Houston Chopper Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
A chopper is a type of custom motorcycle which emerged in California in the late 1950s. The chopper is perhaps the most extreme of all custom styles, often using radically modified steering angles and lengthened forks for a stretched-out appearance. They can be built from an original motorcycle which is modified (“chopped”) or built from scratch. Some of the characteristic features of choppers are long front ends with extended forks often coupled with an increased rake angle, hardtail frames (frames without rear suspension), very tall “ape hanger” or very short “drag” handlebars, lengthened or stretched frames, and larger than stock front wheels. The “sissy bar“, a set of tubes that connect the rear fender with the frame, and which are often extended several feet high, is a signature feature on many choppers.
The earliest choppers tended to be based on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, at first making use of the Flathead, Knucklehead and Panhead engines—many of which could be found in surplus military and police motorcycles bought cheaply at auction. As new engines became available they were soon utilized in choppers. British bikes, particularly Triumphs, were also a popular motor for choppers early on. As the Japanese manufacturers began offering larger engines in the late 1960s these motors were also quickly put to use by chopper builders. The Honda 750-4 was the most widely used Japanese motor for chopper builders early on. Choppers have been created using almost every available engine, but builders have always shown a preference for older air cooled designs. It is rare to see a chopper with a radiator.
Over time the choppers became more and more about achieving a certain look, rather than being primarily performance oriented modifications. The modifications that had had their origin in hotrodding evolved into an artistic and aesthetic direction. By the mid 1970s stock Japanese and European performance motorcycles would outperform most bobbers and choppers. The one exception to this was the drag racing arena, which placed a premium on pure engine power, rather than handling over curvy courses. Chopper styling continued to be influenced by drag-bike modifications throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
While all choppers are highly customized bikes, sometimes even being built from scratch using all custom parts, not all customized bikes are choppers. In Europe at roughly the same era that choppers were invented and popularized in the USA, bikers modified their bikes (primarily English brands like Triumph, BSA, Norton, and Matchless) in a different way, to achieve different looks, performance goals and riding position. The resulting bikes are known as café racers, and look very different from a chopper.