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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Visit to Orange County Choppers - Road Trip

The regular monthly gathering of Chapter NJ-F (F Troop) of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA) was held at the Empire Diner in Freehold, NJ on July 27, 2008. After the gathering, many members and guests rode to the Orange County Choppers (OCC) headquarters in Newburgh, NY.

We rode in three groups, each with a leader and drag rider. Most members communicated via CBs to keep the groups together and informed.

I had seen the guys from OCC in June, 2004 when I was at the Americade Rally in Lake George, NY. At that time they were becoming well known through their TV show, American Chopper.

The motorcycle community was split as to whether they were amateurs who got lucky or genuine biker craftsmen who knew how to create a masterpiece chopper. I think that most were amazed that they caught on so fast and made a bundle of money doing what backyard mechanics had already been doing for 30 years.

Sometimes when I attend a motorcycle rally, something unexpected happens. At Americade 2004, I found out that the Orange County Chopper (OCC) cast from the Discovery Channel's American Chopper (now on The Learning Channel), was going to be in the area. This was not an official Americade event. It was thought up by the town fathers of Bolton Landing, a town 10 miles north of Lake George. They felt that they needed to do something to attract some of the 60,000 or so Americaders and get them to spend some money in their town. Turns out that a few emails and a phone call did the trick and the whole cast of Orange County Choppers (OCC) showed up for a 4-day run to meet with their fans and sell a few autographed T-shirts.

The Teutuls: Paul Sr, Paul Jr, and Mikey have to choose carefully their visits to rallies to allow them time to build the theme bikes required on their TV show. They skipped Laconia that year and instead did Bolton Landing where they brought 20 of their most popular theme bikes. Here's a picture of Paul Jr signing my OCC T-shirt. My wife, Jane, stood in a long line to get these shirts signed.

The Teutuls were just getting started then. They still had a small shop but millions of fans were watching them on TV every week to see that next theme bike being built and to hear the yelling and screaming as Paul Sr and Paul Jr clashed.

Years passed and they built a bigger and bigger reputation. Now they were in a huge building in Newburgh, NY that contained a showroom of their merchandise and products. Tucked in the back of the building is a small factory where their choppers are built in the glare of TV lights and multiple cameras taping everything going on in the creative process including the antics of the Teutuls and their employees.

Many motorcyclists now visit the facility. It's almost a motorcycle mecca. In fact, our group from New Jersey was only a small part of the riders present that day.

I took a few pictures of the new digs for OCC. The place is quite impressive. I have written descriptions and captions for each picture. Take a look.

If you'd like to know more about choppers, take a look at my Choppers article, my Chopper Gallery, and my Choppers subject. I also wrote a book review, Orange County Choppers: The Tale of the Teutuls - A Motorcycle Book Review.

If you decide to take a trip to Orange County Choppers, you won't be disappointed. Just don't expect to see any of the Teutuls there on Sunday, the day we chose to visit.

First picture ©2008 Jane Ann Kern; second picture ©2004 Walter F. Kern

4 comments:

Forrest Gump said...

Wow! I didn't know it was that big. Is the spot they show on TV just the custom area location or is that part of the main facility? That seems like it was a cool trip. Nice pictures.
Thanks.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Walt:

If you hear a rumor that I m not the brightest bulb on the string, don't dispute it. I never realized that you maintained an actual blog, until I read the fine print today. I can't believe all the cool stuff I've been missing out on.

Your report on OCC was very interesting to me on a number of levels. But the one issue that you did not address was your personal assessment of the OCC folks. I did like your line though that that have made it big doing what backyard mechanics have been doing for 30 years.

I am going to be spending some time reading past chapters on this blog. You offer fact where I deal only with conjecture. There are times when I feel like a literary snake-oil merchant.

Fondest regards to you and Jane,
The Mighty Vindak8r
Jack Riepe

Walter Kern said...

When I wrote this article, I had no idea how new this OCC headquarters was. It was dedicated in April, 2008 and the NY Giants bike was finished and unveiled at the ribbon cutting ceremonies. In fact, the building of the NY Giants bike and the ribbon cutting ceremonies were shown on TLC TV recently. I just found it on my Tivo.

windycityguy said...

The Orange County Choppers Gladiator Garage Works bike will be on display at the upcoming Chicago Auto show. I heard the bike will be displayed by a local Gladiator garage company. So if any one else is interested head to the Auto show Feb 12th - 21st.