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Who created the first “chopper” motorcycles?

Where did the term Chopper come from?

Choppers.com features as short history of the chopper and how the term came about and the early motorcycle riders coined the name.

According the article, returning vets from World War II came home and found that European bikes were lighter and easier to ride compared to their American counterparts.

These vets became some of the first “bikers”, riding together and modifying their bikes to become less cluttered by “chopping” off the fenders.

Source: Choppers.com and Bikerweb.

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3 Responses

  1. The whole 'returning GI' thing is wrong and a cliché; Americans modified motorcycles for speed in the 1920s as 'Cut Downs' which had shorter and lower frames than standard, and were much lighter. 'Bob-Jobs' came later (from the 30s) and mimicked dirt-track racing bikes, also much lighter than stock.

    After WW2, yes riders continued building Bob-Jobs (or Bobbers as they're now called), and a few stylists in the late 1940s started adding Harley XA front forks to their bobbed machines, which are 2" longer, and raised the front ends. By the 1950s, the front ends being built even longer, and higher handlebars were added too. There's a photo of Sonny Barger in 1959 on what is clearly recognizable as a fully developed 'Chopper', but I don't think he was the first.

    Bike builders like Benny Hardy in Watts also built Choppers in the 1950s…who did it first? Good question; it's something I'm researching now….

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