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Padova Custom & Chopper Show
The Italians bring out the wild and wonderful!
When the first Padova Custom & Chopper show was held in 1995, there was little reason to believe that the tiny event would become a major attraction for the pizza inventors. This so-called 'biker show', held near Venice, catered only to Italy's small, hardcore group of American-style fans. In the speed-crazy land of Rossi and Capirossi, low-slung big Twins and chaps-wearing dudes are still a bit of an oddity.
Against all odds, this annual gathering started to attract bigger crowds, special sportbike builders, tuners and power merchants. By 2006, even the big manufacturers jumped into the fray. From 18,000 visitors and some 50 vendors stands 12 years ago, the Padova event has grown into a show with 310 exhibitors and 70,000 visitors, killing in the process the good old Bologna Motor show.
Why bother visiting Padova's show after the excess of Milan's EICMA and its half million visitors? By being held away from the big spotlights, the Padova show attracts plenty of small builders and special parts manufacturers, and these come not only from Italy but also from the whole area of Southeast Europe. Emerging countries like Slovenia, Hungary and the Czech Republic are catching up fast, and some of the finalists at the last few editions of the AMD World Custom Bike Championship have come from Eastern Europe.
In recognition of the high level of customs being showcased in Padova, the show has now become one of the semifinals for the championship, so plenty of finger-licking-good scoots were on show. As if that wasn't enough, with Italy being Italy, there were plenty of go-fast specials too. Cool things built around Ducatis, Guzzis and MVs, as well as beautiful European streetfighters. So let's go for a tour.
The France-based Odyssey workshop churned out a fine high-tech custom. The V-Rage won the Best In Show trophy and will be heading to the AMD finals in Sturgis this year. A huge S&S powerplant, automatic transmission, the single-sided swingarm and fork were carved from an alloy block. Odyssey claims to have designed the whole bike with 3D software, so it's a real showcase of high-tech custom building. The fit and finish is downright maniacal. For more info, check out Odyssey’s website.
Second place belonged to a pretty high-tech thing, too, but why do so many custom builders feel the need to have a theme for their bikes? God knows how President J.F. Kennedy is related to this bike, but this didn't stop Fred Kodlin from christening it 'JFK'. On the back there is a parallelogram linkage that controls twin wheels.
Italy's Luciano Andrioli saved Italy's honor and put up a nice fight against Europe's big shots with his 'Project 17', garnering third-place honors in the AMD semifinals for the old-school influenced scoot. Light and clean lines around a classic-looking mill go well with black T-shirt-wearing blondes.
Vav Tuning, a custom house from the Czech Republic, is led by an ex-Doctor, Vaclav Vavra, and has already reached the AMD finals a few times. His style is very technical, another exponent of the high-tech trend reigning in Europe. I have to say that I liked his 'Breakin' the Rulez' scoot from two years ago a lot more, but this one wasn't bad either. Kustom Kulture is taking a hold in countries like Hungary, Slovenia and Poland the last few years.
The Swedish biker scene is well known in Europe for its bloody gang wars, but it has another cooler side to it. The Swedish Sinner's workshop had quite few of these fine old-school choppers in display. Super clean, understated, almost Zen-minimal tools. The dudes at the stand might not have been so friendly to a non-tattooed nerd like me, but their wares made me miss the tall sissy bar of my Raleigh Chopper pushbike. Powered by real, non-fake Flatheads and Knuckleheads, I could almost see myself riding one of those sin machines. I said almost...
Unlike Erik Buell, who's shifted now to Austrian water-cooled power, the French Wakan guys still believe that there's life in big air-cooled Twins. A 1650cc S&S motor with 115 hp and gobs of torque powers Wakan's 390-lb contraption. A clever spine frame showcases the mighty engine and lets Wakan get away with a full downdraft inlet tract. I'm working on getting a test ride on one ASAP. Is this what Erik might have built if Harley management didn't censure him? Check out engmore.com for more info.
Just in case you didn't get around to ordering a Ducati Desmosedici, the MotoGP replica, there's help. Lusuardi is offering Ducati MotoGP-like fairing kits that will turn any 916, 998 or 999 into a Casey Stoner look-alike. It really makes you wonder why Ducati didn't apply these fine curves to the new 1098. It could have been a hit in my humble opinion. Find more info at Lusuardi’s website and in our photo gallery.
Ferrucio Codutti is a well-known special builder in Italy. The guy is mostly famous for his metal-beating skills and has, in the past, crafted lingerie from an aluminum sheet for the models posing on his bike. His creation, based on a Monster S4, is nothing short of amazing, with a self-made Duolever-style front end that looks pretty well sorted out.
Make sure you check out our photo gallery for more info on these cool bikes from Padova.