The guy who built this bike, Nasse, lives about as far away from civilization as you can get. The small Finnish town of Kouvola lies about halfway between Helsinki and the Russian frontier. They don't have cable TV, so builders in that part of the world aren't jaded by shows such as Biker Build-Off or (shudder) American Chopper. Their building inspirations come from their imaginations and the materials they have on hand. It's just too expensive for them to pick up a parts catalog and order the latest bling-bling from the States. As with most people who live outside civilization, if they want something, they make it themselves.
With almost eight months of darkness and bitter cold during their winters, Finnish bike builders have plenty of time to tinker in their backyard workshops next to their gas heaters. Sometimes, the fumes and the vodka they drink to help stay warm get to their brains, and they try out stuff the average human would probably think better of doing.
On a fall day, Nasse decided it was finally time to clean out all the crap he'd stashed away over the years in his garage. He piled it all up in the back of his pickup truck and hauled it to a local swap meet in hopes of coming home with a few Euros in his pocket. Well, as we all know, sometimes you come home from a swap meet with more than you went with. Same deal here. Nasse arrived back home with a rusted-out '65 BSA A-65 Lightning.
He stripped down the bike and found that the frame was rusted to hell, with the exception of the neck and the under-engine carriage; the motor and transmission mounts were intact. Not too big a problem for a guy with a welding torch and a pile of old, heavy gas pipes lying out back. Being low on cash, Nasse went to work rebuilding the frame, and we can only guess that between the vodka and cigarettes he had an epiphany. 'Why not really go for it?' he thought, so he did. He welded the neck to a diabolic 68-degree rake. Now he needed a frontend way the hell out there to achieve the proper trail. Again, no problem. The long winter and a good length of aluminum pipe provided enough for experimentation. After a few fittings Nasse found that the tubes had to be at least 80 inches long so the bike would handle (almost) safely. He made the girder-style frontend himself and designed the steel triple-trees, which were made by a local machinist to Nasse's specifications. The rear five-spoke Invader mag was obtained by trading some paintwork with a buddy. The 80-spoke H-D 3.5x16 rear was also swapped for some old Triumph engine parts. Nasse did have to shell out some cash for the Pirelli 2.75-17 front tire and the rear Avon 140/80-16.
Amazingly, the donor bike's 650cc engine and tranny were in pretty good shape and required just a little TLC to be serviceable. The engine cases, heads, rods, pistons, flywheels, cylinders, and cam were serviced and reinstalled in the bike's powerplant.
The shifter was made from a piston off a Russian Moped. The headlight is a Marchal from the '60s. The Sportster tank was donated by a local bike club, while the Texas-style handlebars sit atop risers made in Kouvola and designed by Nasse. The only way to stop this beast is by a true Rube Goldberg setup. A Kawasaki master cylinder, Brembo brake caliper, a disc from an old motor scooter, and a brake line from a Moped are all that stand in the way of a possibly fatal head-on crash.
After the mockup, Nasse figured he needed something to give the Zobberod's look a little more balance. Nasse fabricated a 4-foot sissy bar and wanted to use a Maltese cross taillight. He went scrounging around and came home with a great deal on three of them. He figured that three were better than one, so on they all went.
The look still wasn't complete to Nasse. He wanted to balance out the l-o-o-o-ng front with the something on the rear, so, keeping with the look of the high sissy bar and Maltese cross taillights, he fabbed up a crossover exhaust-pipe setup and topped the dual exhaust pipes with Maltese crosses as well, then stretched them to just above the sissy bar.
With the mockup complete, it was time for paint. Nasse hit the tank with a few rattle spray cans of black and did the tank graphics himself. The pinstripes were done by Kasi-Pasi and Alasalmi Graphix in town.
With the bike back together, the only thing missing was a seat. While Nasse was immmersed in the project out back in the shop, Nasse's wife was doing her own thing in the house. She found an old '60s-style California King/Queen seat pan in the shop, sneaked it out, and was busy redoing it in white and black leather for her man. Now, that's a good Ol' Lady!
When the bike was finally done, a date and time were set for the photo shoot. It figures that in Finland in the weather can be downright unpredictable. We often encounter rainy days in our shooting schedules, but rarely do we wake up to a blizzard. With time limited, we thought the shoot would have to be canceled, and Nasse's work would go unseen except by the locals. "Hey, we live in Finland! We don't let the weather stop us from riding," Nasse said. So, if we're not terribly mistaken, this just may be the first chopper feature in history shot on location in deep snowpack.
Nasse pulled off what most of us try but often fail to accomplish. He rolled out a killer chopper on an incredibly low budget. The total cost of the bike was just under 2,500 Euros (about U.S. $3,200), including wheels, parts, and paint. Add another few hundred for beer and smokes, and he still pulled it off for less than $3,500. After about 400 hours of thinking and planning and another two months of work in finger-numbing cold, what you see here is what a man can accomplish when he puts his heart, soul, and talent to work for his dream.