Choppers: What’s It All About?

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Photo by Slava

If you are considering buying a chopper or turning your motorcycle into a chopped bike, then it is important that you have a better understanding of this concept.

By understanding what makes a motorcycle chopped and how you can do this for yourself you will be ready to find the bike that is right for you.

What is a Chopper Motorcycle?

The term chopper is derived from chopped motorcycle, meaning a motorcycle that was altered from its original form.

However, this does not mean that you can only create a chopped bike from an already existing motorcycle. Rather choppers can also be created from scratch to look handmade and unique.

There are a few characteristics that you will find with chopper motorcycles. While not all choppers will have these characteristics, they will have several of the characteristics, such as:

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Photo by Edward Conde

  • Hard tail frames with no rear suspension
  • A long front end due to elongating the frame
  • An increased rake angle
  • Prominent handlebars that are either very tall and pronounced or short drag handlebars
  • Often offer high back seats
  • Larger front wheel
  • Stripping down of standard features on a motorcycle including the front fender, turn signals and much more.

What are the Methods for Making a Custom Motorcycle?

Once you understand what key features the chopper has, next you can start looking at the different methods for creating the chopped motorcycle you are looking for.

There are a few methods that you can use and should understand.

Modifying a Motorcycle

This is often the most popular method for transforming a motorcycle to a chopped bike. This is because it is more cost effective than making one from scratch.

From a registration standpoint, this can also be less work for you. However, make sure you own the bike outright or that this will not infringe on the loan you have on the bike.

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Photo by iboy_daniel

To start with you will need to think about what you want to do to the bike to chop it.

One way to do this is to think about the features you like least and most about the bike. This can allow you to change and upgrade the features that are not your favorite.

Once you know what you are looking for, you will want to find the pieces you need. You should know where to get the items you are looking for.

While some items can be bought from a salvage yard, you want to make sure they are in good condition before buying.

Keep in mind that the vehicle identification number is attached to the frame, so if you are buying a new frame you will need to adjust your registration.

If you plan to drive your motorcycle while transforming it, then try not to take the whole thing apart. Rather, by working on one part of the project at a time, you can keep the bike in working condition. This is also good for people who do not have the time or funds to transform their bike on their own.

It is also helpful to know that you can often rent equipment if you do not have the right tools to complete parts of the project.

Making a Chopper From a Kit

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Photo by Cliff

If you do not currently have a motorcycle, then you may like the idea of buying a motorcycle kit and building it yourself. However there are a few things you will want to keep in mind with this.

The first thing to know is the advantages and disadvantages. The biggest advantage you will find with this is that all the pieces are in the kit so you do not have to spend a ton of time finding the right ones.

You will also know what the final product will look like. There are instructions that will walk you through the build as well.

The disadvantage of this is that it cost more upfront. You will also find that this can be very difficult to accomplish if you do not have a good deal of time and space to work on the bike.

The other disadvantage to take into consideration is that you will know the bike is not original, but rather a cookie cutter kit.

The process of building a custom bike is not too difficult. You will need to have some mechanical experience or know someone who does.

If you have plenty of garage space, you can work on this in your free time. It is helpful to sort out the pieces and prepare the part you will be working on before you get started to ensure that everything you need will be with you.

Using a Specialized Bike Shop

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Photo by Javier Prazak

The other option for getting the chopped bike you want is to have a bike shop do the work for you. This is great if you do not have the time or knowledge to do this yourself.

These shops have been featured on TV, such as West Coast Choppers and Orange County Choppers. They are a great way to ensure that your vision for the bike is met in a spectacular way.

You can tell them everything you want your custom chopper to have or if you are not sure, give them a basic understanding and let them create the concept from there.

Even though this may cost you more, it can be worth it if you want a one of a kind bike that will blow people away.


In a world where vehicles are mass produced, it is nice to know that you have something that is special and unique.

Not many people can say that their motorcycle was built to their specifications and matches their tastes and style perfectly. You have full control over the final look of the vehicle. This is the main reason why people choose to chop their bikes or buy a chopper kit and build their own.

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