Chopper Live: Does Anyone Actually Watch These for the Bikes?
December 24, 2012 | By: Patrick Garvin
The second coming of Discovery Channel’s yearly popularity contest went off again and in a déjà vu moment, Paul Junior Designs came out on top. After watching both nights of this circus, I’ve had a bit of time to reflect and I’ve come to the realization that the whole thing was disingenuous on many levels.
The show had almost nothing to do with actually building motorcycles (something we’re very fond of). There was very little in the show about the fabrication involved in building any of the bikes. Instead it centered on trying to build drama around the builder’s relationships with each other. They wasted a ton of time on some super lame “pranks” that the builders were pulling on each other that were obviously staged by the producers. Discovery has moved away from the original Biker Build Off shows that featured actual footage of people building bikes and the struggles in fabrication to straight up reality TV. I don’t care if the bike builders feel all warm and fuzzy about each other. What’s with all the drama about the deadline? Since when do bikers care about rules much less someone else’s timeline? If you have ever tried to go on a ride with one or more bikers you would realize that most dudes on bikes don’t own a watch. In general, I think bike shows are pointless, you bust your ass to build something then drag it to an event where other people decide whether or not THEY like it? Who cares? All that should matter is whether or not the person behind the handle bars likes it, period.
I’ll start with the winner of this shindig. PJD rolled out yet another theme bike – he even talked about the “themes” they toyed with using and ultimately what “theme” they decided to go with. I have an idea, how about a motorcycle theme? What’s wrong with just building a bitchin motorcycle? That being said, I do think this year’s entry was better than last years, still too gimmicky for my taste, but that’s the kind of the world we live in (a world where what something looks like is more important than function and substance).
Second place was the Gas Monkey guys. Say what you want about them doing a restoration versus a ground up build, that bike was pretty awesome. It was more of an “every man” style bike, something a lot of us could have built in our own garages with some ingenuity and a J&P Cycles catalog. And, they rode it there. Huge props to those guys for riding to the show. The previous biker build offs always mandated each builder to ride a certain distance to the judging point which required some functionality to be in the design of the bikes, it was nice to see the guys carry on that tradition.
Senior’s team did really well. That frame was dope! I have seen a lot of custom built frames, but that was new to me. It was kind of a monocoque frame, but with the tanks built into the sides, truly one of a kind. You could tell they had probably been planning this since the last show. Although they didn’t necessarily build this by hand so-to-speak, they stuck to what they do well and used the technology they had to build a very cool bike. The only thing that could have put people off about the bike was the front end, it did make the bike look a bit like a Confederate Hellcat, which is also a cool bike. Senior seemed to be more of a spectator in the build and Jim Quinn seemed to the driving force behind the design. You could even make the argument that none of the other builders could have pulled that bike off.
Jesse James was just that – Jesse James. Love him or hate him he is true to who he is and doesn’t seem to care what people think. That’s an admirable trait to most bikers, but it doesn’t go far in winning popularity contests. His bike was a far cry from most things he has built in the past. The fact that the small fairing on the front looked a bit like a Buell fairing took away from what was probably the nicest bike there. Unfortunately, Discovery decided to make a bigger deal about the deadline he missed than the actual problems he faced building the bike, so you didn’t get a chance to see the fab work that went into the machine. There was a hand fabricated tank and tail section along with a trick oil tank that were barley referenced. Not to mention the frame they showed Jesse using in the beginning of the show was a far cry from what actually ended up being used. The motor mounts that were machined out of one piece and integrated into the cam cover and inner primary looked like nothing I had ever seen before, yet none of these were touched on we just cut to Jesse on a cell phone…’cmon Discovery.
To me this show turned into a microcosm of our society, a society where functionality and hard work are far from important. A society where what you look like is more important than the skills you bring to the table. You see it in everything around us; cars with $2,000 wheels and $3,000 stereos that barely run, so called singers who dance around and look oh so pretty, but sound like a raccoon in a garbage can as soon as they open their mouth. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I’ll take bands that are made in garages not on TV shows, primer colored V8s that lay rubber marks 100 yards over candy coated imports, and air cooled, ground poundin’ motorcycles blasting across the great plains over shiny trailer queens. You can keep your sizzle I’ll take the steak.