By Mike Cupp
It was a wild week in Reno for this year’s Street Vibrations Fall Rally, held September 25-29. The weather during the week was absolutely beautiful, with daytime temperatures in the 80’s and nighttime temperatures near 70. Saturday morning started off nice. A bit brisk, but sunny and clear. Then the wind picked up and the clouds rolled in before releasing a nice downpour of rain. This was followed by a cold front that saw temperatures drop into the 30’s. Light snowfall was reported at elevations around Reno and I heard from a few bikers that coming down from Virginia City Saturday night was challenging with the weather conditions. Sunday was mostly clear, but the high temperature of the day was in the 50’s.
This was my first Street Vibrations Fall Rally, so I wasn’t sure what to expect and there seemed to be a lot going on throughout the day and around the local area. In downtown Reno, they closed off several blocks of Virginia Street and lined it with vendors, stages and mobile food booths. Just outside of downtown, Reno Harley-Davidson and other local businesses were holding their own party with vendors, food and a stunt bike performance. The entire street outside of the dealership was lined with motorcycles and everyone was having a great time checking out all the merchandise.
For me, I always enjoy seeing our friends and advertisers at this Rally. Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys had their BAM program info, taking signups for their free volunteer roadside assistance program. Michael Snyder from Leather Headquarters is almost always busy, but works with a smile on his face and is always happy to see a familiar face. Law Tigers had staff available to answer questions and gave out useful items like registration wallets and wristbands, among other things.
The first stop of the day was the Reno Ballroom to pick up our registration packets. We peeked our heads inside the showroom to get an early glimpse of the bikes being set up for the American Heat Custom Bike Show, but most of the bikes weren’t scheduled to arrive until Friday and Saturday. So we headed back outside to check out the vendors and bands. Speaking of bands, there were up to eight bands scheduled to perform on each day of the Rally, from New Wave to Country, with plenty of Rock and Roll; all the bases were covered. Food booths lined the street and the smell of bbq drew me in for a tasty pulled pork sandwich and a cold brew, which I enjoyed while listening to nearby live music.
Today was also the first Poker Run and Scavenger Hunt for registered VIP members. The scavenger hunt made you visit local businesses where you had to pick up a matchbook or something else with the firm’s logo. Prizes were awarded daily and it was a great way to explore the city and surrounding area.
We stopped into the Tattoo Expo and saw some beautiful flash art, while people were getting inked inside the booths. Contemplating the creativity and talent on display, no wonder many make it a yearly thing to update their ink here..
Monte Perlin’s Globe of Death was set up on the corner of 6th and Virginia Streets. If you’ve never seen his show, then you need to add it to your bucket list. Two riders inside of a giant steel ball, defying gravity, and the odds, as they criss-cross inside the globe. It’s always a great show and Monte knows how to get the crowd going!
The Blue Knights Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club had their inaugural Street Vibrations ride from Reno Harley-Davidson to the Eldorado outdoor stage with VIP parking for the Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers show. Twenty riders were expected, but over sixty bikes joined the parade. We finished the night off listening to the band, an awesome ZZ Top tribute band, all while dreaming of younger days when we actually did a lot more of both those things (beer drinking & hell raising).
Police on Parade had their annual ride Thursday evening although without Grand Marshal Erik Estrada who had to cancel his participation due to illness. We wish him well!
On Friday, we headed out to Carson City for a quick stop at Battle Born H-D and to see their vendor lineup. Our friend and cover artist, BOMONSTER had a booth there and we stopped in to chat with him for a while. He had some amazing new work, and it’s always nice to run into friendly faces when you’re away from home. Before we left, we met a young man who recently discovered scratch art after seeing some of BOMONSTER’s work and took up the artform. It’s always nice to see the next generation inspired by what we do, and this was no exception. Next up was the historic mining town of Virginia City. Truly a hidden gem just outside of Reno, with sidewalk merchants, dining, shopping and historic bars to wet your whistle. The Fryed Brothers Band played Friday and Saturday at the Red Dog Saloon, they play this gig every year to a full house of fans. Located 1,600 feet above Reno at an elevation of 6,500 feet, Virginia City was one of the places that got real cold on Saturday evening.
The bike show and bikini contest awards were held Saturday night and thankfully they were held indoors. The ladies from the International Bikini Team (IBT) were up first. The judges were looking for stage presence, poise and overall beauty as a swimsuit model. The winner was crowned Miss Street Vibrations 2019 and will be Miss September in the 2020 IBT calendar. It was a close contest, but Kimberly from Jacksonville, Florida was the winner and after getting her crown and trophy, she stayed onstage to present trophies for the upcoming bike show.
Mondo from Denver’s Choppers along with his friend Chicano Yank hosted the American Heat Bike Show and Mondo was joined by his daughter on stage to hand out awards. The “captain” of Roadshows and the Street Vibrations Rally, Randy Burke opened the show by thanking everyone in attendance, the builders, and the judges for all their hard work. Sugar Bear was also in attendance and seeing Mondo and Sugar Bear together is always a special thing (you’ll likely see them both together again in Ventura for David Mann Chopper Fest).
Old school builder Stacy McCleary’s (Stacy’s Garage) bike build entered by its new owner, Stacy’s son and Reno resident Brian, won Old School Chopper class and 2nd place Shovelhead. Stacy was on hand to enjoy the show too.
We watched the Silver Legacy fireworks spectacular that started at 9pm from our hotel room and the view was excellent with the fireworks going off nearly at eye level. It was quite a show and I swear it went for a good twenty or thirty minutes, with a finale that really impressed.
I enjoyed the musical lineup very much. As I said earlier, we kicked off the rally with Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers, but we enjoyed a few others as well. Skynnyn Lynnyrd put on two amazing shows; one on Saturday in Reno and another on Sunday at MontBleu Resort in South Tahoe, where ZZ Tush opened for them. Hell’s Belles played Friday night at the Eldorado outdoor stage to a packed audience. I had to shoot this one from the side of the stage because the crowd made it impossible to get to the front of the stage. And these ladies put on one hell of a good show. The lady who played the Angus Young role was just as wild and talented as the original. If you have an opportunity to see these women perform, get out there and see them, you won’t be disappointed. I also discovered a new favorite, Big Heart. They played classic rock songs that you know and love, plus some of their own original music, and they did it on an outdoor stage during one heck of a windstorm. I’m looking forward to seeing all of these bands again. And unfortunately, Zepparella had to be cancelled because of the rain Saturday night.
The Burning Ninja performed three times, with a fire show that included flaming nunchaku, three piece staff and fire breathing. It was HOT!! There was a ceremonial flag raising by Spanish Springs High School JROTC students wearing authentic WW2 uniforms. Accompanying the flag raising, the National Anthem was performed by local singing talent & showroom headliner Tamara Evans. And of course, the hugely popular Slow Races, where the last one across the finish line wins. Reno H-D sponsored the “Then Came Bronson” memorabilia display in the Reno Ballroom. This short-lived TV show chronicled the adventures of Jim Bronson as he rode a 1969 XLH Harley-Davidson cross country. Michael Parks played Bronson who in the series made a stop in Reno, thus the connection.
You never know what excitement awaits til you get there, and Street Vibrations does Reno proud!
*Photos of Fryed Brothers Band and Virginia City by “Photo Joe” Hein.
Street Vibrations Fall Rally 2019
By Justin James
For the 2019 Street Vibrations Fall Rally, Reno Harley Davidson decided to create the ultimate two-wheeled toy store. The number of vendors in attendance was cut back to make room for over 300 rock-bottom priced motorcycles waiting for a new home. Representatives from financial institutions and third-party appraisers were present to assist the sales staff and make the process of purchasing a bike quick and painless.
The dealership’s Parts and Service departments seized the portion of the facility that is normally dedicated to rental bikes to set up the Reno H-D Performance Center. Products such as exhausts, engine/induction components, and tuners were heavily stocked and out on display for all to enjoy. Think of it as an old school gearhead paradise. A speed shop for motorcycles.
Extra technicians were brought in from H-D of Yuba City and Redwood H-D to cut down on wait times for the installation of these go-fast parts. Reno H-D Sales Manager Sean Kerr stated that their goal was to redirect the dealership’s focus back to the motorcycles for the rally, which is exactly what they did.
American Heat Custom Bike Show
This year marked the fourth consecutive year that the American Heat Custom Bike Show took place inside the Reno Ballroom during the Street Vibrations Fall Rally. For those who don’t already know, this show is hosted by custom motorcycle legend and Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame member, Mondo Porras of Denver’s Choppers, and Chicano Yank. As would be expected, this show was participated in by some of the custom motorcycle industry’s heavy hitters. Notable names such as Josh Sheehan, Stacy McCleary, Paughco, Sugar Bear and even Mondo had some of their builds on display for all to admire.
I’ve been at this game for quite some time now, and I can honestly say I’ve never seen such a staggering number (upwards of a hundred) of impressive motorcycles in one place. Although I didn’t take home a trophy, the fact that Mondo personally invited me and The Scrapster to enter his show was quite the honor. If you build or own custom motorcycles and want to see how they stack up against top-tier competition, this show should be on your bucket list.
Double Trouble in Tahoe
By John Roche
Taking the stage again this year wrapping up Street Vibrations, LIVE and LOUD from The Montbleu Casino Showroom in S. Lake Tahoe: ZZ Tush (A Tribute To ZZ Top) and Skynnyn Lynnyrd (A Tribute To Lynyrd Skynyrd) rocked the house. As ZZ TUSH took the stage, the beards, the bling, the swag and the music(!) got the crowd loud and stayed that way throughout the night. Playing all the greatest hits and then some. Even pulling out the furry guitars for “Legs,” keeping the crowd energized and wrapping up with “La Grange” and “Tush,” they were ready. As Skynnyn Lynnyrd took the stage it was ON. Lights flashing, guitars screaming, walls shaking. Playing all the well-known hits. Then it came “Freebird” and boy do they nail it. If you get a chance to see this show as a double tribute or individually, DON’T miss out. This is Tribute at its best. And remember, “KEEP THE RUBBER SIDE DOWN.”