There are two main styles of biker customizing – American and European. Today, I would like to say a couple of words about the former. There are two major trends of American customizing – the first one is characterized by minimalism copying the style of the legendary Captain America, while the second features massiveness and global hooding in the spirit of American cars of the 1960s. They are known under the names Chopper and Custom Cruiser respectively. Also, there are also custom bikes that include features of both trends and they are called Cruise Choppers.
All those of you who’ve watched the cult “Easy Rider” are perfectly aware of this style. The basic principles of such motorcycles are boldness and the lack of non-functional parts. That is why many choppers don’t have "useless" details such as, for instance, instruments, fenders or an extra seat. The main features of the "Captain America" style are a long fork with an unthinkable rake angle, a modest tank placed on the "flimsy frame", ape-hangers, and so on. In such a machine, an engine should be open at maximum and the number of non-chrome parts ought to be minimal. In fact, everything that could be chromed must be chromed! Not for nothing do bikers enjoy the metal sheen. This passion is also reflected in the popularity of silver biker jewelry.
Steering a chopper at low speeds is not an easy task, especially for the first-timers. Slow speed maneuvering requires a lot of skill since such a motorcycle tends to fall to one side. This is because a chopper has a large base and fork excessive angle. On the other hand, these drawbacks turn into benefits when riding in a straight line.
The Americans' passion for big cars and powerful engines is known to everyone. For the sake of impressive appearance, they are ready to sacrifice practicality. This passion found its reflection in motorcycles as well. As soon as the power of engines allowed giving a motorcycle a monumental look, the US customizers immediately took advantage of this.
One of the first cruisers in the purely American style was the 1941 "Indian Four" which had a four-cylinder engine with 77 cubic inches. It had all the features inherent in the Cruiser style: a massive exterior, wide wheels, covered with chic fenders, fairing, and coffers. These elements became the main features of a "motorcycle for long rides". The next step in the development of cruisers became improvement of comfort and external attractiveness.
A distinctive feature of all Custom Cruisers is power. They flex muscles in all possible ways – they feature impressive fuel tanks, front forks with a frame thick as an arm, silencers resembling steam locomotives blastpipes, etc. However, the main trump card of most custom cruisers is an engine. It must be large and super powerful. In the United States, customizers often use car engines, for example, from the Chevrolet Corvette.
Such customized motorcycles are sort of an intermediate link between pureblood choppers and cruisers. They took an abundance of chrome and minimalistic gearing from the former and comfortable sitting and a powerful appearance from the latter.
Such motorcycles rarely have massive fenders. Also, they don’t feature an enlarged front wheel characteristic of cruisers; however, the rear one might have a fantastic size. A chromed engine, most often it is V-Twin from S&S or Rev-Tech, is deliberately put on display. Even though it can’t boast power and torque in comparison with some cruiser engines, but it seamlessly fits into the space of the frame.
Motorcycles of this style are built, as a rule, with the geometry that creates an attractive appearance for a bike and also allows enjoying both leisurely driving and riding on highways. Thus, these vehicles have the maximum comfort and harmony of appearance, which makes them currently the most popular among custom-made motorcycles.