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Rants & Raves Index
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2 Much Tube Makes Brain Soft
Biker Build-Off Labor Day Review


Well, I spent some quality time on Labor Day watching all three Biker Build-Off programs on the Discovery Channel. I figured I’d put in my two cents worth because – well, hell, I can and you folks seem genuinely interested in what I have to say about this stuff. So here we go:

Build Off One (Lane vs. Bourget)
Ok, this one is such a gimme they didn’t even need to broadcast it. You can look at the names and pick the winner. I dunno about you, but rooting for the underdog is fairly a lifestyle for me – so you’ve got Billy Lane hanging out in his small shop in Florida and Roger Bourget cranking out bloated, aluminum-coated yuppie paycheck-eaters. What does one of those Bourget things cost? 30, 40, 50 thousand dollars? Roger’s got a staff of people working on the bike, a special aluminum frame-welding guy and these really chi-chi bike stands so you can move scooters around without breaking a sweat.

Billy Lane (who I’m sure you all know and love) is pounding away on metal on his knee and shaping things by eyeball alone. He puts up a killer chop with some interesting groin-shredding spikes and his signature “Miss Behavin’” on the tank. The tanker-truck exhaust flaps make it complete!

People’s Choice: Billy
Warren’s Choice: Billy. The guys at Bourget should try to make a bike that normal human beings might have a chance of actually owning some day.

Build Off Two (Lane vs. Perewitz)
This one is the most interesting of the crop. Normally I would say this is a gimme for Billy, but the show doesn’t pan out that way. I’ve never been a real fan of the Perewitz style, but I respect the craftsmanship.

In this Build-Off Billy has just broken up with his girlfriend and seems hell-bent on partying himself into the dirt. This makes for great TV, what with shots of him boogying with strippers and complaining about hang-overs – but it doesn’t really make for great bike building. Billy doesn’t seem to plan out a thing on this bike and spends long days beating on a gas tank that looks like the bridge from the Starship Enterprise. When he drops it off at the paint shop he says something like “I dunno, just call me when it’s done”. The resulting bike won’t start and it ends up (seriously) burning a hole in his jeans due to its combination rear fender / exhaust system.

Perewitz, on the other hand, does that meticulous New England planning thing. The bike is big and low, but it certainly doesn’t lack for fit and finish. In fact, Perewitz himself applies the paint and creates one of the best over-under flame jobs I’ve ever seen. He shoots something like 4 coats of base, 3 coats of candy and then 4 coats of clear BEFORE he hand-lays in the flames and multi-level airbrushes each one. It’s great TV and a great flame job. Ok, Perewitz doesn’t really fit the outlaw chopper-builder profile (married 30 years, bald & pot-bellied, house in New England) – but the fact on the face of the matter is that he planned out this great paint job and his bike didn’t burn holes in anything.

People’s Choice: Billy
Warren’s Choice: Perewitz – better planning, better (personal) paint, fewer mechanical issues make for a better bike and no hangovers.

Build Off Three (Indian Larry vs. Paul Yaffe)
I’m really prejudiced here – I’m from Brooklyn (as is Indian Larry) and I think Yaffe’s bikes are bloated and pretentious. But I’ll do my best.

Anyone who lives in New York and builds and rides choppers gets two thumbs up in my book. When you build chopper panheads in NY – I mean, what’s not to like? Indian Larry also gave a heavy nod to Big Daddy Roth who was a serious inspiration to me and so many other aspiring customizers in the 60’s and 70’s. The Rat Fink design and serious metalflake on Larry’s bike coupled with the hand-bend sissy-bar make it the clear winner in my book.

Yaffe, on the other hand, acts like a colossal prick as he screams on the phone to a supplier that he didn’t get a license plate bracket to him on time. Excuse me, you’ve got an entire machine shop behind you – fabricate something and polish it up. Besides, if the winning or losing of your bike can be determined by a license plate bracket – what does that say about your build or design? I dunno, Yaffe says he did lots of LSD and painted his fingernails purple – perhaps the fashion industry would be a better choice.

People’s Choice: Indian Larry
Warren’s Choice: Indian Larry – hey, the guy has an Iron Cross necklace tattooed around his neck. Whaddaya want? Fuggetaboutit.

That was about all I watched...my eyes hurt. I know there was a final build-off between Indian Larry and Billy Lane, but I missed most of it. I caught the end where they were cutting the trophy in half, so I guess they decided it was a tie.

Here's the crux of the biscuit: If ya haven't figured it out by now, beauty (and bikes) are in the eye of the beholder. What one rider thinks is smokin' another rider thinks is trash. Around here we happen to like home-build choppers that get ridden. That's the end of this show. Cut to commercial.

warren@choppersrule.com