MONDO PORRAS THE GODFATHER OF CHOPPERS
Born To Ride Florida|February 2021
Revered as the “Godfather of Choppers” by many of his peers, Mondo can look back at an illustrious career in custom bikes as very few can.
Kai Raecke and Dave Nichols

From judging and putting on bike shows worldwide, to television appearances and hardcover books, his story is as unique as the man himself and his name as instantly recognizable as the long, low and lean bikes Denver’s is most known for.

Of course, it wasn’t always just “Mondo.” In fact, during the early days, back in the sixties when he began his career at Denver’s Choppers in San Bernardino (commonly referred to as Berdoo), Armando Porras was known as Bondo Mondo, due to his talent involving the famous shop’s sleek and long custom frames.

Barely out of high school, Mondo had begun working with Denver Mullins, the original owner of the shop at the time, building custom cars and hot rods. “We decided, at some point, to get some motorcycles and fix ‘em up,” Mondo recalls, “and that’s how we got into playing with bikes. We all bought Harleys and decided we didn’t like the way they looked, so we started building front ends and changing frames and customizing them, and pretty soon people came in and wanted us to do that to their bikes.”

That was shortly after 1967, the year Denver’s Choppers opened its doors, which made it one of the very first businesses in the slowly emerging custom motorcycle industry to manufacture and sell custom parts and accessories. “Back then, there were no catalogs to order parts from, so within a short time, we were known worldwide as the guys to go to for custom parts for choppers,” Mondo explains. Among the many innovations to soon come out of the small shop were items like rear fenders doubling as oil tanks, wildly stretched and raked frames, and especially springer front ends that kept getting longer and longer. More and more parts sprang up, and Denver’s began building complete custom bikes and shipping them all over the world.

It got to the point, according to Mondo, where “you couldn’t pick up a custom bike magazine without seeing a Denver bike in it.”

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