Why do I get this feeling that everything driving the “Chopper” industry is coming from the wrong direction? There are tons of great bikes being built out there, so why does it seem to me to be complete bullshit? The industry has become flooded with “Chopper” builders, so called Master Builders, who don’t know what the hell they are doing and are hell bent on cashing in on the chopper craze. Now, I have nothing against people doing whatever they can to make money, that’s not my point, my point is that everything is being compromised. Everyone has lost sight of why we ride and build them. This whole industry has become focused just on money and fame, not on the motorcycles.

Let me back track, I have been working in this industry on quite a few levels since 1989, now I do know that there are plenty of people that have been in it way longer than me, but for me, that’s when it all started. I was lucky, I hit it off with the right people at that time and I was able to actually learn from them. Personally it didn’t start for me with choppers either. I was obsessed with stock bikes from the 40’s and 50’s. But due to where I was working, as I was exposed to the outlaw element in the SFV at that time and I started to see tons of killer choppers rollin around, bikes I might not have focused on otherwise. At that time I was riding a 51 Pan that I had bought as a runner, it was stripped down and fast, but it really wasn’t the style I wanted it to be. It was then that I built it as an early fifties style custom, 16” wheels front and rear, no front fender, flat rear fender, apes with a tank shift and shotgun fishtails. Well, I blew the tranny case into 3 pieces, which is what made me tear it down! The industry was way different then, there were a handful of shops building bikes and choppers then and that’s it. Other than the guys doing it themselves andthe handful of shops that was it. It was over the next few years that everything first really started to change, Harley Davidson was becoming huge again, sellin tons of bikes and makin tons of money, that is when the major shift in “Harley Riders “ began to happen. That’s when the old school shops started closing their doors because they didn’t want to have to cater to the “New Bikers” and for the most part those guys didn’t want to go into those shops as they were dark and often intimidating to a first time biker. It was also during this time that a lot of us were exposed to Iron Horse, we got to see what was going on all over and got to see it from very different viewpoints.

There was a lot of “attitude” in the magazine then and that really shaped a lot of what some of us built and how we thought.

It really wasn’t until the explosion of choppers on TV that everything really started to change. Choppers became the commodity. The people that had always been building choppers started to make real money, and good for them. But over the past few years there has been an explosion of chopper shops and all of a sudden there are master builders everywhere you look, and a chopper shop on every corner. Everyone wants to cash in on the “Chopper Craze,” and why shouldn’t they? Chopper rule, that’s the truth. The problem is that the industry, mainly the high end of it, has forgotten what is really important. The chopper industry really started back in the 60’s and 70’s with guys like Ed Roth, Randy Smith, Carl Morrow, Pat Leahy and even guys like Arlen Ness. Back then it was driven not by competition but by innovation, as the builders back then weren’t in direct competition with each other, they were to a point, but that wasn’t the driving force behind it. It was the fact that everybody helped everybody else out to move ahead. It was the fact that these guys were out there doing it out of love for what they were doing, not out of love for money. Yes some of them went on to make tons of money, but that was never the driving force. It’s the shift in focus that I think will kill the “Chopper” industry today. All these shops out there out for themselves not giving a shit about who they trample over in the process.

It has become a battle over who makes the same part cheaper, a battle over who can copy somebody else’s idea. It’s that kind of behavior that will pull the industry apart. I have nothing against people loving what they do, but I do take issue with all the people getting into it trying to cash in. I am all for making a quality part cheaper, I am all for more people riding choppers. I love choppers, I love working on them, I love building them and I love making parts for them. But, I am not going to open a chopper shop as they are everywhere. That doesn’t mean I am going to stop building, no chance, but it does mean that I really hope this industry can stay together without imploding. We are always gonna have the “Big Name” builders, and we are always going to have tons of shops trying to get there. But people need to realize that the only way to be really successful in the world is by doing what you love, now, if all you love is the almighty dollar, that is what you are going to have, but for the rest of us that still love choppers and motorcycles in general, quit pulling us down.

I don’t know, maybe I am totally wrong, maybe I’m just mad that I see shit products and shit builds out there. Maybe I just see the industry being made a mockery of by the high profile builders building unridable garbage. Maybe I am the close minded one who fails to see where the industry is going. But maybe not. Its true, my favorite bikes and style of building has all been done before, I am just doing it the way I like it done, the bikes built in the 50’s and 60’s are my direct inspiration and what I love. It’s even the parts of this era that has inspired me to form my own company as I don’t want these styles to die.

I love motorcycles and I love choppers, I just really get the feeling that the whole industry isn’t driven by people who love what they do, it seems to be driven by people trying to latch onto the latest fad. When the fad dies it will take those people down with it, I just hope it doesn’t drag the people down who made it all happen and have been doing it all along.