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Custom Chrome’s 40th anniversary

By Terry Roorda

Both birthday and rebirth

CCI hits the comeback trail with a passion

Cincinnati, Feb. 6—Custom Chrome International chose the occasion of the 10th annual V-Twin Expo as the setting for the kick-off of their own milestone observance, the 40th anniversary of the company. The anniversary celebrations will manifest for the most part in a full-globe press of dealer shows and receptions in 2010 starting with the return of the company’s signature International Dealer Show extravaganza at the Hayes Mansion in San Jose, a stone’s throw from the corporate headquarters in Morgan Hill, on March 12–14. From there the party moves to Mainz, Germany, for the European Dealers Show at the end of March, and then to Japan and Australia where dealer receptions will be held in conjunction with the Moon Eyes Show and Gold Coast Rally, respectively.

Starting from humble origins as a local bike shop in San Jose in 1970, CCI grew to become the dominant player in the aftermarket V-Twin parts distribution industry, a status they held for decades before a combination of mounting debt load and order fulfillment lapses tripped them up and sent them spiraling down into Chapter 11 reorganization two years ago, almost to the day. Pulled back from the precipice by Dae Il, the Korean supplier of CCI’s RevTech-badged powertrain components, in concert with CCI founder and former CEO Nace Panzica, they set about the task of returning to their former primacy—a daunting undertaking, given the current industry malaise. As such, their splashy presence at the Expo was more than a birthday party; it was also an energized relaunching and rebuilding of the beleaguered Custom Chrome brand.

As part of that effort, CCI commissioned a pair of commemorative bikes from a pair of premiere builders, Cole Foster of Salinas Boys Customs in—where else?—Salinas, California, and Kirk Taylor of Custom Design Studios in Novato, California. Cole showed up at the Expo with a true time capsule—a nostalgic generator-style Shovelhead chopper replete with rear drum brake, hella-long springer, dual rectangular headlamps and campy cobra seat, sourced for the most part from the 2010 CCI catalogue. The idea behind the build was to produce something authentically reminiscent of 1970, and, sure enough, this thing looked like it rolled right off the pages of Choppers magazine circa that year. Staking out the other end of CCI’s 40-year timeline was Kirk Taylor’s Speedway Bagger, a contemporary go-fast custom dresser also outfitted almost entirely from the pages of the CCI catalogue.

A third bike made its debut at the Custom Chrome booth as well, and while not officially a 40th anniversary commemorative, or even much of an example of Custom Chrome parts in usage, it was nonetheless a real jaw-dropper—and head-scratcher—of a machine. Created by Kris Krome of Kris Krome Cycles in tiny Freeland, Michigan, the bike is the first in a promised series of “Re-flex-ion” creations from the builder based upon his award-winning Triumph show bike of the same name. It’s an odd duck, for sure, powered by a Crazy Horse V-Plus motor and utilizing Krome’s weirdly innovative front end configuration that pivots at two points so far removed from the conventional steering head position as to defy conventional logic. You almost have to see it to believe it—or figure out how it works. The bike was built for perennial NHRA Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher who was there in the flesh at the unveiling to take delivery of the bike and lend some additional star power to the CCI proceedings.

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