Once upon a time, in history, all motorcycle wheels looked alike. In fact, they looked like glorified bicycle wheels. They weren’t much to look at – a hub, spokes, rim and rubber. Very functional, these wheels provided all that was necessary for a motorcycle to roll along on the road, but nothing to add to the beauty of the “iron horse”.
Today, the selection of chopper wheels and rims is endless. Chopper wheels and custom rims, as fancy as any ever seen on any custom vehicle, can be added to your motorcycle. Rims for narrow front wheel and wide rear wheels are easily located in matching patterns.
Five spoke, billet-type, wheels can be as simple in design as five straight, wide anchors from the rim to the hub (see photo to the right). They can be as fancy as curved, Z-shaped, double-strut, and flame pattern wheels. Some are available with only three supporting struts, some have four, but the most popular seem to be the five spoke wheel.
Really fancy custom chopper wheels come in patterns such as skulls, eagles, cheetah, mystic, slayer (an axe like design), Venus (a lady designed into each strut), buccaneer (pirate design), arson (a flame design), Indian (and Indian head design), Gotham (with bats) and many more. Matching pulleys, rotors and sprockets in matching designs complete the styling. Often these wheels come in chrome, anodized black and polished finishes.
Rolling down the road, these wheel sets look truly wicked! If you add the sprocket and pulley, plus rotor sets, the look is a complete theme which the entire custom motorcycle can be designed around.
There is a rising popularity in the solid wheel. These wheels have a hub and a solid plate from hub to rim. They look great with some designs, but do not give quite the custom look of the fancies wheels. However, there are speed advantages and some racing bikes are using them exclusively.
These wheels are not inexpensive, but building a custom bike is not inexpensive. If you want the best possible look, go for the best possible parts. These wheels are sturdy, and will last for the life of you bike, barring any wrecks.
When purchasing custom chopper wheels, be sure to get good advice from your wheel dealer as to the exact care required and any special tire mounting tricks to be aware of to avoid damage to your new chopper wheels. Special cleaning compounds should be used to assure that you will not scratch, ding or otherwise damage the fine surface you are so proud of and have paid a significant amount to add to your bike’s style.
Be certain the tires selected for each chopper wheel are exactly right for the wheel. If you have chosen a narrow front wheel and a fat, wide rear rim, you will need to purchase to widely varying tire sizes. Keep in mind, budget-wise, that the bigger tires will cost you more, but they do provide the “look” of the true custom and a comfortable ride on a custom chopper.
Sometimes you may not want to go with custom chopper wheels, sprockets and rotors, but you can pick and choose to make your scoot look just the way you want. Ray chose a white front rotor to enhance his white stock motorcycle, and the effect is very impressive. This custom effect was obtained for a much lower price than changing to the entire motorcycle or chopper wheel, sprocket and rotor set and looks just as customized. With the white color scheme, it’s just enough but not too much.
Originally the bike came with a standard metal color. Look at the before photo on top and the after photograph on the bottom. See what a big difference in look only a small, rather inexpensive change can provide?
Customizing your bike to become just what you want it to be can be fun. The expense can be spread over time. I wouldn’t be surprised to go see Ray again to learn he has added a white wheel or another accessory to his beautiful motorcycle.
Making changes to your bike, for most bikers anyway, is not about ego – it’s about having fun. Of course, there is a bit of companionable bragging and poking fun at one another, yet it is all just that everyone is happy to enjoy a good day’s riding. Of course in the case of John’s new 2005 banana yellow Harley Davidson FLTRI Road Master waiting to be shipped to him; it could be more than poking fun! No, truly every one is proud for the one who gets a new ride no matter their color choice. Maybe he should add solid yellow chopper wheels and rotor for this one? What do you think?
Note: All chopper rims, wheels, and motorcycle photos used by permission of the motorcycle owners of The Wrecking Crew.