40th Anniversary Bike Build
When we first started to think about what we were going to do for Street Chopper magazine's 40th anniversary issue, a chopper build seemed like the perfect idea. What better way to celebrate than to build a bike commemorating the magazine's success?
We started scouring old issues of Street Chopper as well as the Internet looking for the style of bike we wanted to erect. After some soul-searching and a bit of arguing, we decided that we wanted to meld both the old and new schools. We decided on building a fairly long bike with Invader wheels and a narrow Springer, but something that could actually be ridden comfortably.
While sitting at our favorite tavern, the Salty Dawg, we were throwing around ideas for the theme of the bike and in walked noted custom painter known by most as The Harpoon. We let him in on the build and within seconds he was signed on to do the paint. Knowing that The Harpoon could spray in jewel-like tones and that the 40th anniversary stone was a Ruby, the bike was immediately christened with its namesake.
With less than 60 days to build our anniversary bike, the fun and hard work started. Looking around at what type of frame we wanted, our interest in Flyrite Chopper's Scorcher frame was piqued. After seeing its 39-degree head angle with 2 inches up and 5 inches out, we knew it was going to be the frame of choice.
Once the frame was chosen, we contacted 3Guyz Customs and ordered up one of its Builder's narrow Springer forks and had Jason at Flyrite work out the proper length with the 3Guyz crew. When the fork showed up a short time later we were blown away at the quality of this made-to-order Springer. It came arrow-straight with welds that were a thing of beauty. With the help of a set of DNA stainless-steel head cups, the fork fit on the bike with nary an issue.
With the frame and fork taken care of, we moved onto the rolling stock. There really was only one choice for wheels on this bike and one place to get them, so a call to Scotty at Invader Wheels was made. Scotty has been making these wheels for more than 30 years and he knew exactly what we were after the moment we spoke with him. Starting with 21 and 16-inch hoops, Scotty hand-welded each of the five spokes to his personally machined hubs, then straightened them using heat. Once the wheels were completed, Scotty shipped the Invaders to Norbrook Plating in Warren, Michigan, where the shop did an amazing job show-chroming the wheels.
Once the wheels arrived on this side of the great lakes, we hurried them over to Wheel Works to install the 21-inch Speedmaster and 16-inch MK II tires we had received from Avon. Once the rubber was mounted, we slid the wheels into the frame and fork and got the Flyrite primary sprotor bolted up. Once the bike was rolling on its own, we pulled it off of our Ranger RML 600 lift and welded on an internal-spring kickstand from Kustom Tech, which followed the curvature of the frame perfectly.
For the seating surface, we were fortunate enough to have Biltwell send us a seat and we had Duane Ballard slap some commemorative skin on it. Once the leather-clad ass pad was finished, it came time to figure out the handlebars. After our exploration turned up fruitless for an off-the-shelf bar, our pal T-Bone from Noise agreed to build a set of custom bars for us. The bars ended up being a masterpiece of fabrication and fit the look of the bike perfectly.
With the bars firmly mounted and the bike progressing along nicely, hand and foot controls were next on the list to be installed. We opted for a set of chrome-plated Performance Machine Contour foot controls, clutch lever, and throttle, which have a classically clean look. Once the PM controls were bolted to the frame, we topped off the bars and foot controls with clear pegs and grips from Hippy Killer Garage.
When it came time to focus on the drivetrain, we really wanted a true Harley-Davidson engine that had some time on it and a lot of soul, so we looked at our lowly '77 Shovelhead engine that was pretty much just a bottom-end gathering dust and thought. It was time for it to live on in infamy, so we offered it up for the build. The motor needed some TLC, so we called in Rico Fodrey of Hi-Bond Modified to take the bull by the horns.
Rico has been building and rebuilding H-D engines from Knuckleheads to Twin Cams since the '80s, so he was our number one choice to overhaul this mill. Once Rico checked out the motor, he told us that the top end was complete junk and that the lower end was going to need a total rebuild as well. Taking the news pretty hard, the bike build was almost completely derailed until the fine folks at S&S; came to our aid with one of their ever-popular 93-inch Sidewinder kits with a Hydraulic Tappet upgrade. S&S; also spiffed us with a set of Super Stock cylinder heads of the 3-5/8-inch bore kind.
Adding further to the retro feel of the engine, a ton of parts from Custom Chrome, Jammer, and the Motor Factory were opted for as well as a set of beautifully machined Stevenson's Cycle split rocker boxes, which are a sight to be seen. To bring spark to the motor and delete any sort of battery, a 1296 magneto setup from Joe Hunt with a set of clear plug wires and cap from Lowbrow Customs was employed along with a complete charging system upgrade from Spyke. Finishing off the motor build, Chopper Dave was nice enough to cast a one-off 40th Anniversary air cleaner for our S&S; Super E carburetor.
In the drive department we went with Tech Cycle's Paul Cox-designed 530 Chain Primary Drive with one of Tech's legendary Cyclone clutches. The simplicity and good looks of this chaindrive are second to none. When it came time to decide on the bump box, we figured that to do any sort of justice to the new 93-inch motor, we couldn't run just any four-or five-speed tranny, so we went with none other than a fully polished 6-into-4 transmission from Baker Drivetrain. This transmission was a major turning point in the build, not due to what was inside, but the mirror-like finish on the outside that ended up spurring us to fully polish the engine cases, rocker boxes, magneto case, and just about every other aluminum part on the bike.
The Harpoon indeed came through when the paint was applied to the Detroit Bros. Friscoed Instigator tank. A silver base was candied over in a traditional way with shades of ruby red topped off with the perfect amount of pinstripes. With Harpoon upping the ante with the tank, we decided that no badass show-bike worth its rock salt and angel hair would ever be built with nothing short of a chrome-plated frame and fork.
With that in mind, we hauled a pile of parts over to South Bay Chrome and let them triple-plate the frame, fork, and Chassis Design oil tank in some of the shiniest chrome this side of the '70s. Jonesing for even more plating, we opted for a set of Paughco pipes lengthened with a Biltwell Pipe kit and topped off with a set of West-Eagle Mini-Trumpet mufflers. Upping the ante, a Spyke petcock, a Revtech oil pump as well and every single nut and bolt on the bike was ordered dripping in chrome. To finish off the orgy of shininess, a fully polished aluminum fender from West-Eagle was bolted to the crown jewel of the bike; a NOS AEE Choppers sissybar.
Once the bike was together, we babied it until we got it photographed, then kicked it over and rode the holy-hell out of it. The Hi-Bond built S&S-backed; H-D motor ran like a champ, the Baker tranny shifted like a dream, and the rest of the bike followed suit. The geometry of the frame and offset of the fork was perfect for the look we were after, and it rode better than we could ever imagine.
Building this bike with a constrained time limit was a very hard task, but we rose to the challenge and ended up with a very memorable experience and one hell of a bike.
Thanks to all of these companies for their support:
Chopper Dave's Casting Co.
Duane Ballard Custom Leather
Harpoon Kustom Paint
Hippy Killer Garage
Joe Hunt Magnetos
Nash Motorcycle Company
South Bay Chrome