A few years ago, I saw several custom mini choppers displayed and thought, "I bet Levi and I could build one of those." It seemed like a nice father-and-son project to get our feet wet for a full size custom bike. This new genre of motorcycle building is growing very quickly. It is a great opportunity for artistic expression and is a little more affordable than full size, street-legal bike building. There are some incredibly beautiful machines out there. It is as much about art as it is mechanics. These bikes, and their big brothers in the bike world, are full of curves, lines, and an array of colors and graphics and symbols.
Since we had never built anything like this before, we needed to do a little research. I spent some time on the Internet, looking at other choppers. Through Ebay, I came in contact with someone that had started a project, but was no longer interested and wanted to sell his frame and the few parts he had acquired. During our discussions, he told me that both the rear axle mounting area of the frame and the front forks and associated parts would not work as he had planned and they would need to be cut off to start over. But, we bought it anyway, as it was a great deal, especially since he had already purchased several of the key parts (including a very nice rear hub axle and rear wheel). There were some problems to sort out, but it was a least a place to start.
I already had an Oxy-Acetylene torch, but had to I buy a small welder. We immediately cut off the rear wheel mounting area as well as the front fork mounting parts and built new ones from scratch. We replaced the front fork setup with a home-made triple-tree design. We had decided to go with an old school, Rock-a-Billy design. It took a while to locate all the necessary parts, such as a small gas tank, foot pegs, cables, sprockets, wheels, etc. and a ton of small stainless steel bolts and lock-nuts. The process was slow, as each part had to be made from scratch, or cut down from some other application to fit this small bike (and we were learning as we go!).
This was a great father and son project!!!!
Below are some start-to-finish pictures of the mini chopper project. Don't be too critical, we are amateurs!
|Here we are trying to get the basic frame to accept an axle and a fat 10" tire. There was just enough room for rim, bearings, and the brake disc. We will weld in some better support later. Levi has a broken arm, so he is acting as photographer, tool chaser and idea man.||With some of the rear-end worked out and disc brake installed, we are now adding a bracket to accept a modified small motorcycle seat and ultimately a chrome sissy bar. The seat is set as far back as possible, to put the weight on the rear tire and lighten the front end.||We found a cool looking old gas tank with raised 3-D fins. I have no idea what was the original application, but I have never seen another like it. Raised fins ahead of the seat will ensure that the drivers holds tight and stays in the seat.||My welding skills leave a lot to be desired, so on the most critical areas, such as the steering neck, I tack-welded the parts in place and took it to a certified welder for finishing.||Seat, tank brackets & rear fender are welded in. We installed a cut-down sissy bar from an old school Harley. It's starting to take on the "Rock-a-Billy" look.|
|The old tank required a ton of sanding and body work. After a solid coat of primer and black gloss, we added some wavy red flames and then top-coated with 6-7 coats of clear enamel.||
The rear tire is so fat, we had a hard time locating a fender. We finally bought a large trailer fender and cut it down to fit. We also painted it black and red to match the tank.
|We built new front forks and triple-tree. The new neck is now straight and stronger. The forks are 48" long and the whole bike is 7-1/2' long! It may end up being shortened, but we're going to try this first.||We took the hard road and in true monster garage fashion, made a front fender out of a discarded CO2 bottle. We cut it with a jig-saw, heated it, bent to shape and polished.||The process of reassembling the bike is slower than expected. There are a million small bolts that require a trip to the hardware store. We added a kill switch, kickstand, and chrome foot pegs.|
|Here you can see the Stainless Steel exhaust, polished aluminum fender brackets and dead-axle setup with disc brake. We used chrome bolt covers on the axle nuts, as well as on the bolt that holds the triple-tree to the frame.||Here is a view of the engine and mounting areas. To covers some of the large areas, as in front of the engine, we used polished aluminum made from old advertising signs. We got the aluminum material from a metal recycler for cheap.||View of front tire and aluminum fender. Front tire is 20" aluminum bike rim, painted red. To attach the rim, we cut the forks from a bicycle and inserted the fork tubes into the pieces and welded them in place.||
Here is a view of the front forks, chrome risers, and handle bars. The engine is a 5 hp Briggs and Stratton flathead.
The engine and fender were from
|Test ride day #2
After a few failures, we got a few of the bugs worked out. But we still have plenty to work on. You can see it has taken a while, as Levi now has his cast off.
|Back to Rawge's Mini Chopper Information Page|
|Here is a view of the complete bike||And here is the other side||...and look - it almost fits this fat boy!|
Briggs 5.5 hp $209.00 Clutch/brake lever $8.99 Centrifugal Comet Torque Converter $149.00 Clutch $22.99