16-inch laced wheels, and best of all, ape hangars.

The 2012 High Ball, due out in April, just LOOKS cool, and it drives cool, too. I have never ridden with ape hangars before and wondered what the higher handlebars would do to the bike's handling. I've seen riders with high bars struggle with corners and tight spaces before, but Victory has this bike dialed in. My demo bike, outfitted with aftermarket pipes handled like a charm, cornered well, stopped on a dime, had power to spare and was ten tons of fun. I can always tell which bike I really love by the size of the smile plastered on my face when I return from the ride and this smile was larger than Boss Hoss' Bike Week gasoline bill.

I had high hopes, then, for the test ride of the new Triumph GS clone, the 800XC. The first thing we discovered is the price spotted on-line was low, and the new bike will be much closer in price to the BMW F800 than expected. Stay tuned for more!

Daytona Bike Week 2011-Back With a Bang!

Petrol nearing $4 a gallon and bad weather across much of the East Coast has not been enough to put a damper on the annual pilgrimage to central Florida beaches. Bike Week diehards starting arriving in late February and by the 'official' first day, Friday, March 4, the cities that comprise the greater-Daytona Beach- area were crawling with cycling crowds seeking sun and fun. They were not disappointed with either. Dire predictions of a wet and nasty first Sunday didn't materialize as the system that pummelled Shreveport on Saturday veered far north. A slight cool front blew through Sunday night but the Monday highs of mid-60s will be the coolest of the week.

As with every Bike Week, there are great motorcycles to gawk at, fun stuff to buy, good eats to uh, eat, scenic rides that include palm trees and sun!, daily calorie-free Dairy Queen hot fudge sundaes, and Florida lotteries to win, but the biggest fun comes from people-watching. Until you pull up a rail on Main Street in Daytona and spend a few hours watching the motorcycling world go by, you are a flat dud. D-u-d. This show is better than "Cats", it's better than anything your feverish brain could dream after a dinner of bad sushi, it's better than anything has the right to be. Add the Main Street experience to your bucket list. I beg you.

But since you have obligations and jobs and can't miss a weekend of yard work, here is the next best thing. Bike Week according to me.

The new star of a Goth reality show or one of the 'beer girls' at Destination Daytona? You be the judge.

Heaven help us, everyone.

The new 'Vintage Indian" just $37,000 less tax, title, license, transport and the new bachelor pad you will need to rent when you tell your spouse what you have done.
The first weekend of Bike Week the nearby town of Deland hosts its bike rally. While there, I asked Steve, 'Where are all the young people?' because there weren't any. The next day, the local newspaper reported the rally 'attracted the elderly.' Hahahaha.

Steve's S1000RR StreetFighter was a huge hit at BMW of Daytona, and several of the employees there had already seen it on-line. The store emptied when the double-R pulled into the lot and Steve spent the better part of an hour answering questions. David from the Orlando BMW store tries the S-Fighter on for size.

This was spotted NOT at the BMW tent (there isn't one this year), but at the TRIUMPH demo display at the International Speedway. This is the 2011 Triumph Tiger 800XC, a GS-knockoff if ever there was one. The lines are similar, the luggage is similar...but apparently the price, and some say performance, is not. The price of the 2010 BMW F 800GS, is $11,395 according to the BMW website. The price of the Triumph is, according to one website, $7995! This beast could be serious competition to our favorite dual sport ride. Steve and I plan to put the 800 XC to the test tomorrow and will report back on what we find.

So there you are, the first weekend of Bike Week condensed into an edible morsel. Check back often this week for more good eats.