Well, here's the
deal. We got sick of seeing endless biker shows that were either
about dysfunctional families, beat-the-clock bike builds or
strange hero worship of builders-turned-rock-star. It's a
motorcycle people - and while some of the people who put them
together are pretty colorful, the vast majority are work-a-day
citizens who have a strange itch that's unfulfilled by anything
except building motorcycles. There's never been a study done on
this so there isn't some catchy medical phrase, there's no known
cure except to keep doing it and (as far as we know) nobody has
ever died from building a bike. They may have perished later ON
that bike - but the assembly process never took anybody out.
And that's what we're about - the assembly process. The guys who
build bikes like we do are referred to as shade tree mechanics.
We often don't have a fancy garage (or any garage at all, for
that matter), the right tools, any cool mechanical doodads to
help us grind, shape and cut metal. Most of us count ourselves
lucky if we have an air compressor, and that's considered by
many the most basic of tools. But basic is where we're at - the
most basic level of building, no matter what tools are at your
disposal is important to us. It's our unique methodology that
sets us apart. It took me a while to figure out what we all had
in common, and you'd think this was a simple thing - it's the
fact that we really don't plan these bikes other than the most
rudimentary drawings or parts lists. We don't spend weeks doing
CAD renderings, airbrushing examples of the finished product
from different angles or even assembling everything that will
eventually be used in the build.
We throw a frame on a lift and step back and listen.
We listen to the frame talk to us.
We listen to eBay "bing" that we won something. We listen to our
buddies mention that they know somebody who has and engine for
sale, or engine parts, or even just a set of engine cases -
because it really doesn't matter how much we try to turn the
bike in a certain direction, often times we end up with
something completely different then even the most vague ideas
that we started with. This is because to us building a bike is a
work of art - it's a process to be savored, not hurried through
like some sadistic "beat-the-clock" where if you don't get it
done on time they'll launch the hounds of hell on you and you'll
be driven from the shop never to return!
Sometimes we wake up in the middle of the night and write stuff
down that doesn't make much sense in the light of day, sometimes
we daydream off at work about some kind of drive train made out
of a combination of jap parts, harley parts and stuff you grind
out of sheet stock. Sometimes we suffer setbacks so devastating
that most normal men would give up is a huff of despair - frames
crack, engine numbers don't match 45 year old paperwork, things
won't turn over, things won't hold oil and things tend to smoke
a lot in our world. We're bikers to a man because we build these
things to ride. That's the prize at the end - to have your one
moment in the sun where you pull up to a line of bikes, park and
realize there's nothing in that line up that looks anything like
yours. Then the looky-loos and wannabees come gathering around -
sniffing like dogs - trying to find out the secret you can never
tell "How'd you get that to fit there?"
It's not that we don't know how we got it there - hell, we were
the ones who ground it to fit, but how did we know it would fit
and work? Well, that's a bit more involved process. We learned
to listen to what the bike said. We learned to speak it's
language. We learned what bike wanted to be a panhead, and what
bike wanted to be a big-inch evo and what bike wanted to be a
wild color and what bike wanted to be left as rusty sheet metal.
Because they told us - the bikes did. Late at night when
everybody else was asleep we heard a voice in our heads that
said "It should be green" and the next day an entire set of
sheet metal (a lovely green, mind you) showed up on eBay in a
misspelled listing and you were the only person who bid on it.
You knew that would happen because the bike told you so.
Or maybe you found a note tacked up at a swap meet that said
"sheet metal for sale - ugly green crap, cheep!" Or you were
cruising Craigs List and there was a wreck that still had a lot
of the green sheet metal left. It doesn't matter how you got the
stuff - it just matters that you got what the bike wanted and
put it on the way it wanted to be put on. Maybe you built the
whole thing in a beery weekend with the help of six of your
friends and some friends named Jack and Bud, or maybe you toted
the parts around the country for the last eight years in grease
stained cardboard boxes with things written on the side like
"Trans parts and rear end" and "some unknown parts" - you waited
until the time was right, the money was right and the world was
right for you to put your bike together.
This show is devoted to you - the guy who sits up late at night
to bid on parts he really can't afford, or the woman who was
pissed for a while about the whole thing but now secretly can't
wait for it to be done so the two of you can go riding - and
bring a blanket. This show is to the dogs who sleep in the
corner while their masters repeatedly turn bolts, this show is
to the kids who bring the neighbor kids in to see "Dad's
chopper!". This show is to all the people in America and abroad
who are obsessed with the idea that something that came out a
factory just isn't for them - it has to be something different,
it has to something special, it has to be made by their own
hands, in their own way and time and it has to be a motorcycle,
their motorcycle - unlike anything anybody else will ever own.
Some people will immediately understand what I'm talking about,
and others will shrug their shoulder and click off to another
page, and some will have the curiosity to enter our word and
begin to learn about what we do, why we do it and what the words
"Choppers Rule" really mean.
Warren Fuller - 2008