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FEATURE: How Orange County Choppers became the world's most famous custom bike shop

Paul Teutul Sr. knows how to arrive in style
Paul Teutul Sr. knows how to arrive in style
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Thursday, 05, Dec 2013 02:28

by Jake Polden

If you think about it, bikers are a funny bunch. They abide by unwritten and unspoken laws that include everything from a subtle nod of the head when passing a fellow rider, to always offering assistance during a breakdown.

What separates the wider biking community as individuals, however, is personal taste and reasons for owning a motorcycle.

For some, motorbikes are merely a means to get to work on time, while for others owning and riding a bike is a way of life.

Bikers are also very brand-loyal. If you own a Kawasaki, then chances are you love Kawasakis and you show this by wearing Kawasaki green leathers and drooling over them at motor shows.

Regardless of why you own a bike, your taste in bikes and your brand loyalty however, it is very difficult to not have anything but admiration for the motorcycles produced by Orange County Choppers (OCC).

We're not saying you'd ever consider owning one, some may not even like them - but there is no way you cannot admire them.

The level of detail, styling and workmanship that goes into each and every individual bike is mind-blowing, and evidence of the company's infinite love for two-wheeled (sometimes three-wheeled) vehicles.

Custom champions

What started as a sideline to the family's steel manufacturing enterprise quickly became the phenomenon it is today, as Paul Teutul Sr. created the 'True Blue' - the company's first chopper that featured at the 1999 Daytona Biketoberfest.

Based in Orange County, New York, the company was initially owned by Paul and his son Paul Teutul Jr., before their public, on-screen separation resulted in Paul Jr. leaving OCC to start his own company Paul Jr. Designs (PJD).

Today OCC, which has grown twofold since appearing in its own reality television show on the Discovery Channel, receives much of its business from wealthy celebrities wanting to stand out that little bit more.

A company that looks to push the boundaries of what a motorcycle should look like, OCC has created many one-of-a-kind spectacles, like the famous 'Fire Bike'.

Built to commemorate 9/11, the chopper resembles a fire engine and features the number 343 - in reference to the number of fire-fighters who died trying to save civilians from the wreckage - and a steel rivet taken from the twin-towers.

Since then the United States Air Force commissioned a $150,000 (£90,000) 'Air-Force Bike', which is modelled on an F-22 Raptor fighter jet and features all the cosmetics you'd expect to see on a bike/plane hybrid.

Other unique models, like the 'I, Robot Bike', which strutted its futuristic chassis on the red carpet at the premiere of the film with the same name, have only added to the popularity and success of the company.

Aside from creating otherworldly cosmetics on the majority of their bikes, OCC also pushes the boundaries in other ways, building upon what they are capable of producing and, consequently, what they are known for.

Manufacturing the world's first all-electric chopper, the 'Siemens Smart Chopper' - a bike that utilises recycled steel, LED lighting and environmentally-friendly water-based paints - presented the company as the forefathers for the future of customised electric motorcycles.

For now however, they, for the most part, remain gas-guzzling monsters that hold the unmatched ability to avert the gaze of any passer-by.

Some love them, some loathe them and most can't understand the concept behind them.

But OOC has garnered a universal fame from humble beginnings and can therefore only be respected for their truly unique contribution to the motorcycle world.

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