Some Harley-Davidson motorcycles are kept stock throughout their lives on the road. But most undergo some sort of transformation, such as custom work to make them look better or ride more comfortably. Still others are turned into radical customs, or set up for drag racing.
On Saturday, you can see it all.
What: Thunderstruck Custom Bikes' Xtreme Bike Show and Street Party
When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17
Where: 142 N. Front St., Medford
Admission: Free, but there's a $10 charge to enter a bike in the contest, with proceeds benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Rogue Valley
Call: 541-779-0340 or see www.thunderstruckcustombikes.com
Among the hundreds of custom Harleys on display at the 17th annual Xtreme Bike Show and Street Party will be a handful of Top Fuel, or "nitro" Harley drag bikes, which will be put through their paces Saturday night at Champion Raceway in the Jackson County Sports Park in White City. The drags, held in conjunction with the custom bike show, start at 7 p.m. and benefit the Southern Oregon Humane Society. Admission to the drags is $10; the fee to race is $25. Activities will include "grudge matches," for people who want to race their friends or rivals, and of course the featured races of top fuel Harleys from outside the Rogue Valley. Also included will be the crowning of "Miss Summerfest."
But before the rubber starts burning at the drag strip, the public is invited to marvel at the gleaming chrome, kicked-out forks, radical paint jobs and artistic creativity surrounding Thunderstruck's custom show in downtown Medford, at 142 N. Front Street, between Habaneros and Porters restaurants.
Thunderstruck owner and top custom bike builder Mark Daley has been putting on these bike shows for 17 years to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Rogue Valley. His first show, in 1996 at old Moose Lodge parking lot, raised about $800 for the clubs. In 2012, it raised about $18,000. This year, Daley hopes to raise $20,000 or more.
The family event — maybe one of the few times members of the nonmotorcycling community can rub elbows with leather-clad bikers and admire their machines — includes a beer garden, food and merchandise vendors, a 50/50 raffle, and for the first time, you can buy a chance to win your own Harley.
The local Minute Markets have provided a 2007 Heritage Softail Harley-Davidson to give away to a lucky ticketholder. Tickets cost $100, and only 100 will be sold, with the $10,000 in proceeds going to the Boys & Girls Clubs.
There'll be a lot of custom vehicles with more than two wheels to admire at the show, as well.
JDT Logistics, a sponsor, will have a couple of custom low-riding diesel semi-tractors on display, and a half-dozen or so custom muscle cars, hot rods, dragsters and other cars will be on hand. For those bike lovers who rode Nortons, Triumphs and BSAs back in the day, a local vintage motorcycle club will display some of those classics.
For those folks who want to enter their bikes in the show, the fee is $10. Trophies will be available for a wide variety of classifications, from rat bikes to full-blown customs, metric bikes (bikespeak for foreign-made motorcycles), trikes and everything in-between.
Registration for entering bikes begins at 11 a.m. and bike judging runs from 1 to 3 p.m. Trophies will be awarded at around 4 p.m.
Every year, Daley features one of his own custom-built bikes. Regular Tempo readers might recall past year's efforts, including replicas of the choppers ridden by Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in the classic film "Easy Rider," and "Sniper," a custom that won Daley second-place at the Official AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building competition in 2012 at the 72nd annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.
This year's featured custom is "Soul Shaker," a U.S. Marine Corps "tribute bike" that Daley built for John Barker of Grants Pass.
"He's a Marine vet and he came to me to build a bike he could ride to all the veterans' events and show it in memory of his brothers," Daley says.
After 17 years of producing these events, what keeps Daley going?
"When the kids at the Boys & Girls Clubs send me letters and pictures, thanking me for supporting them, and allowing the clubs to buy computers, fix the playground, that makes it worthwhile. " Daley says. "If we can help make more productive lives for some of these kids, it's worth my time."
Among Daley's sponsors are D&S Harley-Davidson of Phoenix, JDT Logistics, Porters and Habaneros restaurants, Lithia Motors and a number of local radio stations.
"I appreciate all the sponsors who have stayed with me all these years," Daley says.
Mark Howard is a semi-retired copy editor at the Mail Tribune. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.