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THE CHOPPER OF CHOPPERS FOR SALE, Part 2

The Secret Meeting in the Desert with 10 of the Best Builders in the Country

By K. Randall Ball and Kim Peterson
4/29/2017


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The story of Hugh King and his grand television career spanning four decades has been told over and over. In fact he just completed another adventure for the History Channel in the cold snowy north, but the series is a secret.



He has only one motorcycle and it’s this one built by 10 of the greatest builders of our time in a hidden desert location in an old machine shop outside of Laughlin, Nevada and across the Colorado River from Bullhead, Arizona.
 
“They built the bike under the constraints of a very short deadline,” said Hugh.



The master builders included Arlen and Cory Ness, Matt Hotch, Chica, Eddie Trotta, Hank Young, Kendall Johnson, Mitch Bergeron, Russell Mitchell and Joe Martin. Just up the dusty road roared the 2004 Laughlin River Run with all the temptations of Casino action including amazing food, entertainment, whiskey and girls. But the brothers stayed focused, almost.



They faced a daunting 72-hour deadline. Each builder was recruited only three weeks earlier and given a specific assignment to supply a particular specialty to the project.
 
“Desperate men, united by a rebel spirit,” said Kim Peterson, Senior Editor at Easyriders, “ worked together as a team for Discovery Channel’s Great Biker Build-Off X.”



Just 72 hours out they gathered at Dan Jackson’s Fort Mojave, Arizona, Desert Powder coat shop. Arlen Ness was assigned the shop foreman title, while Kendall Johnson, engine and trans builder. Mitch Bergeron handled frame and billet down tube construction. Russell Mitchell dialed in the handlebars and controls.

The builder's names are machined into the rotors.
The builder's names are machined into the rotors.






Matt Hotch hand built the fenders and the wild gusset under the frame neck. Cory Ness was responsible for paint and accessories procurement. Chica hand fabbed the gas tank, "but Johnny Chop helped," said Hugh, and Eddie Trotta worked over the forks and front-end trees. Hank Young built the oil bag, Joe Martin the nasty pipes and pinstriping. And a late arrival Danny Gray supplied the hand made manta ray-covered custom seat—amazing.





The show had a design, but the King was only part of the scheme. “I wanted to depict the torment of the artists under extreme conditions.” Little did he know the bike would be turned over to him after he tortured the builders in the desert with hot iron pokers.



“I wanted to convey what the process and skill level involved is in the making of a high-end custom motorcycle, and to show the builders lifestyle as well as the psychology of what drives the man who builds and creates.”





As the executive producer sat overlooking the mayhem of the final assembly while fanned by Vegas hookers and sipping long Island Iced teas he wondered if the concept would work.



“It didn’t at first,” Hugh said. “There was a lot of tension, people went off in different directions. All of a sudden, it just coalesced. You could feel the energy in the room. Everybody was suddenly working together, headed in the right direction. I think Arlen had a tremendous impact as the shop leader and guiding light in a dark tunnel of torment. It was touch and go for a while. If one of them had walked, they would have all walked, but they didn’t. The rebels held together.”



 
See the next episode for more details about the Chopper King’s Chopper, which is now for sale to the highest bidder. "My one burning desire now, however, is to buy the X Bike back from myself," said the King with a tear in his eye.


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