Slouching low to the ground and slinking along the carpet in an alluring curve, Erick Ackley's bike looks like an animal ready to pounce. Third in a four-part series of bikes named for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Conquest is the culmination of more than six months of work for Ackley and his partner, Dave Sekman, and Ackley guesses that with parts and labor the bikes has cost about $200,000 to make.
Like The Conquest, all of the bikes entered into the Artistry in Iron Master Builders' Championships at this weekend's Las Vegas BikeFest are one of a kind creations. From architectural design to innovative mechanics to stunning decorative touches, the bikes are truly art on two wheels - each one channels its builders' vision into a functional ride that would fit into a museum perhaps even better than on the open road.
The competition is just one part of the annual BikeFest, a convention for bike enthusiasts that features every possible bike accessory, along with clothing, live bands, food, bike demos, parties and more. While much of the convention is an insiders' game - if you don't drive a motorcycle what need have you for extra padded seats, road ready sunglasses, leather chaps? - the bikes both in the Artistry of Iron competition and out of it are the real draw. If West Coast Choppers taught us that bikes are beautiful, BikeFest proves they don't have a lock on the industry. And that's what the art of competition's all about.