What Ever Happened To IronHorse Motorcycles?

Orange County Choppers, West Coast Choppers and many others were making waves in the early 2000s and custom motorcycles were surging in popularity. Custom bikes aren't new and they weren't back at the turn of the 21st century either. Roots of the custom scene trace all the way back to the 1904 Dreadnought, considered by many to be the first custom bike. While the custom scene didn't disappear completely over the years, it had a resurgence in the 60s with movies like Easy Rider, which featured one of the most famous motorcycles of all time, and in the 90s with the Harley-Davidson chopper from Pulp Fiction

With a clear vision in mind, Tim Edmondson and Bill Rucker started American IronHorse Motorcycle, Co. in 1995, with the aim of bringing custom bikes into the mainstream. American IronHorse produced several well received models such as the Outlaw, Texas Chopper, and the Legend. In 2002, the company achieved $40 million in sales, garnered celebrity clients, and was featured in 80 dealerships throughout the U.S., per FastCompany.com. But the good times wouldn't last, as American IronHorse went from the most significant producer of custom motorcycles, to bankruptcy in 2009.

Waning chopper sales and financial downturn

Motorcycles experienced a jump in sales from 2000 to 2006 before a steep drop starting in 2007 and bottoming out in 2010. It wasn't until 2021 when things began to look up for bikes, as around 550,000 were sold and 2022 saw an increase of over 17%, per Statista. These numbers reflect motorcycles in general, and choppers were a relatively small subset of the market. While television reality shows like American Chopper, popularized the genre briefly to American IronHorse's benefit, it was perhaps a mainstream novelty that faded, much like what happened to Orange County Choppers

The Great Recession of 2008 didn't help American IronHorse as their bikes were seen as a luxury, not a necessity. The public who had borrowed from banking lenders were suddenly unable to stay current on their loans due to a sharp increase in the federal funds rate. Businesses declined, unemployment rose and the real estate market crashed, leaving custom choppers the last thing on anyone's mind.

Dealer uncertainty and investor trouble

American IronHorse motorcycles was feeling the pinch of lackluster sales as the latter 2000s loomed. The company then made the logical step to downsize from their 224,000 square foot factory employing more than 300 people. However, rumors began to spread about the company closing its doors which might have spooked motorcycle dealers previously working with American IronHorse. One report indicated that a portion of the dealers carrying American IronHorse bikes, refused to sell them because of concerns about future warranty fulfillment.

The owners of American IronHorse motorcycles also didn't have a seamless relationship with all of their investors. The company was "forced into involuntary bankruptcy protection by three Dallas investors seeking $120,000." While this amount owed to investors would have been a paltry sum to the company back in 2002, by 2009 it proved to be far more than the manufacturer could produce to satisfy its debts. While the brand is still around is some capacity, selling parts for IronHorse Motorcycles online, it would seem the company's days of making motorcycles are over.