Asbury Park, N.J., Feb. 10—By the time February rolls around, those of us who live in the Northeast are jonesing for a motorcycle ride, and if the ice, snow and bitter cold prevents us from partaking of our favorite sport, at least we can enjoy the cool vibe with like-minded moto people at the annual Cheap Thrills Motorcycle Show.
Cheap Thrills first made its appearance in February 2016 at the historic Asbury Park Convention Hall, which turned out to be the perfect location for the retro nature of this event. The second show in February 2017 surpassed the first in terms of bike show entries, exhibitors and attendees, and this third annual show far exceeded its predecessors in every aspect.
As soon as we entered the convention center’s Grand Arcade, we were treated to the sight of around 80 custom motorcycles, all hand-picked by the organizers and most of them hand built, antique, and unique in some fashion, whether it be craftsmanship or character. The bikes, though, were behind barricades and to get up close and personal, as well as to see the rest of the show, a nominal $10 fee was charged. People that had been there before knew the treats that awaited inside, and these are the folks that spread the word so that every year, more people show up.
Vendor space this year sold out with probably 80 or more merchants, also hand-selected, spread across two floors. Upstairs were purveyors of artwork, photography, T-shirts, leather goods, handmade craftwork, small parts and the 2nd Floor Lounge if you were thirsty. Vendors included First Manufacturing Company, Spoke & Dagger, 69 Speed Boys, Tombstone Hardware Co., Death Co., The Fuel Haus, Forever the Chaos Life photography by Mikey Revolt, photos by Mark Velazquez, and Offshore Artwork. And for the first time, the 2nd Floor Lounge offered liquid refreshments, a welcome addition to the show.
Inside the main hall were tons of swap meet tables filled with all kinds of vintage and modern parts and other goodies. Custom shops like Indian Larry Motorcycles, Low Brow Customs, and Retrofit Cycle works were represented. Josh Kohn from Immortal Ink of Jugtown Mountain, New Jersey, was laying down ink. The Little Detour vintage photo booth and lounge housed in a 1967 Frolic camper—the same one I’ve seen at The Race Of Gentlemen—offered its services for family photo fun. Folks from The Race Of Gentlemen and Appalachian MotoJam were also present, promoting their upcoming events. Appalachian MotoJam is presenting its annual snow hill climb at Holiday Mountain in Monticello, New York, on January 19. The Race of Gentlemen will bring drag racing to the main street of Santa Barbara, California on March 8-9. And the TROG beach races in Wildwood, New Jersey, are moving from June back to autumn, with this year’s event, which this coming year will be October 4-6.
The bikes on display in the Grand Arcade weren’t just for show; trophies were awarded for the best in several classes, with Christian Newman winning Best of Show for his beautifully crafted 1940 Knucklehead. And if you’ve been on the Jersey motorcycle scene for a while, you start recognizing some of the customs, such as Bob Timko’s ’39 Knucklehead and ’48 Panhead, representative of Bob’s prowess in winning. He’s won probably dozens, or maybe even hundreds, of bike shows over the years with his builds, and with the loss of this much-loved and respected man in December 2017, it was only fitting that his bikes would appear in one more show. RIP, Bob. We miss ya.
Another major attraction of Cheap Thrills was The Big Deal, a prize package given away through a random drawing of ticket holders. Some of the folks behind Cheap Thrills, such as the man we all know as Dusty, Walter Gemeinhardt of Kickstart Cycles, and Bear Haughton of Old Bike Barn came up with some outstanding prizes, with the help of some sponsors. Walter put together a Sportster with parts from Biltwell, Lowbrow Customs and Progressive Suspension, and paint by Dave at Slag Custom Paint. Bear, who also puts together the U.S. contingent of the Himalayan Heroes, offered a riding tour of the Himalayas. First Manufacturing Company donated a leather jacket and custom vest. And the winner was the very lucky Chris Shelby!
After the show closed, the official afterparty was held at Bond St. Bar about a mile from the convention center. Doors opened at 8:00 p.m. and by 10:00 p.m., the first of three bands took the stage. We decided to go to the Langosta Lounge instead, which was within easy walking distance of both the convention center and our hotel. The Langosta Lounge is right on the boardwalk and one of the bands performing featured our friends The Dirty Stayouts.
The 2019 edition of Cheap Thrills will be held Saturday, February 2, and the promoters promise more vendors more bikes, more prizes, and more parties. The Big Deal for this show will be a completely rebuilt 45” Harley-Davidson Flathead motor assembly courtesy of Kickstart Cycles. So get your Jersey Shore on and join us for lots of weird and wonderful happenings on Groundhog Day next year!