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The Golden Bolt 2018

By Kai R.

A tiny show for the hugely talented

Los Angeles, Calif., July 12–15—The newly conceived “Golden Bolt” is one of the more unusual bike shows around, mainly because it sees a very limited number of bikes competing for one hefty cash prize. Only 18 hand-built custom bikes vied for 25 grand at the very first of what was announced to become an annual show, but of course the quality of those bikes was accordingly amazing.

Downtown Los Angeles might not be the kind of place you’d think of when planning or even talking about a custom motorcycle show, but there it was, from July 12 through 15, at the newly established House of Machines on East 7th Street in what used to be a run-down industrial area that has blossomed into an art district, surrounded by artists’ lofts, hip bars and coffee shops everywhere. In fact, the House of Machines is such a bar/coffee shop/restaurant. It even has a bike shop next door, called LA Speed Shop, run and owned by custom builder Chris Richardson.

Tim Dixon's beautiful shovelhead was one of the finest example of a hand-built bike; even the wheels were machined by Tim

Tim Dixon’s beautiful shovelhead was one of the finest example of a hand-built bike; even the wheels were machined by Tim

The House of Machines is where the builders and their bikes gathered on Thursday to, first of all, go on a ride, as that was part of the competition. As part of the judging, they had to be able to make it from downtown LA to Hollywood and back, a distance of 25 miles. The idea that bikes in a show ought to be rideable isn’t exactly new, but for some out-of-state riders the concept of splitting lanes certainly was a new—and intimidating—one. If you know anything about LA, you know that the traffic here is probably the worst in the country.

The cool part of this show was that bikes of all sorts were invited, from Harley to Honda and Motus, from Ducati and Triumph to JAP, and that’s not so unusual anymore. Most bike shows these days allow for American and metric bikes to mix it up, which only makes sense as it opens the field to both competitors and spectators.

Keeping the number of competing bikes so unusually low was the whole idea, according to the promoters. Having no more than 25 bikes makes it possible to even hold a show like this in as a limited space as the back room of the House of Machines, an area measuring somewhere around 1,500 square feet. This isn’t the only House of Machines, by the way. Others are in Cape Town, South Africa; Niseko, Japan; and a fourth one is scheduled to open in Shanghai, China, in the near future.

Max Hazan's 1938 JAP 500 won the show. Max was a happy man receiving the $25,000 check from the Golden Bolt promoters for his hard work.

Max Hazan’s 1938 JAP 500 won the show. Max was a happy man receiving the $25,000 check from the Golden Bolt promoters for his hard work.

Among the custom bikes brought to LA from as far away as Tennessee, Vermont, and even South Africa, were not one but two awesome sounding Motuses (or is that Moti?): a chopped, high-tech one from Lock Baker at E-Fab and another sport-bike-style version from Bryan Fuller at Fuller Moto. There was also a beautiful Knucklehead from Jordan Dickinson, a cool little Honda from Bradley Riot, and a stunning Shovelhead from Tim Dixon who said he even hand-built the wheels. A few of the bikes were started for the crowd before the awards ceremony to prove that they indeed ran and to liven up the atmosphere a bit.

But not only the builders were a very select group. The judges, too, were mavens in their respective areas, guys like bike show guru Bob Kay under whose aegis the judging took place on Friday. Motorcycle designer Miguel Galuzzi, master fabricator Mark Prosser, and designer and overall customizing whiz Chip Foose very competently helped him.

Each concentrated on his specialty during the judging, and together, they couldn’t help but be floored by the JAP marvel put together by Max Hazan who was visibly emotional when he received that giant check during the awards ceremony on Saturday night.

Emceed by renowned custom bike builder Kevin Dunworth and hosted by Chris Richardson, the show at the packed House of Machines continued long into the night, and many of the patrons there were already wondering aloud what could possibly be expecting them at next year’s Golden Bolt show. It’s a concept that definitely seems to have a future. 

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