5 Of The Worst Custom Motorcycles From American Chopper

Orange County Choppers (OCC) is the sometimes troubled, but always entertaining motorcycle fabricator chronicled on the reality television show "American Chopper" for over a decade. OCC was founded by the patriarch of the Teutul family, Paul Teutul Sr., during the late-1990s in Montgomery, New York. 

Paul Sr. always loved building and riding choppers — long and low customized motorcycles —  but was forced to put his passion on hold in order to build a successful metalworking and steel supply business, as well as raise a family — some of whom would become involved with OCC.

As "American Chopper" viewership exploded, many companies sought out OCC to build them a themed motorcycle. It was a form of advertising for the businesses, and as a bonus, they received a rolling promotional item. Sure, some industries and/or company color schemes might not lend themselves well to the flanks of a bespoke chopper. Still, clients were willing to pay extravagant amounts of money for an OCC creation, and were therefore accommodated. 

Some of the more revered creations that came out of the "American Chopper" show include a Statue of Liberty bike plated with real copper from the actual statue, a Fire Bike commemorating first responders at the September 11 tragedy, and a technology packed bike for Intel which also featured a four-cylinder engine — unusual for a chopper — to accentuate its then-new quad core processor. 

Unfortunately, not all bike builds were as aesthetically pleasing as some of the aforementioned custom bikes.

Santa Bike

The Santa Bike that was built on "American Chopper" during the first season is the motorized equivalent of an ugly Christmas sweater. 

To begin, it's something that's only appropriate to ride perhaps a few weeks each year. It was also quite tacky, with handlebars shaped like reindeer antlers, wheel spokes that emulate candy canes, and faux flourishes to make it look like a sled. Did we mention that the whole deal is covered with snowflakes and Christmas ornaments?

Besides the holiday-specific touches, this bike also features a massive upswept exhaust system with finned tips and an extra large Cushman scooter-style seat with metal rails. While the bike is irrefutably garish, at least it was used for the forces of good when a custom-made sleigh-on-wheels was attached, and the whole ensemble was used to deliver toys to children in need. 

Speaking of toys, the Santa Bike was reproduced as a 1/10 scale model by ERTL, so if you're feeling the Christmas spirit year-round, you can have your own copy.

Australia Bike

Australians are known for their love of consuming Vegemite, but instead, they got a large portion of cheese with OCC's Ozbike. As a precursor to being asked to build the bike, the "American Chopper" show tracked the Teutul family's visit to the land down under. 

In a joint venture between the Australian Tourism Board and Discovery Channel, our intrepid heroes visit the Sydney Harbor Bridge, Bondi Beach, learn to surf, and hold a koala bear. Finally, during a motorcycle ride with none other than Russell Crowe, the actor requests Orange County Chopper to build an Australia-themed bike to be auctioned for charity.

The end result is about what you might expect. The wheel spokes are made to look like boomerangs, and there's a miniature replica of the Sydney Harbor Bridge sitting atop the rear fender — yes, seriously. The engine's air filter cover is a kangaroo crossing road sign, and on the opposite side of the engine is an Australian flag. The oil tank has a mural of the Great Barrier Reef, and the primary belt cover is a freakin' surfboard.

Upon completion in 2007, the Australian chopper was sold for $300,000 at a charity event. Approximately five years later, the kangaroo cruiser resold as part of a Barrett-Jackson auction for less than one-tenth of its original price.

Dragon Bike

To commemorate its new showroom in Beijing, the OCC crew set out to build an Asian-inspired chopper, and you just know this thing will have more kitsch than a Chinese restaurant. The focal point is a 10-foot-long, gold-colored dragon intertwined with the frame of the motorcycle, including "arms" that conceal the front swingarm suspension.

The larger parts of the dragon, like its legs and torso, are constructed from foam with carbon-fiber overlay, but the more detailed sections like the head and tail were 3D printed. According to Insider, 3D printing the dragon's head alone took 82 hours, and had to be done twice because the first piece was damaged prior to installation.

Mechanically, the Dragon Bike is pretty traditional with a 100 cubic inch V-twin engine and six-speed transmission. However, because the dragon's body occupies the space where a fuel tank would normally sit, the fuel cell was relocated to the rear fender area of the bike. The exact whereabouts of the Dragon Bike today aren't certain, but it was last seen on display inside a shopping mall.

Schussler '57 Chevy Bike

In 2007, "American Chopper" documented an outrageous build for Steve Schussler, a Minnesota-based purveyor of theme restaurants. Apparently, Schussler and the Teutuls were at one time in discussions to build a chain of OCC-themed eateries across the country. The Great Recession that followed shortly thereafter probably put an end to the restaurant endeavor, and for that we should be somewhat grateful, but the relationship did spurn an incredibly gaudy motorcycle.

It seems that Schussler owned a 1957 Chevrolet convertible and wanted a two-wheel counterpart. Believe it or not, '57 Chevy inspired motorcycles have been built before, perhaps most famously by customizer Arlen Ness. However, the OCC creation wasn't as well executed, proportional, or integrated into natural flow of the bike's frame.

The finished product looks like a narrow, half-scale '57 Chevy indeed, like one of those coin-operated children's rides that you used to see outside supermarkets. Reportedly, the rear bodywork has a functional trunk, but the deal killer is the replica Chevy's front end just suspended in space high above the front suspension forks.

Off-road trike

In 2011, "American Chopper" hosted a three-way bike building competition, with the winner to be determined by audience vote. Besides Paul Teutul Sr. representing Orange County Choppers, there were two other designers in Paul Teutul Jr., representing his own new company in Paul Jr. Designs, as well as Jesse James — formerly of West Coast Choppers and "Monster Garage" reality show fame.

For his part, James chose a clean, classic chopper design except for a frame constructed from stainless steel. Paul Jr. decided on a design modeled after a World War II P-51 Mustang fighter plane, and OCC selected a truly bizarre snowmobile-like all-terrain vehicle.

Why did the OCC patriarch choose such an off-the-wall creation that really didn't fit the theme of the competition and therefore was unlikely to win? According to Paul Sr., he felt that he was vilified in the public eye for the infighting at OCC and therefore, wouldn't receive votes anyway because of lack of popularity, so the company might as well build something outrageous.

Outrageous, it was. The bike required that its rider had to virtually lay down flat to pilot, it had tank treads instead of front tires, and was powered by twin electric motors. For good measure, the machine also had a pair of flamethrowers fitted to the front. After a copious amount of trash talking and gags between the three teams, Paul Jr. and his P-51 Mustang-themed bike was declared the winner.