Chopper Motorcycle Tips

A chopper is a radically customized motorcycle, archetypal examples of which are the customized Harley-Davidsons seen in the 1969 film Easy Rider.

A chopper is a radically customized motorcycle, archetypal examples of which are the customized Harley-Davidsons seen in the 1969 film Easy Rider.

Before there were choppers, there was the bobber, meaning a motorcycle that had been "bobbed," or relieved of excess weight by removing parts, particularly the fenders, with the intent of making it lighter and thus faster, or at least making it look better in the eyes of a rider seeking a more minimalist ride. An early example of a bobber is the 1940 Indian Sport Scout "Bob-Job" which toured in the 1998 The Art of the Motorcycle exhibition. Indian Scouts and Chiefs of the time came with extravagantly large, heavily valenced fenders, nearly reaching the center of the wheel on the luxurious 1941 Indian Series 441 while racing bikes had tiny fenders or none at all. The large and well-appointed bikes exemplified the "dresser" motorcycle aesthetic and providing a counterpoint to the minimalist bobber, and cafe racers. Choppers would grow into and explore the dimensions of the space between the stripped-down bobbers and weighed-down dressers.

While the decreased weight and lower seat position improved handling and performance, the main reason to build such a chopper was to show off and provoke others by riding a machine that was stripped and almost nude compared to the softer-styled stock Harley-Davidsons, let alone the oversized automobiles of that time.

Choppers have enjoyed a large following. Companies like Jesse G. James' West Coast Choppers have been successful in producing expensive traditional chopper-style bikes and a wide range of chopper-themed brands of merchandise such as clothing, automobile accessories and stickers.

When individuals were stripping their stock motorcycles and bobbing their fenders, the term "bobber" was born. When individuals started cutting (or chopping) and welding their frames thereby repositioning/restyling them, the term "chopper" was born. Chopping was the next phase in the evolution that followed dirt track bobbing.

The United States of America, where most custom choppers reside, is one of the few countries in the world that allow custom-built choppers to be licensed for highway use. Many of these types of choppers are regarded as dangerous to operate and don't follow basic design geometry and lack many safety features in their construction. Finally, an often overlooked style of chopper is the chopper bicycle. Inspired by the smooth, low lines of chopper motorcycles, today's custom chopper bicycle designer builds bicycles that pay tribute to the motorcycles they resemble.

However, the home built Bobber, Old School and Classic choppers are enjoying a comeback around the world and in Australia. Many choppers built in the 1970s are being brought out of retirement and appearing again on the streets. Older bikes from this period"Honda CB750/4s, Yamaha XS 650s and Triumphs 750s and 650s"are being purchased and chopped like they were in the past. Because of their reliability, modern Japanese and British cruisers are also getting chopped, though this is more difficult because of Australia's restrictive regulations on modern machines. Australian home builders include individuals in middle age who built a chopper in the 1970s and 1980s, and younger people who have been inspired to recreate a unique period of Australian motorcycle history.

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by Banga Koupit