10 Minutes with The Teutuls

The hosts of American Chopper

The hosts of American Chopper on tight lines, misleading ad lines, Vietnam and finding the French a trifle difficult to get along with

What were you doing before the TV show?

Paul Sr: We were building bikes before the show and we were pretty successful, too. I started the steel business in 1972 with a partner who was a motorcycle enthusiast, so I started riding bikes with him and really got into them. I started building choppers for myself on the side, then people approached me for ideas and stuff.

What do you love about motorcycles?

Paul Sr: I guess it's the freedom thing,
being able to ride out in the open. There's just something about it.

What makes a motorcycle beautiful?

Paul Sr: The flow of the bike, the lines.
Paul Jr: For me, nice lines - and it doesn't necessarily have to be a chopper. As far as the kind of bikes you get over here, I think the old BSAs and Triumphs are the nicest bikes in this area. You don't see a lot of choppers, but those are definitely the cleaner, simpler looking bikes.

Do you try and make the bikes you build clean and simple too?

Paul Jr: To a certain degree. A lot of the bikes we do are themed, that's what
separates us from everyone else. We try to keep them with nice tight lines, but still a lot of theme going on. Which is harder than just building a clean bike - anyone can build a clean chopper: bolt on the tank, fit a fender, black paintjob... but we take it a step further.

Performance-wise, what aspects do you look for in a bike?

Paul Jr: If you really want phenomenal power and handling, then you'd go with a cafŽ racer or something like that. If you just want to kick back and cruise for the day, you might want a Harley. But if you just want to cruise around town and feel good about it, you gotta have a chopper. It's a different feeling from any bike you'll ever ride. Choppers have this feeling to them that
is completely different to anything that's mass manufactured. They're unique.

Innovation is very important to you. What kind of things are you into?

Paul Sr: It's important to keep ahead of the game. We've a lot of equipment now so we're into designing a lot of our own stuff - wheels, exhausts... We can just about build any part of the bike now, and we can style it the way we want. We're bringing everything in-house - I'm never satisfied with stuff that's been outsourced. When we do it
ourselves we have it exactly the way we want it. And it's all our own work.
Paul Jr: We have the ability now, we haven't always had that. We're expanding with the business, getting better.

Do you ever get anyone who's disappointed with the bike?

Paul Sr: Never! We've always exceeded the expectations of people we built bikes for.

What project are you most proud of?

Paul Sr: The POW bike. It represents the era that I came from, which is the Vietnam war. I was in Vietnam in the merchant marines. The bike gives recognition to the veterans. The whole bike is designed around everything it represents - it has barbed wire on it, and graves with all the
names on the fender, the whole scenario.

Do you have some bikes that you keep as museum pieces?

Paul Jr: Yeah, we must have 30 bikes that can go into a museum and we're doing
that right now. We're getting ready to
build a museum/restaurant facility
where you can walk right through and watch us working through a one-way glass, the whole
OCC experience.
Mikey (suddenly wakes up): Like a Jimi Hendrix album!

So will you still argue with everyone watching?

Paul Jr: Oh no, we're shy. We only do that
in front of 10 million people a week!

What does it feel like when you finish a project bike and ride it for the first time?

All of them: It's very rewarding.
Paul Sr: It feels brand new everytime.
Paul Jr: Every bike has a unique flavour.
It's great to unveil a bike to the customer.

Mikey, what are your thoughts?

Wonderful! I'm less of a biker than these guys, I like riding scooters and Harleys.
I'm pretty pissed with the quote on the Discovery Channel ad where I supposedly said, "Bikes are good, but doughnuts are better." That's kind of demeaning. They paid for the ad, but I still feel like f*****g killing somebody. If you make the quote on the show and they use it, that's fine. But when they improvise, that's not good. I don't even like doughnuts. If only they'd said Italian food... but even that would be insulting, because I never said anything.

This is your first time abroad, so what did you think of Europe?

Paul Jr: Ireland was so beautiful. I'm
definitely going back there on holiday. We come from New York, where we can eat really well, so we weren't sure what to expect from the food in the UK. But it's been great. I especially like fish and chips.
Paul Sr: We went to France, too - nice place and all, but I didn't care for the people.
They were all real snobby.

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