So I sat through the finale of the Discovery Channel’s latest bike build-off last night and then started bumping around the Internet to read comments fueled by the show. Believe me when I say I’m glad this well-promoted televised event prompted a lot of buzz, because our industry needs a shot in the arm like this.

But from the beginning, I had a bad feeling that Paul Junior would win — not because he had the best bike, but because of what being a “biker” has become. I also knew Jesse James didn’t have a chance. Jessie pulled no punches and he made no excuses. He said what he thought and he cared not a lick what other people thought of him. That kind of honesty is rare in today’s environment. This competition was like pitting Justin Bieber against Led Zeppelin in an American Idol show. Like I said, Jesse never had a chance to win this.

If you’ve paid any attention at all to what I’ve written here over the years, you probably know what I think about the bikes, but I’m gonna tell you anyway. Paul Senior built something that isn’t a motorcycle at all, but at least he was trying to think outside the box — I think. Even though it wasn’t in serious contention, it still made me want to ride it and set stuff on fire.

 

Jesse’s bike was by far my favorite and yet somehow, lost in all the hoopla, was the sheer numbers of parts he created from scratch. Jesse made a stainless steel springer front end by hand. That alone should have won him the contest. His bike made me want to climb on and thrash the shit out of it. Just watching him build it made me want to get off the couch, head back to the garage and get back to work.

On the other hand, watching Paul Junior build his bike made me want to head out to the kitchen to see if I had any chips. And that wasn’t during the commercial breaks! This was the one opportunity that Junior had to NOT build a theme bike. So what’d he do? That’s right, he built yet another theme bike.

Besides the fact that the bike was in no way whatsoever a practical motorcycle, it also had no soul. Which I guess is what happens when you’re hell bent on using something else for inspiration or a theme.

The fact the PJD bike won just confirms what I have been saying for a while now: Bikers have lost their way. Everybody wants to strut around the rallies and be Billy Badass biker. Yet these same folks are bashing Jesse about his love life all over the social media sites. I wasn’t aware we were supposed to judge them by who they chose to ride on the pillion. Everyone wants to be an outlaw — on paper. In reality they want to stand next to a fat tire “chopper” sporting a helicopter, fire truck or lightning bolt theme, dressed in a leather vest and pretending they’re a one percenter.

Walking around the AMD World Championship show the past few years, I’ve noticed that it’s less about building a motorcycle and more about building a contraption of some sort. Whatever happened to building functional bikes? To me, being a biker is about riding, plain and simple. There’s nothing better than blasting across the countryside with your buddies, sliding through corners, riding wheelies or just cruising down the highway with the sun on your face. I’m sitting here grinning just thinking about it.

Like they say, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey. Most of the custom bikes out there today don’t have an ounce of “journey” in them. Don’t get me wrong, there are still people turning wrenches out there, building badass functional machines. Folks like Roland Sands and Jesse James come to mind, as well as those countless grease monkeys tinkering around in garages across the country. You guys know who you are. So just keep those wrenches spinning, and I’ll see ya on the blacktop. For now, I’m heading out to my garage. I’m pretty sure I have a PBR and an Ironhead that need my attention.