West Coast Choppers - About Jesse James
Founded in the early 1990s West Coast Choppers gained notice with the 2001 shows Motorcycle Mania I and II, on the Discovery Channel. In 2004 James starred with Kid Rock in Motorcycle Mania III. With the release of these shows interest in Jesse James and the West Coast Choppers allowed the firm to expand knowledge of its brand and to expand its following. Jesse James also narrated a 2006 Discovery show called History of the Chopper, where he makes his own motorcycle to commemorate the 1960s.
In 2004, the company's merchandise, along with the No Fear brand, was banned from the Simi Valley Unified School District in California for using the German Iron Cross, in reaction to violence between black and white students. Jesse James and a spokesman for No Fear have said the cross is based on the Maltese cross and does not represent white power or Nazism. James said the cross is used by many fire departments, for example. A skateboarding store employee pointed out that West Coast Choppers sells a T-shirt which combines both the cross symbol and a WWII German-style helmet, representing "things he’d rather not be associated with." A similar ban in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2003 drew protests from students.
In 2005 West Coast Choppers agreed to pay $35,000 to settle a claim by the Business Software Alliance that unlicensed copyrighted software was used in the design of the company's motorcycles.
In 2007 Jesse James was fined over a quarter-million dollars because West Coast Choppers sold more than 50 motorcycles from 1998 to 2005 that failed to comply with the air pollution limits of the California Air Resources Board (CARB). James explained that he was unaware of rule changes that required small-volume manufactures to comply with regulations. James said the CARB refused his offer to recall and modify the uncompliant choppers. Since 2005 West Coast Choppers has built emissions-compliant choppers. James said the fines were excessive and intended to make an example of him due to his company's fame and his celebrity marriage to actress Sandra Bullock, but CARB spokesmen stated their enforcement efforts were aimed at the entire custom industry, and further that they were aware of no offer by West Coast Choppers to recall the motorcycles in question.
In 2008 West Coast Choppers worked with the City of Long Beach to design steel artwork that will be placed in concrete planters between two city streets. West Coast Choppers also designed the "Long Beach 2030 Plan Van," a mobile classroom that will be used to promote the city's long range planning projects. The City of Long Beach renamed part of a street as "West Coast Choppers Place" in 2009 to honor the company.
In 2009 West Coast Choppers stopped selling motorcycle customizing parts, offering only complete bikes, or clothing and other non-bike merchandise. Jesse James was reported to be trying to exercise more personal control over production, and to "battle knockoffs and establish a measure of quality control."
In October 2010, West Coast Choppers closed the shop in Long Beach. James' other Long Beach business, Cisco Burgers, remained, but no other details of the closing were announced, and it was not clear whether James would continue operations from his new home in Texas. Cisco Burgers has also closed shop. The website westcoastchoppers.com redirected to www.westcoastchoppers-australasia.com, which sells merchandise with the West Coast Choppers brand and logo, operated by Rev Head Apparel under a license agreement with Jesse James. However, Jesse James, decided to open the company back up in 2013.