Looking at production bikes, you could be forgiven for thinking there's not much real innovation going on in the motorcycle world. And when you see the bizarre and creative and wonderful things custom builders are doing ... well, you get a sense for why manufacturers tend to play it safe.

The Intermot motorcycle expo in Cologne, Germany, showcased just about every production motorcycle on the planet, and was a fascinating overview of the industry as a whole. But deep in the bowels of Hall 10, competitors were assembled for the 2018 AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building, sponsored by Avon tires. Judged by peer review – the competitors, as experts in custom building, judge the workmanship and creativity of each others' bikes for the final score – the AMD title is hotly contested and highly desired.

Row after row of hand-made and heavily modified bikes from all over the world (but principally Europe) sat there in dingy lighting, each telling a different twisted story to those with a keen enough eye to figure out what the builders were up to. We tried to grab shots of as many as we could, from the sublime to the ridiculous – and there were plenty of both.

Take VisiOne above, from Italy, a Buell XB12 at heart, but surrounded by custom everything, including a flip-up panel on the tank for protection when you're riding through swarms of bees (or accessing the top end of the motor).

Or the profoundly scary Ducati ZeroUno, a shameless emergency room express with rigid front wheel drive and steering handled via long linkages back to a pair of rear wheels. Pure evil.

One of the sauciest bikes on display in terms of pure looks was Over the Top, above, festooned with carbon fiber and 24-karat gold and utterly dazzling to the eye.

And as a sheer visual punch in the face, it's hard to go past KastoLom, built by KastoLom out of Russia, which looks like something H.R. Giger's Alien might hoon about on if he was going through a punk phase and getting into piercings. Good grief!

Entries spanned the full spectrum of motorcycling, albeit canted toward the vintage. Do yourself a favor, jump into our AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building photo gallery and see them all!

View gallery - 54 images