The annual Brooklyn Invitational, a motorcycle, photography, and music showcase, took place on Saturday, September 22nd at Root Studios on N. 14th Street. This is the fourth year that organizers John Copeland, Keino Sasaki, and Jeffrey Schad have held the increasingly popular – and free – event, at which denim and leather clad bikers stood shoulder to shoulder with hipsters and artists, admiring the handmade machines on display. Metal bands played in adjoining rooms, vendors sold motorcycle-themed merchandise and beer from sponsor Asahi Brewery flowed freely.
Every year, the Brooklyn Invitational brings a select group of motorcycle builders from across the country to display their work, and it doesn’t take long to see why this art generates such loyal followings. In most cases, the bikes are based on a classic frame and engine. All components and modifications are built by hand with tremendous attention to detail and artistic ingenuity.
“The main things we look for when curating the show are originality, creativity, and especially craftsmanship,” Keino Sasaki said. “Some of these bikes can take years to build.”
Builders from seven states brought their machines, most riding them across the country. Dave Barker of Speed Metal Cycles in Denver rode his motorcycle, a customized 1932 Harley Davidson with a 1947 motor, to the event. “I ride the hell out of this thing,” said Barker. “Getting to the shows is just as fun as building the bikes.”
Michael Garragan of Burbank, California, whose Harley Davidson Knucklehead was also on display, has been building motorcycles for twenty years. “It’s really an honor being selected for shows like this,” he said. “But the bottom line is, not everyone can make a living doing it. Most of us just build bikes because we love it.”
The organizers plan on continuing the Brooklyn Invitational for years to come. “It’s a lot of work, and we really focus on making sure it’s done right,” Sasaki said. “We have staff and security outside and inside, we are respectful of our neighbors, and we want to keep it free and non-commercialized. That’s the big thing, not charging at the door. Art galleries don’t charge admission, so we think that even though this is more than just a gallery show, we should follow that same idea.”
Type your name and email address below, then click "Submit" to be added to our spam-free email list.