American Chopper was one of the OGs when it came to reality shows about building cars (or bikes) with plenty of manufactured drama in each episode. Since then, they haven’t really strayed from that formula which is a shame, because the mixture of motorcycles and macho drama queens has so much potential to be compelling.
Drama aside, the show typically focuses on building a motorcycle for a customer based on trends that were popular in 2003. The flamboyant creations they build in their over-the-top cartoonish style rarely come together to create anything noteworthy. Most of the time the show concludes with a bike that’s almost-there-but-not-quite. For the few successes, there have been plenty of failures.
And that’s what we are celebrating today. The weird, the ridiculous, and the bikes of American Chopper that just make no sense.
20 Black Widow
The Black Widow motorcycle is instantly recognizable and loved by many but it’s one of their worst bikes for two main reasons. First of all, it looks like a child's drawing of what he thinks a cool bike should look like. Secondly, if you crash a motorcycle, the last thing you want to do is to have pieces of metal web dug out of your limbs.
19 Mikey's Bike
Mikey’s Bike is another example of personal taste triumphing sensibility. A blue paint job is fine, and gold wire-mesh wheels are fine, but not on the same build. The most puzzling part about this build though is the dinosaur style fin that’s been transplanted onto the rear fender. It’s a good distraction from those blue and gold wheels though.
18 Santa Bike
Nothing says gimmick more than building a bike you can only ride once a year. The thing with custom and theme bikes is they should really be done on a grand scale. This Santa Bike is covered with plenty of small concepts that could have been impressive if they were taken to the nth degree.
17 Dixie Chopper
There is a lot of nonsense going on with this chopper from the questionable exhaust placement, the cutaway fender, and the perforated sheet metal. The quirkiest feature though is the engine. This was built for a customer who owned a lawn mowing business, and for whatever reason, they decided to power a bike using one of their lawnmower engines.
16 Davis Love III
Two things that don’t exactly go together are custom motorcycles and golf, but that didn’t stop a pro golfer from asking the crew to make him a golf-themed chopper. The result was unusual to say the least. Despite the build being unremarkable, the symmetry seems really off. Once you’ve seen that tiny fuel tank you’ll never be able to unsee it.
15 Carroll Shelby
This one-off chopper was built for racing legend Carroll Shelby. It was based on the Super-Snake logo, and oddly, the bike was supposed to look like a snake – which it doesn’t, even if you close one eye and squint. As if to show his appreciation for all the hard work, Shelby sold the bike which was then resold at auction for $104,000.
14 Lincoln Mark LT
This bike could have been left off this list, you can see it’s the first bike where you get a sense that they’re starting to find their groove and to be fair, it is a nice looking bike. What doesn’t make sense is that it’s a tribute to the Lincoln Mark LT pickup truck, but the large lettering on the fuel tank is the only thing that ties the two together.
13 Juniors Dream Bike
As you can see, this is supposed to be Junior’s dream bike, but it looks like it would be a nightmare to ride. You can also see he hasn’t quite shaken his obsession with spider webbing, in fact, it seems to have gotten worse. The fluorescent green just tops off what is a horrible build all round.
Built as a tribute to CAT, the heavy machinery manufacturer, this chopper really only has two things that might be able to be classed as a tribute. They are the signature CAT paintjob and the smokestack style exhaust. The frame is the biggest problem with this build, and the more you stare at it, the worse it gets.
11 NY Yankees
The New York Yankees tribute bike was built in season 2, then badly damaged by vandals, then rebuilt again. And if it wasn’t obvious that it was a tribute to a baseball team, the team at West Coast Choppers stuck a giant baseball on the bike. Overall, the rebuild is better, the riding position is not as extreme as the original but for a tribute to one of the greatest sports teams in the world, it could have been a little more classy.
10 Billy Joel
When you’re dealing with internationally famous musicians for clients it’s probably pretty tempting to play it safe, and that’s what happened on this Billy Joel custom bobber. Bobbers are pretty extreme builds by nature and the Indian model, which is what this is, provides one of the best platforms to start on. It’s a huge missed opportunity and their fans deserved better.
9 Bill Murray
It’s difficult to find a good photo of this Bill Murray tribute bike, because, to be frank, it looks terrible from every angle. When Bill found out about the project, he dove into it headfirst despite having exactly zero experience designing motorcycles. The end result of his enthusiasm was, well as you can see, ghastly.
The LUGZ bike was evidently built for LUGZ which is a shoe manufacturer. Of course, you’re not supposed to ride motorcycles in shoes but that’s not the point of this build. The Gas tank, which has had some serious hours spent on it, was designed to look like a work boot, which it doesn’t.
This utter mess looks like it was designed by somebody who just learned how to use a protractor, then took a pair of scissors to their work. It was inspired by some movie about dragons that not many people have seen but it’s an awkward jumble of sharp lines, curves and some chrome thrown in for good measure.
Much like the upholsterer Ish from Pimp My Ride, we’re starting to think that somebody on American Chopper is colorblind. Why else would you build a bright green and orange bike? Besides the wonky fuel tank and horrible shaped rear fender, the exhaust looks like an afterthought. Definitely not their best work.
This woeful tribute to the land down under takes the worst parts of a souvenir shop and regurgitates them onto some kind of motorcycle. Without ape hangers that rake is just awful although there isn’t much they could have done to distract from how truly misguided this build is. Sorry, Australia.
4 Iowa State Farm
You know you’ve messed up a build when kids don’t even want to stop and check out your motorcycle. This bike was built to showcase renewable energy, so they painted it green. It was built for a company called Iowa State Farm, so they painted corn on the fuel tank. It’s one of those bikes that gets worse the longer you stare at it.
3 Gander Mountain
A custom enduro-style bike does sound cool on paper but as usual, American Chopper found a way to screw it up. 50 years ago this thing probably would have seemed state of the art, but by modern dirtbike standards, it’s a heavy, ugly dinosaur. It has next to no suspension travel and a camo paint job for when the embarrassment of riding it gets to be too much.
This bike, built for a gym supplements company, seems to be suffering some kind of identity crisis. It’s a cross between a streetfighter bike and a chopper but doesn’t manage to fit either role particularly well. Additionally, the fuel tank seems to have been designed by a cubist and everything on this bike looks out of place.
1 B2 Stealth Bomber
To celebrate 20 years of the B2 Stealth Bomber American Chopper decided to build this abomination. There are some cool subtle touches, such as part of the bike being made from a scrap piece of metal leftover from the Spirit Of Oklahoma bomber, but the not-so-subtle touches, like the fuel tank, just come off as cheesy.
Sources: Thetvdb.com, TBshowspace.com, and Looper.com