I cannot, for the life of me, understand the success of these shows documenting an alpha meathead and his meathead minions getting together to build the same GHAT damned motorcycle week after week after week after week. Seriously, what the fuckity fuck? I can fully understand how an hour long documentary about the custom bike-building process would be entertaining and even worth purchasing on DVD if someone were an enthusiast … but a whole season of episodes? Multiple seasons of episodes? MULTIPLE SHOWS ON MULTIPLE CHANNELS WITH MULTIPLE SEASONS OF EPISODES? I’m … you lost me.
I’m sure big fans of motorcyclin’ like all these shows just fine, but the formulaic repetition that these series’ are built upon is nothing short of mind-numbing. The Discovery Channel and (until the Trading Spaces takeover) TLC both offer programming that I value more than the standard fare on other stations, but the motorcycle shows have caused me to watch a lot less TV. It’s the same as the Emmeril Effect. “Oh look. Emmeril is on again for the 9th straight hour. I think I’ll read a book.”
Here is a breakdown of every single episode of every bike-building show ever:
- Project/contest is described. Regardless of whether it’s a charity FDNY bike or a build-off between the two smallest penises in this hemisphere, nothing like it will have ever been attempted before.
- Builders explain their designs in one of exactly two ways:
1. “You know, I like to stick to classic themes. A lot of guys try to mask mistakes and poor quality by covering their bikes in the most ridiculous paint jobs and having huge 8-foot forks, and crap like that. Not me. For me, it’s all about classic lines.”
2. “I didn’t get to where I’m at today by not being an innovator. People know me as someone who takes chances and I’m not about to stop. I really like to push the limits of motorcycle design. A lot of times people are all like, ‘Dude, that will never work,’ and I’m all like, ‘Well, if no one ever tried anything that might not work, then like nothing that might not work might not ever get tried. Or something.’”
- The building process begins and every single person on camera questions whether the design will work while simultaneously crawling as far as they can up the builder’s ass because they are on the builder’s payroll.
- The process rolls along*. Normal hiccups that have been experienced in literally every supplier / manufacturer relationship in the history of commerce are treated as though bird flu is tearing through the shop. “My chrome guy isn’t done with my handle bars yet. This is huge.” Oh, fuck you.
- OH MY GOD. WHERE DID THAT DEADLINE COME FROM? Why is the deadline an all-night blood bath in every single episode? Narrator: “It’s 8:00pm on Day 29. If Chachi doesn’t have his frame to the painter by midnight, he could risk missing his deadline.” I refuse to believe these guys haven’t figured out the process by now, and if every bike comes down to an all-nighter, then they’re all idiots.
- Assembly. Transforming a pile of figured sheet metal, belts, bolts, wires, chains, cables, and pipes into a pristine, custom chopper generally takes about 6 minutes total.
- Narrator: “But the questions is, after all this work, will the bike start?” What do you think?
I actually haven’t ever watched past this point in the show. Lately, I’ve been getting on the treadmill a few minutes before the show starts and my 30-minute run is over before the show ends. The day one of the bikes doesn’t start, the builder misses the deadline, and, as a result, is required to pay a huge late fee, I will begin watching these shows from beginning to end. Or, even more like the real world, if they miss the deadline, they lose the order. Wouldn’t that be some shit? Except, I imagine if they had an extra bike to sell because of a cancelled order, they’d have yokels lined up around the block.
Despite missing the end of every show, I still manage to sleep pretty well at night. I just can’t get over the fact that all these guys have been made rich and famous for stumbling through the same manufacturing process over and over. If the characters were anything other than alpha-male egomaniacs, and they were designing and building something other than motorcycles (let’s say cabinets–custom, but repeatable), their fame would be confined to their ads in the back of This Old House magazine.
Since I’m clearly missing it, I would like for someone to explain the lure to me.
* – At some point the builder’s kid will make an appearance and the builder will make some weak joke about how the kid is either “the real decision maker” or “the hardest working employee in the shop.”