Building for prize money $$$… Are we ready?

For my first official blog with RUFF CYCLES, I thought I would be giving you a brief synopsis of what I’ll be chatting about in the next months. That synopsis will have to be another day (cue record player… needle slips off record…….) Screw that!!! starting from the easy shallow end has never been my style! :)Lets talk about something interesting/controversial!?!?

So today, I would like to chat about a recent controversial subject getting air time amongst the core of the Kustom Bicycle Scene and that is winning prize $$$ at events for Kustom Bicycle Build-offs/ Competitions! Are we ready for it? A recent thread on a Kustom Bike Facebook group page exploded with comments when someone (a veteran in the scene) suggested that a group of old vets in the scene have organized something amongst themselves for prize money that all would pitch in, like at a poker game in Vegas! Comments came raining down on how something like this will corrupt our beloved “hobby”.

Well… As far as my Kustom Bike history goes back from 2002, prize money has never been offered as a competition incentive in our scene. My competitive energy in the early years came from knowing that they were 50 others competitors trying to out do each other and win a highly-coveted COTY (Custom of theyear) award in Amsterdam. This event attracted the BEST in the world and I participated every year for the next 5 years. Great fun, great memories, but damn, was it a mission to get there every time!

From 2005-10 I travelled every year to the FBI in Amsterdam and sometimes I could bring a Hit , but every single time it was a struggle with time and money. I would have to shut my shop down for a week in the middle of the high season, organize transport, gas, tolls and van rental. Often I would arrive at the FBI flat broke, everything going into travel expenses which would be between 500 to 1,000 Euros and I would often “humbly” accept beer donations from my fellow kustom friends at the events. We were a sloshy lot of enthusiasts, thanks guys 🙂 …haha

Warren Wong (a lowrider bike veteran) says: “For me to get out to Detroit. $500 plane ticket, room and build shipping $500. That’s a grand for just me. That’s $2000 if you count Robert.”

Competition for some is a motivating force, it drives some of us to heights we’ve never imagined before to create and be recognized in front of our peers. Some of us know the personal sacrifices we make in order to realize our dream bikes. Time away from loved ones, less time fixing your life needs, more money on bike projects means less money to buy decent beer! Even, reluctantly selling some of our old creations to fund our new ones. Those who have been in the game long enough will understand this… Add to this the travel and time off from anything money earning during an event and the sacrifices get older and older every year!.

Maybe I don’t speak for all enthusiasts, but I can speak for myself and maybe a few old veterans in the scene… Many of us are so passionate about the scene that we often sacrifice some of our personal needs to participate in this scene. We’ve travelled on planes, shipped by boats, trains, vans, whatever to get ourselves and sometimes our big creations to the big shows, sometimes for some fun and a little recognition and sometimes total disasters come unexpectantly and we lose our shirts… and we still keep coming back, cause we love this shit! Or we’re mad???

Eric Hannan (a fat-tire veteran bike builder) says: “Shipping bikes back and forth, custom fees, plane tickets, hotel and food is $5000 for me and that’s not counting risks like getting robbed. On the business point of view, it has to be profitable and charity is the opposite of profitable. I’ll do charity stunts here in Canada.”

Like it or not, cash/money has already infiltrated the scene from the beginning and everyone is making something out of it to help power your dream bikes, right down to hardware stores for those nuts and bolts. Prize money in competitions isn’t a new concept either and in my own experience in Import Drag Racing in the 90s it helped a lot of good racers have a full time racer career/ life for years after, which helped bring the sport to incredible levels! Prize money just got everyone involved in the whole country and abroad! The racers could keep pushing the limits and the sponsors can push their well received products/services.

Prize money… though, being relatively unseen in the movement in recent years has not been absent, recently there was a competition in which the winner Jeff Yeargin was the winner of a $1,000 prize from HBBC with his RUFF CYCLES TANGO-framed super clean kustom! We need to see more sponsors stepping up like this!

Warren Wong says: “Lowriders been doing sweepstakes for decades… Best of show wins money!” Which we all know helped propel the lowrider scene to Mega show quality bikes and an industry that are still around decades later…

Eric Hannan says: ” Gotta get nationwide and/or worldwide TV exposure and big companies with some advertising budgets. One thing l’ve learned in my racing career is that! EXPOSURE = MONEY! “

Money for what you say! Money, you might say to help sustain a steady growth so business can be busy, customers can customize, builders can build and bloggers can blog 🙂

A veteran build-off amongst old kustom friends …. I hear!?!? A small group of some of the most recognisable kustom bike guys that have been in the scene anywhere from 10 to 40 years and want to make their next meeting more interesting. Who’s interested to see that next year in Vegas? Detroit? Los Angeles?

Sam McKay says: “’s just a build off…and a chance to hang and show ..raise the bar…and have a blast…OBC… California.. anywhere ..I am looking forward to this.”

Sic Nick says: “…Then we need a fair judging system like the one we did with Builders Challenge worked which I can improve a little as I know as a judge to make easier for the judges and just as fair”

OK, what were we talking about again? Oh yeah about bringing it to the next level! I don’t know about all of you, but I’m a bit tired of self-funding trips, especially now that I want to go to the OBC in Las Vegas a 15hr flight from Barcelona and 9 hours timezones difference, ! We Vets need a little more incentives to power the Big trips with the big bikes! My next bike is going to be so kickass it should be able to fly itself to LV next year, haha, no, really! Making it a bit more interesting with some prize money and sponsor interest, might just get these old Vets out again to produce something EPIC when trophies won’t just do it anymore! I’ll be in, if it goes down! Love to kick some Legend ass 🙂 🙂

Sam McKay says: “I like trophies but some of us it costs a lot for travelling..time off work, it would bring more interest in our sport..”

Eric Hannan says: “Recognition is always a step up when delivered with $!”

Sic Nick says: “$200 each in the pot.. it’s Vegas baby…”

What do you guys /gals think? A Big showdown amongst the most recognizable veterans of the scene in Vegas?/Detroit?/Los Angeles? Or maybe a part of a much bigger show that have seen prize money, sponsors, high-dollar show rides before? Detroit Autorama? The GNR in Los Angeles? Other mega shows ?

John Brain says: “People are already building to the best of their abilities, even getting these people together in one place for an exposition would be a coup! And one that would naturally garner an enormous amount of attention.”

So, are we ready for it? I say, HELL YEAH!!! Lets take this shit to the next level and all win!

Sincerely… Really!


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5 replies
  1. D-Man
    D-Man says:

    Always wanted to go to FBI, DAM.. YES, there should be a next level buildoff, but just the veterans, or any one who wants to throw $ in the pot? Nice work Make. Very well said. Looking forward to the next one.
    CHEERS, Dwayne

  2. Sean uk
    Sean uk says:

    You should build your cruiser for YOU. That should be the sole basis of it. Whilst yes some of the bikes look awesome when you start building for cash/parts the the whole ethos of the culture starts to water down. It’s a unique bike for yourself not for 200 people to vote on. I my opinion the this is the way it will go but the true kustom guys won’t get involved

    • Make
      Make says:

      Hey Sean! Fair points….. Hmm… the sole basis? Dont know about that, but maybe the “soul” basis? 🙂 I BELIEVE, we pretty much all love this shit! And many do it for many reasons, including showing off and for making money, if we didnt… there wouldnt be shows/events and parts/frames to buy! Would a pro class just not add a new dimension and maybe inspiration to some who would ABSOLUTELY LOVE to make this a full time gig?

  3. sam lingo
    sam lingo says:

    I agree, prize money is a major turning point in this Kustom Kulture Bike movement. How about pushing the idea out to the clubs to rise $1000 each for a combined pot at O.C.C. ? The clubs that take the challenge and rise the money take a seat in a prize money committee . You not only have a source of money but the framework for a major Kustom Kulture working body for years to come.


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