'Rats,' scorpions and classic customs bring crowds to annual bike show

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Mar 16, 2013 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

And while the bike might have been put together from bits and pieces of antique motorcycles and cars, there was nothing dull about the excitement it generated from those who crowded around it snapping pictures or pointing out details like the piston-rod foot pegs.

“I started with the wheels and the engine,” the 37-year-old West Palm Beach man said as he stood back and basked in the attention given to his custom-built creation.

From there, he said, it took five months of searching on Google and eBay to find the rest of the pieces that Fort Lauderdale bike builder Todd Anglani manufactured into a rolling work of art.

“I like everything old school,” Smith said, although he did give in to a modern touch with his gas gauge — a Corona beer bottle.

Anglani said while his company “After Hours Bikes” builds all styles of custom motorcycles, in recent years his customers have been requesting bikes created from this and that.

Some consider his hand-built motorcycles “rat bikes” — motorcycles cobbled together from odd bits of whatever an owner might have at hand. Anglani would rather have his bikes known as “full custom.”

“Anybody can have a bike with chrome and paint,” he said.

There was a lot of that gleaming in the sun during the show along the Daytona Beach Boardwalk, with more than 80 entries vying for trophies and the attention of the crowds and judges.

However, having many people ogling a particular cycle doesn’t guarantee it’s a winner, said judge George “Moone Man” Moone of Columbus, Ohio.

“You look for the craftsmanship,” he said, whether in the construction or the details of a particular paint job.

“I want to see originality, something new and original,” added fellow judge Josh Ostrowsky of Daytona Beach.

French visitors Cloe Fox and Nathalie Mager enjoyed more than just the look of the bikes.

“I like the noise,” the 25-year-old Fox said. “I like the smell of the oil,” added Marger, 22.

Not everything attracting attention along the Boardwalk was powered by an internal combustion engine. A few feet away, a mouse-eating emperor scorpion was getting most of the camera time.

“His name is Venom,” said the 8-inch-long insect’s owner, Jeff Omen of Beaver Dam, Wis. “He likes sitting around and warming himself in the sun.”

The retired firefighter and one-time deputy coroner said while he has never felt his pet’s venomous sting, his fingers have lost blood to the scorpion’s powerful pinchers.

Omen said Venom is just one of his collection of odd pets, which he claims also includes tarantulas, black widow spiders and other potentially lethal creatures.

Omen seemed to have an attraction for the macabre. His motorcycle trailer was a 1920s coffin, and he said it was once used to transport a body from Africa to the United States.

“Sometimes it is a toss up on what captures the most attention,” he said.

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