The Brooklyn Invitational Custom Bike Show Grows Up

The celebrated custom motorcycle show eschews the scene, embraces the bikes

The crowd gathered early at the Root Gallery in Williamsburg.Mark Velasquez

As one of the top custom motorcycle shows on the East Coast, the Brooklyn Invitational is renowned for its eclectic mix of exquisitely crafted bikes. But it’s also known for being quite the scene, and the hipsters and tastemakers that swarm the streets in the trendy enclave of Williamsburg each September have sometimes been guilty (unwittingly or otherwise) of detracting from the breathtaking industrial art on display inside.

Not this time. 2018 was the tenth anniversary of the Invitational, and rather than celebrate with a raucous blowout, organizers John Copeland, Keino Sasaki, and Jessica Lee Wertz smartly chose to tone down the revelry and redirect the focus back on the bikes. Using space at the Root Gallery previously reserved for metal bands, cash bars, and general debauchery, they instead showcased ... even more motorcycles.

Which was great. The new layout effectively doubled the amount of bikes in the show, and as a result the crowd’s makeup was less scenester, and more aficionado – real bikers and builders more interested in artistry and craftsmanship than finding the perfect hashtag.

This year’s Brooklyn Invitational was definitely mellower, but for true motorcycle enthusiasts, far more refined, focused – and rewarding – than it’s been in years. Check out some of our favorites.

The calm before the swarm.Jon Langston
It was nice to see several metric bikes on prominent display. Jeff Wright’s vintage Ninja racer was resplendent in its throwback colors.Mark Velasquez
Even BMW’s new-ish RnineT got the BK Invitational treatment.Mark Velasquez
The best part of the Invitational is that most of the bikes, like this classic Indian, are still ridden regularly.Mark Velasquez
The gallery setting really lets the bikes speak for themselves.Mark Velasquez
This FXR was sick, but it wasn’t the only sweet vintage v-twin on display.Mark Velasquez
This classic Knucklehead was subtly gorgeous.Mark Velasquez
The Japanese builders’ offerings were as talked about as any of the bikes in this year’s show.Mark Velasquez
Even in the drizzle, the bikes on the street were as big a draw as the ones in the gallery...Mark Velasquez evidenced by this sweet lil thing...Jon Langston
...and the row of custom v-twin iron parked along the curb.Mark Velasquez
Roland Sands brought this well-worn vintage Indian chop...Jon Langston
...and the detail was typical RSD: impeccable.Jon Langston
Lighten up, fellas.Mark Velasquez