The custom bikes for corporations and rich guys craze may finally be over. Big Bear Choppers is about to tap out.
The owners of BBC, Kevin and Mona Alsop appeared in an episode of a reality television show called Bloomberg The Mentor in early November. The episode was filmed in September. The premise of the show, on a cable network called Bloomberg Television, is to pair the owners of failing businesses with a savvy business veteran. The Alsops were matched with a tycoon named Lyndon Faulkner. They told him how the custom chopper craze had helped them turn their small bike repair shop into an $18 million a year business.
The Alsops also confessed that they needed to sell 10 bikes a month to stay in business but they only had the staff and cash flow to build six. The Alsops also told the world that they have numerous unfilled, prepaid orders for motorcycles. The local paper, the Big Bear Grizzly, has reported that the motorcycle company has unfilled, prepaid orders that date back to January 2011.
Defective Frames And Bad Debts
The company has also received multiple complaints and been sued because of faulty welds in defective motorcycle frames. The Local Better Business Bureau gives the company an “F” rating. BBC “closed for the Thanksgiving holiday” and never reopened.
On December 7 the Grizzly reported that it had “received numerous emails and phone calls from customers who paid thousands of dollars to the custom motorcycle manufacturer for bikes that haven’t been delivered.” The paper quoted one customer who said that losing the money he had paid Big Bear Choppers for his dream bike had “pretty much ruined” his life.
The bike company also owes the city of Big Bear, California at least $147,000 and a local bank more than $100,000. As of December 14, Big Bear Choppers had not filed bankruptcy.
The motorcycle business has been gutted by the depression that started in 2007. Harley-Davidson, sold 349,196 motorcycles in 2006 but only 222,110 last year. Celebrity bike builder Jesse James closed his company, West Coast Choppers in Long Beach, last year. James now lives in Austin, Texas. Another well known custom motorcycle manufacturer, Orange County Choppers of Newburgh, New York remains in business and on television.
Even bikers who wouldn’t ride one of Big Bear Choppers’ motorcycles will miss the company. BBC sponsored an annual run called “Ride the Mountain.” The last run was June 11, 2011.