2012 Laughlin River Run - Video

Bikes, Beer and B**bs in the Wild Wild West

Billed as the “largest motorcycle event on the west coast,” the 2012 edition of the Laughlin River Run marked the 30th anniversary of the event. Being my first trip to Laughlin, I didn’t have anything to compare it to, however, vendors and other show goers commented about the larger crowds this year compared to years past. Still a far cry from the height of the show’s popularity, but a positive sign on the state of the economy.

But enough about the numbers, “Laughlin is all about the bikes, beer and boobs, man!” as one showgoer told me while guzzling a cold one. And he’s right. The city is overrun by motorcyclists from all over the world one weekend a year in celebration of one common bond: a love for riding. Every parking lot of the town’s nine hotels and casinos were filled with cruisers. Predominantly V-Twins, mostly Harley-Davidsons, some mild and some absolutely wild.

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2012 Laughlin River Run Group Ride

In the vendor area, many of the industry’s biggest names were in attendance. J&P Cycles, Kuryakyn, Performance Machine, Vance & Hines, and Pirelli, as well as a host of small boutique shops, had commanding setups ready to sell products. Many vendors came ready with separate tents adjacent to the mobile sales floor equipped to install items being sold next door. OEMs like Yamaha and Victory also had a presence and were offering demo rides of all their models.

2012 Laughlin River Run Vendors

Perhaps the coolest vendors were the small specialty shops like Trask Performance, based in Arizona. Best known for building turbo systems for a variety of American motorcycles, ATVs and snowmobiles, Trask had a full lineup of custom cruisers on display fitted with turbos. Each system is designed as bolt-on kits for your Bagger, Dyna, Softail, Sportster, V-Rod or Victory without any need to tear into the engine. The kits do necessitate the need to run on premium fuel, but provide a giant surge of power to stock engines. 

2012 Laughlin River Run Custom Harley-Davidson FLHX

Of course, while many vendors focused on the bikes, there were numerous gear and apparel vendors as well. None more wild and outlandish than the custom lids at Howling Helmets. Based in Vista, California, Bob Huddleson started customizing his helmets in 2000 with furs and skins provided by his hunting and taxidermy friends.

After receiving plenty of fanfare and attention, he decided to leave the contracting business and start creating wacky helmets for a living. “I never thought I’d be doing this, but I’ve been having so much fun. I love it,” he says. Huddleson’s been attending all the major rallies as a vendor ever since.

2012 Laughlin River Run Howling Helmet

No show is complete without a bustling nightlife, and Laughlin didn’t disappoint. Outdoor concerts raged long into the night, with the likes of Ted Nugent, Mini KISS, The Doors and David Allan Coe all taking the stage. Beer gardens and bars were only steps away, many tended to by bikini-clad bartenders.

Saving the best for last, eye candy throughout the town wasn’t limited to just two-wheeled machinery, as bikini and wet t-shirt contests filled the weekend. This in addition to the annual Mr. Laughlin contest. Needless to say, visual stimulation wasn’t in short supply this weekend.

2012 Laughlin River Run Tiger

The Laughlin River Run always promises to be a fun experience, and this year’s edition was no exception. Being able to ride in along historic Route 66 was memorable, having the city of Laughlin welcome bikers with open arms is refreshing, and enjoying all the show had to offer meant there was never a dull moment. In many ways, the Laughlin River Run is a slice of two-wheeled Americana.

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Objective: Laughlin

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