Hollywood reporter and Triumph super-fan Reagan Alexander discovered a lot of leather and some incredible bikes at this year’s Born-Free Motorcycle Show in Silverado, California
You can measure success either objectively or subjectively. The Born-Free Motorcycle Show can measure the success of its ninth anniversary by the legions of gearheads and motorcycle aficionados from around the world that braved the sweltering heat and unforgiving sun of a southern California summer to unite in a celebration of all things that travel by motor and two wheels.
For those who canyon carve to those who cane it
The modern-day gift to celebrate a ninth anniversary happens to be leather goods. For two air-quivering days on the grassy knolls of Oak Canyon Park sometimes there was a lot of leather and sometimes there simply was not enough. But Born-Free was, well, born to be all about the bikes and it genuinely is an open embrace for all riders. For those who canyon carve to those who cane it, for the Front Doors to the Waxers, the Tail Gunners, the Belly Shovers and the Lane Splitters.
Triumph, while outnumbered, was never outclassed, with invited builder Alp Sungurtekin of Alp Racing & Design dropping jaws with his 1950 Triumph 650 T-200 Land Speed racer. Yes, it sounds like something from Star Wars, but it is much cooler than anything George Lucas could ever dream up and it won the Best Pre-Unit of the Show award.
As for the rest? Hidden gems in a sea of chrome, warm beer, leather and sweat.
1955 Triumph Pre-Unit for Steve Van Doren of Vans Shoes
“I was trying to design this bike after a shoe of the same colours and there are a lot of little details that lend to a good Vans feel for the bike. We were throwing ideas back and forth on how to design a bike, not cheesy but just a good, working Triumph with a Vans feel. Steve saw the bike that I did for Steve Caballero and he loves Triumphs, so I said I could get a ’55 and let’s do it.
“It started off as just a conversation with the owner of Vans and we came up with a 1955 because that was the year he was born.
“I have new and old Triumphs, I just like the bikes, I like the way they feel. They’re a light bike, they’re easy to ride and they are just classic-looking bikes. They have style; I just dig that about Triumphs.”
DB Fab LLC
Oil-in-Frame Triumph built for Tommy Day (and, yes, those are their real names)
“It started off as a stock Oil-in-Frame Triumph and had a three-inch backbone – the previous owner had kind of cafe-ed it out.
“We basically kept the engine, then tore it all down, had it polished, put it back together. We had a Triumph mechanic do that for us – I’m not a motor guy, I’m just a metal fabricator.
“It’s got one of my full frames on it, a four-inch stretch, an inch-and-a-half drop. With a looped-in we usually do a straight-in, but this one had to be a looped-in.
“Once I made the top motor mount, you get up under there and it’s got curved rods; that kind of started the whole design of the bike. Every bracket on there is hand-fabricated, every metal piece on it is modified in some way.
“It’s just the design of the motor. It’s just a classic look – the shape of it is just amazing to me.”
Burly Brand Motorcycles and Accessories
’15 Triumph Scrambler
“This is really my second garage build. It’s a 2015 Scrambler. I changed pretty much anything I could change on it. A lot of stuff is from British Customs, obviously the Arrow pipes. We get a lot of performance stuff from Triumph Twin Power, and then we have the prototype bag mount for the Triumph because before we only really had it for Sporters and Dynas.
“As far as the air-cooled models go, there is a certain level of heritage and authenticity to them, not just the name but having something that is not liquid-cooled where there aren’t riding modes. It’s just you and the road; you are engaged with the road a lot more.
“I’ve been to the Harley side, but I always end back up on Triumphs. Triumph’s are 60s cool, Steve McQueen cool.”