Milwaukee? That's Harley. Mandello de Lario? That's Moto Guzzi. Hamamatsu? That's Honda. And Locust Grove? That is Cycle One Manufacturing LLC. The makers of the 'Santee' frames, which are very famous in custom circles. "Amen" is just such a company.
Choppers and classic. It's still true
At Santee, and Amen and another couple of companies like that, they have been making 'custom' motorcycles for decades. Custom-made motorcycles made to the wishes of customers. The 'power' of those brands lies primarily in frame construction. The construction of own bicycle parts. In addition, since the 1970s, not only Harley-Davidson blocks have been used, but also British twins and - yes! - Japanese engine blocks. This type of machine has therefore been made for so long that they are now 'classical' according to all current standards.
Everything had to be removed
A chopper was originally a motorcycle of which all non-vital parts were scrapped (to chop = chop). This is where the term chopper (to chop: chop, chop off, demolish) comes from. The idea arose after WWII when returning American soldiers attacked their (ex-army) Harleys with saws to make them lighter, so faster. Shortly afterwards, the Americans in their childlike open-mindedness began to make their motorcycles more 'beautiful' and more personal. That was also the time when motorcycling in the States got a bad name. Because all those motorcyclists, the 'bikers', were not the best boys in the class. It was not until the XNUMXs that Honda gave neat motorcyclists in the States the right to exist again with the slogan 'You meet the nicest people on a Honda'. But before that time, in many communities in North America, motorcyclists were simply unwanted people.
A moderate success in Europe
The result of all that building has found followers even in Europe. Chopper & custom photographer Onno "Berserk" Wieringa even dreams of starting a chopper museum. Many of those American machines are, in the eyes of us European motorcyclists, impressive but completely useless works. They can drive straight ahead, taking a turn is frightening and in any case it gives me enormous pain in my back. In addition, they have the braking distance of a medium-sized ore tanker. What is it all about then? It's about 'lifestyle'.
And that is a bad concept
Frames in which the ball head is so far down that the front wheel almost tilts instead of turning. (Almost) rigid rear frames. Steering wheels that are so high that your armpits will get pneumonia. Tiny tanks. Much model with the famous 'Bondo' (polyester filler). And in some American states, having a front brake on a motorcycle is not even mandatory. Open exhausts. That is nice again. It's not for nothing that the 'Loud pipes save lives' stickers come from America.
The Genuine Classic American customs / choppers who end up here are not world trade. Things are a bit extreme for 'us'. You can be surprised about it. You can even like such a machine. Although the 'paint jobs' of such machines often seem a little too exuberant to us. And they are ideal for long journeys on the Afsluitdijk. But when you look at it, you see that craftsmanship in the States is something very different from the European version of that craft.