Categories: Features

Petersen Automotive Museum Presents, The “Custom Revolution” Motorcycle Exhibit

The Petersen Automotive Museum is one of the world’s premier car enthusiast destinations. Located in Los Angeles, the museum showcases automotive culture from around the world while celebrating Southern California’s rich history of automotive innovation, competition and design. The Petersen features exhibits primarily revolving around four-wheeled vehicles, but due to popular inquisition and demand, in addition to the vision and wealth of knowledge from the exhibit’s guest curator and motorcycle historian, Paul d’Orleans, the “Custom Revolution” exhibit was born.

“Custom Revolution” celebrates the visionaries who push the creative edges of alternative motorcycle design. Using both new and old engines, past and present chassis concepts, and unique styling, a group of 25 individual builders were hand selected to display their one-off motorcycle art creations.

Built and owned by Mark Atkinson, a professional machinist of North Salt Lake, UT, “BMW Alpha” is a salt flats racer that started its life off as a 1991 BMW K75. The concept was originally sparked by one of Mehmet Doruk Erdem’s sketches. Erdem is a Turkish industrial designer who creates computer-generated motorcycle concepts. His sketches are so convincing it is difficult to tell whether they are photographs or real objects (click here if you’re interested in seeing more of his designs). Mark Atkinson turned one of Mehmet’s drawings into reality. The frame is completely custom fabricated and the bodywork is constructed of handmade carbon fiber. The motor is turbo-charged and the Alpha’s pilot essentially lays on the motorcycle. In the rear, you can see two stirrups for your feet, and shifting and braking is actuated by the pilot’s knees – crazy. (more pics in the gallery below)

“At the Petersen, it is our utmost goal to embrace and foster creativity – especially when it comes to automobiles,” said Petersen Executive Director Terry L. Karges. “Because we’ve built exhibits around the art of four-wheeled vehicles many times, we believe it’s the perfect time to recognize a global phenomenon in the form of the custom bike revolution. This new exhibit will celebrate the international trendsetters of this movement while delivering a definite nod to LA culture.”

With 360 days of sunshine each year, Southern California is no doubt home to one of the world’s biggest custom culture scenes, exhibiting an endless variety of different types of vehicles on the road (amongst a sh*t-ton of Priuses). However, with a constantly growing population and increasing congestion on the roadways, more and more people in Southern California have been turning to motorcycles for their transportation duties. Being the cosmopolitan, fashion-forward city that LA is, it’s no surprise many of the city’s motorcyclists choose to style-out their bikes too.

All the way from Hamburg, Germany, the “Speedster” is one of Uwe Ehinger of Ehinger Kraftrad’s creations. It’s a speedway-inspired build using a 1937 Harley-Davidson UL side-valve bottom end with CAD software-generated Knucklehead cylinders and OHV-heads which feature an open valve train and rockers machined out of a solid block of aluminum. The frame is one-off and the springer front end has been narrowed. Additionally, Uwe fitted Beringer calipers to a custom dual-disc deal inside the already narrowed front end which also serves as the wheel’s hub – so gnarly (click the photo above to zoom in). Another cool feature is the hidden oil tank inside the ’70s style banana seat (more pics in the gallery below).

Of the exhibit’s 25 builders, 10 are based in California, with seven from the LA area and the other three from farther north, in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The remaining 15 come from  other parts of the States as well as Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Vietnam and Spain.

The motorcycles on display in the exhibit aren’t what you’re used to seeing at your local bike night. These 25 bikes take motorcycle customization to a whole new level, with truly innovative and original thinking – the type of pioneering that big-time OEMs take notice of and often times inspire their own future designs.

Not sure where to start with this one, but it definitely caught my eye. Originally a 1967 Honda Super Sport 125, Bandit9 Motorcycles out of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, transformed the 125cc, four-speed, air-cooled, four-stroke into a “retro-futurist” motorcycle that resembles a pistol or jet in profile. Bandit9 calls it “L-Concept.” It weighs 297 lbs and is capable of a 68 mph top speed. Check out those handlebars and rear suspension though!

We were invited to attend the “Custom Revolution” exhibit’s opening night, and it was an experience we won’t soon forget. “Custom Revolution” is currently open and the exhibit will be displayed in the Richard Varner Family Gallery on the second floor until March 2019. The pictures here are only a taste of what the exhibit offers, there’s way more cool stuff. We highly recommend visiting the Petersen Automotive Museum if you happen to find yourself on the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax in LA. You won’t be disappointed.

Brent Jaswinski

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Brent Jaswinski
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