The Secret Life Of Chopper Dave

Many discovered Chopper Dave (last name is Freston) when they saw him on TV in one episode of the Discovery Channel Motorcycle Mania documentary which chronicled Jesse James’ everyday professional life. In one episode he was featured riding to Sturgis with Jesse. Giuseppe Roncen and Indian Larry and Dave will tell you that this trip changed his life.

As a matter of fact Dave  got professionally involved with motorcycles well before his TV appearance. Around 1989, working first running the parts department then being a motorcycle mechanic at Vic’s Custom Cycles in the San Fernando Valley , CA. It’s where he acquired a passion for vintage Harleys, rebuilding several times his own daily ride (a 1951 Panhead), then in 1990 went to MMI Arizona to enrich his old bikes knowledge. He will return to Vic’s Custom Cycles to work on all Harley engine families, from Flatheads to Evos.

After the memorable trip to Sturgis, Dave went to work at West Coast Choppers where during 4 years he helped Jesse James build high end custom bikes. During this time he also built two versions of his own Panhead and a rigid frame Evo powered flat track bike. There he also learned how to make his own cast aluminum parts, his new passion. In October 2005 Dave started his own shop – Chopper Dave Casting Co. – where he specializes in sand cast aluminum parts and continue to build bikes with a preference for models from the pre WW2 era. Not very well known is that he is also a photographer enjoying shooting pretty girls on sexy bikes (or sexy girls on pretty bikes) always in industrial settings.  Like his motorcycle creations, he is very loud when denouncing what he considers the Chopper Business BS.  He hates talking about himself but didn’t avoid any of my questions… (all pics copyrighted)

Cyril. In High School, what your teachers said about you? Chopper Dave. That I was too smart for the crappy grades I was getting.

Cyril. Who were your childhood heroes? Chopper Dave. Evel Knievel

Cyril. What was your 1st vehicle? Chopper Dave. Skateboard.

Cyril. If you were not working in the motorcycle industry, what would you do? Chopper Dave. Taking pictures of naked girls, oh wait, I’m already doing that…  I’d like to be doing vintage aircraft restoration stuff.

Cyril. What is your favorite way to relax? Chopper Dave. Submarine Movies, and Japanese food, not in that order.

Cyril. What is the last music you downloaded in your iPod? Chopper Dave. Bison BC – Dark Ages and  Wino – Punctuated Equilibrium

Cyril. What are you afraid of? Chopper Dave. Forgetting what really matters.  And big trucks running me over on the 405.

Cyril. What is the person you would love to meet? Chopper Dave. Howard Hughes, ok he’s dead.  So probably Larry Flynt.  I’ve met some AMAZING people over the past few years, I’m lucky.

Cyril. Which film made you cry? Chopper Dave. The Pacific, that series on HBO, wow, that is some heavy stuff.  We are all lesser men than the ones who fought for our freedom during WWII.  And I mean no disrespect to the guys who are fighting for our country now with that statement.

Cyril. Do you have any tattoos or piercings? Chopper Dave. 175 hours-ish of tattoos, “Tattoos are a stupid hobby for stupid people” – Scott Silvia

Cyril. Name five things you hate. Chopper Dave. 1- The post office losing my stuff. 2- Broccoli. 3- Forgetting having a model sign a model release. 4- Sleep Apnea. 5- The fact that bacon is bad for me.

Cyril. What is your best life achievement? Chopper Dave. Not sure if I have done it yet, possibly just being lucky enough to do what I love.

Cyril. What do you miss most at home when you are on the road? Chopper Dave. My GF and just the fact that since it’s just me, I just fall behind and I am constantly playing catch up.

Cyril. What was the last book you read? Chopper Dave. Currently reading the graphic novel the Watchmen and the last one I finished was Scorpion Down: Sunk by the Soviets, Buried by the Pentagon: The Untold Story of the USS Scorpion. Fascinating stuff.

Cyril. Where is your favorite vacation place? Chopper Dave. Hawaii or Japan.

Cyril. Do you have any guilty pleasures? Chopper Dave. Ramen, real Japanese ramen.

Cyril. Do you collect anything? Chopper Dave. Bardahl stuff and vintage motorcycle speed parts.

Cyril. What was your worst buy? Chopper Dave. Not sure, lots of stuff I’ve bought I shouldn’t have!

Cyril. How do you take your coffee? Chopper Dave. I don’t, I hate coffee.  I’m an ice tea guy.

Cyril. What was the most embarrassing thing you have ever made? Chopper Dave. A fool of myself?  I seem to do that on a regular basis.

Cyril. What is the best thing you can cook? Chopper Dave. I make a KICK ASS Jambalaya!

Cyril. When was the time you were really angry? Chopper Dave. Not sure honestly, it’s been a while since I was really mad…

Cyril. What is your perfect weekend when you are at home? Chopper Dave. Sleeping in.  I don’t get to do it enough.

Cyril. What is your preferred rally? Chopper Dave. Right now it’s the Brooklyn Invitational.  Those guys fucking rule.

Cyril. What is the worst question a journalist asked you? Chopper Dave. “Why do you like motorcycles?”

35 Responses to “The Secret Life Of Chopper Dave”

  1. 1 Kemper Dec 1st, 2010 at 7:27 am

    Good idea to interview Dave. More people need to know him. Thanks.

  2. 2 Larry Trez Dec 1st, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Helped a lot Jesse James when he was working at WCC.

  3. 3 broadwaylee Dec 1st, 2010 at 8:24 am

    one of the best and someone that is on the short list of people i look up to

  4. 4 BIG SEAN Dec 1st, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Dave is such a cool as person, Ive been fortunate to have lunch with him while he was in vegas and can say he is on the top of the people in our industry that I relly looked forward to meeting. Plus he has the most rad photoshoots.

  5. 5 Michael Dec 1st, 2010 at 11:17 am

    I still got grit in my mouth from when my old lady hit Dave up a few times for some custom Evo pegs and the guy never responded. Whether it was because he didn’t want the work or doesn’t like Evo’s we’ll never know. At the minimum, a call or email back would’ve been better than nothing. At the same time, it must be nice to cherry pick your jobs.

  6. 6 Joe Mielke Dec 1st, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Always cool stuff, those FXR covers are pretty choice.

  7. 7 NutCracker Dec 1st, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Good stuff Cyril. I enjoy reading these interviews. Keep them coming. Thanks

  8. 8 Dennis J Dec 1st, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Another good one. Dave is one of the guys I truly admire. Hey Dave (if you’re reading this) the issue of Big Twin Dealer with you as the cover story is still my favorite as is the double-truck portrait Branimir shot.

  9. 9 Joe Dec 1st, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Dave’s stuff is awesome, I’ve been running a set of his Cheat Death pegs on my flathead since last June and they are sweet.

  10. 10 Chopperdave Dec 1st, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Cyril, first off i want to thank you for asking me to do the interview, i appreciate it. Also, thanx for keeping your blog up with all the info that you always have.

    Thanx to you guys for the kind words.
    and Michael, sorry that whatever got sent to me fell through the cracks. believe me i wish i was at a point where i could “Cherry pick” what work i do, but I’m not. So feel free to email me at mail at chopperdaves and i’ll take care of you!

    again, thanx Cyril! Im honored to be here!


  11. 11 Septic the Sceptic Dec 1st, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    I’ve got Cheat Death pegs too, but mine are cooler because they are mine, and on my blog.

  12. 12 Septic the Sceptic Dec 1st, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Oh, Dave, update your page man.

  13. 13 Rick Dec 1st, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Have been a fan of Daves ever since he was the mania show with Jesse. He seemed like a cool dude back then and glad to see he is still doing his thing in the industry. Keep up the great work. Your parts rock.

  14. 14 Mad River Motor Company Dec 1st, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Septic, is that a period correct baconator loving blog?

    I’ve got a set of glory bounds on the X and someday, if I can find em, I’ll rock memsome hold fasts. Dave, you make the best stuff and set the bar high. Stay bold.

  15. 15 R. Patrick Dec 1st, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    It’s the reason why I love your Blog, Cyril. You never forget to mention the less known, the smaller shops, the deserving, the good builders outside the US, etc. Was so tired of the old chief editors of the print mags spending their time stroking the ego of the has been custom builders only because they belong to the same association. Keep up the good work. Go Dave!

  16. 16 David Dec 1st, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Hey Cyril why dont you do the secret life of Billy Lane? Should be a interesting story(how’s that jail thing working for him)?


  17. 17 Cochise Dec 2nd, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Good interview! Dave is good people! Some responders on here aren’t.

  18. 18 Mike Tomas, Kiwi Indian MotorCycle Co Dec 2nd, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Dave is one hard working guy and is always working flat out. Always the real deal and straight up.

  19. 19 bigalyts Dec 2nd, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    David, why don’t you write a Letter to Billy and find out how he is! Then you will really find out. Mean while if Cyrill thought it is the right thing to do, he would havedown the Interview! Cyrill has been up to visit Billy twice already. I checked the Prison guest list.

  20. 20 Manhattan Choppers Dec 2nd, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    DC# co3706 po box 1100 county road 64 east, Avon park fl 33926-1100 Ask him david.
    I’ll see him soon . All the best chopperdave,great stuff..

  21. 21 jimmy b Dec 2nd, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    R. Patrick… good point, couldn’t agree more. American Cycle or is American Hamster?

  22. 22 Eric Maurer Dec 2nd, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    great article…. CD is a good guy and glad to see him being recognized for what he has done for this industry. Loud Fast does Rule!

  23. 23 Quint w/ Dec 3rd, 2010 at 12:55 am

    An excellent interview, as always. Thanks Cyril.

  24. 24 krugger Dec 3rd, 2010 at 3:27 am

    “What was your first vehicule? a Skateboard…. ” héhéhé very funny Dave 🙂

    Nice interview!

  25. 25 Steve 'brewdude' Garn Dec 3rd, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Great interview. One of my favorite shows I have ever entered in was the one Dave judged for The Horse. His products are very unique.

  26. 26 chicagojohn Dec 3rd, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Cyril nice work, love the wheelie picture.

  27. 27 Blue Dec 3rd, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Don’t have heroes, but if I did, Chopper Dave would be up there.

  28. 28 Howard kelly Dec 3rd, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Chopper Dave is a great guy…best part about him is that he won’t back down from a challenge, rather he attacks it.

  29. 29 jatinder pal Dec 4th, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Interesting fellow….like his work.

  30. 30 Roadside Marty Dec 4th, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Okay Dave when are you gonna cut loose of some of those side covers??

  31. 31 Bud Dec 6th, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Dave is the man…and I must have a set of those FXR side covers. Sick.

  32. 32 Scott Long Dec 6th, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Dave , those FXR side covers are “SICK”
    They sure would look Bitchen on mine !!
    How bout a cast dash piece to match ?
    Good job and have a great Holliday !
    LNR, Scott Long , Central Coast Cycles Inc.

  33. 33 Bones Apr 3rd, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Cyril, these interviews are incredible. Terrific insight into some very creative minds.

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