Hardcore, Innovation is a very basic concept. You either set the trends, or you follow them. Rarely is there room for interpretation of this most basic of concepts, especially when it comes to the motorcycle industry. You are either willing to take the risks associated in defining your own sense of style and design, setting yourself apart from the pack...or you become one of those guys you see hunting for his bike in a sea of thousands of other cookie-cutter bikes. It's usually one or the other. You can see the difference in such innovative builders and designers as Joe Martin of Martin Bros. Bikes, Matt Hotch, and Billy Lane. Soon we may be adding a couple of newcomers to that list of unique innovators. JC and Jimmie Lee Coen have focused their sights on setting new trends in motorcycle design. These two brothers have been building bikes for friends and customizing their own rides for more than 22 years. They were the "go-to" guys in their circle when it came to motorcycles. Recently they decided to get serious about designing the kind of bikes they want to ride...and so was born Three Two Choppers.
One-of-a-kind Attitude ...
By: Michael Owens
I ran across JC and Jimmie Lee in a little nondescript tent at the ROT Rally in Austin, Texas in 2005. I had been walking the grounds, meeting up-and-coming builders and checking out their designs. Rarely do you find a bike design that just knocks your boots off, but the bikes these guys put out are some of the most unique designs I have seen in some time. As JC put it "You either love them, or you hate them. There's not much middle ground." Spending some time with these two guys proved his point right away. As we talked about the two bikes they had at the ROT Rally, a flood of people came through to check them out. Comments ranged from total disbelief to amazement as I watched the reactions from the people in the tent. "We're much more about being an of-the-people type builder," says Jimmie Lee. "We're just a couple of guys who love building motorcycles and we decided to take the chance and build what we wanted to see in a cool, custom bike."
It's a big risk from designing bikes as a hobby to starting your own company. The chances of failure can be enough to keep most people from ever taking a chance; especially when you realize that success or failure lies in your very own hands.
When asked about the name, Three-Two Choppers, Jimmie Lee and JC smile and tell me that the joke is "3 guys, 2 know what they're doing". When pressed a bit more, they explain to me that the numbers 3 and 2 have always held some significance in their lives. The numbers just tend to show up. Jimmie Lee will ask JC what time it is - 3:32. Jimmie's baby was born at exactly 4:32, while JC's child was born at 8:32.
"The numbers are everywhere in our lives, and they've become like a type of road marker for us," says Jimmie Lee.
The picture above is the brothers when they were young boys. This picture was found 3 years after they named their company Three Two Choppers. Take a look at the jerseys they're wearing. Jimmie Lee was looking for a painter and torn between two different people. He talked to the first painter, and then the second. As the conversation with the second painter progressed, he gave Jimmie Lee his cell phone number. The numbers 3 and 2 appeared in his number, not only once...but twice. "We had found our painter," the brothers said.
When it comes to their designs, the brothers believe in building true, one-of-a-kind choppers that will stand the test of timeand don't chase the existing fad. "Tres-Duece" is the style. "We've always believed in just putting it out there. If you love it great, if you don't...you will," says Jimmie Lee. All the fabrication skills they've learned have come from mentors like Joe Cox and Steve Hersh and from just doing it. Trial and error and the hard school of knocks have honed their skills and have taught them which designs work and which don't. Some of their design ideas are so simple you wonder why you don't see a lot more of them out there.
The oil bags are mounted outside the frame, leaving room for much more elaborate exhaust systems and to be integrated into the design. You also notice on the Huri Chopper the jockey shift is mounted low and on the down tube, perfect for the riding style of this bike. When pressed more about design style, the brothers mentioned they use their "Funnel" style of thinking. Ideas are thrown into the mix at a very broad level and then get tapered down to a more precise definition. The frames were designed by Three-Two Choppers, but fabricated by Mike at Dirty South Choppers. By using a 1.75 inch diameter down tube and backbone in the design, the bikes lend themselves to a much "heavier" looking chop. Combined with their one-of-a-kind gas tank designs, these custom choppers turn heads everywhere they go. You're not likely to see anything close to them for some time to come. But then again, who's to say that next year's designs won't follow this newest trend in bike building. These radical designs have to start somewhere. It will be interesting to watch the progress of this new company and these two brothers as they come up with new innovations for their future designs.
Three-Two Choppers Fort Worth Texas