Custom Motorcycle Television Shows
Not to long ago, you could not turn the channel without running into a custom bike building show. The Discovery channel was filled to the brim with programming like American Chopper starring the Teutul family and Motorcycle Mania hosted by Jesse James. Watching people build overly expensive custom motorcycles had suddenly become cool. Pretty soon, custom bike shops began popping up all over the country opened by starry-eyed entrepreneurs looking to make a quick million overnight by cashing in on America’s latest craze.
I personally loved watching American chopper, although more for the family fights than for the finished product. The Teutul family was fun to watch. The dad was always getting ticked off at the eldest son and the misadventures of the younger son, Mikey, were always entertaining. The motorcycles that they put together ( or, rather their shop assistants put together) were pretty cool, if not a little over the top and extremely overpriced.
Then American Chopper suddenly disappeared from the Discovery Channel along with all the other bike shows seemingly overnight. It was as if America’s obsession with custom-built motorcycles was suddenly replaced with a obsession for wilderness survival shows. Some blame the economy for this sudden shift in programming. As gas prices increase and inflation continues, people seem to tune out. Shows which feature the building of over priced custom motorcycles are then replaced with shows that are about survival.
Many custom motorcycle shops, that had opened overnight due to the new found popularity, also found themselves closing. It was as if the whole thing had been a fad,homeland project free tv passing quietly back into a small niche market. Most veteran custom motorcycle builders, however, seem unperturbed by these events. While they acknowledge that the television shows had helped them increase their exposure and t-shirt sales, they also know that the custom motorcycle industry is not some get rich quick scheme that anyone can get into and succeed in.
The true artists and designers who build custom bikes because they love to are not worried by the recent downtrend. They know that they still have a niche within the market, and that the industry will once again pick up when the economy does. They claim that the return of bike building shows will once again make “television cool” in the future.
American Chopper has also survived. It had been moved to the TLC network where it continues to thrive. Other shows are also in the works including American Thunder on the Speed Channel, which features custom bikes. A new upcoming show titled: The Next Great American Builder is currently in the works. This show will feature amateur builders competing for a cash prize.