Ryan (Birdman or Hummingbird depending on who you are) actually studies birds for a living and tends to read and write a lot about them. He has a pretty cone shovelhead and has been a contributor to ChopCult since the very early days of the site. In addition doing a bunch of nerdy stuff by himself or with his cat, Ryan also like wasting a bunch of time making crazy home-made taillights and other assorted goodies. Reach out to him if you always wondered why ostriches’ knees bend the wrong way.
I have been around the Los Angeles chopper "scene" for about 10 years now, and I think the reputation that precedes the habitat is that it's full of a bunch of kids with money that go out and buy old knuckleheads so that they can ride around and look cool and get vegan ramen. That's exactly what it is.
But anyone that wants to dig a little deeper comes to realize there is a whole group of insane chopper folks in Los Angeles that literally eat, sleep, and drink old bikes, and one of the reasons I still live here is this kind of close-knit, year-round dedication to the bikes, not some scene.
Well, to help foster this dedication to the wheel, Chase Stopnik from the Cycle Zombies family decided to open perhaps the coolest store on Sunset Blvd, HWY, right in the heart of Los Angeles. If you've ever been to the So-Cal Swapmeets you know the Cycle Zombies. Always in the same booth spot, always a family affair, and always with some new crazy old crusty bikes parked nearby.
HWY is so full of cool new and used apparel, bike parts, pins, reading materials, and just all-around good vintage vibes that it feels like an old motorcycle museum where you can take the art pieces home with you. A little shop space in back looks like any repairs that need to be done can happen right there and then. To kick off the store launch, Chase had an open house on a Saturday night where he and all his rowdy friends provided good times, beverages, and laughs to anyone lucky enough to swing by.
As soon as I got there I was treated to nice old pans, shovels, and knucks parked everywhere on the streets and sidewalks, and a huge crowd coming out to support the shop. I love it when I pull up on a cone shovel and it's the newest bike there! Plus, because the whole Stopnik family are full of such hunky dudes, there were a ton of super cute girls there, which is unlike most of the sausage-fest biker parties I normally attend. Much like the Cycle Zombies themselves, the whole vibe was easy-going and laid back with zero attitude, and the bikes just kept rolling in all night.
Chase, and most of the Stopniks, were busy keeping everyone hydrated and havin' a blast. The party was full of familiar faces, as well as brand new ones, and neighbors swinging by to show some love. It got a little bit rowdy as the evening continued, especially after the Dodgers game let out (the shop is right down the street from the Stadium), and the party spilled out halfway down the block. I met this one righteous guy from Australia named VJ who had been around the world and said this was one of the coolest old bike parties he had ever been to. Pretty much sums up the night!
I never got a chance to interview Chase about the grand opening of his baby HWY, so I just made up an interview. This whole part is completely fabricated.
Me: Hey Chase, how long have you been working on opening up a shop?
Chase: Well pretty much my whole life has led up to this one moment, but can't everyone say that about this moment? In reality, it's been about 3 years.
Me: "And what inspired the name HWY?"
Chase:I've always been a huge AC/DC fan, and I love that song Highway to Hell, but it was really long to spell that out and the letters took a long time to make and then they are expensive as hell to light up with these old-timey bulbs, so I just shortened it to HWY. H.W.Y. also stands for something but I will never reveal what!
Me: Remember that time at the swapmeet when I was looking for a set of handlebars and you guys had the perfect set and I asked how much they were, and you asked if it was going on my bike, and I said YES! and you said, just take them they're yours!
Me: Oh, ok, (awkward). Ummm, what got you into bikes?
Chase: This is kind of a dumb, generic question. Can we instead talk about your shovelhead with the birds all over it?! That's one of the coolest bikes ever!
Me: Dude, you really think so?! BLUSH!
If you find yourself in Los Angeles and want to see what makes SoCal such a great place for old choppers, swing by HWY, buy a t-shirt, and meet Chase. He's a righteous guy and he really loves my shovel and that's all that matters.