Major Milestone for S&S Cycles

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S&S celebrates 50 years in the biz

IN OPENING THE CELEBRATION of his family company's 50th anniversary, S&S Cycle president Brett Smith tipped his hat to Harley-Davidson, saying without The Motor Co., S&S wouldn't exist. Without missing a beat, a representative from H-D grabbed the accolade and threw it right back into Smith's hands, thanking S&S for helping to create the most vibrant aftermarket in the entire industry.

Smith then invited his father, George Smith, and some other family members up on stage to discuss the go-fast origins of S&S. Meanwhile, the crowd assembled under the tent at the La Crosse, Wis., Oktoberfest grounds sweated and waited for the real show to begin. And it did. Very loudly. On cue, a collection of nearly 50 custom builders fired up the bikes they'd been invited to build as part of S&S golden milestone. The roar was deafening and sweet. It sounded like history.

For three days in June, La Crosse played host to nearly 30,000 visitors who'd come to town to help S&S celebrate. While there was hot stuff to do across the town and the region, the main ticket was the custom show featuring bikes divided into six categories depending on which S&S motor was used in their construction. The overall winner received $50,000 in S&S credit.

The motorcycles on display were simply incredible. There was an array of styles and talent ranging from the bike built by the youngest Ness protégé, Zach, to the X-Wedge-powered chopper from Chopper Dave. All were ingenious takes on the custom V-twin. A few notables came from Bill Dodge, Trevelen, Revolution Church of Choppers, and the sportbike-flavored monster from Big Bear Choppers. The BBC crew says the X-Wedge machine could very well become a production bike with a few tweaks and turns. If you're familiar with BBC's work, this marks a huge departure.

The overall winner, built by Japan's Hot Dock, was a sick feat of engineering that had to be seen to be believed. Hot Dock's Keiji Kawakta's craftsmanship is stunning. (For more info on the build-off builders, go to www.sscycle50th.com.) Outside the tent and all over town it was obvious that baggers (whatever you want to call them) are here to stay as are chopped-up, stripped-down bikes. Super-stretched, super-raked, fat-rear-tire bikes look like yesterday's news. As testament to the bagger/dresser craze, Klock Werks' Brian Klock says his new windshield has been selling like crazy — about 8,000 of them since the Cincinnati V-twin show. — Dennis Johnson