Mini Chopper Bikes

Written by Charles Peacock
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It was, perhaps, inevitable that the phenomenon of miniaturizing street racing motorcycles would eventually spread to that other great bastion of two-wheeled transportation: the chrome-drenched chopper. Mini motorcycles have only been around for a few years, but in that short period of time, they have exploded into an international phenomenon. With the introduction of mini choppers to the race, you can now get pretty much any type of motorcycle you want in a pint-sized version.

Whether you're an avid motorcyclist or not, choppers undoubtedly give you some visceral feeling when you see one bombing down the road. Granted, this feeling could be related to the deafening roar of their muffler-less exhaust systems, but there's something else to their mystique. A truly (unusual) American art form, the chopper is something that always stands out on the road.

The History of Choppers

What exactly is a chopper? To answer this question, it's good to start by looking into why they're called choppers in the first place. I always used to assume the name had something to do with the sound they make--for some reason "chopper" always seemed like a word well suited for their peculiarly flatulent brand of engine noise.

The term "chopper" originated from the practice of removing (sometimes literally chopping off) parts of a normal motorcycle that were deemed unnecessary or superfluous. This practice was started by Americans returning from World War II who were dissatisfied with the traditional look of American motorcycle. Harley Davidsons and Indians--the two main brands at the time--were decidedly more extravagant-looking than the streamlined café racers soldiers had seen in Europe.

In order to pare down the size and look of their American bikes, people began removing things like fenders, windshields, and crash bars from their stock motorcycles. Other parts that you couldn't do without, such as seats, gas tanks and headlights, were deemed to be too large and were rebuilt to be as small as possible. Thus, the first choppers were born.

The Evolution of Choppers

A seminal event in the history of American choppers was the release of the film "Easy Rider." The bikes ridden in this movie were classic choppers: tiny gas tanks and seats, little or no fenders and stretched out handlebars. People saw these bikes and decided they had to have them. Chopper building became a serious industry. The bikes in that film inspired, among others, the famous Teutels of Orange County Choppers (OCC).

The first choppers were made by working with stock motorcycles and removing or replacing specific parts. As the industry evolved, however, people began creating their own choppers from scratch. These custom-made choppers are some of the most beautiful motorcycles in existence. The chopper scene is full of distinct innovation, and there is plenty of room for personal style. Many people love the choppers created by the Teutels. OCC burst onto the chopper scene when they revealed their "True Blue" model in 1999 at Daytona's Biketoberfest. The Teutels (Paul, Paul Jr., Danny, and Michael) design and fabricate their own choppers, showing that the love of choppers can definitely be a family affair.

In recent years, the love of choppers has been combined with the new obsession for mini motorcycles. "Pocket bike" manufacturers have begun creating their very own miniaturized choppers. In addition, many custom chopper builders have begun making mini choppers from scratch. Mini choppers are a way to get a unique and customized product without the $25,000+ price tag of a full-sized chopper.There are definitely imitations on the market out there, but true chopper enthusiasts should make sure they purchase a pure American mini chopper. Quality is very important with these machines, and you want to make sure you're getting your money's worth.

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