Danville, Va.'s motorcycle manufacturer gets boost in business

Publish Date: 
Oct 1, 2012

DANVILLE, Va. – Rider can get just about anything they want at Rocket Rogers and Old 97 Choppers.

Roger Purgason, president, dispenses a lot of advice in addition to doing service and building custom rides. He holds master technician certificates in Harley, Victory, Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki.

“I fix more motorcycles over the phone than I do here,” he told WSLS. But he also sells handmade bikes.

“We are Danville’s first and only, licensed through the government, motorcycle manufacturer,” Purgason said. “We can manufacture, build and sell our own brand of motorcycles — Old 97 Choppers.”

Purgason started the business in 1981. The town's Harley-Davidson dealer closed, so he put up his bike  as collateral to buy the tools, equipment and parts he needed to start Rocket Rogers. That was after many years of working at other dealerships and racing, which he continued until he had an accident in 1996.

Now he owns the company with his wife, son Allen, who also a mechanic. His brother Kenneth does custom paint.

“When people come in here, what they see is a real old-school motorcycle shop. It’s not a fancy boutique,” he said. “It has accessories hanging on the walls. It has old parts, new parts, tires. Everything you need to fix your bike.” 

Posted by Holly Wagner