I have had a cold for days now and feel like crap. So I was laying around thinking of the best bike builders of all time. Someone that has changed the face of motorcycling time and time again. There has been tons so I will name a few. So no real top five but more a list of 5 awesome builders.
Number 1. Someone out there was the first person to strip a bike down to its core. They called them bobbers but I think it was genius. No one person can be found but there was a movement of like minded fellows that decided that a fast sleek bike was what they wanted. Hence the chopper craze was born. So to the men from the 40's thank you.
Number 2. The EL Foresteros. If you don't know about this club then you need to pull your heads out of the dirt and check it out. Midwest originals at its best and with a amazing history behind them. David Mann was a member and from KC as well as all the Iowa members all rode the best choppers out there. There style is what you see in almost all of the current retro built bikes out there. Including my taste in bikes. For us all we have is this idea of what a chopper should look like, these guys are the reason we do it. The COC blog always has pics up of Tom Fugle and the club guys so check it out and get schooled. We are talking early 60's here and the bikes speak for themselves.
Number 3. Arlen Ness. I was going to rant about Arlen for hours but I all I have to say is DIGGERS. I don't care how or when the real first digger was built but I know I love them. Arlen built the sickest diggers out there. Supercharged sportsters sitting 2 inches off the ground and about 9 feet long is just koo koo. Engraving, paint, flow all where top notch. Many tried but Ness in the heyday was king.
Number 4. Ed"Big Daddy"Roth. Everyone in the now knows he is responsible for the first real Chopper magazine. What most people don't know is Ed was a true biker at heart. He danced a fine line between art and insanity most times. It was the late 60's when the first Choppers Magazine came out and needless to say they are rare as shit and I have only seen one in real life. I almost went insane and spent hundreds on it. There is a great story about a certain club wanting money from Ed for showing there bikes in his magazine. He dealt with it by setting up on the roof of his studio with guns and a pile of ammo and was going to squash it. He was a black belt in martial arts and a large man so if you wanted to get destroyed he could do it. Robert Williams worked at Roth studios back in those days and he recalls so insane stories himself. In his own right Williams is a true counter culture icon and a really nice fellow to speak with. Anyways Ed built some amazing motorcycles in his day and you can look them on line and just drool for hours.
Number 5. Shinya Kimura. I wanted to include one new school old school builder. I really don't need to go into how insane his bikes are. Just look him up. His bikes are handcrafted works of art that serve a purpose. They get ridden and he knows how to build a bike for riding. The Zero bikes where his company when he was still in Japan. He know runs his Chabbot Engineering co. in SO Cal. Famous people own his bikes and if I could afford one I would have one. They aren't choppers, or cafe racers, or drag bikes but some how he can turn all of these into his own. His Triumph he calls The Needle is simply amazing as well as his Knuckle he brought to Bonneville. Take a minute and look him up.