Writer's Ramblings

Behind the Scenes with Billy Lane

Written by  April 30, 2005

Billy Lane took time out of his busy schedule at the Easyriders V-Twin Bike Show to sit down with us and answer a few questions. Anybody who says Billy has “gone Hollywood” doesn’t know Billy. He takes the time to make you comfortable and truly is as down to earth as anybody I know. Special thanks to Jennifer Schneider, Billy’s personal assistant for all her help.

CC: Is there anything new and exciting under construction in your shop for this summer, Billy?
Billy: I’m doing a couple of more hubless wheel bikes, a bunch of really cool bobber stuff, kind of retro stuff but with a modern touch to it.

CC: Who, if anybody, is the biggest influence on your building style?
Billy: My biggest influence probably is Arlen Ness. I mean, my stuff doesn’t look like his, but the stuff he was doing in the 70s and 80s is amazing and really, really cool stuff and very different, very out there. This is how I consider my stuff.

CC: With Avon making a 360 rear tire now, do you think rear tire width has reached its limit?
Billy: I thought it reached its limit about 90 mm ago.

CC: If you weren’t building bikes for a living, what would you be doing?
Billy: I’d probably be a rock star.

CC: Are there any more biker build-offs in your future?
Billy: No, I didn’t even want to do the last one I did. I did the one with Mike Brown, and I don’t really like him, and I didn’t want to do it, and I kinda got pigeonholed into doing it, but I’m not doing any more of them. I’m kinda over it.

CC: I know you and Indian Larry were close. After his passing, a lot of people refer to you as his “heir apparent.” How do you feel about that?
Billy: I get goose bumps every time somebody asks me that. I think about it—I don’t know—I mean, those are pretty tough shoes to fill. I don’t even know how to respond to something like that.

CC: What was it like working with Kendal Johnson, Paul Cox and Keino on the tribute bike for Indian Larry?
Billy: It was great. We all did it for a good reason for Larry, but we had a lot of fun doing it and learned a lot. Me and Kendal were laughing because they don’t have any tools in their shop; they don’t have any equipment. We were making fun of them. It’s really difficult to work in that environment, but it’s amazing what they were able to do with the little bit of equipment they had.

CC: After seeing everything from house slippers to toolboxes carrying the logos of some of the other well known builders, why hasn’t Choppers Inc., dived head first into the merchandising machine?
Billy: You mean you don’t have a Choppers Inc., tea set in your house yet? I have always wanted to keep my business core, you know? And, I mean, some things we do, like we did a shoe, but people wear them at the shows. It’s not something—you know—I don’t want to step outside of the industry too much; to me it’s kind of gay.

CC: At some point during your career you have probably faced every question imaginable. I’m going to try for something new. Tell us something about yourself that we haven’t heard before.
Billy: I was molested at Neverland Ranch.

CC: Personally, your Money Shot or Misbehavin bikes are my favorites. Do you have one that’s nearest and dearest to your heart?
Billy: I actually hate Misbehavin. Everybody loves it; I hated it. Probably the Money Shot is my favorite. It’s really an “in your face” bike.

CC: In another magazine, I read a story called “A Night at the Deuce” by your friend D.L. You were quoted as saying “you like it? You can have it” referring to one of your scooters. I like them; can I have one?
Billy: I like your wallet; can I have it?

CC: Another individual says he was first with the hubless wheel. Any comments on that?
Billy: Where was his while mine was in the magazines?

CC: Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Billy: On a beach somewhere.

Interview and photos by Loney and
Stephanie Wilcoxson