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Page 45 of 107

46 April 2018 THUNDER PRESS VERONA, ITALY, JAN. 18–21— By American standards, the scope and scale of Motor Bike Expo (MBE) in Verona, Italy, is fl at-out astound- ing. Celebrating its 10th anniversary at Veronafi ere, MBE impressed by continuing a solid upward trend in attendance, entertainment and value. This year the show expanded to four days from three, housed over 700 exhibiting companies, and drew more than 167,000 attendees from around the world. "This year's experiment was a complete success," said organiz- ers Paola Somma and Francesco Agnoletto, confirming the fourth day will continue in future. "We wish for our exhibitors and visitors alike to have a better opportunity to see everything on display through- out the halls and enjoy time spent with friends from around the world who use Motor Bike Expo as an annual reunion." Speculate on the reasons for such success all you like but here's the bottom line: thousands of motor- MOTOR BIKE EXPO Italian extravaganza by Marilyn Stemp Photos by Horst Rösler, Madness Photography/Onno Wieringa and Marilyn Stemp cycle fans packed the venue with energy and enthusiasm for all things two-wheeled, fi lling seven halls and fi ve outdoor pavilions. Displays ran the gamut from stock OEM offer- ings to overblown custom builds and everything in between. Expanded gearhead culture was evident in hot rods, music, stunt shows, champion- ship racing, food, drink, and the kind of joy-fueled hoopla Italians exem- plify with gusto. MBE is simply one spectacular bike rider extravaganza, a celebration of machinery and life- style on a grand platform. As part of the 10th anniversary observance—a milestone recognized with a "Moxie Award" at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip during the Sturgis Rally last August—new features joined the MBE schedule. These included a helmet design exhibition called "The Art of Kustom" and the very fi rst Indoor Trial Italian Championship competition. But a large part of MBE's appeal is its emphasis on customs. Ramping up that aspect was the debut of Saturday's prestigious MBE Award, which crowned the best custom bike of the entire event as the King of Verona, as selected by a panel of celebrity judges. First the fi eld was narrowed to the top 10 machines, a feat in itself. Then a stunner called "MAG 1919" built by Abnormal Cycles in Milan was crowned the fi rst-ever King of Verona. And that was just the start of the honors bestowed. The Italian Championship segment of Custom Chrome Europe's International Bike Show Series, held at MBE since 2012, also happened Saturday, with four classes plus the Italian Champion named. If anything was different this year, said show orga- nizer and "motographer" Horst Rösler, it was the overwhelming number of custom bikes and the stel- lar quality of those machines. Additional recognitions came in the Magazine Awards on Sunday, with winners selected by represen- tatives of top international publi- cations. A Sunday bike show by Italian publications Lowride and Chop & Roll resulted in still more trophies conferred. One look at the roster of custom builders on site confi rms MBE's place as an international refer- ence point for style and design in the worldwide motorcycle scene. Builders came from the UK, Western Europe and the U.S. Cory and Zach Ness brought an early Arlen Ness machine and Custom Design Studios' Kirk Taylor was on site. From the UK, last year's CCE Italian Champion Pete Pearson of Rocket Bobs Cycle Works returned to take top honors again, with the Ace Café's Mark Wilsmore and Warr's H-D designer Charlie Stockwell also attending. Germany's Fred Kodlin was present, along with Swiss build- er and Monster Energy racer Danny Schneider, plus dozens of builders from Europe. Italian customizers arrived in force and their work was as fascinat- ing as it was varied. Styling-wise, slim is in with board-track, café racer and bobber cues still vastly appar- ent. The few bagger-style bikes stood out as starkly different from the rest. They got attention but in parts of the world where space and noise are undisputed concerns, that platform is largely impractical. Builders also arrived from points further fl ung such as Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Hong Kong and U.A.E. Many of these machines showed few limits in opulence, other than Rough Crafts' Winston Yeh of Taiwan whose stealthy, understated approach demands closer inspection. The team from Kromworks in Jakarta, Indonesia, erupted in wild exuber- ance when they took third in CCE's Championship class with a bike dubbed "The Stone." In all, over 500 custom motorcycles rolled into the halls. Pity the bike show judges who had to distill the entries and choose show winners! Along with stellar show man- agement, there's another pivotal fac- tor to MBE's attraction: it happens in Verona, Italy, a welcoming city with an ancient arena, lively town plaza, and active nightlife. Fabulous food is accompanied by distinctive wine and interesting craft beers. At the show, hospitality is evident as bands pop up in vendor stands playing blues or classic American rock, and friendly company reps pop wine corks with abandon. Painters paint, dancers dance, information flows and fans revel in it all. Both the venue and Verona are packed with handsome men and beautiful women, too. Ah, Italy! But getting back to biking, MBE brings together every aspect of motorhead madness in one place. There's a hall dedicated to touring and off-road, one for custom, and one for sport and race bikes. A mer- chandise hall includes gear, moto-art and parts while café racers have their space, too. There's a vintage section, used bike sales, swap meet areas and

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