There are a couple of things that come to mind for most guys who are thinking about building a chopper. The first is whether they can afford to build the bike of their dreams or build a bike that satisfies their dreams. Next is the time frame to build a bike. If it takes too long, the bike may be out of style. The last thing, of course, is can he do it himself or will he need help.
Rick Lewis of Rick's Cycles in Rainsville, Alabama, has none of the above to worry about since he owns a shop, but he was worried because he was about to build one for his son, Michael. The way he looked at it, to keep a speed-hungry freak safe, a motor no bigger than an 80ci was the way to go. Also, since he was on a low budget, he had to incorporate as many used parts as possible.
At the time the build started, Michael was working at a Harley shop about 80 miles away. The drive back and forth to work sucked, but there was a positive: he was able to get some good deals on take-off parts from the dealer. A great deal on a stock H-D 80ci Evo motor with a cracked case came along. The owner just wanted to swap it out with a new one, so Michael offered to do all the labor in turn for a deal on the bad motor. Michael called his dad and told him about the motor, and his dad said it was a good trade.
With the old motor at Rick's shop, the two started the rebuild. The left side case needed to be replaced, so a new set of Delkron cases would hold the H-D flywheels and rods. New Keith Black pistons were installed back into the H-D cylinders, along with modified H-D heads, rockers, and rocker boxes. An Andrews cam, a Crane ignition, and an S&S Super E carburetor feed the combustion chamber, and exhaust is sent away through pipes that Michael made himself. The one thing Michael really wanted from this build was that it would be a chopper, and to him, that meant kickstart only. A BDL 3-inch belt primary drive passes power onto the '71 four-speed ratchet-top H-D transmission with Jockey shift and a kicker.
With all the money that they saved on the motor and trans, picking out a new frame was a little easier. Rick placed a call over to Paughco to get an '02 rigid with 36 degrees of rake in the neck, 2-1/2 inches of upward stretch, and 1 inch added to the backbone. Tabs were then welded on to mount a Choppers Inc. oil bag, a Chica's rear fender, and an H-D Sportster gas tank.
The only suspension came by way of an almost free '99 XL narrow glide frontend. Michael was at the right place when it was swapped out, and he jumped on the deal. He put a 21-inch spoke up front and got a take-off rear wheel from a Deuce. As far as rubber goes, they used an Avon Speed Master for the front and a Dunlop 160 for the rear. The only braking power was from the newly chromed H-D caliper and rotor for the rear wheel.
Now they had a roller with all the mock-up done, so it was time to strip it down for paint. The sheetmetal and frame were sent over to PL Customs, where the team got started on molding the frame and cleaning up all the welds. A blue basecoat was laid on heavy, and then to highlight the blue and add to the chopper look, some big silver flames were sprayed on top of the tank, along with some smaller ones on the frame.
Now with everything back at Rick's shop, the two jumped on the task of getting the bike on the road. They added Choppers Inc. Whiskey bars and risers behind a CCI headlight. H-D foot controls keep Michael's feet off the ground and the bike properly managed on the road. A CCI side-mount license plate/taillight was fastened to the left-hand side, and a Rick's Custom seat was positioned behind the gas tank.
When the bike had to have its first test ride, Rick said that he should get the hot laps because he was older and deserved it more. Michael replied that he was younger and faster, so it came down to rock-paper-scissors. If you're wondering who won, he's in the riding shot.