BEST PAINT!

Steve Richford, the owner of the bike that won the Best Paint class in the 2018 BSH Custom Champs, runs the Valkyrie Bar on the Market Square in Evesham in Worcs, and this is his Honda Valkyrie – apt, eh?

Plenty of Norse power…

Words : Nik

Pictures: Simon Everett

In Norse mythology, a valkyrie is one of a host of female figures that choose who lives and who dies in battle and, selecting from among half of those who do die in battle, take them to Valhalla, the afterlife hall of the slain ruled over by the chief Norse god, Odin. (The rest of them, incidentally, go off to the goddess Freyja’s afterlife field Fólkvangr which, as very few of us’ve heard of it, obviously wasn’t as good a place to spend one’s afterlife as Valhalla.) There, the deceased warriors wait and prepare for Ragnarök, the battle at the end of the world where they will fight alongside the gods, but until then they lounge in the hall, feasting and being brought mead by the valkyries.

This does, you have to admit, sound a lot better than hanging around in a field, doesn’t it? Incidentally, during Ragnarök most of the famous gods (Odin, Thor, Freyr, Heimdallr, and Loki among them) are fated to perish – perhaps if the valkyries laid off giving their warriors all that mead they’d have a better chance of surviving, do you think? I mean, I’ve had mead on a number of occasions and I don’t think I’d be much cop with a sword after quite a lot of it either…

Touch not this bike…

Anyway, Steve’s Valkyrie (designated the GL1500C in the US, and the F6C, ‘Flat Six Custom’, in the rest of the world) was made in Honda’s factory in Maryville, Ohio in 2000 (yep, this is an American-made motorcycle, just like a Harley-Davidson or an Indian… he said, giggling and running away very quickly), and was imported into the UK a short time after. Steve bought it an unspecified time later, and immediately (possibly, possibly not, he’s not been very forthcoming about the bike’s history, I’m afraid) set about giving it a full-blown custom makeover.

He decided to make the most of the original design so the plan was to make it more of a cosmetic makeover than a full-on attack with the gas axe. The bike was stripped right down, and the frame was cleaned and painted, and all the components cleaned, checked and replaced if he wasn’t happy with them.

What a tank!

The swingarm and the wheels were chromed for a bit of extra shininess, and a whole host of chrome goodies (of which there are many, many available aftermarket) purchased, a new custom single seat with backrest ordered from Ultimate Custom in the States, and a set of new triple-barrel shotgun-style exhausts bought too. The huge tank is a one-off though; made from two stock tanks cut and welded together, it suits the standard bike’s proportions better than the smaller stock one and, of course, it also gives a much greater surface to be covered in paint.

Yes, finally we come to the bike’s crowning glory, its paint. Expertly applied by the famous Sam Hubbard at AP Customs in Uppingham in Leicestershire, one of the country’s leading airbrush artists, and drowned in enough lacquer to sail a longship on, it’s an absolute work of automotive art.

Sam’s paintwork is second to none

Every panel has been stripped, prepared, smoothed, based-up and then airbrushed by Sam himself, and has been done so exquisitely that no matter how long you spend looking at it, you’ll always find something new in it every time you look. Just about every icon from the mythology surrounding the valkyries and during Ragnarök is there; gorgeous warrior women, blue-eyed, fair-haired and bearded warriors, ravens, wolves, battle horses, winged helmets, swords, battles, fire – you name it, it’s there.

Stunning artwork

What makes it really stand out, though, is the quality of the work, and in particular the faces – human faces are notoriously difficult to get right, as anyone who’s had a play with an airbrush, as a professional or an amateur, will know. Sam, though, is one of the rare few who’s able to get them proportioned correctly, get them lifelike, and he’s used that skill to good effect here – check out the close-ups of the warriors on the front and rear mudguards to see what I’m getting at.

Winning the battle for Best Paint

All the finalists in the ‘Best Paint’ class in last year’s competition were good, very good, but I’m not really surprised that Steve’s bike took the top spot in the slightest, and nor, I suspect, will anyone who’s seen the bike in the metal.

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