The Vintage and Award-Winning Custom Bikes of IMS Chicago 2021

by Gabrielle DeSantis

Demo rides of new bikes aren’t the only things you could check out at the 2021 International Motorcycle Show in Chicago. Just like many car shows, IMS Outdoors Chicago was also a venue for displaying vintage and custom bikes. But it wasn’t just a display—the custom builders were also going head-to-head in a special contest. Given how many things there were to see and do at IMS, some might have missed the contest and the classic display. Luckily, MotorBiscuit has you covered there.

J&P Cycles’ custom bike competition returned for IMS Chicago 2021

IMS Chicago custom bikes with Yaroslav Lutsenko’s custom 2019 Harley-Davidson FXBB in front | Matthew Skwarczek, MotorBiscuit

The J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show is a staple of IMS in Chicago and elsewhere. Now in its 12th running, UBCBS is one of the US’s largest custom motorcycle competitions, Cycle News says, and gives both professional and amateur builders a chance to stand in the spotlight.

As before, UBCBS entrees are divided into three classes:

  • Custom Street Class
  • Custom Classic Class
  • Freestyle Class

IMS Chicago attendees vote on their favorite custom bikes in each class, as well as for the People’s Choice Award. The winners get cash prizes and entry into the UBCBS championship round in Atlanta, Georgia. And whoever wins the grand prize there is also crowned ‘the Ultimate Builder.’

The 2021 IMS Chicago UBCBS stop featured roughly a dozen custom bikes over the three-day event. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to snap photos of every single one. However, I did get photos of the winning motorcycles.

Behold Chicago’s 2021 UBCBS winners

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The topmost image features Yaroslav Lutsenko’s custom 2013 Harley-Davidson FXBB (Street Bob) in the foreground. His bike, with its carbon and black engine covers, riser handlebars, Cobra exhaust, and custom paint job won the Custom Street Class. Meanwhile, the runner-up was Fornarelli Motorsports’ 2010 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Lo. Owned by Yovani Montoya, the cruiser has custom handlebars, stretched fenders, air suspension, a 23” wheel, and a paint job by Luis Lopez.

Meanwhile, local builder Mateusz Kubak scored the Custom Classic Class win and Mike Prete earned the runner-up award. Kubak’s 1974 Honda CB550 café racer took the win thanks to features like the custom pinstriping, Delkevic 4-into-1 exhaust, Motogadget switches, and a custom rear end. As for the second-place 1998 Suzuki Intruder VS1400, Prete hand-hammered all the copperwork out of salvaged water pipe. And it’s been his daily rider for over a decade.

Finally, the Freestyle Class award went to Robert Catanese’s 2021 Yamaha YZF-R1, customized by Framecrafters. Dubbed ‘Yamaha R1X,’ the sportbike has a custom chromoly-steel frame, aluminum axles, a titanium exhaust, as well as various switches and gauges from Motogadget and MotoGP suppliers. Plus, it has Dunlop Q4 Sportmax tires, Berringer brakes, and bodywork inspired by the Ducati 750 SS.

However, while David Moreno’s 2013 Harley-Davidson Street Glide was the Freestyle Class runner-up, his custom bike earned the People’s Choice Award. So, his Street Glide, with all its speakers, John Booth paintwork, air suspension, and 26” front wheel, is going to Atlanta, too. And so is the cruiser’s hand-carved metal filigree.

Vintage German and British bikes were also on display at IMS Chicago 2021

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The International Motorcycle Show also regularly includes a vintage bike section in all of its stops. And IMS Chicago 2021 was no different. There were actually more classic motorcycles present than the photos suggest, but I couldn’t snap all of them in time.

Even so, the vintage metal that was still there on Sunday afternoon was worth checking out. Classic BMW motorcycles were well represented with a 1974 R69S as well as several R80 G/S bikes, including a genuine Paris-Dakar model. There were also several vintage British bikes on display, including several Norton Commandos and a 1971 BSA A65 Thunderbolt.

However, even if you didn’t get a chance to check these bikes out at IMS Chicago, the outdoor format will return next year, RevZilla says. So, mark your 2022 calendars so you can see custom and classic motorcycles like these in the sunshine.

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