Trevelen Rabanal burst into the chopper scene in the mid-2000's under the Super Co brand and was quickly swept up in the television "build-or-die" chopper chronicles. Before he knew it, he had a big shop in Downtown LA with eight employees and what seemed to be a never-ending amount of bikes to build and wrench on. A few short years later, tides changed and the chopper market flatlined leaving Trev soul searching for what was next.
As of late Trevelen has seemed to almost be in hiding. Rumors of drug abuse, bankruptcy and all sorts of other unfounded shit legends are made of have been flying around the chopper sewing circle. When Wes Drelleshak finally met up with him, he didn't know what to think or expect from the man, so Wes just laid a few questions on Trevelen and let him do the talking.
So, What have you been up to the last few years?
I have been gaining sanity by training in Jujitsu as well as boxing and yoga.
What's your latest bike build?
A '77 Shovel bottom with '47 Knuckle top and a Sugar Bear frontend.
Why did you build this style bike?
You mean a longer bike? I like to build bikes from the '70s influence mainly because it's a self-based style. Plus, I'm a big fan of the Sugar Bear frontend.
Who painted your bike?
I painted it and Sonny Boy (from Road Dog Customs) pin lined it.
Who are your influences in the bike world?
Dick Allan, Sugar Bear, Indian Larry, Paul Cox, Chopper Dave, Cole Foster, Tom Foster, and George Counes.
Who influences you outside of the bike world?
My martial arts instructors Rickson Gracie and Henry Akins. Also Rob Abeyta and The Dalai Lama.
Where do you think the direction of choppers are going?
It's hard to say because of the economy. There are a lot of builds coming out great, but in the same respect nothing is new. Not too many people are trying anything new. Just a bunch of old parts being slapped together. There definitely needs to be more creativity.
What do you think about non-American made parts?
Well, I think it puts us in the position that we are in today and this is not just in the motorcycle industry. Greed driven corporations selling cheaper made parts. There is no more pride in making quality parts and it puts a lot of people out of work.
What do you think of Japanese bike builders?
They're great. They're perfectionists. We gave them the identity from the cool stuff from America. It's funny because the US markets a lot of lame stuff and the Japanese mimic only the cool stuff such as lowriders, surfing, motorcycles, gangsters, etc. They "get it" in other words.
Is there still a Super Co.?
Super Co is not just motorcycles, its doing hot rod and lowrider cars, designing for clothing companies and a lot more. Its whatever I feel like doing at the time. I could even film a documentary if I wanted to. There are no limits on Super Co.
By not having the shop anymore, do you feel like you have more freedom?
For sure. It feels like a gorilla off my back.
Do you still build bikes for people?
There are no customer bikes planned, only personal builds as a hobby.
What do you do for fun?
I train, meditate and work with kids. I do gang and drug interventions. Lets just say I owe the house.
Oh yeah? What do you mean?
From all the bad things I've done in my past. I'm not a very religious person, but I feel like I owe the man upstairs for past occurrences.
We hear you do other types of volunteer work as well?
Everybody everywhere suffers from something, so if I can help with anything I will. Even if it is something so simple as teaching kids how to change spark plugs. Just showing them how to do it and telling them they did a good job goes a long way with these kinds of kids. I loved it when my Pops and I used to help run a boxing gym in LA. We would help kids excel with physical fitness and give them a positive environment to help them get away from their negative daily life.
What are your favorite TV shows.
I despise TV.
What are your top 3 favorite CD's?
I have 4 top CD's: Led Zeppelin 1,2,3 and 4 (laughs).
While we were shooting photos of you, it was mentioned that this might be the last interview. Why is that?
I don't know where I'm going to be in the next 20 years. I've done a lot of TV shows and a lot of interviews, so falling off the radar and doing my own thing for a while sounds pretty good to me.
What is the one question you would ask yourself?
Well, I wish people would get more involved with what is going on right now and the future. We all need to show some empathy or sympathy for our state of being. We all need a necessity change. My question would be: Why are most people not doing their part to preserve what's here?
Is there anyone you would like to openly thank for making you who you are today?
My mother and myself. It took me years to figure myself out, and a lot of people abandoned me at the times I needed them most. My mom stuck by my side and if it weren't for her I would be in jail or dead.
Who you would like to see interviewed next in Street Chopper?
So be it. Look for
Chopper Dave in the next issue.