This year’s Sydney Hot Rod and Custom Auto Expo was a cracker! I’ll be honest, I’m fairly over static show and shines – and indoor shows are the worst. So I was pretty stoked (and surprised) to come away grinnin’ after this one.

The organisers have made a concerted effort to inject some new life into the stale indoor show format. Motorcross stunt shows, dragster fire ups, live air brushing and pinstriping, and dedicated rod and custom parking out front. A new addition this year was Nostalgia Lane, strictly open to only period correct rides, and featuring a killer variety including rods, customs, drag cars, lowriders and bombs. With some specially invited car clubs, it was a definite highlight of the show. In addition to this, the Mooneyes crew put on a great display with the Mooneyes dragster, original art pieces by resident pinstriper Hiro ‘Wildman’ Ishii as well as live pinstriping too! Throw in a bunch of other great rods and customs, and it was a great little show.

While all the ‘big boys’ of the show scene might have been at Motorex down in Melbourne, I’d chose this show every day of the week. Well done to the organisers!

Enjoy the pics! They’re far from perfect, but they’re okay for the ol’ phone.


What happens when a bunch of great hot rod and lowbrow artists come together to help kick cancer’s ass as part of the Shitbox Rally? The Shitbox Artists Art Auction is what happens!

The Shitbox Rally itself is a challenge to participating teams to drive cars worth under $1,000 across some of Australia’s most formidable roads, all in the name of charity. Teams are encouraged to give their car a name and a theme as part of the fun, with some hilarious results. This year’s event will see teams drive 3,800km from Brisbane to Darwin from May 19-25th. Each team needs to raise a minimum of $4,000 to take part, with all proceeds going towards the Cancer Council. Of course this is just a minimum, and each team is encouraged to raise as much as they can!

This is where the Shitbox Artists Art Auction comes in. Vicki Pattison, a renowned signwriter and artist from Queensland, is half of the ‘Blonde Bandits’ team. She’s teamed up with hot rod and lowbrow artists from across Australia to hold an art auction. Bidding starts at $150 on each piece, and all proceeds go to their team total – and then the Cancer Council of course!

We’ve shared some of the art below, but make sure you check out their facebook page Shitbox Artists Art Auction for full auction details. Dig deep, the art is amazing and the cause is great! And thanks to all of the participating artists for donating their work.

1Ceramic bike tank by Cam “Wolfman” Caltieri of Melbourne.

2Vintage petrol tin by Adam Tierney of Toowoomba.

Painting on timber by Evan James Marshall “Johnny Voodoo” of Brisbane.

Pinstriped panel by Paul “Thommo” Thompson of Brisbane.

Painting on canvas by Rob Walker of Brisbane.

Painting on canvas by Roger Warsop of Sydney.

Pinstriped panel by Kane Shultz “Kane’o” of Brisbane.

Painting on canvas by Micky Hora of Brisbane.

Pinstriped panel by Julz Neville of Melbourne.

Painting on canvas by Paul Hughes of Melbourne.

Sculpture by Rastra Lyall of Brisbane.

Skate deck by Pete Rudd of the Gold Coast.

Painting on canvas by LB Guzzler.

The trailer for Incredibles 2 has just dropped (watch it here). Like it’s predecessor, it looks like it’s chock a block full of mid-century modern design goodness. We can’t wait!

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Western Sydney shook once again today as the Day of the Drags rolled into town again.



Hand painted signs are like old cars – they’re a bit of a window back to a simpler style. A time when style and craftsmanship were valued, and computers were something from a science fiction movie. It’s no wonder I dig both of them in a big way.

So when I stumbled across this amazing collection of pics from Tierney Signs spanning almost a century, I just had to see if I could share them. Graciously, Adam Tierney was only too happy to. The company was originally established in Sydney in 1924 by the late James Mark Tierney. His four sons all followed in his footsteps and studied in the traditional trade. One of his sons Peter, moved to Toowoomba in 1978 and started serving the region. He’s now retired, but sons Adam and Liam have taken on the family legacy for the third generation. To this day they still offer traditional hand painted signs, as well as modern style signage as well. If you’re in the Darling Downs, you know who to contact for your signage needs. For more details check out their website www.tierneysigns.com.au or facebook page.

All images courtesy Tierney Signs1The Late James Mark Tierney. Glebe, Sydney 1927.

3Haymarket in the late 1940’s.

Circa 1950’s Quay Street – Haymarket in peak trade.4
Ramsgate 1950’s.
Late 50s to early 60s.6

9Ramsgate 1960s.
Ramsgate, early 1970s.
81011121314151617Peter Tierney and his son Adam as 4th year apprentice. Toowoomba Qld. 199218Eddie Tierney, Cooma, NSW, 1992.19
John Tierney, Springwood, NSW 1992.20Jim Tierney, Ramsgate, Sydney 1992.2122

This piece was hand painted by Tierney Signs in the 1960’s. The piece is heritage listed and is now part of the Ultimo Tafe campus. This kind of work was regular contract work from the original Sydney Fruit and Vegetable Markets in Haymarket.


Art deco buildings, rockabilly music, great cars and pin ups every 10 paces – the annual Lady Luck festival in Katoomba is always a great little show.



Pin up from the cover of the 2001 Dyno Kustom Kruisers calendar. Image: Simon Cudby

There are some much loved custom inspired beach cruisers, but arguably many of the most desirable came from the Dyno range by GT bikes. Models like the Taboo Tiki, stretched Roadster, and the official Mooneyes bike all are still highly coveted by bike enthusiasts the world over. Even the base model Dyno frames still remains one of the most beautiful bike frames ever made.

We tracked down Aaron Bethlenfalvy, former Head of Design at GT, to learn more about the inspiration behind some of those iconic models, his subsequent work at Nirve and Schwinn, and what he’s up to these days.

Aaron, thanks so much for taking some time to have a chat with us. Doing some research online I realised your resume includes some of the coolest bike models ever. Personally I’ve owned 6 or so bikes that you’ve helped design. Let’s start at the beginning – what first made you want to get into design?

Hi Hewey. First and foremost, thanks for reaching out and all the kind words. There is nothing more gratifying to me than hearing someone express his or her appreciation for my work. Thank you and everyone else that helps keep my creations alive after so many years.

Growing up I spent my childhood doing three things. Riding my BMX bike, disassembling any mechanical object I could get my hands on and drawing. My BMX bike provided me freedom, disassembling things pacified my curiosity of how things work and drawing helped me escape . Both, however, tended to get me into trouble, as I would voyage beyond pre-set bounds and was seldom able to reassemble the things I took apart.

I’m fortunate that I had parents who told me from a young age that I could be anything I wanted so long as it made me happy. Their encouragement helped me overcome the negative response I was getting in the school system, which saw me as a waste of time due to my poor grades. By high school, I excelled in math and anything creative (drawing, sculpture, problem solving).

And I understand that when you were studying at Ohio State University, for your final year project you designed a bike for the police and engaged GT and Shimano as sponsors – and that lead to you getting your job with GT that started this all?

Cold called both of them! My plan was to use my thesis project as my way to enter the industry I had hopes of entering. It worked. GT offered me the job upon completion.

3The bike that started Aaron’s 20+ years in the bicycle industry. A Police Patrol Mountain Bike thesis project from The Ohio State University’s BSID program. 

How did the Dyno range come about at GT?

Dyno was a BMX brand that GT had purchased many years ago. They would use the Dyno brand when a price point was too low for a GT or when dealers wanted a certain type of product that wasn’t fitting for the GT image… Et al Beach cruisers. The Dyno cruisers actually existed when I joined GT in 1995. They were your typical retro looking beach cruiser like everything else on the market at that time.

I believe Jeff Soucek designed the first frame. He definitely designed the frame for the Dyno Roadster and I think he designed the others as well. I couldn’t even tell you what the first model was since they existed before my arrival in 2005.

I think a better question is why did GT decide to redesign the cruiser line. The answer is that the current Dyno cruisers weren’t performing very well. If I recall correctly, they were selling less than 4k units per year. With such few sales, they wanted to either kill the line entirely or take one more swing at refreshing them. For comparison sake, Schwinn was the undisputed king of cruisers at the time and they were selling 120K cruisers per year.

A key part of what made the Dyno cruiser range so good are the kustom kulture and hot rod inspired models. What inspired GT to create these models?

When I was assigned the Dyno Cruiser redesign project, I began researching how the bikes were used. Even though they were referred to as “beach” cruisers, they were used worldwide in areas that had no beach. The bikes were being used on pavement more than boardwalks. To me they were just “cruisers”. That simple reclassification in my own mind helped me look elsewhere for inspiration. At that point in time, I had been helping a friend, Tom Schubeck, build his custom cars after work and on the weekends. ’52 Ford Victoria, ’64 Thunderbird, ’64 Rivi, ’32 Ford Pickup… I was engrossed in the Kustom Kulture scene. The Dyno concepts seemed to flow with very little thought required as a result.


The original concept rendering for the Dyno Kustom Kruisers “Motoglide”. The production bike ended up  nearly identical to his original vision. Fireball tires, ghost flames, billet grips, ape hanger bars and a Shimano 3 spd hub.

13This is ’51 Ford was Aaron’s first car build – chopped, shaved, nosed, decked, lakes pipes and air bags. Safe to say customising with an eye for style runs deep in his blood!

The Dyno calendars have achieved a cult like status. Surely pulling together a dozen themed pin up photoshoots for that was one of your more fun jobs?

Without a doubt! Gorgeous woman, super sick Kustoms…it’s hard to believe I was paid to organize and execute it!

Let’s focus on a couple of specific models. How did the Taboo Tiki come about?

We had a graphic designer named Kevin Hertfelder who knew VonFranco. Upon seeing the Dyno Kustom Kruiser concepts, Kevin suggested reaching out to VonFranco for a collaboration model. Kevin established initial contact and the first VonFranco model was the orange pinstriped model, which was a great success, but we had every intention of only making a limited quantity.

Year two we needed a new VonFranco model and the Tiki was a clear choice. VonFranco’s house and studio was adorned with Tiki EVERYTHING. Nothing would be more “VonFranco” than a Tiki model. We brainstormed with VonFranco around this theme and came up with a general direction (name, details, specification, etc). I drew up the concept illustration for approval of Sr. Management and VonFranco. Once approved, VonFranco began to create the artwork for the tank and chain guard while I worked on sculpting the tiki head for the fender lamp. I communicated all of the final schematics with our manufacturing partners in Asia and about 5 months later we were reviewing our first article samples.

The Taboo Tiki is one of the coolest Dyno models. VonFranco is seated in green, and Aaron is actually the squatting pygmy.

Aaron designed this model as a replacement for the original Taboo Tiki collaboration model with VonFranco, however the original model sold so well there was never a need to replace it. This model paid homage to true island style and featured bamboo fenders, wicker rear basket, tiki hand grips and a tiki torch head lamp.


Another seminal model is the Mooneyes Dyno, what’s the story behind that one?

I approached Chico at Mooneyes directly. I had met him a few times when I was at their facility purchasing parts for my ‘51 Ford and figured it couldn’t hurt to pitch the collaboration to them. I walked in and showed him my concept illustration and he was sold immediately. It was a great way for them to leverage their bicycle Moon Disks and a great way to help us legitimatize our commitment to the Kustom Kulture scene.


Aaron’s original concept rendering for the Dyno Kustom Kruisers “Mooneyes” cruiser. The model ended up nearly identical to his original vision. Superslick tires, mooneyes artwork, billet grips and flat track bars.

The Mooneyes model looks especially amazing with their legendary discs installed. Image: Mooneyes USA.

A few short years after we launched the Dyno Kustom Kruisers the company went through some hardships. Ultimately, the company was sold to an investment company that already owned Schwinn. They replaced all of GT’s upper management with Schwinn people that felt like the Schwinn brand should be the only ones selling cruisers so they killed the Dyno Kustom Kruiser line.

With the Dyno Kustom Kruisers gone from the market, many brands jumped on the “Hot Rod Inspired” cruiser band wagon, but I just didn’t feel like they were hitting the mark. When I joined Nirve, we felt like there was still opportunity in the segment and I approached Chico again. I think the Nirve Mooneyes cruiser did even better than the Original Dyno version!

The Nirve branded Mooneyes cruiser. Image: Mooneyes USA.

Speaking of Nirve, you designed their now widely copied chopper frame. What’s important to you when designing a bike like that?

There are three things that need to converge to create what I call “The Trifecta of Excellence”. First, you need aesthetic appeal. Making something “look cool” is the by-product of visually communicating a very specific message. Proportions, color, stance, etc all play an important part. Second, you need functionality. All choppers on the market either didn’t fit the target consumer or had a horrendous ride quality. The geometry creation of the Nirve Switchblade chopper was a very involved process that combined anthropometrics and numerous test mule frames. Third, you need to hit the right price. If you’re priced too low, the perception will be that the product is inferior. If you are over priced, it will have abysmal sales. The Nirve Switchblade chopper had “The Trifecta of Excellence”

Aaron’s handmade prototype of the Nirve Switchblade chopper. He was determined to build a good riding, ergonomic, raked out chopper and this was the result.

The more I looked into your design history, the more cool bikes I uncovered. A Boyd Coddington bike done with Nirve. Concept bikes like Hot Wheels, Budweiser, Jeff Gordon/NASCAR etc. Any particular models, either produced or concept only, that you really loved?

Hmm. I have a lot that I love. I think my favorite’s would be:
1. The Harley Davidson Limited Edition I created for GT. (Production)
2. The Dyno Kustom Kruiser Kiddie Trailer. (Hand fabricated Prototype – Concept)
3. The Nirve Chupacabra Concept Chopper (Hand fabricated Prototype – Customized Production Switchblade)
4. The George Barris Kustoms models for Nirve. (Meeting and becoming friends with George and his family will forever be one of the highlights of my career)
5. Paul Frank Line of Nirve Cruisers. (Paul is one of the most genuine and creative people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with)
6. The work I’m doing for Ruff Cycles in Germany (no one has seen this yet and I can say is that it destroys my prior Kustom work!)

The 100% hand fabricated hot rod kiddie trailer prototype.  Sculpted in surf board foam, fiberglassed and set on top a custom chassis with two 20″ bicycles tires. It featured a removable Carson Top, leather tuck -n- roll upholstery, wall to wall carpet, wolf whistle horn and a massive trunk space for diapers and beer.

Seen here is the handmade prototype of the Nirve “Chupacabra” concept chopper. The entire bike was made in Aaron’s little one car garage in Huntington Beach, Ca. The features included hand formed tank, billet wheels, custom disk brakes, custom springer fork, billet grips, shimano 8 speed internal hub activated by jocky shifter under the seat and paint work by the legendary Hot Dog Kustoms. “I love this bike. To this day it’s on display in my living room!” says Aaron.

“Collaboration projects rule. They’re a great way for designers to break mental walls that begin forming after years of repetition within the same industry. Seen here is the Kopper Kart inspired Nirve cruiser I proposed to the legend of Kustomizers George Barris”.

While this interview has focused on the beach cruiser side of your career, you’ve also done a lot of design work for regular bikes?

This list would be too long to write out. I have designed products in the cycling industry for just about every category. Complete bikes, components and accessories…

When Aaron started at GT in 1995, one of his first projects was to design a replacement BMX stem. “I felt that the old school GT Mallet stem was iconic GT and wanted to create a modernized version of it. The final result was the GT Piston stem. They were available in Micro, XL, XXL and cruiser sizes initially and later a zero offset Freestyle variation. 100% CNC machined in the USA from extruded 6061-T6 bar stock by TOMI Engineering in Santa Ana Ca.

The Schwinn “Rocking Cruiser” prototype Aaron designed. Seen here is the prototype sample from the production facility (hence the poor photo and mismatched grip/saddle color). Sadly, it never saw production for internal political reasons.

These days you’ve gone independent and run Alpha Dog Design. What kind of work do you these days? And how can people follow your work?

I’ve continued to do a lot of contract design work for the bike industry. Sadly, 99.9% of what I’ve been working on over the past few years can’t be shown as I have strict non-disclosure agreements with my clients. As I’m able to release content, I post it to my Instagram page www.instagram.com/alpha_dog_design (note where many of these pics came from). I welcome new followers!

Brands that I’ve worked for since starting Alpha Dog are: Felt, Schwinn, Electra, RockyMounts, Bafang, Niner, Astro, GT, Detroit Bikes, Elbrus Cycles, Schwift Cycles, AirFom, Gammax, Haro, Priority Bikes, Protanium BV, Ruff Cycles and TransArt.

Aaron thanks so much for your time. As I said I’ve owned a handful of bikes that you’ve designed, so it was awesome to have the opportunity to learn a little more about them and yourself.