Chop ’Til You Drop
Albuquerque’s First Annual Bobbers and Choppers show rumbles into town
The logical response to hearing about Albuquerque’s First Annual Bobbers and Choppers show is: What the hell is it? You hear the word “chopper,” and images of helicopters landing in the jungle, or possibly TC from Magnum PI, come to mind. You hear the word “bobber,” and you think of antiquated haircuts, or maybe apples in a water-filled bucket.
Noel Ortiz is happy to give definitions and distinctions.
“Choppers are motorcycles, stripped down ... they go fast as hell. Bobbers have nobby tires, from World War II. ... Guys came home from the war, and they were used to speed,” he says. In movie terms, you’d see a bobber in Indiana Jones, choppers in Easy Rider.
Ortiz, a thick-armed, ponytailed guy who speaks with a heavy New York accent, is sitting and chatting in a booth at the Atomic Cantina, where he works part-time as a door guy. Among his other pursuits (which include working and studying at UNM), he is one of the co-organizers of Bobbers and Choppers, a bike show he’s been talking about with fellow motorcycle enthusiast Trent Schara for three-and-a-half years. If that seems like a long time to organize a one-day event, it’s for good reason. He saw the chopper phenomenon building over the past few years (fueled by TV shows like Biker Build-Off and Monster Garage), and knew that eventually the trend would reach critical mass.
He says there’s enough support now. “We wouldn’t have gotten 35, 40 entries three years ago. This summer, people were asking us to do it.”
For one day only, you can view what Ortiz estimates will be 80 bobbers and choppers lined up along Gold Avenue. There’s music, too, provided by local rock bands Scenester, 500, Dead on Point 5, SuperGiant and Demons. For custom bike owners who enter their rides, Ortiz and Schara have commissioned (appropriately enough) custom trophies crafted from old bike parts.
The Franken-trophies, Ortiz says, are symbolic of what the whole show (super-customized, decades-old bikes and all) is about. Specifically, art.
“Choppers and bobbers are art to the Nth degree,” he says, just before jumping up to check some kid’s ID. “Moving parts, paint jobs, chrome and overall aesthetics. This is the ultimate in artistry in motorcycles.”
Which, for those of you who were looking forward to bobbing for apples or getting Tom Selleck’s autograph, should be some encouragement to show up anyway.