"How would you describe this bike?" I asked, showing the blinged-out lump of gold metalwork to my fabulous coworker Eric Ellis, editor of HOT BIKE, our evil-excuse me, esteemed-big sister publication.
He stared at it for several seconds. "Ornate," he finally said. "There's a lot of etching on it. It's digger-style..."
Thus began my attempt to chronicle the contents of the May 1983 edition of STREET CHOPPER, which offered a hell of a lot more than just the gleaming digger from the '83 Oakland show. Another bike with fancy etching appeared on these pages: Dave Perewitz's Blue Streak custom, which, according to the article, rivaled Picasso's blue period. A 74-inch engine gave the bike plenty of go, while the mural artwork-including a Conan the Barbarian-type warrior holding up a sword-was exotic enough to make the front cover.
Paul Garson's latest story started out intriguingly: "[You're] in a country that frowns on modified motorcycles, but when you see a Harley custom featured in a magazine...you have just got to have it." Thus began the tale of Aki Sawata of Japan, and his journey to Ron Simms at Bay Area Custom Cycles. He wanted a Harley so badly that he wired the money to BACC and carried on most of his conversations in broken English-but by gosh, he got the bike he wanted. The only problem? Japan's strict import laws. He got around it by registering the bike as a work of art.
There was a call for sponsorship for drag racer Kathy Crystal, one of the best-and apparently prettiest, as the article pointed out-riders out there. "I'm a freak," she said when asked why she did it. "I couldn't go fast on the street and get away with it, so after a ride on a friend's 1000 Kaw one day at the track, I decided it was what I wanted to do." Kathy raced on despite a broken shoulder obtained in a 125 mph fall-something that might make even the biggest, toughest, manliest riders think twice about getting back on a bike.
This issue was a little low on tech, but made up for it in all sorts of entertaining advertisements. For example, did you know that once upon a time you could obtain STREET CHOPPER placemats? This discovery came when my eye was drawn to the cunningly worded ad with "Get it on!" splashed across the top. But really: placemats!I say we modernize the idea and put out some mousepads. Any takers? We also checked out IBCO International's "Eyeglass Helmet," designed to allow the helmet to be worn without the rider needing to remove his glasses.
Besides all of this, Vance & Hines-already well-known for "rewriting worldwide quarter mile record books"-came up with a motor for "the long, hard, grueling distances of road racing." They did it with with a "radically redesigned" '82 Suzuki Katana, paving the way for greater success to come.
And remember February's issue recapping the planet of bikers? Obviously there was something of a theme going on in the STREET CHOPPER offices of yore-the back cover featured motorcycles...in space.
As for the gold bike, well-I decided to just call it shiny.