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Frank "The Real Deal" Kaisler, part 1 of 3

 

Frank Kaisler was a contributing editor to Easyriders magazine starting in 1973 and moved on to be its editor from 1982 to 1987. He's been involved in every aspect of the chopper game and has seen plenty of good and bad people and trends come and go. A competent machinist, mechanic and customizer, Kaisler is still going strong. A regular at the Long Beach Swap Meet in SoCal, Frank knows and helps lots of the younger guys.

Frank's not some old dude who lives in a cave; he's aware of today's scene and more interested then ever. Although Frank has been there and done that long before many ChopCult members were even born, he always makes time to shoot the shit with just about anyone. If you you are lucky enough, he'll sometimes pepper those conversations with stories from the glory days of choppers.

Then vs. Now
Sometimes Frank has to laugh when he sees some of the fashionista nonsense going on in today's chopper world. Frank appreciates what lots of guys are building these days but can't help but trip out on what they'll pay for parts he and his crew considered junk back in the day. "Mostly garbage, total shit" is how Frank describes most of the "catalog" bits from the '70s. Are they shoppers or choppers? "Paying $800 for a piece of shit warbird taillight is just plain silly." When I asked Frank if dudes back then cared as much about old parts, his reply was telling. "We used old parts because that's what we could afford. We didn't really collect things for the sake of collecting. We rode old motorcycles, new motorcycles, whatever we could get our hands on." According to Frank, 40 years ago there were so few distractions and such limited access to parts that most people operated in a small circle of friends and had no idea what was going on somewhere else until they saw it in a magazine. The time of Googling something was decades away and information spread much slower. Despite the slower communication methods, trends still came and went quickly. A flip through Frank's photo album shows progression each year as things evolved with his own bike. Yes, he says, people were just as obsessed with "what's cool" then as they are now.

Kaisler and men like him should be respected not just for their contributions to the "scene" whatever that is or was, but for the wisdom and knowledge that only years of experience can provide. He was generous enough to entrust ChopCult with several of his photo albums to scan and share the images with our members. Some of the bikes and people you may recognize from the Easyriders heyday. So many photos, in fact, that Frank's CC interview is dropping on the site in three parts. Here's the first one. Enjoy.

 

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This is Frank on the second generation of his panhead in Baltimore, around 1966–'67. The dude in the orange t-shirt is Frank's buddy Scott who used to let Frank store his bike behind his garage to hide it from his mom.

 

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Frank shot these photos of Vern's crazy reversed head Triumph in a basement where Dutch used to live. Originally built by a certain club and featured in Choppers magazine, Frank borrowed the bike, grabbed a waitress from the Rock Store and shot one of the few (or is it the only?) ER cover with a Triumph. (A little more info can be found at www.nostalgiaonwheels.blogspot.com)


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Note: these images are scanned from Frank's original prints. You can view larger versions here. Please don't post them around the Internet without giving full credit to Frank Kaisler


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Comment with Chopcult (22)

Commented on 6-22-2011 At 02:58 pm
 

I love these writes up. True shit

Commented on 6-22-2011 At 03:19 pm
 

Anyone with any sense, I assume, should pipe down and listen up. Yeah?

Commented on 6-22-2011 At 03:52 pm
 

Fuckin Cool.

Commented on 6-22-2011 At 03:59 pm
 

holly molly hide your chopper from your mother?

Commented on 6-22-2011 At 04:57 pm
 

I think it is funny how chopper trends come and go like fashion trends. We are mostly sheep. Cool pics and article.

Commented on 6-22-2011 At 05:53 pm
 

Even as a kid pokeing my nose i knew i grew up in the wrong era. Im just chasing a dream. I love hearing how things were. Great write up.

Commented on 6-22-2011 At 06:13 pm
 

gotta love that horn! great stuff as usual. classic!

Commented on 6-22-2011 At 06:19 pm
 

Us folks here in SoCal are really lucky to have a dude like Frank around, not only is his knowledge appreciated, his general laid back demeanor and honest love of scoots are a nice balance to the trend humpers in the scene.

Commented on 6-22-2011 At 06:42 pm
 

this is great I cant wait for the rest of the parts.

This is probably the best damn line I have read in a long time -

" Frank appreciates what lots of guys are building these days but can't help but trip out on what they'll pay for parts he and his crew considered junk back in the day. "Mostly garbage, total shit" is how Frank describes most of the "catalog" bits from the '70s. Are they shoppers or choppers? "Paying $800 for a piece of shit warbird taillight is just plain silly." When I asked Frank if dudes back then cared as much about old parts, his reply was telling. "We used old parts because that's what we could afford. We didn't really collect things for the sake of collecting. We rode old motorcycles, new motorcycles, whatever we could get our hands on."

Commented on 6-22-2011 At 11:11 pm
 

Frank is a living legend and a walking chopper encyclopedia. If you ever have the chance to meet and talk with him, do yourself that favor.

Commented on 6-22-2011 At 11:47 pm
 

I cant wait for the rest of this.

Commented on 6-23-2011 At 12:14 am
 

Great read, I can't wait for the rest. I couldn't agree more, I laugh everytime some balloonhead has a Warbird for hundreds of dollars.

Commented on 6-23-2011 At 03:46 am
 

It's great seeing those pics of Vern's Triumph, the only ones I had ever seen of that were in that Easyrider's issue with it on the cover. Super cool.

Commented on 6-23-2011 At 06:45 am
 

awesome!
can't wait to see part 2 and 3!!
he's great in GKM too!

Commented on 6-23-2011 At 01:51 pm
 

Sweet cant wait for the rest. also note the price of the easy rider, its doubled at least now...

Commented on 6-23-2011 At 02:16 pm
 

I need more!!!!

Commented on 6-23-2011 At 02:43 pm
 

that horn is awesome hahaha

Commented on 6-23-2011 At 07:01 pm
 

I love the idea of a reverse head. Different for different's sake, no other reason. And just when you thought you had seen it all, quadruple headlights. I dig it.
Thanks for the awesome article Chop Cult. We need to wisdom of the past to make a future.

Commented on 6-23-2011 At 10:12 pm
 

Proud to know Frank and have had his hands on my bike. He's so humble and never too busy to answer a question or share some advice. Just a real awesome dude. Don't forget to check out his new How-To DVDs on Ironheads and Shovelheads, great stuff.

Here a great summary of Frank. I was talking to him last week about my front end and his phone rings and he's like, "Sorry, gotta take this". I thought, oh, must be a client or a bike for sale or something, and he answers the phone, "Hi, mom." Fuck yeah.

Commented on 6-24-2011 At 02:12 pm
 

soooo cool...should make us think about what "is cool" and opposed from what works

Commented on 6-25-2011 At 09:35 pm
 

great info and another sick bike from the past..I love the style and lines of these bikes! keep it coming! CC!-E

Commented on 6-26-2011 At 11:35 pm
 

Frank is the real deal. I met Frank for the first time (but have read his work for years before) in Sturgis when i was writing for Drag, just after Frank had left. He saw me and walked up and introduced himself and said.... "so, you got my gig at Drag heh? I wasn't sure if I was about to get my ass kicked (hahaha, not really) but we spent the next hour talikng bikes, got some insight on dealing with a certain someone (between Frank and I :) and after an hour, I felt like we had known each other for 10 years.

We have crossed paths many times since, but never was so cool as to stand around on the streets of Sturgis talking bikes like old friends (who had just met). Frank is the real deal, a great guy and the epitomy of a chopper freak!

Eric

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