What is an Old-school Chopper?
Yes, we know... The name obviously speaks for itself. But we are talking about a retro chopper, which often has a nice old-school engine. Speaking of engines, think about the well-known and beloved Knucklehead, Flathead, Panhead and Shovelhead engines which were made by Harley-Davidson.
These engines have a lovely mechanical and classic look and are often the weapon of choice for an old-school project. Install a high ape hanger, a flashy fishtail and a high seat with the corresponding sissy bar! Proceed then by installing a tool roll or bag on your springer fork and you are good to go for an old-school look!
Of course, you can also remove the parts on your modern bike, cut and drill a bit and it will do the trick for an old-school chopper. After all, who would not want to experience that Easy Rider feeling?
Although the Knucklehead and Flathead engines were no strangers to the public before World War II, they only took off after the war. Finally, the men felt free, creative and could have an outlet for their boiling minds.
On top of that, the trend was set on “Bigger, Better, Faster” as more and more pre-war motorcycles had been chopped down to fit the biker’s wants and needs.
Their unique high and/or twister handlebar was typical of the old-school chopper. A lot of builders also adjusted the look of the exhaust by bending or lengthening it.
Bright colours are definitely not a characteristic of an old-school chopper. "New school" was the term used for the bright-coloured choppers. Real old-school variants are black and/or silver with chrome accessories. The purists would probably insist that the motorcycle needs a V-Twin engine to deserve the name of “old-school Chopper”.
The chromed head of a Knucklehead engine looks a lot like a fist’s knuckles from a human hand. The looks of a motorcycle are really important to those who admire the power and performance of these engines.
The Shovelhead’s name is quite obviously inspired by a shovel, or at least how it used to look in the good old days when steam trains were still on the rails.
Old-school choppers are often associated with celebrities such as Peter Finda, Johnny Depp and Dennis Hopper. Popular culture often likes to give its own look to old-school motorcycles.
The less appealing side of these old-school choppers is its association with biker gangs, who love the bad-boy image offered by these motorcycles. Nevertheless, this category of motorcycles attracts many DIY builders.
What about the parts?
You can make it as crazy as you want. You can try and score a lovely old-school engine, but you will often pay more than 10,000€… if you are lucky. Next to that, you can buy a new frame and just start building from there. The sky is the limit!
We advise dividing the building process into phases. So, why not start with some old-school-looking Fishtail Mufflers? This single part will already create an awesome look and produce a beautiful sound!
An Ape Hanger handlebar is mandatory for any old-school motorcycle. The height is up to you though! There is a lot of different Ape Hangers and sissy bars available so you can customize your bike the way you want!
With an old-school motorcycle, you will probably replace a lot of big parts while keeping the tank black. Of course, you could always go for something more “new school” and pick a flashy colour!
Your motorcycle, your choice. We would love to help you out on the way of completing the most awesome old-school or new school chopper that you could imagine!
Fun fact: A lot of Harley-Davidson's first choppers were designed in the 1930s and '40s by use of law enforcement!