With creations like the "Undertaker" and "666 El Diablo," Jesse James and his West Coast Choppers team have become TV stars and automotive icons by turning average motorcycles into pimped-up machines.
But California air regulators announced Friday a $271,250 fine against James, the co-producer and host of "Monster Garage" and "Motorcycle Mania," saying that 50 of his custom-built choppers ran afoul of California's clean-air rules.
California Air Resources Board officials said their inspectors found that the monster bikes sold between 1998 and 2005 did not have state certified emissions equipment on their exhaust and fuel systems.
The last I heard, the only emissions equipment actually required on a motorcycle in California is a charcoal canister. I think Jesse's sleds are all 'special construction', as opposed to being actually manufactured, so I don't know if compliance falls on him, or on his customers, who seem to get license and registration OK out of DMV. Perhaps we'll find out.
Note to Jesse: use old bikes that don't need any of that emissions shit. Use their titles and 'recycle' their ID numbers to the new bikes. You know how...
By the way, there's nothing 'average' about his bikes. He's a fine metalsmith, and builds 'em from scratch out of flat metal and tubing. I don't particularly care for the 'stretch' style that's all the rage these days, but I do like his minimalist approach. Choppers used to be made by taking stuff off to lose weight and gain speed. A lot of so-called 'choppers' these days are just a different kind of 'dresser'. Jesse stays with the original concept of not having any more than you need to get down the road.
Just as an aside, most bike riders get enough time on 'stretchers' that they don't have to go buy 'em...heh.
I like Jesse. He's probably not what most folks would consider a 'typical' California guy, but speaking with 48 years of experience in the bike world out here, he is.
He has a tattoo on his palm: "Pay up, sucker!". I like that.
To sum Jesse up in one sentence: "Long Beach bad boy makes good, marries movie star." Just livin' the California dream...
Good article. Go read.