Easy Rider choppers and the builders grandson - Star Motorcycle Forums: Star Raider, V-Max, V-Star, Road-Star Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-16-2019, 08:32 PM Thread Starter
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Easy Rider choppers and the builders grandson

Most motorcyclists are familiar with the movie Easy Rider and the two choppers featured in the movie (see photo below). Most people have no idea who built both Peter Fonda's 'Captain America' bike and the Billy Bob chopper ridden by Dennis Hopper. I just learned who built these from the builders' grandson, who happens to be a co-worker of mine!

I was just chatting about motorcycles and my co-worker Kevin recounted his memories as a kid of hanging out with his grandad in his motorcycle shop in Los Angeles California. Imagine my suprise when Kevin casually mentioned that his grandad co-designed and built both Easy Rider motorcycles! Kevin told me to look up Ben Hardy (his grandfather) on Google, so I did some research and the links and the video below are what I found. Check them out for some cool history on Ben and the Easy Rider bikes.

Sadly, Ben Hardy never got the credit he deserved for designing and building two of the most iconic motorcycles ever built. Based on an interview with Hardy, the reason for this may have been due to his "complexion" (he was a black man). From my research, at about the time period when Ben Hardy's amazing skills as a custom bike builder was hugely popular in L.A., there were groups of black riders (see related black chrome link below) who would customize their bikes into choppers and the Billy Bob design was popular with these riders before the one Dennis Hopper rode in the movie was seen by the world.


Kevin told me a story about helping Ben Hardy in his shop by working with motorcycle gas tanks, filling them with water under pressure to take out minor dents and how growing up he never realized what a master engineer his grandad was. We both agreed that had his grandad passed on even a fraction of his skills to Kevin (grandson) he would likely be a custom bike builder with his own shop by now.


https://thevintagent.com/2017/07/22/black-chrome/







Link about Ben Hardy:


https://www.rideapart.com/articles/2...-should-kno w/


https://youtu.be/Zu2nK0oCDGI
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-16-2019, 08:46 PM
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That is cool. I'll read h watch the videos when not on my phone.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-16-2019, 09:59 PM
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Very interesting. Thanks for posting.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-17-2019, 05:48 AM
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Don't forget about Cliff Vaughs who worked with Ben Hardy on the bikes. Another notable figure is Sugar Bear who made long forked choppers handle extremely well due to his springer designs fitted with the iconic 'elf shoe' rockers.

If you're into choppers then this is a pretty good read:
https://www.amazon.com/Chopper-Real-.../dp/3899555244
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Last edited by Diogenes415; 01-17-2019 at 05:55 AM.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-17-2019, 05:55 AM
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I agree, thanks for sharing. Those guys definitely deserved recognition!


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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-17-2019, 07:33 AM
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Great bikes
stupid movie
terrible acting
Unwatchable now
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-17-2019, 08:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KCW View Post
Great bikes

stupid movie

terrible acting

Unwatchable now
I haven't watched this in over 20 yrs. I may have to watching it again.

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-17-2019, 08:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KCW View Post
Great bikes
stupid movie
terrible acting
Unwatchable now
I'll give you two out of 4 of those. I disagree that it's a stupid movie and unwatchable. It's not a great movie, and it's slow, but I feel it probably captured the scene of the time period decently. Hippies and all that. I just watched this for the first time about a month ago. The ending was a surprise and really made me go wtf!?

Op, thanks for sharing. Cool stuff.

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-17-2019, 10:06 AM
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The plot and the ending is Peter Fonda giving you the finger for watching his movie.

And Jack Nickelson plays the same character in Cuckoo nest.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-17-2019, 10:07 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diogenes415 View Post
Don't forget about Cliff Vaughs who worked with Ben Hardy on the bikes. Another notable figure is Sugar Bear who made long forked choppers handle extremely well due to his springer designs fitted with the iconic 'elf shoe' rockers.

If you're into choppers then this is a pretty good read:
https://www.amazon.com/Chopper-Real-.../dp/3899555244



Cliff Vaughs was the other half of the team that built the Easy Rider bikes so yeah he deserves to also be recognized, but I didn't meet his grandson, so my focus was on Hardy. I thought the movie Easy Rider sucked and honestly believe that were it not for the coolness of the bikes, the movie would have died soon after it came out. It could be argued that the motorcycles were just movie props— so who cares who built them—however, I would point out they weren't just any movie prop, as the Captain America Chopper (or the one rebuilt one that was crashed in the movie and sold by Dan Haggerty) was sold in auction at a record high ($1,620,000).


I just thought is very cool to learn my co-worker's grandfather built the Easy Rider bikes and wanted to share what I learned about his grandad.


https://www.nationalmcmuseum.org/201...rley-davidson/
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Last edited by House O' Pain; 01-17-2019 at 10:10 PM.
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