At the turn of the new millennium, a new obsession invaded everyday American culture. This fad is custom bike build. Shows like American Chopper and Monster Garage became big hits and Jesse James (custom bike maker, not outlaw) and Paul Teutul Senior became household names. Everyone is now a fan of custom motorcycles and dreams of riding a modified Harley Davidson customized by some of the top designers. I, like the whole country was swept away in Chopper mania.
Custom motorcycle enthusiasts have been around much longer than a few years ago, and will no doubt remain when fashion finally disappears from the collective public consciousness altogether.
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The idea of making custom bikes started after the second world war when veterans returned and found that the big, clunky motorcycles made by Harley Davidson and the Indian company were unsatisfactory. They started “cutting off” the fenders and removing anything they deem unnecessary to make the bike faster and leaner. Soon after, these customized helicopters started to become popular.
The film, Easy Rider, propelled the idea of a custom helicopter into the public consciousness and a custom motorcycle fan base began to grow. Before long, designers began to take over the domain of backyard mechanics turning the art of motorcycle customization into big business. Custom motorcycle enthusiasts no longer need to cut and individualize their own bikes. Instead, they can go to a top designer and get a unique bike made to their specifications.
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Later, cable television followed this growing trend and launched a series of very popular television shows featuring the people who made these special bikes. This show started the bandwagon effect and soon everyone in Hollywood became a fan of custom bikes at night. Talk shows were booked and motorcycle rallies began to turn into big, family-oriented events.
But, who is a true fan of custom motorcycles? Television shows soon got old and people started watching. Hollywood celebrities have been bugging Jesse James enough for their own custom bikes and many of the custom cut shops that had opened overnight to cash in on the latest craze are starting to close soon. Custom motorcycle enthusiasts are no longer found on every street corner, but they still exist. Now that the trend has passed, true fans of the custom motorcycle trend can now enjoy their obsession in peace. Bike Rally is still held across the country and demo shows featuring the latest bikes made by the industry’s top designers still attract crowds. Sure, Teutul no longer rides their newest creation to the football stadium to the cheers of thousands of fans, but they still make bicycles.
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