(Hand)made in Taiwan: The 2023 Speed and Crafts custom show

2023 Speed and Crafts custom motorcycle show
Like many of us, Winston Yeh fell into the custom motorcycle world unintentionally. His first bike was a humble Yamaha SR150—and once he started swapping parts out, he couldn’t stop. Over a decade later, his custom shop, Rough Crafts, is one of the leading lights of the new wave custom scene.

Based in Taipei, Rough Crafts’ slogan is (Hand)made in Taiwan. For Winston, who uses a select crew of local craftsmen to help execute his builds, it’s a badge of honor. But it also speaks to his love for the local scene—which is why he recently organized the first Speed and Crafts custom motorcycle show, held over three days at the end of March.

2023 Speed and Crafts custom motorcycle show
“I’ve been thinking about this since pandemic,” Winston tells us. “I used to fly around to different shows in different countries, but the pandemic had me grounded and gave me time to think about the custom bike culture in my own country. Since we’re an island, it’s very difficult to ship bikes outside for any shows or competitions, so it’s easy to loose sight of your goals.”

“Even if you do good work, there’s no reward other than the payment, and even when you put out mediocre work, you still get paid. So it’s very easy to loose the passion to drive yourself. I also started to realize that interaction with non-bikers is very important—how ‘regular’ people see you, and how you can make them appreciate the work, is key.”

2023 Speed and Crafts custom motorcycle show
For the Speed and Crafts show, Winston chose the SongShan Cultural and Creative Park in Taipei’s Xinyi District. Originally built in 1937, it used to be a tobacco factory—but the factory closed in the late 90s. A few years later the local government declared it a historic site, and eventually converted it into an event venue.

With support from Shoei, The Balvenie, Breitling and Deus Ex Machina, Winston packed over 50 bikes from almost 40 different custom shops into the venue. He also invited three of Japan’s top builders as guests; Cherry’s company, Custom Works Zon and Heiwa Motorcycle. But despite the plethora of bike build styles and brands represented, the show had a typically Rough Crafts slick feel.

2023 Speed and Crafts custom motorcycle show
“Before this, with all bike shows in Taiwan, bikes were never the focus,” says Winston. “They were more like a carnivals or swap meets. People came for show girls, blowout sales or stickers.”

“I wanted to keep the commercial vibe to the minimum. The builders couldn’t add any of their own decorations, the stands and the description cards were all made by me, and even sponsors were not allowed to sale anything. The only sales happening were tickets, simple event merchandise, and merchandise from the three invited builders.”

2023 Speed and Crafts custom motorcycle show
Among the builders represented were Bike EXIF alumni 2LOUD Custom, Hide Work Custom, Ken Ken Motorcycles, Persist Motorcycle and AFS Custom. Also present were Cowboy’s Company, SMF, Mike’s Garage, Tough Tracker and more. But they weren’t just there to show off—Speed and Crafts also hosted the Taiwan Championship of Custom Bike Building.

“The judging system is learned from AMD,” says Winston. “Each builder gets a sheet to put in their top 10 for the Freestyle class, and their top five for the Performance class—excluding themselves.”

2023 Speed and Crafts custom motorcycle show
“A points system determines the final results. It forces everyone to look at everyone else’s work, including builds in other categories. And no personal favor can sway the results.”

The top five bikes in the Freestyle category, and the top three in the Performance category, were each awarded a trophy. 2LOUD took top honors in the Freestyle category, while Fangster won gold in Performance. On top of that, the invited builders and sponsors each picked their personal favorite bike of the show.

2023 Speed and Crafts custom motorcycle show
Almost 5,000 visitors passed through the venue’s doors over the course of the event, and by all accounts, Speed and Crafts was a resounding success. “I wanted to put the motorcycle back in the spotlight,” says Winston. “To keep visitors focussed on the bikes, and the work that’s been done to them.”

“The response was amazing. From the first day, so many of the builders and visitors were asking when the next one will be.”

Winston plans to hold Speed and Crafts every second year, which gives him time to plan it, and builders time to put out new work. So the answer to that question, if all goes well, is 2025.

That gives us more than enough time to sort out our travel plans, too. In the meantime, enjoy more goodness from the show, in the gallery above.

Rough Crafts | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Kazuo Matsumoto

2023 Speed and Crafts custom motorcycle show

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