What Is A Chopper Motorcycle?

chopper motorcycle

The motorcycling community comprises a group of motorcycling enthusiasts who love getting back to the basics. They might take an existing motorcycle, tear it down and reassemble it with a combination of new and old parts. Most chopper motorcycles are made from the ground up. The motorcycle is then customized to fit the rider’s personality.

Choppers have an extremely long wheelbase that has been stretched out over time giving them unique styling. Wheels are pushed forward, sometimes to the point where they appear too small for their frames. As choppers became more popular, manufacturers began producing wheels specifically for this type of bike.

What is a Chopper Motorcycle?

The term “chopper” is actually deceiving because it infers that the motorcycle was created by chopping or cutting pieces of an original motorcycle to create a unique one. On the contrary, in most cases choppers are made from completely customized motorcycles. However, in some instances, these vehicles could be based off an existing model in which case they would be called “clones.”

Chopper motorcycles typically have long extended front ends and larger than normal gas tanks. The extended forks were once used on choppers as part of their early suspension system but now they’re just used for aesthetics. Choppers also have stretched-out rear ends with vertically stacked lights and exhaust pipes peeping out over large frames. This styling makes them stand apart from production bikes and gives them their signature look.

Chopper motorcycles are typically seen with large, wide tires and high-rise handlebars, although there are some exceptions to this rule. The rear shocks on choppers are sometimes hidden underneath the seat allowing for an ultra-clean appearance.

A Brief History of Chopper Motorcycles

man riding black and gray motorcycle on asphalted road near brown concrete building

Although many people consider chopper custom bikes to be a relatively new phenomenon they have actually been around since the 1950s. During that decade motorcycle riders began experimenting with different ways to modify their rides. Some began chopping off the lower section of the frame which allowed for larger tanks and longer forks. Others added tall handlebars or stretched-out motorcycles so they could increase leg room while driving dramatically increasing cruising speeds in the process. These modifications were viewed as unnecessary back then but today we know these mods as chopper styling.

In 1964, when the movie “The Wild Ones” was released a highly-stylized motorcycle club known as The Beetles began imitating that look. Many of these bikers added extended handlebars and in some cases, they used car rims to complete their style. This early form of customizing became popular among California racers and would later be associated with outlaw motorcyclists.

Of course, many people don’t consider this type of customization true choppers because they were simply imitations of Hollywood creations or celebrities whose lives revolved around the concept of having the biggest motorcycle possible. However, it should be noted that several other movies featuring motorcycles had an impact on chopper culture including Easy Rider, Hell’s Angels on Wheels, and The Glory Stompers which all have strong associations with the genre. Many of which were Harley Davidson choppers since they are one of the chopper-themed brands of the 20th century.

Choppers became more popular in the 70s when custom motorcycle riders began forming their own clubs. They started hanging out at biker bars, attending races and some even formed their own chopper shops. These bikes had completely customized frames with extended forks, loud exhaust, dramatic paint jobs, and extended gas tanks. They later became known as “choppers” due to their unique styling at the time.

Choppers are now rooted in American culture, especially that of California. However, they have an international audience with several chopper-themed shops popping up across the United States, Canada, Britain, and Australia.

The Chopper Era Today

man riding black motorcycle

Chopper motorcycles are not just popular with customizers and chopper builders but they’re also quite popular with consumers who purchase them straight from the factory. A few manufacturers have recognized this by unveiling their own models of choppers which include Harley-Davidson, Indian, Triumph, Honda, and several others.

However, many riders continue to build their own customized rides or invest in an existing one that has already been modified. These “production” choppers come in all shapes and sizes so if you plan on purchasing one it’s important to do your research beforehand. They are now available at nearly every price point imaginable so be sure to set up a budget before you begin shopping for one.

Many choppers enthusiasts prefer riding without helmets because they feel it gives them a more “macho” appearance. However, this is not only illegal in many U.S. states but also highly dangerous so if you do plan on wearing a helmet be sure to strap it on tightly and consider investing in either goggles or goggles before riding your choppers.

Chopper motorcycles are very loud and emit toxic fumes which can affect both riders and pedestrians alike so they should respect the law and all safety precautions when riding these stylish machines.


Chopper motorcycles are rooted in American culture and despite the fact that they’re not for everyone; they remain an iconic symbol of the custom industry. Whether you plan on purchasing one or building your own, be sure to do your homework beforehand.

Some of the best custom bikes are classic choppers which include Harley Davidson engines on a chopper frame. Some custom chopper builders have included a rear fender and rear suspension into custom choppers. West coast choppers & orange county choppers are two of the most popular builders of custom choppers. Stock bikes usually miss out heaps of extras such as custom-built exhaust pipes

These iconic motorcycles are all about personal style and expression so be proud of owning your chopper and if you decide to sell, you should be proud of the part it played in history.

About The Author

daniel and sarah on motorcycle

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