All last week rumors spread again that employees had been laid off at Big Bear Choppers, that the company suspended operations and would not reopen this week. On Monday November 28, 2011, a local newspaper stated there was no sign of activity at the Big Bear Choppers facility. It’s not the first time, especially during the last 12 months, that the same rumors are heard about Big Bear Choppers, but owners Kevin and Mona Alsop always ended up commenting that they were just re-thinking the way to operate their company. On Monday I immediately contacted Mona Alsop for her comment on these rumors, but still with no reply from her at time of this publication.
Big Bear Choppers is one of the last couple of small manufacturers of custom motorcycles still operating in the US. Kevin Alsop is born in Australia, raced go-carts and dirt bikes, then moved to the US where he worked for a small california motorcycle shop, then in his own repair business until 1997. After meeting his wife Mona, a certified Veterinarian Technician, in 1998 they started Big Bear Choppers in Big Bear Lake, California.. The company “surfed” with success the big custom motorcycle craze, at one time offering 15 different models, all above $30,000, usually powered by S&S Evo, Twin Cam and X-Wedge engines, or complete unassembled custom bikes starting at $20,000.
Then, in 2006 business started to slow down and like most custom builders and manufacturers, the company suffered, tried to expand abroad in Europe, experimented with a bagger model, designed a just-under $20,000 custom model to attract new clients, but seem to have encountered little success with both strategies. Last April, the company received from the Small Business Loan Program a $100,000 loan whose status at this day is unknown
Of course, the Alsop’s don’t have any obligation to reply to my request for comment, but I think it would be wise that they make an official statement for their clients and my readers regarding the status of their company, whatever it is.