Is it the end for chrome-bedecked and impossibly expensive ‘choppers?’
As you read this, riders and builders taking on the task of killing the genre – and they’re doing it themselves. They’re taking, as they always have, classic bikes and reconfiguring them to meet their needs and their vision of what a motorcycle should be, and the bikes they come up with are as different as the men and women who ride them. Old school Frisco-inspired bikes, cut and recut Moto Guzzis, cafe racers of all stripe, and not a one of them costs $50,000.
Harley-Davidson gets it. The days of conchos and tassels are on the way out in favor of machines that, while they may look like throwbacks, are carefully crafted from carbon fiber and murdered-out paint.
One British custom bike shop, Shaw Speed and Custom, feels the shift in taste and they make show bikes which win at the world’s top custom motorcycle shows. At the AMD World Championship in Sturgis, two bikes from SS&C set the crowds on fire. The shop’s ‘Nascafe,’ a low-and-mean dragster of a bike, was commissioned by American watch manufacturer Bell & Ross. This slick machine has, frenched into the gas tank, a $4,000 BR 01 Carbon watch as a showpiece.
Another of the shop’s creations, The XLST3, takes on a set of dirt-track tires and race plates which make the bike harken back to the days of the Harley XLCH 1000 and a day when Harleys offered serious competition on the flat tracks of the US. The stock suspension was replaced with a performance-minded setup reminiscent of the parts list you might more often find on a track-ready superbike.