Wednesday, January 03, 2007



What you are about to read is totally unsafe, if you go ahead and build this, I will not be responsible if you injure or kill yourself. If you are stupid enough to think that this bike is as safe as a regular bike, then you deserve what's coming to you and you have been warned. Nuff said!

I used to build chopper bikes myself when I was a kid, the idea was to do the same thing as everyone else and damn the consequences. By todays standards, I should be dead! The longer the better was the kick and you didn't give a damn if it didn't turn or the front wheel fell off.

Well now guys like me are older and wiser. We also have a lot of toys called power tools to make better choppers and what's coming out now is pretty amazing. I just want one of these. Not having the cash for a thousand dollar frame and not finding what I want, I decided to venture into making one myself. Remember, when going the homebuilt route for anything you may save some cash in the process, but you will have to put in a lot of your time to learn as you go. But what you learn is yours forever. So I decided to learn about choppers.

As when I started building recumbents, I will have to do with what I have available at hand to keep cost down. So in my pile of crap I found 2 forks, one 20 inch wheel, the banana seat from the CCM Galaxie that I have to change anyways and the ape hangers from that same bike that will be replaced soon. For the frame, I chose a mountain bike frame that I have hanging on the ceiling for the past 10 years. I always hated that thing and it's useless right now.

Like when buying a bike, building a bike yourself requires that you ask the important question: what do you want to do with it? What I want from a chopper first is for it to be practical. I want my bike to be fast on flats and able to climb hills. I want the bike to be confortable and lastly I want it to look good. At this stage of prototyping homebuilt style, looks take a back seat at the very back of the station wagon. I have to find out if stuff works and I have to learn. This rat bicycle chopper will be about function and learning. The frame will be used later to build the bike I actually want by chopping bits and pieces of it.

So for now we will build the fork. This is to give the bike a certain stance and to get that chopper feel. You need 2 forks for this. One will be inserted in the frame of the bike and the second one will be inserted into that fork to actually hold the wheels.

It is a pretty straight forward operation. Cut the legs off the second fork at the base. Mark the second leg with the first one after you cut it to have the same lenght. Afterwards, cut the fork that will go into the frame right before it starts to bend. Measure the same way as before to insure an equal cut.

Insert the legs into the cut frame fork as far as you can, making sure that everything is straight at the end. One way to do this is to find a door frame with a wall next to it. Put the base of the fork on the door frame and then see if the ends of the fork touch the wall equally. At this point, the fork should be paralell to the ground. Make the necessary adjustements. Once you are satisfied that everything is straight, make holes where both forks join together and put a couple of nuts and bolts in there with some lock washers. We used to just bang them in place when I was a kid and it was only a question of time before you popped a wheelie and the front wheel would decide to do it's own thing away from you and your bike. These days it takes longer to heal and it's much more painful, take the time to bolt it in or even better, get it welded.

Install on the bike and admire your handy work. Next post will be about installing the hardware and maybe even a test run. I eventually want to make a suicide shifter for it and I have yet to figure out how I will do that. So stick around as I learm and maybe even hurt myself!

Till then, ride safe and Godspeed.



gwadzilla said...

I had heard stories of people trying such things

I wonder if there are stories of people living through riding such things

Gerry Lauzon said...

I had the chance of test riding the Chopper on a few occasions before taken it apart and I am still alive. I have bashed this thing on purpose and popped wheelies like mad. It remained in one piece and it is much stronger than anything I built when i was a kid. I guess time will tell. If I don't make it, I've asked that my kids write the story of my demise. You guys might get an interesting last post. ;)


Anonymous said...

Hey Gerry..I am having an issue where I can not shift the front derailluer into any gears. The window shows me in 2nd. But when I adjust the Chain to the 2nd sprocket, it changes back to 1st. Any help would be much appreciated

Thank you

Gerry Lauzon said...

You need to disconnect the cable and start from scratch. Go to the how-to articles link in the top box of the blog, I have an article just for that.