18 Jun,2013

Atlantic Beach Bike Week 2011 | Taking it Back to the Beach!

I’ve attended and covered the Atlantic Beach Bike Fest (ABBF), aka Black Bike Week, for the past 15 years. Although I realize my timeframe pales in comparison to ABBF’s rich history of

31 years of being in existence, I can confidently say that I have an extensive history with the event. From its humble beginnings – it was started as a rally in 1980 by the Carolina Knight Riders – ABBF is now one of the largest bike events on the east coast, attracting the African-American bike scene (hence its moniker Black Bike Week) primarily attracting sport bikes. I’ve been taking part in Black Bike Week for more than a decade now, experiencing a lot of ABBF’s growth and changes.

Notably, throughout the years there have been attempts to make ABBF more “organized”. Some of the efforts were successful, garnering major sponsors, manufacturers and personalities including DUB Magazine, Dodge (with the launch of their Challenger), The Russ Parr Morning Show, rap artist DMX, comedian D.L. Hughley and the East Coast Custom Bike Show and their nationally recognized professional builders. Speed TV host and expert rider Jason Britton even shot an episode of his show SuperBikes! during ABBF. These efforts were commendable and each occurrence looked to be the beginning of a new era. However, in 2008, the high-moral idiot leaders of the Myrtle Beach City Council proposed and imposed ridiculous new laws within the City limits, taking direct aim at discouraging bikers (both Harley Bike Week and Black Bike Week attendees) from descending onto their too-good for bikers holy-land. While this madness was taking place, one town in Myrtle Beach recognized the bikers’ economic and social impact on the community; the town of Atlantic Beach, where ABBF originally started. During a recent ‘meet and greet’ in Atlantic Beach, North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce President Marc Johnson commented by welcoming the bikers and stressing the need for continuing to build the partnership between ABBF and Atlantic Beach during the Memorial Day weekend.

In previous years, the action was scattered throughout the Myrtle Beach area. The festivities spanned from the Convention Center to the good-time vibes on Atlantic Beach to the Colonial Mall, which housed Harley-Davidson’s massive promotion replete with demo rides, a bike wash and a live performance by hip-hop pioneer and Harley rider DMC. However in 2011, Atlantic Beach was the center of it all.
This year, corporate first timers Yamaha, Star Motorcycles and Suzuki set up demo rides throughout Atlantic Beach while ICON Motorsports took center stage with their tastefully sexy and entertaining stunt fashion show, the LIMITER Live. Also making their first appearance was musician/actor T.I.’s AKOO clothing brand with their urban makeovers featuring AKOO gear and fresh cuts. “T.I. has a history with bike week” says AKOO Brand Manager Jeff Belizaire. “Given our partnership with Yamaha via the custom AKOO R1, it was a logical step to be involved with the Atlantic Beach Bike Fest while simultaneously contributing to the community. We’re already looking forward to working with the officials of Atlantic Beach for 2012’s ABBF because it’s a great opportunity to be directly involved” Belizaire continued.

Atlantic Beach was also the place to check out the latest creations from professional and amateur custom builders competing in Yamaha’s custom bike show. Winners included Sesto Custom Cycles, TOCE Performance and MSP Motorsports Performance who showed off their insane color changing dropped R1. Nationally recognized pro builders included hometown favorite Myrtle West Customs along with TOCC, VooDoo Industries and Rob Fisher of Roaring Toyz and their newest spin-off Roaring Twinz. During ABBF, Fisher flexed his custom bagger and cruisers skills and talents by showcasing his custom 2011 Kawasaki Vacquero. Speaking of custom baggers, another significant addition taking place during ABBF was the number of cruisers, choppers and baggers making their way onto the set. This was especially evident with ATL’s Iron Bred; they rolled to ABBF deep with some of the sickest choppers and baggers on the streets.

Once again, even with the stumbling blocks placed in its path, ABBF reached another milestone with one thing remaining true and constant – bike week is all about the bikers. It’s cool to see companies such as AKOO and ICON contributing to the Atlantic Beach community where it all started; thanks to efforts like theirs we can all be happy about bringing our bikes back to the beach!

On a side note, I can’t end this coverage without giving a shout to my new fam, the WiseGuys MC for showing me love. Without them, this year’s trip may not have been possible. One!


Written by: Leon L. Brittain
motorcycle journalist and photographer