Rants & Raves Index
Warren's Chopper Show
Hey, don't get me wrong, any TV station that's actually giving air time to choppers and the whole freekin' custom motorcycle thing deserves kudos. At last there's something I can watch besides Skina-Max that seems to make some kind of sense.
We just got through Bike Weekend, and I taped most of the shows (I've seen some before) so I could watch them late into the night when everyone else was asleep. Ya gotta dig a show called "American Chopper" and there was also that thing about Women bikers (tho' all good chopper riders know that the chix been keepin' up pretty good with this whole thing lately)...so what's my beef? Well, being Warren means I kinda walk around in this perpetual state of pissed-offed-ness (is that a word?) and often I don't even know why. So what do I do? I sit down and try to figure it out and then spew it across the digital pages of this website. So here's some spew...
The Discovery Channel seems top have recently "discovered" choppers and bike builders. I would guess it makes for good ratings 'cause they keep on coming up with shows like "Monster Garage" and "American Chopper". And these shows are generally fun to watch cause it's nice to see kool bikes and the folks who build them - but the coverage seems to be awfully one sided: they focus on the 2-3 percent of the professional bike builders and leave out the other 98% - the "little guys".
Lets talk about the core here - who are the CORE of chopper bike builders in America? Are they guys like Jesse James or the dudes at Orange County Choppers? Hey, these guys are best of breed and produce awsome to behold choppers, no doubt. Understand I'm not cutting their work, dedication or skill - they have lots of all of that good stuff, and their fine scooters show it all. I'm talkin' about the 98% of bike builders who don't have a pot to piss in or a garage door to throw it out of. The CORE of bike builders in America are guys in the garage in their house jugglin' a job, a wife, kids, a mortgage and STILL find the time to create their own particular vision (or version) of the chopper.
I'm watching "American Chopper" and these guys are talking about having 45 days to build this life-changing custom scooter for a show at Laconia. And (despite some family bickering) they generally get down to the business at hand and spend the time building what can only be described as an truely state-of-the-art chopper. It rains and the show is cancelled - but hey, stuff happens. They start with a custom frame, do some good research, order a new motor from TP, have the Nubs guys do the paint and use their huge machine shop to fabricate everything they need. Result? Killer bike.
Now, fade to some guy who's got a tarp strung out next to his trailer. It's raining like hell and he's trying to keep water out of his sportster cases as he puts new rings on the ironhead for the hundredth time to get a few more seasons out of these cylinders. The frame was chopped the first time in 73 by a guy who wasn't all that good with a torch and it's been patched twice. Most of the parts on this bike were bartered with local buddies or copped on Ebay as "seriously used". He's got two weeks to have this thing back together 'cause he's riding to Sturgis with his wife while his Mom looks after the kids. He's working a construction job so he can only work evening when he's done with his "real job". But the same thing happens here ...it's done in the nick of time and it's a killer bike. It's just a diferent kind of killer bike. It's his killer bike.
The value of this scooter isn't measured in dollars or awards. It's measured in pride. Pride that it RUNS, pride that he built it and pride that even though times are tough, he still gets to ride. Pride that he can show this chopper off to his buddies who all chant that same chant in unison "Someday, I'm gonna build a bike just like that..." He can bungie a sleeping bag, toolkit and knapsack full of clothes to the sissy bar on this bike and ride it hard through the night, through the rain and through throat-choking traffic to get where he wants to be. The ultimate award for this chopper builder is riding his chopper - just because.
And when it breaks down (and you know it will) he's gonna unroll a buncha tools and red shop rags and he's gonna fix it right there by the side of the interstate with trucks screaming by. Because unless he fixes it right then and there, he's not going anywhere. His wife (or girlfriend) will actually HELP, because she knows some things about this bike, too.
He'll get with his buddies and they'll swap parts and jokes and wrench work, often for no money at all, because that's what friends do. He'll give a set of used pipes to his friend who needs them, and he'll take a used manifold from another - because he needs it.
So maybe what Discovery is missing is this part: the 98% of the custom chopper builders who keep working on bikes because deep down in their hearts they simply can't stop wrenching and riding. No matter what challenges life throws at them, they'll keep working on that one special bike - the bike that will never win any award accept to be called "mine", and that may just be the greatest award ever given.
So here's what I wanna see on TV - a chopper show about the average guy, the shadetree mechanic, the low-dollar project, the roadside fix ...all that stuff that goes with having a bike you built and ride all over the place. A show that features rats, and pans, and shovels and choppers made outta bikes you never heard of. All because the builders had a vision - one inspired years ago that keeps calling their name and keeps telling 'em one thing over and over "Choppers RULE"
Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong (Sorry, Dennis)