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Archive for the 'Chopper Builders' Category

Billy Lane sentenced to 6 years in deadly crash case

Posted in Brevard County, Celebrity, Chopper Builders, Florida, Law, Local, Melbourne, Motorcycle News, Motorcycles, News on August 15th, 2009

judge_burger

Judge Burger began motorcycle builder Billy Lane’s sentencing hearing today by stating that he had accepted the plea of no contest to the charge of vehicular homicide submitted to him on June 9th. He then asked State attorney Tom Brown to start with his opening remarks and recommendations for sentencing. Brown began by submitting a score sheet to the court and the reading off several incidents where Billy had been ticketed for speeding and other traffic violations in an attempt to show that this was not an isolated incident. Tom Brown remarked that these incidents of recklessness showed that this was not an isolated incident, but a pattern where someone was bound to get hurt.

arial_photo_crime_scene

Brown went on to graphically describe the recreation and scene of the crash that brought tears to the eyes of both the Morelock family and Billy Lane. Prosecuting attorney Brown showed aerial photos of the crash scene pointing to the clearly marked double yellow line and pointing out that Mr. Lane had several opportunities to get back into his lane. The results (Brown said) of Mr. Lane’s reckless behavior ended the life of Gerald Morelock. The law states that when you take the life of a human being, you go to jail and that is what we are asking for today your Honor. Brown recommended that the judge stay within the criminal guidelines and Lane be sentenced to 111.15 months in prison, which equates to just over 9 years. In a few moments you will be hearing testimony from the members of the victim’s family, Mr. Lane intends to speak and others are here to appear on his behalf. However, the defense has the burden to prove two things. They need to prove that this death was not a sophisticated homicide and that it was an isolated incident. Indeed, if this can be proven, than the court would be allowed, at the Judge’s discretion to downgrade the recommended sentence. State Attorney then rested and turned the floor over to Defense attorney Gregory Eisenmenger.

sean_morelock

The court room was filled with people in support of Billy lane including Hugh “The Chopper” King, Executive Co Producer and emcee of the television shows Biker Build Off and Motorcycle Mania. Some had a chance to speak, while others where there just to show support for the celebrity motorcycle builder Billy Lane. The general consensus was that Lane could do more to have a positive outcome of the incident if he were not incarcerated by giving back to the community by way of public service announcements and helping to build a non-profit memorial in the name of Gerald Morelock.  There were several who made statements on Billy’s behalf including his Father Warren Lane. Sean Morelock, who has been most affected by the death of his Uncle Gerald said that he had come to realize that Lane could do positive things to help children and felt that would have been what his uncle would have wanted.

byron_morelock

 Gerald’s brother, Byron Morelock also spoke saying that it was not necessarily his opinion, but thinks his brother would have wanted good to come from the incident. Both Sean and Byron said that the final decision of Lane’s fate rested in the hand of the court.

 lane_testifys

 

Billy Lane was then called to the stand and sworn in to make his statement. This would be the first time that Lane had spoken openly to the public about what happened and his feelings. Billy started out by saying I am here today to show everybody who I am, not who you think I am. Lane showed a great deal of remorse and came to tears on several occasions. He described how he had to pass by the spot where he killed Gerald Morelock almost every day and how he prayed for his soul and his family. Billy Lane admitted that he had made a bad decision and was not asking for pity for what had happened. He said he was sorry and asked forgiveness for taking the life of another human being. He stated that he was ready to accept the court’s decision and accepted responsibility for the death of Gerald Morelock. Though Billy showed a great deal of emotion during the hearing and when he spoke. He showed very little expression as his sentence was read.

lane_sentenced

After hearing all the statements of sending a message and using Lane’s notoriety in a positive way, State Attorney said that a message like this is like a double edged sword. He remarked that children where mentioned several times and that we should think twice about this. Do we want to send this message that could be interpreted differently by the demographics spoken of? The message could be also interpreted to read that if I grow up to be a celebrity, I can get away with bad things. This is not the type of message we want to be sending out to our youth.

After hearing from both sides and with no further statements, Judge Burger recessed for 20 minutes to makes his decision. When the Judge returned, he stated that he found that this was an isolated incident and therefore had opted to downgrade the sentence recommended by the State guidelines. He did agree with the State as to not wanting to send out the wrong type of message and asked Billy Lane to rise. With the downward departure, Judge Burger sentenced Billy Lane to 6 years in the custody of the Department of Corrections to be followed by 3 years of probation. The Judge also suspended Lane’s driving privileges for life along with orders to pay court cost and cost of investigation. The Judge had also sentenced Lane to take a DUI driver awareness class, but later dropped that provision when Eisenmenger stated that Mr. Lane had already completed the class.

lane_in_custody

Billy Lane was the taken into custody and escorted out of the courtroom with his family and friends shouting we love you Billy.

Edit: I am adding a video that I shot using my Canon Power Shot. It took me a bit to convert and as you can see my regular job set me back on getting this story posted to bein with.

YouTube Preview Image

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Judge accepts plea in Lane case sentencing scheduled for August

Posted in Auto Negligence, Brevard County, Case Research, Celebrity, Chopper Builders, DUI, Florida, Law, Local, Motorcycle News, Motorcycles, News on June 9th, 2009

lane_sworn_in

(Viera, Florida) Billy Lane was sworn in today for the first time since his arrest almost 3 years ago for DUI Manslaughter causing the death of Melbourne Beach resident Gerald Morelock. Attorney Greg Eisenmenger entered a plea of “no contest” on behalf of Billy Lane before Judge Burger explained the governing rules of the plea. Judge Burger then began to ask Lane the standard questions regarding a plea. There was a slight hesitation of yes your honor when the Judge asked Billy about his mental state. The Judge then asked State Attorney Tom Brown to state the cause for charges filed.

listening_to_evidence

The plea today was entered against the charge of vehicular homicide which was filed late in the case by the state. After the hearing, Attorney Eisenmenger stated that they had been contesting and battling against the DUI and the mishandling of the blood work. Eisenmenger made a point to brief the court of what his plans were to bring forth mitigating circumstances to curtail Lane doing any time in prison. He suggested that Lane would instead be held accountable by means of probation or house arrest and listed other terms of a possible agreement. Some of terms mentioned were that Billy Lane’s drivers license be revoked for life, that he attend drug and alcohol abuse programs and that he would do community service as the court found fit.

no_comments_from_lane
Billy Lane left the court room as reporters asked him to comment, however Attorney Greg Eisenmenger told us that Lane would not be making any comments at this time. Lane has not commented publicly about the incident yet.

eisenmenger_interview

Outside the court room Attorney Greg Eisenmenger answered questions from reporters. When asked if he was satisfied with a 9 year prison sentence, he responded that he intends to bring forward mitigating circumstances to in hope of working out a deal in which Lane would not be incarcerated. Eisenmenger stated that ultimately the final judgement would be up to the court and could be anywhere from a amount of time probation or house arrest up to the low side of the guidelines which would call for 9 years imprisonment. He was also asked about how Billy was doing and what he was doing. Eisenmenger stated that he did not make a habit of following his clients day to day life, however he felt that Billy was still working in the motorcycle industry as he was. He went on to say that Billy has shown remorse for what happened and even at some points more remorse than what he had been advised.

Sentencing has been scheduled for August 14.

I contacted Byron Morelock, the brother of the victim Gerald Morelock after the hearing and he released the following statement:

As most of you already know, my family has been following this case from day one.
The Plea today is not a surprise.
It is true that this case has taken a long time to get to this point, however,
I have always attempted to have faith in the system.
There are many different and diverse opinions out there concerning every aspect of this case. That in itself, demonstrates how our country
Can be so diverse yet held together like timeless glue.
I have been in contact with all parties involved in an attempt to find ways
to turn this tragedy into a more positive outcome. In my heart I know that this is what my Dear Brother Gerry would have wanted. I want people to understand that I am handling this as Gerry has shown me, not necessarily as I want.
I would like to thank so many people for their prayers and good wishes and support

sincerely,
Byron & Seany Morelock

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Billy Lane will not go to trial

Posted in Brevard County, Celebrity, Chopper Builders, Florida, Law, Local, Melbourne, Motorcycle News, Motorcycles, News on February 5th, 2009

(Viera, Florida) The Brevard County court room was at maximum capacity for the 9:00 am calendar call where it was announced that only the first 60 cases on the docket would be called today. Billy Lane sat among the many people waiting to hear if their case would be set for trial as a large group of attorneys waited for Judge Burger to enter the court room. Defense attorney Gregory Eisenmenger signed in just moments before the court was called to order, said hello to Billy, and then waited for his client’s name to be called.

Recently elected to the chair, Judge Robert Burger had inherited a massive overflow of lingering cases left undecided by previous Judge Meryl Allawas. Though Judge Burger made no formal announcement, he appeared determined to clear up the case load and stood firm on keeping a solid schedule to clear the docket of the older cases. As each case was called he explained to the parties that they needed to ready their case without any further postponement.

Billy Lane had been facing the single felony charge of DUI Manslaughter for over two years up until last month when a additional charge of vehicular homicide was filed. When the Judge called for the case of the State of Florida verses William Lane,  defense  attorney Eisenmenger stepped forward and made a surprise statement that he had resolved the case with the Sate and they were working on a plea. State Attorney Tom Brown stepped forward to acknowledge the plea bargain, but then both attorneys approached the bench and talked with the Judge for about 2 minutes.

It was not stated for the record what type of agreement had been made and there was no mention of when an official announcement might be heard. The next date posted for a hearing is on February 9th, but that date may be cancelled until the two parties reach their final agreement. I spoke with Byron Morelock by telephone and he confirmed that he would be involved in the agreement, but he was not able to give me any more specifics on dates or times either. He seemed to be relieved that the case is finally growing to an end, but stated that no mater the final outcome it will remain a sad fact that nobody wins in a case of this nature. Byron Morelock is the brother of  Gerald Morelock who was the victim in this case. Gerald Morelock was killed back in September of 2006 when the Dodge pickup Billy Lane was driving struck him head on. Lane showed no emotion as the announcement was made and appears to have accepted the fact that he will not have to stand trial for the the two charges now that arrangements are being made that will decide his final fate in this case. While it was said that Lane could receive as much as 15 years in prison if convicted of either charge, the State Attorney had previously stated that a plea bargain would not be accepted for anything less than 10 years. Still, even after the announcement today, the exact amount of time still remains unknown.

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Billy Lane faces new charge and Judge

Posted in Brevard County, Celebrity, Chopper Builders, DUI, Florida, Law, Melbourne, Motorcycle News, Motorcycles, News on January 11th, 2009

Only days after the long running Billy Lane DUI case had a new Judge appointed, the Florida State Attorney’s office has filed a new charge against the Melbourne motorcycle builder. For over two years Billy Lane has faced the single felony charge of DUI Manslaughter and has appeared many times in the court of Brevard County Judge Meryl Allawas. Judge Allawas was voted off the bench in last year’s election and Judge Robert Burger has now taken over her case load. One of the cases still pending to be heard is the trial of custom motorcycle builder Billy Lane. Lane had three charges filed against him in 2006 for his involvement in a crash in Melbourne Beach that caused the death of 56 year old Gerald Morelock.


The case has taken many different courses since Lane’s arrest including two of the original charges filed against Lane being dismissed and original defense attorney Kepler Funk being replaced by Gregory Eisenmenger. With a trial date now set for February 9th, the State Attorney has filed a new charge of vehicular homicide against Billy. Lane is accused of attempting to pass cars in a no passing zone on Highway A1A while driving a 2006 Dodge pick up owned by Chrysler Corporation on September 4th, 2006.  The truck Lane was driving struck Morelock head on while riding his motor scooter and caused his death. Billy Lane and female passenger Erin Derrick were both injured in the crash as well, but were both released from the hospital.

Florida State Troopers suspected Lane of driving impaired and later drew blood by force at the hospital. The blood sample came back from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab testing positive for an illegal amount of blood alcohol. The blood sample taken that night has been a major part of contention in the case and motions filed by the defense are trying to strike it as evidence. It was later revealed in a autopsy report that the victim also had been drinking. The victim’s family as well as the passenger in the crash have both filed civil suit against Lane and Dodge for damages. The civil case filed by the mother of Gerald Morelock has been settled, while the case filed by passenger Erin Derrick remains open and has been moved out of county.

Lane still faces 10 years in prison if convicted on the new charge.

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Billy Lane DUI Update

Posted in Brevard County, Case Research, Chopper Builders, DUI, Florida, Law, Melbourne, Motorcycle News, Motorcycles, News on October 22nd, 2008

Lane’s blood work to be looked at by another expert, this time appointed by the state.

The hearing for Billy Lane’s pending DUI Manslaughter charge scheduled for today at 2:00 in Viera was canceled. The next date scheduled for hearing is November 17th. However, State Attorney Tom Brown says that we are getting closer to a trial date to be set.

The state had asked to see the blood work report that had been produced by Lane’s expert witness, but the defense attorney has decided not to use the testimony, results or consultation of the witness they had hired. At the same time Lane’s defense has filed a motion to suppress the blood work as evidence in the case. Because the state was not allowed to view the results of the tests ordered by Lane’s attorney, the State of Florida has now sent the blood work to another expert to be analysed. State Attorney Tom Brown said that the report will be used in conjunction with the original report from the FDLE lab. The exact results of the new tests are not known yet but there is a deposition of the Doctor that performed the test scheduled that will reveal the findings.

I asked State Attorney Tom Brown if he thought this would go to trial and he said that he expects it to . He stated that the State is prepared to go to trial unless Lane was to plea to jail time. I asked what kind of plea would be acceptable and Brown said he would not accept anything less than 10 years jail time in order to keep this case from going to trial. You may recall that Billy Lane would be looking at at least 15 years jail time if he does go to trial and is found guilty of DUI Manslaughter.

Lane is still facing another civil suit that was filed by the passenger of the Dodge truck that he was driving on the night he passed in a no passing zone causing the death of Melbourne Beach resident Gerald Morelock. However, this civil trial that has been filed by passenger Erin Derrick against Billy Lane and Chrysler has been moved out of county and has no court date scheduled at this time.

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Billy Lane DUI hearing cancelled, no new date set

Posted in Brevard County, Case Research, Celebrity, Chopper Builders, DUI, Editorial, Florida, Investigative Reports, Journalism, Law, Melbourne, Motorcycle News, Motorcycles, News on June 14th, 2008

June 12th was the hearing date scheduled in the William Lane DUI Manslaughter trial that an actual trial date was expected to be set. However, the hearing was cancelled because attorneys Gregory Eisenmenger and Robert Barry were out of town on another case. Judge Allawas had ordered that all motions be filed by the defense no later than June 6th during the last hearing so that she could proceed with a trial date.
Three motions were filed by Lane’s attorneys on June 6th to meet the court’s demand. All 3 motions are to suppress the blood evidence that may be crucial to the state to uphold the charge of DUI. Lane is currently awaiting ruling by the Division of Administrative Hearings regarding the sufficiency of certain rules. One of the motions filed alleges that the State of Florida and FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) rules were not complied with and it is for this reason that the Administrative Hearing is in place and still awaiting a decision.
The motion further state that several critical errors were made in the handling and analysis of the blood evidence. First is that the blood kit was taken to the post office in Rockledge, Florida on September 5, 2006 and was sent by certified mail to the FDLE crime lab in Orlando and was not delivered until September 12th, 7 days later.
evidence delayed in Lane trial may cause problems in case
The delay, it appears, was due to the way the FHP mailed the blood kit (image above). According to the motion the FHP chose to send the evidence by certified mail rather than overnight or by courier. Florida rule does not require refrigeration of blood used as evidence if it is submitted for analysis within 7 days which apparently was very close in this case. The same motion goes on to state that the proper procedure was not used in the analysis of the blood by the FDLE examiner.
Although all of the 3 motions filed were to suppress the blood evidence in the case, none of them mentioned the expert witness or lab work completed in Colorado that had caused major time delays in the case previously.
So at this date there is no date set for the three motions to be heard, Lane still awaits decision by the state on Administrative Hearings and no date has been set for the start of the actual trial.

Update! on 6/18/2008 A new court date has been scheduled for July 10, 2008 at 11:00 am

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Lane trial in holding pattern

Posted in Brevard County, Celebrity, Chopper Builders, DUI, Florida, Law, Melbourne, Motorcycle News, Motorcycles, News on May 16th, 2008

Judge Allawas listens to State Attorney Tom Brown speak
(Viera, Florida) State Attorney Tom Brown said he has been in a holding pattern for months waiting on the test results and decision of Billy Lane’s defense attorney Gregory Eisenmenger. Judge Allawas told Eisenmenger that she expects all motions and decisions to be made by no later than June 6th and scheduled the next pretrial hearing for June 12th when she expects to set a trail date in the DUI Manslaughter case that Lane has been faced with for almost two years now.

Gregory Eisenmenger speaks with Florida Today reporter outside court room 

Eisenmenger told the court that he expects to have reached a decision on how he plans to use his expert witness within 30-45 days, sooner if she required it. “The results are back, I have not had a chance to look them over yet” Eisenmenger said to the court with his arm in a sling. I have an obvious injury and my assistant Mr. Barry is scheduled for surgery on Monday, hopefully we will be able to get this resolved as we both recuperate. Eisenmenger and Barry have not reached a decision on how that are planning on using the blood test results and expert witness for trial. There was an administrative hearing that had some unexpected issues resulting in their uncertainty. Based on these results we will determine if we plan on using Masten as a expert witness or just a consultant, Eisenmenger told the court. There is a 50 50 chance of us using him either way at this time.

State Attorney Tom Brown said that until Eisenmenger makes his decision, he has no choice but to wait. It will be based on the decision of Eisenmenger as to how we will proceed with the depositions in the case. We can not do the deposition of the witness without knowing what to ask and until we see the results ourselves we have to wait. After looking over some notes in the case, Judge Allawas reminded Attorney Eisenmenger of statements made by Ken Barry in previous hearings as to the expected time line.

Byron Morelock speaks with Billy Lane outside court house in Viera

Billy Lane, his Mother and Byron Morelock spoke outside the courthouse for some time. Byron was hoping to hear news of a trial date being set today, but was set back at further delays in the DUI Manslaughter trial related to the death of his brother Gerald Morelock. Byron and Billy have been talking about working out something positive toward what has happened, but no certain plans can be announced yet.

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Passenger in Billy Lane DUI Case files civil law suit

Posted in Auto Negligence, Brevard County, Case Research, Celebrity, Chopper Builders, DUI, Florida, Law, Local, Melbourne, Motorcycle News, Motorcycles, News on May 16th, 2008

Erin Derrick, the female passenger that was with Billy Lane on the night of the crash that took the life of Gerald Morelock and injured Derrick has filed civil suit against Lane and Chrysler for Auto Negligence. Lane and Dodge reached a settlement with the family of the victim last year, but are still waiting for justice in the criminal case. This is breaking news just discovered and the actual summons has not even been returned yet.

Lane is scheduled for a hearing today at 1:30 pm in the criminal case where he is still facing charges of DUI Manslaughter.

More on this story as it unfolds.

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Custom motorcycle produced in numbers – the production custom motorcycle age

Posted in Chopper Builders, Editorial, Equipment, Links, Media, Motorcycle News, Motorcycles, Opinion, Parts and Accessories on May 5th, 2008

Motorcycle manufacture showroom

 

The word custom really gets tossed around in the motorcycle industry of today. There are of course still true custom motorcycle builders both commercial and the garage builder. However, I have a hard time with the phrase “production custom motorcycle”. Now there are motorcycle manufactures that use the word custom in the model name, but that does not make it a custom motorcycle. Certainly if we look at the definition of the word “custom” we see that it means that the motorcycle was produced as specified for an individual. It does not take a mathematician to figure out that this means for one.

 Production motorcycles lined up for sale

 

Some of the top and upcoming motorcycle manufactures insist on staking claim to adding a new production custom motorcycle to their line. This is simply a false claim in advertising and no more than a gimmick of play on words.

 

The making of a custom motorcycle.

custom motorcycle frame

 

I think most reading this article would agree that the true custom motorcycle is one built by an individual for that individual. These type of motorcycles won’t be seen sitting side by side on the polished floors of a large manufacture showroom. You will not see the same motorcycle anywhere, because it is a one of a kind custom built motorcycle. Most garage custom builders remain unknown and are happy just to build their own motorcycle or maybe one for a friend or two. Some move out of the garage and open up a shop building custom motorcycles to be sold. Others will grow into large shops that employ many and produce 2 or 3 bikes a month.

Building a custom motorcycle includes fabrication to fit the design of the bike

 

Still, the one thing that ties all of these builders together is that they build one of a kind custom motorcycles. Their carefully designed product is as original as the person that the motorcycle is built for. In most cases, if the motorcycle is not being built by the owner, he or she still plays an important part in the development of the machine and how it will look in the final outcome.

 

The custom motorcycle builder.

custom motorcycle builder Scott Hall installing pipes

 

Everybody has to start somewhere and if you read the stories of most of the popular chopper and custom builders, you will see they also have many things in common. All of the well known custom motorcycle builders have a love for the machine and most started in the industry when they built a custom bike for themselves. Many of them develop a style that is easily recognized and yet each creation is unique in the design. One thing that you will also see if you follow the lives of any of the builders is that the amount of time and effort spent to get to where they are is overwhelming. Though in speaking with many of the builders I know, some seem to feel that a lot of making it to the top has to do with timing. I tend to agree with this in some ways as I look at some of the creations of the garage builders and the guys that have opened shops locally. Their work can be as much of an art creation of smartly shaped iron and chrome as one of the well known builders, yet they do not seem to get the recognition. Still, they push on and seem happy even to win a trophy and prize at one of the big bike shows like the Rat’s Hole custom motorcycle show.

Rat\'s Hole custom bike show winner

 

Custom bike shows are a great way to see the work of many of the small shops and garage builders from around the country. I recall one show when the wife of a builder thanked me just for taking pictures of her husbands work. Her expression of thanks was sincere and showed that she shared her husband’s passion for building a one of a kind custom motorcycle. This is where I see a notable difference between the guy that draws his gas tank template out on a file folder to create one bike versus the large manufacture that uses an auto cad program to design a stamp mold for hundreds of that design. Simply put, the true custom motorcycle builder fabricates a one of a kind bike that is unlike any other machine created where each process in putting the bike together is as unique as a finger print.

custom motorcycle builder Alan Bernard is the Bobber King

 

Ultimately, the final phase of building a custom motorcycle is watching the owner look the machine over and sitting on the seat of the bike to take the first ride. Custom motorcycle builders are scattered all over the world and create many types and styles of motorcycles, but they all build for one.

 

The difference between custom and customized.

Motorcycle gas tank customized with airbrush art work

 

I think many people seem to get the term custom confused with customized. We have already discussed the meaning of custom above and we know that a custom motorcycle is built for an individual. To turn out a customized motorcycle is to take a stock bike and change or add on parts or paint to set the bike apart from other motorcycles of the same model or class. The building of a customized motorcycle is usually performed by the owner of the motorcycle after purchase, although there are companies that specialize in customized motorcycles. The customized motorcycle begins as a stock model and the customizing begins as new paint, chrome or engraved parts are added. Many times a motorcycle can be customized by simply removing stock parts that are not necessary. Though many may disagree that this is the same as a custom motorcycle, it is better described as a customized motorcycle. A good example of the customized motorcycle would be when a rider changes the seat, changes the exhaust pipes and adds airbrush work or pinstripes. Another example would be removing the stock front forks and replacing them with extended forks and different handlebars. While a customized motorcycle can be a great looking machine, they are still stock motorcycles with pieces added or taken away.

 

The chopper.

The chopper was originally created by removing or \

 

Today a chopper can be a custom motorcycle, while the early history of the chopper was to customize a bike by removing or chopping parts down. The original chopper motorcycle dates back to post world war II when solders returning from the war were not happy with the look and feel of the motorcycles built in the states. Many of them formed groups and began to chop their stock motorcycle and customize it to better fit their need and desire for comfort, speed and style. These original groups also began the term “biker” and met regularly to discuss and help each other with new ways to customize their motorcycles.

the captain america chopper from the film easy rider

 

The biggest recognition of the chopper was when a customized motorcycle was used in the 1969 film Easy Rider staring Peter Fonda bringing to light the cool look of these choppers. The actual designer and builder of the two famous motorcycles are not known to many, while the captain America chopper is world famous. The two men responsible for the building of the two customized motorcycles for the making of the film Easy Rider were Ben Hardy and Cliff Vaughs. After seeing the movie, more riders wanted to have a chopper, but some did not know how to customize their own motorcycle. Shops began to open where motorcycle owners could take their motorcycle to be customized and later as time went on these shops began to build custom motorcycles, choppers and bobbers.

 building a custom motorcycle frame fit for a particular engine and design

 

Early custom chopper builders would completely disassemble the motorcycle and then cut and weld the frame to extend the front end and lower the motorcycle to the road. Today, the custom motorcycle builder begins with a frame and builds the motorcycle from the frame up. While some builders buy frames pre-built, most of the more popular builders start by building the frame as needed for the end design. In the years passing, many shops became specialized in frames, wheels and exhaust pipes.

 

The impact of television on the motorcycle industry

Television and movies have had big impact on the motorcycle industry throughout history

 

More recently, television brought on a new wave of the custom builder with television shows like the Great Biker Build-off, American Chopper and Motorcycle Mania. These television shows sparked a world wide interest in motorcycles and turned many builders into a celebrity. Even more shows and documentaries followed giving a broader insight into the world of motorcycles and the biker lifestyle. Television and the new reality show craze gave us all somewhat of an inside look at some of the lives of the custom motorcycle builder, though most of the shows were staged, they created a spike in the custom motorcycle business for a period of time.

Vinnie DiMartino left OCC to start his own custom motorcycle business

 

Reality television shows that created bigger than life personalities out of custom bike builders. Jesse James of West Coast Choppers and of course the family business of the Teutuls of Orange County Choppers both had a large following of fans glued to the television set each week. These television shows took the custom world a bit further with the creation of “theme bikes”. Though the concept of the theme bike was not anything new, sponsors were quick to jump on the commercial wave and ride it in to shore.

 Russell Mitchell of Excile Cycles

 

Names of those known mainly in the motorcycle industry like Russell Mitchell, Chica, Billy Lane and Matt Hotch became household words with the making of the Discovery Channel’s Biker Build-off. These popular hit shows spawned new shows , documentaries and DVD collections attempting to give the television viewer something new and exciting and keep the home viewing audience enthused. However, as the ratings fell, the shows began to die ending the era of the celebrity chopper builder. The motorcycle industry and especially the works of the custom builder have seen this rise and fall before. The builders that survive and continue on are the truly dedicated and hard working men and women that belonged in the field in the first place. It is their drive and spirit that will keep this part of the industry alive to stand the test of time.

 

Motorcycle manufactures and the custom motorcycle.

Harley Davidson Motorcycles

 

The large motorcycle manufacturer such as Harley Davidson, Suzuki, Yamaha and Honda produce thousands of motorcycles every year and some still have trouble keeping afloat. Harley Davidson recently reported a fall in sales and laid off workers in the hundreds. American IronHorse is filing bankruptcy while Honda recently opened a mega factory to produce even more motorcycles. Indian Motorcycle is promising delivery of the newly designed Chief, but has not announced a formal delivery date. The motorcycle industry as a hole seems to have taken a drop in late at a time with the price of gas so high that more people think of buying a motorcycle that probably never would have. Yet the industry seems troubled and financially unstable. Some of these major players saw the custom motorcycle market as a way to pull in more sales and began to produce a new look or even produced under a new name. However, new look and name does not make the motorcycle custom and the major manufacture will never be able to break into that corner of the market until they realize that it is not about being number one, it is about building for one. The production custom motorcycle are words that totally contradict themselves and reality will dictate that there is no such thing.

This post is for editorial purpose and is in the form of an opinion. This opinion is that of the author and not that of any of the advertisers, persons or companies mentioned in the post.

Sources and credits:

All photos are the work and property of MNO Photography.

Pictured above

Alan Bernard of Santiago Chopper

Russell Mitchell of Exile Cycles

Scott Hall of Corrupted Concepts

Vinnie DiMartino of V-Force Customs

Custom frame designed by Tempest Cycles

 

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More tests ordered on Billy Lane’s blood

Posted in Brevard County, Celebrity, Chopper Builders, DUI, Florida, Law, Melbourne, Motorcycle News, Motorcycles, News on April 11th, 2008

 Defense attorney Ken Barry in Billy Lane DUI Manslaughter case

(Viera, Florida) Billy Lane was in court today but remained seated behind the court divider as his defense attorney, Ken Barry, appeared before Judge Allawas in the ongoing DUI Manslaughter charge that Lane faces. The main questions Judge Allawas wanted answered today were if the results were back from the independent lab the defense was using and when she would be able to set the case for trial.

Barry told the court that his office had received oral results on the blood work and based on the results he has ordered more testing. Barry told the court that he hopes to receive the final written results within the next 7 days. State attorney Mike Brown said that pictures were taken of the blood work before it was released and his interest was to see the return of the evidence and the report so that his office could examine the results as well. Both sides of the case should have the results by April 30th at which time more will be known on the exact amount of time that will be needed to prepare for trial.

Judge Allawas set a new hearing date for 1:30 pm on May 16th at which time she hopes to be able to set the case for trial. The mass media turnout for the hearing today was large in anticipation of a trial date being set, however that was not the result of the hearing. You may remember that the Judge had also stated that the final reports from the lab chosen by the defense may not be acceptable to be used as evidence in the trial. All of these questions still remain unanswered even after close to two years since the crash that left Melbourne Beach resident Gerald Morelock dead.

Billy Lane’s custom motorcycle shop, Choppers Inc. closed its doors to the public last year and now the building is empty. The Choppers Inc. web site states that the shop was to be moved in 2008, but there has been no notice of the location of a new shop. Billy Lane could get up to 15 years in prison if convicted on the DUI Manslaughter charge.

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