Man! I can’t say enough about Fuel Cleveland. Over the past three years, I have watched the show grow to triple its original size, exploring different venues and morphing into the Midwest powerhouse it is today. Fuel has been on my radar to attend since the first year and this year I made it happen. Here is my account as an attendant, invited builder, and fan of some of the best custom bikes I’ve seen yet.
My Fuel Cleveland experience began while lying in the bed trying to hold my eyes open scrolling through my Instagram feed, after a long day at work and a long night in the garage, when I came across a post that read “If you would like to show your bike at Fuel Cleveland send over a pic, story, etc.” And that’s just what I did not knowing what to expect. Fast forward a couple of months; I was loading up my bike, with my pops as my wing-man and heading from Richmond, Virginia to Cleveland, Ohio. Pops and I arrived at the Ingenuity Labs & Cleveland Collaborative Collective Building after a full day ride and pulled up to an open garage door to unload my bike. We were met by a bunch of smiling faces, there to to help unload bikes and set up this event. The good vibe of the weekend had been set from the minute I stepped out the truck. Here began my weekend of meeting a ton of people who were truly as happy as I was to be a small part of this show.
The next morning I woke up, grabbed a quick bite, and went directly to the show, arriving about 30 min before the doors were opened to the public. When I walked in, I couldn’t believe it was the same warehouse I had dropped my bike in the day before! There were mind-blowing bikes everywhere, 85 to be exact. There were bikes I had seen online in the past and drooled over, as well as the whole bunch more I had never seen and immediately began to drool over. Behind the bikes, along the walls and down through the middle of the show. were stretches of chain link fence displaying anything from photos to skate decks and custom painted tanks by 35 invited artists and photographers. Large banners hanging from the rafters were a tasteful decoration informing you of the generous sponsors who were responsible for Fuel remaining a free-for-all event. Outside the warehouse, in a large courtyard, all the vendors were set up and ready for the day - and good that they were. It took 30 minutes for the courtyard to fill up with bikes parking for the show. I’d say easily 150-200 bikes, and another hour later 3 to 4 city blocks in both directions from the event, on both sides of the street were loaded with bikes. We had the show inside and also had plenty of bikes to look at outside, which is one of my favorite things at shows. I’d guesstimate roughly 5000 people throughout the day passed through, some hanging the entire day. The overall vibe of the show was super laid back and chill. Everywhere I looked throughout the day there were groups of people talking and laughing with one another. Good times being had by friends remembering good times. On this day in my life, this warehouse in Cleveland Ohio was EXACTLY where I wanted to be.
I later asked the founder of the show Mikey Arnold what personally was his favorite part of Fuel and he said exactly this: “For me, it’s just giving back to the motorcycle community that I love so much and honoring those who are extremely talented, passionate, and hardworking. I was given a chance by Lisa Ballard at ChopCult back in 2013, and it opened so many doors for me. So, if Fuel Cleveland can be a platform to give others a chance to shine, for even just a day, while also inspiring others to get out there and build something, ride somewhere epic, and/or create some beautiful art, then I’ve done what I set out to do.” I truly believe Mikey is doing just that with this show. I spent the majority of my day feeling inspired by the bikes I walked past. I met a ton of cool people I am happy to consider friends now, which to me is the most valuable thing I came back to Richmond with. Thank you, Mikey, Tyler, and Jesse for putting in so much work to make Fuel the truly selfless show it is. It is apparent you guys do this for the love of motorcycles and the love of this culture we are all a part of. Keep up the good work! I am so looking forward to next year!
The next Fuel Cleveland will be held on July 28th, 2018 and will be 100% free to attend. If you would like to try and be a part of Fuel Cleveland 2018, they are taking submissions. Submit photos of your bike, artwork or photography and some history about yourself, the bike or art to email@example.com. Be sure to check out their website, Facebook, and Instagram for updates.
* Editor's note - I would like to thank Justin for his help with this feature and thank the team at Fuel for allowing CC to help support their event over the years. Be sure to check back as we'll be featuring Justin's wicked chopper soon! - Lisa