‘Lady Luck,’ the Irish Chopper, has a shot glass mounted on top of the gas cap and has the recipe for an ‘Irish Car Bomb’ painted on the side of the open primary. The inverted Mustang tank was built in tribute to Indian Larry, who befriended Irish Choppers’ Mickey Stevens when he was just starting out.
Like many custom builders I know, Mickey Stevens grew up in a hot rod family. Ever since he was about 12 years old, his big brother was a pretty well-known hot rod builder, and he found himself in the garage often. His bro taught him a lot about building motors and the knowledge he imparted on Mickey helped him evolve into a ‘natural engine builder.’ He likes to build old school type of bikes, and it’s a reflection of the era he grew up in, a time when people like Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth were childhood heroes. Mickey has had a love of engineering and everything mechanical since he was young, but his passion always gravitated toward motorcycles.
Mickey was a police officer for 28 years, serving mainly in Worcester, Mass., but he always found a way to pursue his interest in motorcycles on the side, wrenching on bikes for other guys he worked with while starting to do some of his own fabrication. As he approached a hard-earned early retirement, he started thinking about opening his own shop about five years ago, pursuing his life-long dream. Even though he hasn’t been in the custom scene as long as a lot of other shops, he has quickly established a name for himself, a success he believes is because of the pride he takes in quality and craftsmanship. His Irish Choppers apparel line, which his business-savvy daughter Brittany helped him establish and market, is also helping him get his company’s name out there to more than just the biker crowd. One of the underlying impetuses helping Irish Choppers establish itself on the scene is the fact that they put integrity into everything they do. Mickey proclaims that “Our word is our bond.” To him, customer satisfaction is everything.
His son Christopher, 25, is his right-hand man in the shop. Christopher expresses his artistic ability by doing all of his fabrication by hand. He’ll take a hand dremel over a machine anyday. He’s a new school guy and Mickey’s old school, so they sometimes have different ideas about design and what direction a build should go, but nothing like “those guys on TV.”
We met the Irish Choppers’ father and son team of Christopher and Mickey Stevens while we were checking out their cool bobber called ‘Lady Luck.’
Mickey has big plans for Irish Choppers. Currently it’s a full-service shop doing a little bit of everything, from fat tire kits to ape-hanger conversions to complete builds. He is setting his sights high and hopes to knock out 20 custom bikes next year. This lofty goal may be attainable because Mickey says that they don’t usually do a bunch of high-end stuff like some of his friends in the industry who are always looking to land the deal for that $100,000 bike. He likes to build $16,000 bikes, rat rods and choppers, and backs his work with a 30,000-mile warranty. His approach is more practical in these tight economic times and has helped him establish a loyal customer base.
The popularity of Irish Choppers stands to get a huge boost this year with its exposure at the N.Y. State Fair. The promoters of the fair, a huge event on the East Coast that attracts well over a million visitors annually, approached Mickey about the idea of conducting an interactive chopper display this year. They’re offering him a premium location so that he can put on four shows a day. During the show he plans on building a custom motorcycle on-site with people from the audience. He’s going to sett up a shop at the show where he can rip apart a bike, taking the tank, exhaust, bars, fenders and a few other things off. He’ll then get a couple of volunteers from the audience to help put it back together in 30 minutes. Mickey will give them shop shirts to make them part of the crew. He plans on pulling mothers, grandmothers, kids home from the military, and other unsuspecting people on stage out of the stadium-style seating for the show. The exhibit will also have bikes for people to sit and take pictures on and his son will be airbrushing shirts for kids to complete the interactive chopper experience. It’s a unique concept to bring the chopper scene into the mainstream.
Mickey had a beautiful bobber on display at his booth in the Laconia Roadhouse called Lady Luck. Being a proud Irish-American, people kept asking him when he was going to build an Irish Chopper. He gave it a lot of thought, not wanting to do anything over-the-top and finally decided he’d do something old-school. So he took an old KraftTech 32-degree rigid frame and put a 100-inch Ultima El Bruto engine in it with an S&S Super G Carb and an Ultima 6-speed transmission. It also sources a BDL 3-in. open primary. The front end features a 2-over DNA Springer front end and Irish Choppers bars. The handcrafted tank holds special
The oil tank bears the Stevens’ family crest and states the personal philosophy Mickey lives by – “Family Above All.”
meaning to him because it’s an inverted Mustang tank in honor of Indian Larry, who befriended Mickey when he first opened his company. The leather seat is hand-tooled and the overall design is clean and classy.
Lots of little details in the paint are on the bike, like the history of his family as well as the history of Ireland. A “Family Above All” crest and an old saying that his mother used to tell him all the time is printed on the oil tank. It reads “May you be in heaven 30 minutes before the devil knows you’re dead.” The green metal-flake paint makes the bike. It was done by Rick Champagne of Eagle Eye Paint out of Uxbridge, Mass. Champagne was trained by none other than ‘Big Daddy’ Roth.
After sitting down and talking with Mickey for an hour over a beer, it was encouraging to meet a man who’s got his priorities in order. He takes pride in his work, puts family first, and builds some bad-ass hot rod bikes, choppers and bobbers. He’s got the drive and attitude to turn Irish Choppers into something big. If you’re ever in the Worcester area, stop by and check him out. And tell him Bryan says “Hi.”