Picture Of The Week

Like many I am on Twitter exchanging 140-character limit tweets with many friends and followers belonging or not to the motorcycle industry.

Yesterday, Jesses James tweeted this image of the West Coast Choppers sign being removed from the roof of his ex Long Beach shop closed since October 16, 2010.

Jesse sent this image with the following tweet. “This picture just makes me really sad. It just hits home that it is really over. End of an Era…”

It makes me sad too because the decade 1995-2005, although full of excesses, was also a beautiful business period for many of us belonging to the custom motorcycle industry. An exceptional time with an explosion of creativity and the acknowledgment by the public at large of our profession. Most of us being now baby boomers, and the economy being what it is, most of us will probably never live again during our lifetime such a booming professional decade. Sadness and nostalgia just hit me too…

Zipper's

51 Responses to “Picture Of The Week”


  1. 1 Steve Carr Mar 25th, 2011 at 8:09 am

    A hero of mine from the first time I saw his work, I realize myself this industry we all love gets tougher each year.

    Cyril is right, most if not all of us will never see this industry bloom again like it did for that time period. Its a clear indication to me that Jessie is a visionary, and knows when to get out and move on to the next chapter in his life, Something a lot of us will be doing if we want to or not………..

    Steve Carr

  2. 2 Richard Mar 25th, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Jesse & Cyril got it right. Each has diversified their business since quite a few years. Jesse in show biz, Cyril in publishing. Intelligent moves.

  3. 3 Jeff Nicklus Mar 25th, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Wow, that really does strike a cord with me ….. seems like just yesterday I was calling JJ and ordering fenders! We have all come a long way in the last 15-16 years in this industry. It has been one hell of a ride! I agree with Cyril, most of us will never again live in a time of sure great advancements in an industry resulting in such great economic growth.

    Over & Out,

    Jeff

  4. 4 Dave Blevins Mar 25th, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Life after the gold rush…
    I suppose we have been fortunate to survive the industry downturn by being diverse (we have always done classic cars as well as bikes and our own custom parts). Sad to see WCC gone, especially after being responsible for the huge spotlight put on the craft and lifestyle of our counterculture.

  5. 5 Kirk Perry Mar 25th, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Who cares?

    Like Eric says, “once it’s gone, you can’t get it back…..”. So go out and re-create it.

    All you need is your motorcycle. Go build one. Don’t know how? Go learn how.

  6. 6 hddave Mar 25th, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Kind of sad, Isn’t it?

  7. 7 Kirk Perry Mar 25th, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Start at the bottom and work your way up. Join with me and help “take over” the parking lot at the Good Guys Car Show • Del Mar, California • April 1, 2, 3 (that’s like next week).

    The events folks led me to believe that if enough motorcycles show up this weekend, they’ll expand the parking lot and let us hang out there, drink coffee, smoke weed and figure thing out.

    I’ll have my black 57 Panhead parked near the spectators queue, with my trusty hookah, taped to the fork risers of my handlebars. Legally ripped. Join us.

  8. 8 Larry R Mar 25th, 2011 at 10:24 am

    I’ll keep going down the road. I love Jesse’s bikes. Glad he came into the scene and wish him all the luck in his now found enterprise. Being in Texas, he will have his hands full. People are much different there. He may do well or maybe not. Will just have to see. R.I.P. West Coast Choppers. Love and respect…Larry R.

  9. 9 dannyb278 Mar 25th, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Never again will hundreds of so called “Master Buliders” start popping up all over the world and charging 400 bucks for handlebars to inflate their own egos. To bad those days are gone.

    I’m glad those days are over. Jesse is the man and a real fabricator, and is rarity. Frankly, much of the shit that was going on during that time was pretty embarassing. Building outrageous and nearly non functional choppers with easter egg/fishing lure paint jobs and selling the bike for the cost of a starter home. A lot of suckers shelled out a lot of money, but i suppose that was the “explosion of creativity and acknowldegement of public at large” you are talking about.

    Frankley the scene going on now, with guys buying affordable doner bikes such as sporters, dynas, triumphs and UJM’s and creating something origional THEMSELVES while at the same time supporting smalls parts shops such as Biltwell and Lowbrow Customs is a much better and welcome relief to the stuff that was going on during the heyday of OCC, Choppers Inc, Dave Perowitz, etc, etc, etc.

    Guys i see rolling around on thire Iron Horse, fat tire “Choppers” just look like Dueche Bags these days.

  10. 10 zyon Mar 25th, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Everything is cyclical. I did not have a problem with the stretched out, fat tire motorcycles of the last 10-years. I liked them and the thought that went into it. I’ve seen every American Chopper episode- not to listen to fighting but to see some of the innovation. I’ve seen the biker build-off shows, Monster garage and every other motorcycle and car related show.

    The Discovery/History channel days are at an end but what I’ve noticed is more people picking out a frame or an old worn out chopper and going out to their garage to build something on their own.

    Its obvious to see that the smaller shops are starting to pickup when it comes to localized business. The prices are lower and we have more ingenuity going back into the design. I’m seeing more retro style “true” choppers, bobbers and rat bikes on the road today.

    Although it’s a sad day for the mass produced “custom” chopper shops like OCC, it is a new day for the small garage builders who are taking the industry back to its roots.

  11. 11 Sid Mar 25th, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Lot of truth to what dannyb278 wrote, but that seems to be the nature of the beast in any market. Same thing happened in the micro/brewpub craze, however, the current phase of the hand crafted beer market is better than ever. The current trend is better due to diversity as well as more balanced price points.

    Meanwhile, cool cars just keep going like they always have been. Lessons to be learned?
    Good luck Jesse

  12. 12 chopmonster66 Mar 25th, 2011 at 11:11 am

    sad day , but we all have to keep on keepin on . there will be choppers forever.. chop on all . hay you going to put that sigh on ebay?

  13. 13 George Mar 25th, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Dannyb278. Are you sure that the new generation of builders that you describe is not obliged to build from shitty parts because it has no money to buy or build new ones. Choice or necessity? Are you sure that their bikes are able to go the distance beyond their favorite local bars. Sad to see many Limpnickie Lot new generation (over 40 yo!) bikes broken down in the streets of Daytona during bike week. There were good builders yesterday and good builders today. Today’s good builders respect and admire what was done before them. They are their inspiration. Ask them. They will tell you. They wish they could make a living in bikes like they did. You are an idiot and probably created nothing new with your sled.

  14. 14 TK Mar 25th, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Howdy Kirk, T.K. here from California Scooter Company. We were at the Del Mar show last year and we will be there next week showing and selling our Mustang Motorcycle inspired CSC Motorcycles. these small M/C’S are a blast. Stop by and introduce yourself, the show is great fun and the cars are always “Smokin” hot!!!!!

  15. 15 El Loco Mar 25th, 2011 at 11:42 am

    For every end there is a new beginning…………..yes it’s sad, however, it’s time JJ re-invents himself……and I’m sure he will!

    Also, there are new stars in the making right now…..different stories to tell and different ways.

    Arriba!! Arriba!

    El Loco

  16. 16 Kirk Perry Mar 25th, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    The word is out and confirmed. Del Mar is expecting a huge M/C parking lot turn-out.

    High pressure is taking over. Today’s rain on Friday, will head east and leave cloudless, sunny skies all week, with temps hitting 80 by the last day of the show on Sunday.

    Stett will have my cam cover finished (pinion bushing bass cracked inside the cover, bleeding-down oil pressure after 5 miles of running. He put it on “front burner” for me, to have by Friday. That’s when the “bro” thing becomes a real thing. The mechanic and everyone in line, getting pushed back in line, all but for, the invested cause.

    I’ll post pics from the parking lot. I’ll ride over to the lot, all weekend and garner as much color out there as possible, unless I get called away to something else.

  17. 17 fluke Mar 25th, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Jesse created something that will live on forever, long after that sign has gone to rust in some scrapyard and TMZ/Perez Hilton doesn’t care about his latest girlfriend.

    In the year 2040 some up and coming bike shop will be doing recreation CFL aircleaners and hellbent pipes and the generation Net still soiling their diapers now will be buying them up for their retro “millenium era” WCC scoots.

    I never knew the naughties bike builder boom era, I am a Janey come lately, so I have no nostalgia for it. But back to real bike builders who build because they like it rather than celebrity builders on every street corner is no bad thing IMO.

    It would be nice if some of the up and coming stars could get similar wider public exposure BBO gave the previous generation like Hotch, Trotta and Lane though.

  18. 18 Kirk Perry Mar 25th, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    I will, and be easily recognizable by my phantom of the opera (Lon Chaney version) impact compounded w/ martian features, people should be fleeing in front of me, (though I still cut a boyish figure). 🙂

    I’ll park my Pan near an entry aisle, for curb appeal, Friday, Sat. & Sun. to take pics for the Builder’s Forum of “special construction” examples from the past. (They’re outlawed here now.)

    Still, but though, it would be nice to have an all-type bike meet in the Sports Arena parking lot (they’ve got trees there – for the atmosphere thing).
    All the bikers need are the same as car people needs: plenty of porta-cans, espresso wagons, and food. And an asphalt-surface, tarp-laying, greasy-part selling, swap meet.
    Ya’ know? – (ie.; blowing steam off the top of your latte-tankard in the cold 9am morning, eating a breakfast biscuit,…. goon-ing on heaps of junk…….boy Howdy!)

  19. 19 bigitch Mar 25th, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    call a waaaa-balance
    he could have down sized.
    he could have reduced the price from a million a bike to 20-30k.
    he could still sell parts.
    he could have even had a motorcycle series.
    but no!
    the ego got in his face, his personal life got public and he accelerated it with interviews, because he wanted people to think he was a sensitive guy.
    not all “master builders” have not crawled under a rock.
    come on jesse …grow a set.

  20. 20 Jesus Mar 25th, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Since a long time WCC was a losing money biz supported by JJ other activities. So F… It. Now for a few millions a ghost rider is writing a book for him. Brilliant!

  21. 21 Chopster Mar 25th, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Jesse is running after the money, anywhere it can be. And all of you would do the same thing if you had places with money to run to. He is much brighter than all of you together.

  22. 22 nicker Mar 25th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    RE:
    “…This picture just makes me really sad. It just hits home that it is really over. End of an Era…”

    Sounds like JJ is bailing out…???
    Given the cyclical nature of any “popular trend,” giving up on the broader (MC) market could be a bit premature.

    Sure, it’s been a good run, but all things come to an end at some point. So now it’s time to create a “new era” just like those who cam before have done.

    Look, it’s really very simple, there have been many cycles of reinvention of “popular motorcycling.” And they back way before “…the previous generation like Hotch, Trotta and Lane…”

    Could be that the lack of knowledge of MC history and perspective is holding some back from forging-into or inventing “the era of custom motorcycling.”

    Look at some of those old scooters in the MC museum. Many of them were “customs” in their own right. Forget about being sad JJ. Now’s the time to innovate and create a new market.

    -nicker-

  23. 23 Shifter Mar 25th, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Nicker. Pretty certain Jesse reads Cyril (previously, he has commented). Hope he sees your comment and encouragement.

  24. 24 nicker Mar 25th, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Shifter,
    That would be really cool.
    JJ is a talented dude.
    Hope he has the energy and spirit to give it a go.
    As they say, “it aint over till the fat lady sings.”

    Building and creating has got to be the most fulfilling human endeavor there is.
    It’s the thing that separates us (most of us, that is) from the rest of the animal kingdom…. 🙂

    -nicker-

  25. 25 Rob Campbell Mar 25th, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    I can appreciate a lot of the sentiments here. I’m kind of a nostalgic type myself, really.

    However, I came of age and into bikes at the end of the 80’s, before the big boom in bikes really took off. It was a bit leaner at that point in a lot of ways (maybe that ‘s just my story), but it was about the love of the bike, not just the big biz of it. A few years later came the rise of the Rubbie. I can’t say I lament any of the changes, but the perspective on it all will be interesting as it gains distanct.

    Peaks and valleys in so many things. Hard to say what the bike industry will look like when the economy gets fluffed again.

  26. 26 J. Talbot Mar 25th, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Jesse, zoning permitted,.you could reinstall this sign on another building in Austin.

  27. 27 1550tc Mar 25th, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    you could reinstall this sign on another building in Austin.

    or put it on EBAY

  28. 28 Jeff Nicklus Mar 25th, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    …. or call me and I will send a truck to pick the sign up and I will keep it! …….

    Over & Out,

    Jeff

  29. 29 Steve Hog Radio Producer Johann Mar 25th, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    I don’t plan to let this stuff die that’s what we are about.

    JJ and the rest are reinventing themselves as did the motorcycle industry back in the 60’s when the Japanese invasion struck when chopper fever hit the streets and On any Sunday hit the theaters.

    There will be new doors open which will invite new riders into the world of riding and building and we hope to be apart of that as much as Cyril hopes to by doing his part with this blog. You can do your part by befriending someone and sharing your love for building and riding.

    Technology and communications are changing as quickly as you can tweet you next message. Gee who ever heard of Tweet, Facebook and Blogs and Pod Cast but today that is the future of media and the future of bike building will live on.

    Well enough said a new era is on its way.

  30. 30 Roberto Mar 25th, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    James will auction it or keep it hoping that in a few years it’s worth its weight in gold. I don’t think so.

  31. 31 David Mar 25th, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Man …..I’m really bummed now ….I didn’t even get a t-shirt……

    SSDD; David

    P.S. I do have several from Covington’s though !!!

  32. 32 Dodson Mar 25th, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Times are a changing is what I heard, time to re-invent yourself or sink with the 100+ so called custom builders that popped up. My thought is how many builders out there should remove the signage from their building? How many should have never hung a sign? Jesse was great for the chopper scene, can’t blame him for building non-functioning machines.

  33. 33 Wiz Mar 26th, 2011 at 3:12 am

    At first I was kinda cynical about the boom in showcasing all these up ‘n comming “Biker Builders”. My thoughts were “I was building choppers when they were pooping yellow! Where’s my place in the sun?” This term everyone was throwing around “Old School”, Hell, I got hemmeroids older than thier crap! I’ve softened up a bit [and so have my ‘roids, Thank God!]. I still build ‘an ride the shit out of rigid chops [even with a broken tailbone], but I like my softails ‘an trikes too! Turn the page Jesse, the only thing in Nature that nevers changes is CHANGE! I know why you like Austin. Tejas folks are REAL! Not them phoney Hollywood types, I’m sure you got a bellyful of them! I got fond memories of my 20+ years in Austin, back in the days of Stevy Ray Vaughn, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Asleep at the Wheel, Nancy Griffith, etc. Ridin’ the Hill Country was Great! Lotta good times. I Love ya Man! Maybe we’ll hitch up sometime ‘an talk about my Royalties from the travelin’ roach coach idea I came up with fer yer Cisco Burger project. I’ll be at Jeffy Nichulas [how’s that Jeffy?] Desperado Junction come Sturgis time. Take Care, Wiz

  34. 34 A1 cycles Mar 26th, 2011 at 7:19 am

    Inovator,original,craftsman,……if you can use those three words to describe some one they are a great person…..so is he!……peace

  35. 35 mdsphoto Mar 26th, 2011 at 8:32 am

    I have no idea what caused him to shut down, he should have been able to parlay all that he earned to be set for life. In all of our careers we have “peak” earning years and that is the time we need to bank that income for our golden days, sounds like Jesse didn’t. I remember watching a special about his shop and they showed him walking through a huge new shop that he planned to outfit with all new equipment. Like many, he expanded beyond his means thinking the “peak” earning years were going to last forever. Unfortunately, those big years never last for any of us, well except those CEOs with huge severance packages!

  36. 36 john Mar 26th, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Cyril
    You mentioned recently that jj was doing a show called J J blacksmith .Do you have any more to add to that post ? .Hate to see him go .. Like him or not , he knows his $ # i T . Hardtail Choppers Forever ! jg.

  37. 37 Heavy Metal Mar 26th, 2011 at 10:32 am

    I like Jesse, he is a good craftsman and I always liked it when he was in the shop. As far as the rest all the drama, I’m with Sandra, I simply don’t care.

  38. 38 Jeff Nicklus Mar 26th, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    WIZ,

    Let me spell this slowly for you ….. N…..I….C….K….L….U….S ….. there, now you have it.

    See you in August.

    Over & Out,

    Jeff

  39. 39 Eric Maurer Mar 26th, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    there is not a single person in the world who wouldn’t do the same thing. Build an empire, set trends that will last forever, change an indutry, fund all your toys, hobbies, etc and then get it at the right time.

    Thats it…. no one is in business to make people happy, its all about “making money” to provide for yourself and your family…. say what you want, anyone one who owns a small business would swap with Jesse in a heartbeat. I guarentee it (even if you say would wouldn’t, no one beleives you).

    I would take having lots of money over not having lots of money any day!

  40. 40 dannyb278 Mar 26th, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    George,
    I would hardly call what those shops such as Biltwell and Lowbrow are making, are anything remotly close to shitty. The fact is they sell quality parts at prices everday guys can afford. Thats a honest way of going about buisness. Being afordable does not equal shitty. Are you one of those folks that think obserd amounts of money equal quality? Becuase most of those choppers that cost 70 grand, can hold a candle in terms of quality to a well made production bike that costs the consumer 10 grand. But hey, suckers are easily separated from their cash, as JJ’s tattoo points out.

    As for me, if you are going to attack me personally, i work on my own bikes and do my own bulidng and restoring. 2002 Triumph Bonneville America, 1974 Honda CB750 and ’76 Yamaha IT400 vintage enduro bike. All work done by me.

  41. 41 David Mar 26th, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    I wonder if that poor guy that was pulling his chopper out of the tsunami debris could actually care.We should be more like him and his passion for a good bike.

    SSDD; David

  42. 42 Wiz Mar 27th, 2011 at 2:48 am

    Hey Jeffy, I think I got it now, I wuz over-complicating it, keep it simple, pure, unerdulterated, just like you, Huh? YUK-YUK!! As far as being in biddness soley to make denero, I suppose that’s the norm, but I ain’t norm [as if you haven’t gleaned that already]. My credo is to help others, Period! I help people fulfill thier dreams of a custom motorcycle, I help handicapped individuals get back into the wind when they were told they could never ride again, I help people get quality jackets, chaps, helmets, saddlebags, etc.at real affordable prices ’cause money is tight, I help addicted individuals find freedom from thier misery, etc. Everything I do is to improve the human condition, not add to the many injustices that are so prevelent today. The Harley shop charges $90.an hour shop time, if you are flying your private jet into Sioux Falls, SD from LA for a $80,000.+ custom bike fitting, I charge $40.bucks an hour, most of the time however I only charge $20.an hour ’cause when I wuz in the regular work force that was damn good money! Sure, the ol’ lady wants me to increase my prices, but she’s a greedy, money is everything person, like almost everybody is. I’m grateful to serve. My rewards I can take with me when I leave this money-driven world. That’s what it’s all about Baby! Wiz

  43. 43 Manhattan Choppers Mar 27th, 2011 at 3:21 am

    Dodson Just rode my non-functioning el diablo machine,wadda u on brother?

  44. 44 Gio Santa Mamba Mar 27th, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    The greatest things in Life last forever.
    This is just how the system process and digest, almost like Mother Nature mechanics,
    sad indeed but isn’t the end for those who still see beyond the fence.

  45. 45 Conrad Nicklus Mar 27th, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    A lot of people are talking badly on the situation as others feel remorsful… Lets be frank here and understand that Jesse created an amazing company and is one of the BEST metalworkers in the WORLD… No matter what anyone says, jealousy plays a huge role in the smack talking towars Jesse.

    I have known Jesse since I was a kid, I have had the same story for years, he is a great man and a great business man. This truly does suck! I went to LA a few months back and was hoping to see Jesse at his shop, he was in ATX at the time but still had the last shot of West Coast before he closed down. I wish this industry woudl revert back to 2002 before all the bullshit fame, glamour and glory in which everyone has entered into it for. We had a brotherhood and nothing was stopping the parties and fun, i WAS YOUNG and still remember how great of a time my father (Jeff Nicklus), Eddie Trotta, Matt Hotch, Jesse, Kendal Johnson, CYRIL, etc. had at the bars, at the show trucks, so on and so forth. Now, its everyone out for themselves… I could name names but honestly they are not worth my time in even contemplating about.

    I wish the industry would go back to 2001/2002… The industry was booming, the friendship was ever so great and the times were fun. I hope my generation can bring this back……. old school, new school, futuristic bikes, etc… however so. That is my hopes and my thoughts.

    No matter what Kirk and the other haters say, JJ was a revolutionist to our industry and a great person! Much appreciation for the way you have been since I met you the first time JJ.
    Conrad Nicklus

  46. 46 jatinder pal Mar 28th, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Sad to see jesse,he was one of the pioneers of our industry…..his bikes were cool,he can fabricate parts…..he was true builder, don’t know what went wrong.

  47. 47 Big Deal Mar 28th, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    What went wrong?… one word – “EGO”.

  48. 48 poppymann Mar 28th, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    The future of this “industry” can be seen on sites like ChopCult and Chopper Underground. Guys building stuff in their garage and helping each other out with shared techniques and tricks. Fifteen years ago when I was chopping my “girl bike” people thought I was crazy. I only wish I had the resources that are around today. Like it or not, the future is in the garage of the average guy with a grinder, a welder, and a passion to learn.

  49. 49 David Mar 29th, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    Hey Conrad….How about we go back to 1992 or 1993 before we had to start putting our names or a list for next years bike? But we did get to ride the bike for a year sell it for what we bought it for and buy a new one….Can’t do that anymore!

    SSDD; David

  50. 50 bgkcfl Apr 11th, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    OUCH! Just saw this…….CFL!

  51. 51 Easy Roc Feb 2nd, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    I feel sad every other day as I pass the shop on my way into Long Beach. I never even got a chance to stop in and take a look. I guess I just assumed it would always be there or perhaps I didn’t want to feel like some band wagon groopie just popping in to buy a sticker or t-shirt. Which is pretty much all I could’ve afforded anyways. I agree with (dannyb278), it’s refreshing to see a revert back to an “Anything is cool as long as you built it yourself” kinda movement. All styles, trends, technology and philosophys are valid but I think the whole thing was getting way too ridiculous. The bikes and Culture are here to stay, we need only make a decent living from it, or else we become the very thing the Culture despised in the first place.

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