Archive for the ‘Chopper Inc’ Category

Go ahead and admit it.  You’ve always wanted to become an elite custom motorcycle builder and compete on the national stage to win cash prizes.

Now you can!

Any motorcycle enthusiast can learn with the click of a mouse how to build custom motorcycles.  All of this happens thanks to Chopper College, a Minneapolis-based technical school who tapped Chicago digital agency Oncall Interactive to revamp its website which will include a new video curriculum.  The result is that you can express your vision of a custom-built motorcycle and show up at the rallies from Sturgis to Shanghai.

Chopper College and Oncall Interactive, an award-winning digital agency who also list’s Harley-Davidson as a client began working on www.ChopperCollege2020.com in November and the new site is planned for a March 31, 2012 launch.

The closest many motorcycle enthusiasts have gotten to designing and building custom bikes is by watching American Chopper — which is fun if you can get past all the yelling — but it’s not hands-on. By making the training available via  the web anyone interested can participate in motorcycle design and fabrication.

Get your virtual grinder and tool belt out…

Photo courtesy of Chopper College.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Jesse James

Once upon a time, many years ago when we all lived in little villages you had fame if you were a blacksmith, a singer or the storyteller.  You had a defined role and if you did it well you received accolades and everyone in your village knew who you were.  Most people had barely been to the next town so the concept of spreading your ideas far and wide didn’t even cross people’s mind.

Then came modern transportation and media.  Suddenly, you could reach everybody and there was worldwide fame.

Speaking of fame.  After reading a press release on the Discovery Channel…I just threw up in my mouth a little bit!

Yeah, it’s a line from “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” but seemed appropriate from my perspective.

In case you’ve been living in a tent at Occupy Portland… it would seem that Jessie James has flamed out with his squeeze, Kat Von D and when he looked at the man in the mirror, became tired of the same old you.  He will recycle in the industry to the Discovery Channel for what’s being hailed as an E-P-I-C showdown where he will go head-to-head with Paul Teutul Sr. and Junior on “American Chopper Live.”

Selling out and letting co-writers/producers deliver what the lowest common denominator TV system wants, as opposed to what you want, will clearly revive the custom chopper business!

Can’t they leave well enough alone and just move on already?  Maybe they should rename it the “American Horror Story: Tricks and Treats From Formerly Warm Bodies!”  Since 2003 Jessie began a slow-and-steady nosedive with his character arcing to new lows that only a Hollywood script for “Desperate Housewives” could love.  Combine this with the other two demoralizing builders who get their ‘hate-on’ and we now have what they call that new math: 1+2 = 4!

Our shiny enigmatic motorcycle monster friend will turn up not once, but twice on December 5th and 6th.    It’s sure to create a mega motorcycle buzz – YAWN!

Next up has to be a Jessie James guest appearance on Glee or maybe it’s DWTS.  You heard it here first.

Photo courtesy of Discovery Channel

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Carl (CJ) Hanlon

Carl (CJ) Hanlon

I’m talking motorcycles not the sought-out customizers that make – “grills” – you know it as mouth bling or Rapper Grillz…i.e. gold teeth!   Sometimes referred to as plates, shines or caps that glitter with diamonds on a person’s upper teeth.

But I’ve digressed… a couple weeks ago I posted an article about Hispanic Trends at H-D and received several comments.  One in particular which was well written and concise came from Carl (CJ) Hanlon of Orlando, FL-based Guilty Customs.  I made a mental note to do more research when I had time on the company and the person behind the custom choppers.

Previously an ex-banker and marketing exec at Disney, CJ spends time these days building affordable custom bikes .  I like their work which is artistic yet not overdone and functional everywhere you look.  CJ doesn’t describe himself as a “master builder” or does he make comparisons with the industry icons, but claims to be just a “Joe builder” with a lot of passion for the industry, a skillful team and a ‘dab’ of talent.

Similar to how music sounds different in everyone’s ears, I’m of the viewpoint that bike style – design, colors and proportions – the overall looks — is a personal matter and is what influenced the custom scene in the first place.  I’m not a fan of $100K+ “theme” bikes from OCC that the corporate world can’t seem to buy enough.  But, good for them as I need something to watch during summer re-runs.  Personally I like old school bobbers that are not overweight or over-hyped, but to each his own.

According to the Motorcycle Industry Council the top 7 commercial bike builders accounted for 91% of all cycles sold in the U.S.  It’s no wonder that today’s custom builders either suffer the fate of a dying breed on one end of the spectrum or go the corporate empire of cookie cutter “choppers” who try and saturate the market on the other end.  Maintaining a profitable middle-ground looks to be a challenge which few seem to achieve.  However, in spite of the economy, Guilty Customs has increased their bike builds.  No assembly line here and the customs are meant to be ridden, not sit in a showroom.

I can only wish for a custom at this point since I’m heavily invested in the Road King, but if and when I make a chopper commit I’ll be considering Guilty Customs.  Keep up the great work CJ.

Photo courtesy of PRWeb and CJ Hanlon.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Jeff Cockran

Jeff Cockran

You know Jesse James as a custom bike builder (WCC), publisher (Payupsucker Publications), television host (Monster Garage), Hollywood celebrity (wife Sandra Bullock), car builder, welder and restaurateur (Cisco Burger), but did you know he’s got some serious “behind-the-scenes” legal trouble?

Contrary to popular opinion I’m not a big Jesse fan even though he did visit the U.S. Troops in Iraq before Obama!  Clearly he has talent and has built some interesting bikes.  However, his chumminess with the Hollywood elite while casting himself off as an everyday bloke working for the blue collar common man as a “glorified welder” is an insightful commentary and somewhat disingenuous as the bad boy C.F.L. industry personality.  These days the whole biker experience (as “media darlings“) has become gimmicky and any day I expect to see a “Chopper Deal or No Deal” game show on TV.

Having had my share of legal issues in this litigation-base society I’m not judging Jesse because I think he’s done a lot for the industry, but it does look like a negative trend or downward spiral…he’s being sued for breach of contract by Keats McFarland & Wilson LLP — his former lawyer for more than $327K in unpaid fees.  And he’s being sued for breach of contract by Michael B. Jones for more than $422K in the failure to deliver a custom 1949 Cadillac. Last year Jesse was in another law suit with the Sheet Metal Workers Union over a trademark infringement when he co-opted their image on popular WCC calendars that were sold in Wal-Mart.  And capping off a year plus of legal fun he was fined $275K by CARB for selling motorcycles with engines not approved by the state.

Sucker Punch Sallys

Sucker Punch Sallys

All of this is adding up to some serious coin and has to be cutting into the Monster Garage residuals!  Most important is the question of “Where is the chopper industry going?” 

We witnessed the sponsorship implosion from Billy Lane’s accident.  Is Jesse on the same collision course?  We have OCC and the Teutels, but they’ve become wealthy growing into grander and more upscale shops while doing corporate built-off’s.  Not to get personal, but even Paul Sr. looks to be sitting around the lounger too much because either his bicep tat’s are starting to droop or Hi-Def TV is not kind to body builders?

What we need is another Indian Larry personality.  Another larger than life ambassador for the industry to make an entrance onto the TV scene and become an inspiration.  Is Jeff Cockran of Sucker Punch Sallys our next ambassador?  I think he’s one to watch…

What do you think?  Is it the slowdown of the economy, or the fad of TV choppers wearing thin, or did the greed of the custom builders over charging customers simply cause the market to crash?

UPDATE: November 12, 2008 – More legal issues with Mr. James and WCC who are being sued by Fortune Fashions over a clothing line which was to be sold thru Wal-Mart.   Jesse pulled the deal, hired a key employee and then decided to sell direct to Wal-Mart anyway.  Legal docs HERE.

Photo’s courtesy of SMWIA and SPS web sites.

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billy lane with dreggsThey both whiff air and share ability to hire good lawyers! Billy Lane of Chopper Inc. rides. He’s a man’s man — a biker, a bike builder and trying to make a “honest mans” living. Britney just gets ridden – mostly into the gutter it seems. Billy states he’s not a celebrity. But, in his book it’s all about him being the fastest-rising star among high-profile custom chopper builders.

Britney on the other hand, with that “You’ll never see it my way, because you are not me”, a’tude is with out question a celeb. The Barister is nothing but a popwreck. Personally I wish she’d leave the U.S. with her lil’ doggie, London. K-fed has the kids now and with TMZ we get a blow-by-blow account of her daily action. The latest is driving with out a valid CA license and hit and run.
billy book
Wait! That’s curious… Barister and Billy both “Celebwrecks” get into auto incidents and life collides. Billy surrendered to Florida authorities last year after tests showed his blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit during a collision that killed a moped rider. He was charged with driving under the influence-manslaughter, driving with a suspended license and driving under the influence resulting in serious bodily injuries. Toxicology tests showed that Billy’s blood-alcohol level was 0.192 percent, more than twice the state’s legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Come on…he’s a biker dude. So what — he was drunk, driving a heavy sponsored Dodge pickup truck and killed someone riding a scooter. OMG, you must get a criminal record to be a celeb, right?…that’s his strategy! Clearly his roadmap to stardom?! What’s next? Courtney Love (from the wacky and weird side of the planet) coming to Billy’s defense with that before you judge walka mile in his shoes…

Wait! There’s more…
billy lane cleanAt the time of Billy’s accident he was driving on a suspended license resulting from a prior accident in North Carolina, in which he had refused to take a blood-alcohol test. Bottom line Billy killed Gerald Vernon Morelock, a 56-year-old park ranger from Melbourne Beach, Fla., who was riding a Yamaha moped. The accident happened after Billy crossed a double yellow line on Highway A1A to pass at least two other vehicles before hitting the moped head-on.(R: Photo along with excellent coverage at Cyril Huze Blog)

Two of the charges – DUI-manslaughter and driving with a suspended license in conjunction with a death – are second-degree felonies and looking at up to 15 years in prison for each of those charges. Billy was booked into Brevard County Jail then released on a $15,000 bond. He issued a statement through his PR agency – now we’re talking Billy – all celebs have PR agents!

Then it gets creepy. The family of Morelock, Billy and attorneys for DaimlerChrysler, negotiated an out of court settlement. He was driving a promotional Dodge pickup when he killed Gerald Morelock. I’m sure that cost millions to settle, but a settlement was reached none the less for an undisclosed amount.

Billy’s criminal charges for DUI Manslaughter are still pending. His attorneys, “celeb’ed” him up — cut his hair and reports magically surfaced that he has stopped drinking as a result of the accident, duh?! The case has been postpone while they continue to investigate the charges.

As of this week (October 2007) wftv.com news is reporting that the celebrity motorcycle builder Billy Lane lawyer team has asked a judge to throw out blood alcohol results in his DUI manslaughter case.

Stand by to see what all that celeb money can do…

UPDATE: June 17, 2009 – Three years later and a lot of legal bills…last week Billy Lane pleaded guilty to a single charge of vehicular homicide.  As part of the plea agreement prosecutors dropped the DUI manslaughter charge.  Mr. Lane faces a maximum of 9 years in prison (sentencing is August 14).  The deal also mandates a lifetime license suspension, but he might be able to retain use of it for specific purposes.  The Defense attorney, Greg Eisenmenger will request a non-incarcerating sentence, but this is at the judge’s discretion.

UPDATE: August 14, 2009 — Billy Lane was sentenced today to six years in prison and three year’s probation in connection with the Labor Day 2006 crash that left Sebastian Inlet park ranger Gerald Morelock dead.  Lane was immediately handcuffed and escorted from the courtroom.  Judge Robert Burger also ordered Lane’s drivers license suspended for life and that he undergo random drug and alcohol testing upon his release from prison.

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