Custom motorcycle building has come a long way since the days of Easy Rider. In the beginning, if you wanted to customize your bike, you did it yourself, in your own garage or backyard. The earliest choppers were just streamlined bikes with all the extraneous gadgets removed and the fenders chopped off. Nowadays, most people do not have the time, tools, or garages to customize their motorcycles and usually leave the decisions up to some bike builder who went to school for it. However, for those of us with a mechanical itch and a garage full of tools waiting to be put to good use, there is a compromise. There are many places that now offer custom motorcycle kits for the home hobbyist. These bikes in boxes are readily available to be shipped to your home so you can build your very own bike.
Curious about these custom motorcycle kits, I decided to do some research online. I found a plethora of places, which offered many styles of bikes for a wide range of prices. Some of the prices for these motorcycle kits cost as much as a new car. A site called Whistlestop Choppers from Massachusetts, for example offers a Silver Horse custom motorcycle kit for 15,480. This bike features chrome polished finish, a 113 cubic inch engine and is very sleek to look at, but I think I would have trouble forking over 15 K for a bike that still needs to be put together. (Note: I did find the same Silver Horse Bike on a different site for two grand cheaper, so I guess it pays to shop around.)
Well, I can see the appeal of getting these complete bike kits; I also wonder how complete they are. One site that I went to (SteelThunder.com) offered an explanation on the completeness of the various bike kits. “Bikers Choice” kits come with everything except things like battery acid, paint and gasoline while the “Ultima kits” are shipped to you sans paint, oils, speedometer, turn signals, horns and mirrors. In order to get these things for your bike you are required to pay for an upgrade. I guess, just getting the bare bones frame would be appealing to some people. It would allow for further customizing on their part, making their motorcycle even more unique than the next guys.
For those who think getting a whole custom motorcycle kit is cheating, there are many places that will be happy to just sell you customized parts so that you can turn that hog that you got from your cousin into your very own chopper. Buying custom made parts online is still not as old school as fabricating the parts yourself in your metal shop but it still is a step up from those pansies who need to have their whole bike built for them by a team of engineers.