2011 set a highwater mark for garage-based building and bikeriding into the broader pop conscience. The Official Uniform of modern motorcyclers—jeans, denim vest, flannel shirt and skate shoes—has become the de facto kit for every urban lumberjack, metrosexual DJ and 30-something NASCAR dad from Williamsburg to Murrieta. Unfortunately, not all the attention today's "New-School Biker Lifestyle" has received is appreciated by members of our not-so-secret society.
If recent cell phone commercials are any indicator, scruffy grease monkeys are the new multi-cultural B-Boys on Madison Avenue. "Biker chic" hangs off mannequins in Hot Topics and trendy boutiques coast to coast, leaving disgruntled anti-heroes to bemoan, "What's next?"
While no one can answer that question, we can tell you "what was," at least as far as ChopCult in 2011 was concerned. Ladies and gentlemen, kickstart your engines and enjoy a peek at the year in reverse…
Fabrication, fake badboy bullshit and retarded tomfoolery got a shot in the arm when Discovery network aired their two-night biker build-off extravaganza. This clusterfuck pitted Sandy Bullock's philandering ex-husband against the Teutuls Sr. and Jr. in a dogfight between a stainless steel CFL, a P-51 penny farthing and a flamethrowing Snow Cat. Junior's smoke-belching behemoth took top prize, proving again that most Americans are even stupider than French people think.
Closer to reality, we did a feature on Jay Roche's and Jake Cutler's collaboration in Mass. Maybe not as cool as watching Kat Von D's part-time boyfriend feed stuffed animals to a pitbull, but at least these guys don't stare into a TV camera to say how much they hate mass media.
(click photos to read original features)
While America celebrated the kindness of Indians by gorging on turkey and green bean casserole, Billdozer shared photos of his favorite British bombers from BF3.
Mick's Cyclops feature was provided by the folks at Show Class magazine. This bike won Best Chopper at Born Free 3, an award bestowed upon it by the king of long forks, Mr. Sugarbear.
An editorial swing through the Buckeye state a few weeks before Halloween gleaned a bevy of great bike features for CC readers. This ironhead built by Jesse Bassett at Gasbox in Cleveland is one of McGoo's favorites.
CC roving reporter Mike Deutsch traveled to Europe in the fall, and brought back this photo feature on how H-D tifosi roll on Italian soil.
Kit is one half of the Wuss Crew, and his super-clean Triumph was a common site at biker hoedowns throughout southern California.
On the opposite coast, Billdozer checked out the scene at the Brooklyn Invitational.
Bryan Hall's shovelhead, shot during a swing through NorCal to visit Mike at Old-Stf, received tons of compliments when we featured it over Labor Day weekend.
Shovelheads were plentiful as greasy jeans and Pabst Blue Ribbon at chopper events last summer, but Born Free 3 took the cake.
CC member Buster68 came all the way from Canada to ride his sexy panhead with a hundred or so other chopper fiends at the Greasebag Jamboree in Laconia, New Hampshire.
If you didn't attend any of the great grassroots motorcycle events hosted around the country last summer, there was still plenty to do in your own backyard. SPCL '79 dropped this how-to in August and CC members everywhere gasped a collective sigh of relief.
Caleb Owens is famous for his Cro customs, but the bike that sees the most action in Cro's stable is the one known affectionately as The Shop Truck.
A feature on handlebars last July provided plenty of inspiration for CC members planning to do some cockpit modifications.
Rouser Rob's freewheeling lifestyle captures the spirit of modern building and bikeriding like few other personalities in the scene.
Billdozer's three-part retrospective on motorcycle-media legend Frank Kaisler introduced young guns to the man who sowed the seeds of chopperdom on the pages of Easyriders magazine back in the day.
Few ChopCult features stirred more passion or controversy than Billdozer's story on H8ter's murdered-out Dyna. Sixty-eight members piled on to say just what they think about "The Club Style."
Another character in the modern chopper realm whose devil-may-care fabrication aesthetic is Slim from SoCal's Inland Empire. Billdozer's Inside feature took ChopCult readers into the mind and work shop of a true American Original.
In May of this year we resurrected the El Diablo Run after a two-year hiatus, and 200 brothers from as far away as England converged in Baja to ride their freedom machines on foreign soil. Billdozer used the opportunity to shake down Harley's 2011 Blackline, and the MoCo's loaner performed admirably in harsh conditions. Bill's misadventures were recounted in this ChopCult bike review.
Brian and Dave came all the way from Canada to join us on the EDR, and Dave's green shovelhead won Best In Show at that event. Both guys' bikes were featured in this Canadian one-two punch.
Over 2,000 ChopCult readers participated in our first comprehensive readership survey last April. The in-depth questionnaire comprised 67 questions in five categories. The knowledge gleaned has been helpful in shaping the editorial content on our home page. If you participated in this survey, thanks for your support.
On an editorial swing through the Sunshine State during Daytona Bike Week, we met Larry Pierce and photographed his Negro Pantalones. Florida's spring cavalcade of kooks left a bad taste in our mouths, but hanging out with Larry and his lovely wife Ashley made the trip well worthwhile.
Another cool custom that caught our eye in Florida was Greg's XS650. When he's not printing t-shirts for Lowbrow Customs, Greg cruises the backroads of northeast Ohio on this sweet little riceburner.
Our friend Kevin Moore loves controversy, and few bike features stirred more of it than the one we did on the good doctor's Chocolate Train in March. Train or trainwreck? CC readers were split on the matter.
Without question the coolest motorcycle shop and museum any of us saw this year was H&B Cycles in Ocala, Florida. This hidden gem was brought to our attention by Florida ex-pat Caleb Owens, and photographed by another son of the Sunshine state, CC's own Harold McGruther.
Two words: Speed Fetus. One word: Wild. Billdozer interviewed the creator of this crazy contraption, and Lock Baker and his polarizing knucklehead were forever locked in ChopCult lore.
ChopCult editors never shy away from featuring wild and wonderful hand-built motorcycles, and Andy Carter's Zion Express kicked off that tradition with a bang in February. This feature included a video Andy cut to mark his ironhead's maiden voyage, and CC readers did not shy away from saying what they thought of Andy's muse.
Anyone who says late-model Trumpets aren't cool hasn't seen Nick's '04 Triumph America. Hinckley's ugliest motorcycle enjoyed a fresh second life by Nick's talented hand, and he has the "before" and "after" photos to prove it.
We make an effort every year to see how the other half of the motorcycle universe is living, and in doing so we always set ourselves up for disappointment. At the V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati, Ohio, last February, the industry's biggest brands rolled out their latest and greatest for a cadre of greybeard businessmen. At this year's soiree, custom baggers and pricy chrome swingarm veneers were the theme.
While the rest of the world bedded down for a long winter of hybernation and bike maintenance, brothers in the sun belt like Murray Baxter continued to get their freak on. This motorcycle isn't your grandfather's Softail, and that's the way Murray intended it.
Yoshi's Garage Company lives at the epicenter of LA's bike porn universe, and we were given Cart Blanche access to scour its dusty shelves and overflowing show space. Garage Company is the kind of shop that stirs serious envy among over-stimulated readers, and this visit felt like Christmas all over again.
Tim Park's rubber mount Sporty was our first bike feature of 2011. Tim and his friend Wompie at Still Kickin' did a masterful job of personalizing and customizing this tidy XL, and comments from CC readers helped ring in the new year on a positive note.
The end of our annual redux is a fitting moment to consider what lies ahead in 2012. My New Year resolutions rarely stick, but if I proclaim one this season, it will be to emphasize the positive in my online dialogue.
In her more sentient days my 95-year-old grandmother used to tell me, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything." Prescient advice from a woman who's never sulked on a message board, tweeted about a broken shoelace or launched a hate campaign on Facebook. Because stuff like that drives me batshit bananas, I'm going to heed Granny's advice.
ChopCult is YOUR social network, but it is also MINE and OURS, and for this reason I feel obligated to protect its mission and its members from the nihilistic diatribes of haters, naysayers and the generally uninformed. If you've got a question, ask it. If you know an answer, share it. If you're pissed off about the price of Dickies or TSA's new cavity search policy, please vent your spleen somewhere else. ChopCult was created by and for people who love to build and ride custom motorcycles, and that's the way we'd like to keep it. From everyone at the old 33, thanks in advance for your participation and support.
Happy New Year!