This bike represents an upbeat era when choppers were kings and the Discovery Channel made it so.

We are going to attempt to tell the story of the bike, the shows, and the esteemed owner, Hugh “The Chopper” King, the producer/director.

Hugh actually worked for Easyriders, as the video editor/director, while I watched over the magazines. But he moved on to Original Productions. Motorcycle Mania was the first motorcycle show and I got a call. “Who should I recommend?” Dave Nichols asked. I said Jesse James, and the rest is history.

“Tom Beers, the boss of Original Productions, came to me,” Hugh said. “He asked me if I knew anything about motorcycles, and I said I knew everything about motorcycles, which of course I didn’t.”

“I had worked for one year at Easyriders, “Hugh continued, “doing Easyriders home videos, back when Keith Ball was the editor. These videos really captured the hard core, get down, biker lifestyle. So when Discovery came to us about a custom Harley show, I was all over it.”

The industry started flying and the ratings for these shows went through the roof. During filming at an Easyriders granddaddy bike show in Columbus, the Discovery Channel guys interviewed me and they asked what sorta chopper show I would suggest.

I told them about a bike build-off series that would culminate in a test ride from one wild location to another. Tom Beers and Original Productions suggested the East vs. West aspect to Discovery and they signed off on the notion with a competition between Rodger Bourget and Billy Lane.
“It was East Coast vs. West Coast, Old School vs. more streamlined,” said Hugh, “and it would end at a small out of control event in North Carolina, the Smoke Out by Commander Edge, the magnificent creator and founder of the wildest bike run on the planet.”

“Roger built his beautiful machine in honor of his daughter,” said Hugh, “who was killed on a motorcycle on the previous New Year’s Eve. It was very moving. His bikes are mean, man, and they run. The guys rode like bats out of hell, at over 100 mph a lot of the time, from Florida to North Carolina. At one point, Billy hit a big pothole, and flew so high into the air I thought we were going to lose him. That episode was really well received, which was enough for Discovery to order four more, and then seven after that, and 11 after that. There were a total of 44 Biker Build-offs.”

Hugh and I talked from time to time during the seasons. The flurry of action was high and the drive-by builders to be celebrities flew over the top. I remember riding my 2003 Road King to the Laughlin River Run. Hugh invited me to, I believe, the unveiling of this bike, but as usual, I got lost with a girl in the desert and never made it. While at Hot Bike, I attended with my crew one of the season finales to celebrate the builders and their accomplishment. The King presided over the festivities.

In the next episode, we will cover more of the extreme history of the famous Biker Build-offs and the Chopper King. Then we will cover this creation by most of the major Build-off players including Billy Lane, Arlen Ness, Chica, Eddie Trotta, Kendall Johnson, Mitch Bergeron, Russell Mitchell and Joe Martin. Hang on for the next report.

This chopper may end up on eBay, but if you’re seriously interested reach out to Hugh King at:

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