Choppers in the motorcycle world can be defined as bikes that have parts removed, torn apart and reassembled, actually “chopped up.” This new motorcycle is seen as being freed of any parts that will impede its speed and performance. The idea is to get the machine down to its bare essentials – lean and mean.
Taking this idea one step further, an entirely new bike, the “Customized Chopper” has been created. Chopper bike builders design their motorcycles in radically different and very personalized styles, often fabricating the individual parts from the ground up. These choppers have crossed the line from motorcycle functionality to fine art. Their creators are sculptors, their mediums metal, glass, leather, rubber and paint – and their custom bikes, rolling sculptures on wheels – kinetic art. The Gold Digger by New Orleans bike builder Ivy Trosclair is in this category.
Some of the characteristic features of choppers are long front ends with extended forks often coupled with an increased rake angle, hardtail frames, lengthened or stretched frames, and larger than stock front wheels. The “sissy bar”, a set of tubes that connect the rear fender with the frame, and which are often extended several feet high, is a signature feature on many choppers. Two anachronistic front suspension systems, the girder fork and the springer fork, are often used on choppers, to further differentiate them from the telescopic forks found on almost all modern production bikes.
Perhaps the best known choppers ever are the two customized Harley-Davidsons, the “Captain America” and “Billy Bike”, seen in the 1969 film Easy Rider.
Eddie Trotta (Thunder Cycle Designs – FT. Lauderdale FL) says “I always design my bikes like women, with a waistline. And then the fat tire in the back becomes the big butt”. Eddie’s bagger and chopper motorcycle designs are very imaginative, distinctive and recognizable – in a class of their own.
Another custom chopper builder, Cyril Huze (Cyril Huze Custom Inc. – West Palm Beach, FL) has a simple and powerful motto “I will never design and build a bad motorcycle because somebody could buy it”. Each of his bikes provides a new thrilling surprise, and common to them all are elegance, power and a deep sensitivity to the chosen theme.