When I think of the chopper industry in the last decade, I'm reminded of the children's party game "pin the tail on the donkey." Forming the powerful haunches of this animal are the consumers, bucking and braying for the latest trend like beasts at the trough.
In the middle of this lathery backside quivers the hogged-out spinchter known as "the master builders." For years these telegenic torch jockies have pushed out steaming piles faster than their lathes and english wheels could produce them. When the media lost its taste for one stool, the master builders chopped and bobbed on another until the market's appetite for shit was satisfied. If it weren't for the dumb luck of some SoCal Sinners, this ugly party game might have plowed on forever. Fortunately, two guys with a video camera pinned the tail on the donkey before the bloated beast could choke on its own feces. Their "tale" was "Choppertown," and the late 20-something kid at its center was a skateboarder, musician and son of a SoCal hot rod legend named Kutty Noteboom.
Kutty and his crew brought to light a new chopper aesthetic, one mercifully bereft of cowboy bravado and fake badboy bullshit. The chopper media was beside itself with the latest incarnation of "The American Biker," and a bull run on flannel shirts, metalflake helmets and skateboard sneakers ensued.
Kutty neither wished nor willed this attention on himself, and the location of his Hippy Killer Garage is a glaring indicator of this fact. Hemet, CA, may be in southern California, but the small agricultural town Kutty calls home is light years from the glitz and glamor of the Hollywood chopper scene. In a crowded garage behind the attractive home in his modest neighborhood, Kutty Noteboom crafts motorcycles using the tools and skills he learned from his hot-rod-building father. Kutty's lack of pretense is refreshing, and his generosity and passion for bike building are real.
Name: Kutty Noteboom
Age: 35 going on 25
Business: Hippy Killer Garage Co.
Location: Hemet, Inland Empire, SoCal
Co-workers: My wife helps sometimes
Riding Buddies: Duane Ballard, my wife, and Dave Betancourt, but mostly just my bike and me
First time on two wheels: 12 years old
First hand-built motorcycle: Honda 750 around '99
Earliest two-wheeled adventure: The most memorable ones are always when something bad happens…