Choppers are the motorcycling equivalent of Vegemite. You either like ’em, or you
have peanut butter on your toast don’t. I’m not talking the Orange County Chopper variety — they’re shit, no one likes them. I’m talking proper, ‘OG’ choppers. The ones that look like you need a moustache to ride. Usually V or parallel twin cylinder, motorcycles built in sheds by people and their mates with as much metal flake in the paint as blood sweat and tears in their engines.
The Machine Show, organised by celebrated custom bike builder Matt Machine, is a gathering of all things motorcycle, but with a healthy focus on pre ’88 bikes — choppers in particular. Held in Braidwood New South Wales, the Machine Show features a build off, a show and shine and room for camping and general beer fuelled tomfoolery with your mates. Builders and attendees came from far and wide aboard some pretty wild rides, many of which made the effort to ride 400+ kms with no rear suspension. Not exactly your typical touring bikes!
The build off component was dominated by Harley Davidsons with some tasty pan, shovel and iron heads competing for the public’s vote. Some people in the motorcycling world criticise Harleys for all being the same and when you’re talking about fairly stock ones, I tend to agree. But when you’re talking about the chopper world, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Some builds focussed on traditional, 1970’s raked out style (as pictured in the lead image), while others focussed on smooth lines and flow (as pictured below). The common link between all these bikes was the fact that they were built by the people who entered them, and they love ’em.
It wasn’t all Harleys in the build off though, with some tidy British twins and singles and a sprinkling of sweet Japanese four pots vying for the crowds’ votes. Interestingly, it was a Suzuki based custom that took out crowd favourite. The Suzuki had all the ingredients of the Harley based choppers that surrounded it, such as no rear suspension, ground clearance or front brake. But what it lacked in V-twin it made up for in sheer quality, with immaculate paint and attention to detail.
In only its second year the Machine Show gathered together some truly special builds and great groups of people, food and booze. While I’m sure all the build off competitors felt some pressure, the Machine Show is a friendly, no nonsense excuse to gather together with your mates while ogling bikes which have had their owner’s hearts and souls poured into. Even if you don’t like choppers, you’ve got to admit that sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right?