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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

These 5 choppers from the '70s are cool enough to bridge generations | Hagerty Media

Hair and clothing styles rarely age well, but vehicle trends seem to fade only to return a few decades later. The latest evidence of this phenomenon? '70s choppers. Millennials have zero nostalgic connection to the '60s and '70s chopper craze and have no reason to reflect longingly on these highly stylized bikes.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/motorcycles/these-5-choppers-from-the-70s-are-cool-enough-to-bridge-ge...
52 REPLIES 52
MeJ
Intermediate Driver

Yikes. Sorry, but I think those are all hideous.
gagknee
New Driver

The Honda, yeesh. That sharp hunk of metal would be wayyyy too close to my manhood for comfort.
Jew
Pit Crew

The second-most important thing in life is lookin' good. None of these choppers qualify.
drhino
Instructor

Not for me. Never understood this sort of thing. Can’t imagine trying to ride one of these contraptions.
Side note: most folks that ride do wave at other motorcyclists they encounter (including the goofy pointing at the ground that some do). I find that 99% or so of riders with “ape-hangers” don’t wave. I guess they are just too cool. (Or maybe they have cramps in their arms.)
SPURLEE
New Driver

I wave all the time from my chopper and I'm 66 years old and not cool whatsoever! Lol.
silverado
Intermediate Driver

I like the 48 panhead but the rest are ugly.
SPURLEE
New Driver

Not the best selection of choppers here, but it's nice to see some represented.

The leading edge today is a resurgence of "Diggers". These are highly sytled drag bikes for the street, once popular in the '60's. Also making a comeback are Honda 750 4-cylinder choppers. Extremely popular in the '70's, they are gaining traction among collectors today.

I ride several extreme long fork choppers and I can say from experience that, if properly sorted (not quite like these rather rugged examples), they are quite tractable and comfortable. Most who comment negatively about ape hangers have never ridden with them...
spoom
Technician

Exactly, a perfect example would be the fronts by Sugar Bear. One look would tell you, "that thing can't handle". Yet they do, and do it well.
MoparToGo64
Pit Crew

53 Pan Head, best gas tank
gpsuya
Intermediate Driver

Holy Cow. I realize beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but that 1968 Honda CB450 is butt ugly.
Rick2
Detailer

Back in the day I had extended forks on my Yamaha 650 for a while. I put the stock tubes back on so I had a bike again. And no hardtails for me either. But the Triumph looks good, I just wouldn't pay for it.
leduced
Intermediate Driver

Stars & Stripes Forever....
Rob1
Instructor

48 Pan for sure but I would like it painted Capt America tribute colors.Cheers R
llawrence9
Intermediate Driver

In today's traffic more than a rear brake is needed.

Since the frames on the pans that weren't cut aren't too bad, put them back to stock.
Tinkerah
Technician

Yep, I've done my time on them, generally love them, have plenty of stories I could tell, but I'm always disappointed when they're not raked enough to bring the bike back to level again so to my eye none of these are good examples. Thanks to the new comment posting system you are all spared from an image of me riding on one of mine.
Rockem
Intermediate Driver

Love them or hate them one has to admit that they are part of motoring history. And just like the hot rods that were built than they were built to have fun and be a self expression.There were no ten thousand square foot factory style shops.We built them at home in our little garages.
Quincydubois
Pit Crew

Honda 450 chopper. My friend Paul had one. Silly looking. Handling so bad it finally thru him off for broken arms. If you are gonna due a chopper start with a harley and modify the frame. Or expect peeps to laugh rather than admire.
2Classics95N72
Intermediate Driver

Well once again I am going to "Date Myself". I grew up in the period when Harley Davidson were used for "Traffic Control", "Parts Runner" and "Funerals". The chosen "bike" for us "Motorcycle Guys" were (sorry for not being "Politically Correct" but "chicks" - adding to the incorrect "Politically Correct" comment just didn't ride MCs other than being on the back, ooops, there I go again, to continue); Triumphs, Nortans, BSA or a Royal Enfield.

They were light, quick and very easy to "Chop". My first "Chopper" was an early (60s) Triumph and man did I "chop" that. I put that "Hard Tail" (terrible ride) on, the "King and Queen" seat; "Straight Pipes" and being young, short of cash simply put the "Tube Extension" on - a true "Don't Do That" process (tube extension), but hey; "It looked cool".

Today; I like the Triumph Choppers and even (hope none of my old MC Dudes are reading this) the "Rice Burners" (many will know what I mean).

I've seen a few of those CBX 6 cylinder choppers and those "6 Cylinders" really look cool.

As for the HDs, just sold my "Road KIng", not doing much touring anymore and yes I am in the market for a "Classic" English bike.

OK, that's my "2 Cents-Old Guy" comments.
binkle
New Driver

These might be cool if you're 6. Otherwise they look like perfectly good motorcycles that were ruined.
mrhammered34
Pit Crew

the town I lived in overnight became a hangout for the Chicago Outlaws, buddies of mine were building choppers and bobbers in there garages and shops, when the outlaws arrived they broke into garages all over town and stole everyone's build, one of my best friends had a custom shop in town doing high end paint work, the outlaws brought him a custom chopper and he agreed to do the paint job, he wasn't working fast enough and one day they paid him a visit, I was at the shop but wasn't visible when I herd them tell my buddy he had two weeks to finish or they would kill him, those kinds of bikes bring back bad memories .
GRP_Photo
Instructor

Yeah. My van was stolen in '73 in Atlanta right after the police raided the Outlaws' hangout. They found my van. When I went to pick it up, all of the Outlaws' bike were in the impound.
spankie1000
New Driver

I dont think you can appreciate the way it was back in the 60s.Panheads were the newer bike and lots of us ran old Knuckleheads.You could buy a basket case Knuck for $1000 bucks,slap it together and have a cool chopper.Before the Captain America it was crazy colors,coffin tanks and crazy front ends.Then the Captain came along and changed everything.Ive had my 50 pan Captain now for years and it garnered more attention than anything else I ever drove.Twelve over front end with that rolling chassis and the pan motor and tranny.I still ride it today and still love the high fives,fist pumps and of course the ladies.Certainly every man I saw in a 4 door with his kids at the light had wished that he had one of those when he had the chance.
HondaCollector
Pit Crew

I love to ride motorcycles and a couple of years ago I had a collection of 60s and 70s Hondas which I loved to ride. Some of the choppers look cool but I can't imagine riding a bike with NO rear suspension. Hit one bad pot hole and you're picking gravel from your backside.
GRP_Photo
Instructor

You don't understand. The rear suspension is in the seat.
Lou2
Pit Crew

If you’ve ever road an early Triumph and wrapped your fingers around the grips you would understand the Triumph.They weren’t made for everyone.The Triumph Bonneville with an extended springer front end with no rake,so it stands high and proud, was a mans bike that is and was the only exception to the Harley.
The Stars and Stripes are all wrong for that bike.Ape hangers are a plus and the king and queen also didn’t hurt ,but you could leave the rest of the bike stock and outside of a Harley you had the look and feel of the late 60s early 70s.
My first legally ridden bike was a 68 Bonnie as above mentioned.That was in 72 turned 16 And bought it from a friends brother for $600.
I’ve had many bikes since but that 650 Bonnie was my favorite until my last bike which was an 87 FXRP that I sold about a year ago.
HELIDR
Pit Crew

Still have my original purchase '67 Bonneville. Think it was like $1250. At one point, I was gonna put on a springer front end and rake it out, but never did that thank God! Tried a hard tail w/ aluminum struts for a very short time and didn't like...Dr. John
monkee
Pit Crew

Oh boy, these two young men need guidance.
Redvette2
Intermediate Driver

Had a badass 1948 Harley Panhead chopper back in my invincible and reckless days. The whole neighborhood knew when you were going for a ride. Guys would stare with envy, old ladies would turn away and kids would cry. Railroad track crossings would really get your attention and if you forgot to turn the distributor timing when you started it you got an extra thrill.
fast911ray
New Driver

Back then I was shortening forks, fitting triple disc conversions, clip-on's, solo backstop racing seats, Dunstall reverse cone silencers and 6-7 gallon alloy tanks. There is/was no such thing as a 'Cool chopper' !

Fast911Ray
wavan
New Driver

that triumph is not a 1967, more like 57.
RobertLLR
Intermediate Driver

Spot on. It's clear from the primary cover and the un-finned rocker boxes alone that this is pre-unit Triumph motor.
1950Pan
New Driver

I finally talked a client out of his 1950 Pan. It was raked, greasy, and rusty with extended hydraulic forks. It reminded me of my old '66 Harley that I stupidly sold many years ago. I also sold a '66 Triumph back then that I wished I had back.
The best we can tell, the frame is from a knucklehead since the legs were straight, no frame numbers and the center post had to be dented in for the motor to fit. Since then, I have had the frame neck cut and put back to stock, rebuilt the motor and trans, replaced the forks with a modern black springer with a disk brake and repainted everything. I kept the foot clutch and the aftermarket "under the leg" hand shifter with a cast bronze skull shift knob. This thing is a work of art in addition to being fun to ride.
77GL
Intermediate Driver

You have to remember this trend was just before everybody was jacking up now classic muscle cars with air shocks and hideously wide tires. Not sure what the attraction to hideous handling to both might have been?
Fatcat32
Intermediate Driver

Wow! This topic really drew the comments. I was a hard core custom chopper guy in the late sixties. Had a WLA frame, knuckle gusher for push, raked head and girder front end. Did a couple of scooters for friends. And our god was Arlen Ness. A chopper was a statement of your ideals in life. It wasn't just a piece of machinery. It was an entire lifestyle. I only see that in the 1953 Panhead. But then, as others here have said, it is all what you like.
renchero63
Pit Crew

You do an article on 70s choppers and not one mention of the shovelhead? the last Panhead was in 1965! People made a lot of noise about the AMF bikes of the 70s, but the shovelhead was a big improvement on the Pan. I had a 73 Superglide back in the day and just last year I sold my 74 shovel.
A great bike. Never had any problems with either and you can't beat the sound. Especially compared to the newer bikes which are mostly ridden by old farts with too much time and money on their hands.
BTW, I sold the Harley and bought a Triumph. The car, that is. At my age it's easier to sit in. though difficult to get in.
GRP_Photo
Instructor

People didn't build choppers with new engines; they built them out of junkyards. Just like hot rods. A shovel would've been way too expensive for the choppers I saw in the 70s.
spoom
Technician

No offense, but that '53 pan doesn't have a coffin tank. That's a prism 😉
964c4
Intermediate Driver

The Triumph chopper engine was made prior to 1962. A 1967 Triumph motorcycle would of had a unit construction engine assembly.
Hammerinhank
New Driver

Great minds think alike. I was about to make the same comment.
OkJustOneMore
Intermediate Driver

Now these days everyone wants to be a wannabe Biker so they dress the part and pretend.
OLDERbastard1
Detailer

So long as you are "In the Wind", I don't give a **bleep** what you ride!
HELIDR
Pit Crew

Agreed...
GRP_Photo
Instructor

The '49 panhead is the only one that comes close to the choppers I saw back then in Atlanta. The rest are not particularly attractive to me.
GRP_Photo
Instructor

Whatever happened to the "Amen Savior" frame?
Ironworker1955
New Driver

53 Panhead I built bikes and ran no front brake !🇱🇷
chrlsful
Instructor

liked the XLCH almost as it was. A '69 w/a springer would B perfect. Some 1 take a new bike like that, customize it a lill, rip off the 54 inch jugs & put on the 1200? No ape hangers or other weird stuff, yeah~
Sk1959
Intermediate Driver

I like the ‘48 pan head best but I also like the look of the extended rake on the ‘53.
TonyT
Instructor

I inherited my late uncle's 1971 750 Honda chopper, and have tried unsuccessfully to sell it. Since these things are becoming desirable, maybe now someone will drag this thing out of my shop!
Jay_M
New Driver

As a rider of 70's maachines I would not be caught dead on any of that junk.

All thw Kawi & Suzuki triples are way coolers as is the CB400F, CB550F.

For 4 strokes the Suzuki GS1000/1100 2v-4v are the best bikes of the decade.
The Yamaha 2 strokes oped the 70's as the Suziki 4 strokes brought this decade
to a memorable end.

I had several GS1100 w/ bigh bore & all the rest & they caouoght go over 170 mph!
And RD-350 that whopped on bikes 3 times its size. Any way if i was health enuff to ride
it would be a 250-400cc 2 stroke anything!