Please note:
on 28 September, the exhibition will be closed for a private view from 16:30 to 22:00
  • Wheels of Fire

    Wheels of Fire

    28 September 2023 — 28 January 2024

Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art presents Wheels of Fire, and exhibition showcasing more than 20 rugged and minimalist, innovative and inventive motorbikes, as well as prototypes, videos, and concept designs pushing the boundaries of imagination and celebrating the spirit of freedom

  • Unique custom bikes created on the point of convergence of art, sports, and business

  • Russian-made motorcycles that won multiple awards at world championships

  • Concept designs with an attitude, inspired by rock music and channelling their own philosophy

Like all other aspects of the motorcycling subculture, custom bikes originated in the US in the 1950s. Whereas the word ‘bike’ implies any motorcycle, a custom bike is always a work of art. Far from being a mere means of conveyance, it is a source of pride, a luxury item, and almost an animate being. Its components, materials, accessories, and livery design are chosen by its prospective owner. There is no such thing as two identical customs, each of them reflecting the personality and preferences of the rider.

The question of whether customising is a business, an art form, or perhaps a sports discipline has no definite answer.

In some respects, it is certainly art. That said, this is definitely not ‘art for art’s sake’ – what is being created is first and foremost a motorcycle rather than a sculpture cast in metal. Notably, modern-day motorcycles are so structurally sophisticated they simply cannot be built without commissioning skilled professionals. The involvement of professionals implies business, and so it makes perfect sense that the creation of custom bikes has gradually developed from a garage hobby to a large-scale industry.


Competitive spirit is more or less inherent in any creative practice, and customising is no exception. Every year, dozens of competitions are organised worldwide, presenting new designs and engineering solutions for expert review. The official World Championship of Custom Bike Building has been held annually since 2004. That surely qualifies for a technical sports discipline.

Soviet bikers became part of the global custom culture by the late 1980s, and since then local customising has shifted into high gear and darted forward, turning into a speck on the horizon in a matter of seconds, leaving behind only the smell of burnt rubber and hot bitumen. The enthusiasts who used to subsist on their all-encompassing obsession have gained worldwide recognition.

Erarta Museum looks forward to bringing to you some of the world’s coolest motorbikes. And yes, they were all made in Russia.

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