Choppers Australia… not just Harley… all bikes…

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American Classic Motors RIGID CHOPPER Cruiser

T his page is still being to, so keep cruisin’ back for good chopper stuff.

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riders like any group, use terms when talking their bikes. We’ve set page up so you know what we are about.

The American chopper gained world wide in the late 1960’s and 1970’s as a of a large number of wild movies the most universally of which was Peter Fonda and Hopper’s Easy Rider. for a close second were the movies, The Wild One with Brando and The Wild Angels Peter Fonda and Nancy

The Wild One and The Wild Angels the Hollywood bikie image of jeans, black leather cutoffs, outlaw patches and pack mentality.

Easy introduced the Chopper and the loner as a wandering non violent individual. The and TV series, Then came built positively on this image with the hero in to solve problems a bit like the cowboy.

Choppers Australia is to promoting this era, the chopper . so what follows be presented from this

In the sixties (as they still do motor cycle manufacturers their bikes to suit as people (and therefore as many sales) as possible. The bike made for Mr Average didn’t fit anybody.

Any biker of the name customises his bike to fit him (or her) and the 60’s-70’s were no

Before Easy Rider, the custom route if you were not long distance touring windscreens, saddlebags etc was the cafe

After Easy Rider became the predominant custom

Harley (What the chopper replaced). From 1936 Davidson concentrated on big capacity V 1200 and 750cc side (flat heads) and 1000cc and overhead valve machines. The (61ci) Knuckle head was from 1936 to 1947. The (74ci) Pan head continued on 1966 when it was superseded by the head.

They were touring bikes with wheels front and rear equipped with many panniers, crash bars, and windscreens and all sorts of pretty that made your different to the rest. This one is a Duo Glide. (suspension at both Chopping a Harley made it a new bike.

Indian. Although ceased manufacture in 1953 Scouts (750cc) and Chiefs were the only other capacity American cruiser and were chopped through to the seventies. Their beautiful front end was very popular Harley chopper jocks.

were in many ways superior to Harleys but the company from frequent bad management Without the money to upgrade venerable sidevalve motors began to quickly lose to Harley once the OHV Harley got over its teething problems.

Sportster. Harley’s failed to counter the light British was a side valve 750, the K introduced in 1952. In 1957 it at got overhead valves and though it the nimble handling of the British produced its own niche because of its straight line rubber capability.

It was popular chopper in the US though more expensive to second hand than the big but a lot of lightening work was already

Triumph (BSA very appearance) . The appearance of the overhead fully sprung Triumphs, Nortons and Royal Enfields in after WWII rocked Davidson to its core. Harley had no bike to compare and lost to the British makes in a dramatic

In Australia . British bikes as Velocette, Royal Enfield, BSA and Triumph (plus numerous had been the main choice to motorcyclists since the earliest With the chopping craze in the very few could afford the OHV so when it came to chopping the British marques were the of choice until the Honda and Yamaha XS650’s hit our shores. The BSA 3 and Triumph Trident triples, in 1968 and which set the scene for the super bikes did get their of chopping in Europe and USA, but a bit too expensive for the Aussie lads to

Honda CB750/4. Released in this powerhouse took the world by storm. Instant plenty of power, great no oil leaks, no vibration, reliable. The ones handled poorly at speed and had a tendency to throw chains with some results. damaged housings and cut

A new tool was added to the bikers kit. an impact driver for pesky sticking Phillips screws the Japs loved The CB750 definitely brought motorcycling into the 20th It didn’t take long for the fraternity to get into the Honda.

the Triumph and XS Yamaha, the CB750 was the chopped Australian bike and beautiful examples were

Kawasaki Z1. When this hit our shores in 1973 the cocky jockeys no longer ruled the The Z1 with its double overhead and 900cc was big, heavy and fast. Such brute available to the street rider, more than the CB750, the super-bike era.

Being more expensive than the CB very few got the chopper treatment.

XS650. The Yamaha XS1 hit the market in and was an instant success, despite atrocious handling. All prior in Australia had been two strokes. It was popular in Australia because it like the Triumphs and BSA’s but leak oil, was quick and easily.

A great point in its also was that it t looked Japanese than the Hondas, as as being much lighter and and was quite affordable. The XS-2 followed soon after and the TX’s handled better and had brakes and electric starters. The 650 were very popular chopper material as is evidenced by the number of yammie choppers out of the woodwork in the 21st century.

factory versions in the early (like many other got on the band wagon with fat wheels and the chopper look.

choppers. Harley’s 1971 Glide. later become the low a model that runs to day. Super Glide was a when released and a stunning in direction by Harley. It was basically the big 74 ci with a Sportster front end and was the daddy of factory choppers.

Yamaha and other manufacturers followed suit with bars, fat back wheels and guards.

Below. Another chopper the Triumph Hurricane.

Racer (classic 60’s This one is a Rickman Honda. Commandos were also popular. Rickman was a very manufacturer of Cafe Racer in the 70’s. Cafe Racer has stance to the chopper.

The chopper says laid relaxed, cool The cafe says focussed, adrenaline, Cafe Racing lost a lot of when the chopper hit our shores.

its earliest days the motorcycle was by its enthusiast rider. For going speed and endurance races in all were common with in of the motorcycles emergence. For carrying on the boxes, racks, towbars and For acrobatics: ladders platforms For hunting; gun racks and pouches, racks.

For travelling; panniers, leg and wind shields.

Hunting and in the 50’s. note rifle on front bike. Also windscreen on rear bike.

and choppers came out of the racing The introduction of ‘C’ class by the AMA in 1933 came as a result of the with major bike either closing down Henderson) or pulling in their strings. A B class for factory was therefore losing momentum, so C was designed to allow the average Joe to his street legal bike minimal modification.

Stripping a to go faster on the track made on the street.

Stripped for C class.

historians agree that job opportunities plus missing the and closeness to … of the battle influenced many returned US to turn to motorcycles as a part The established motorcycle touring did not appeal to all, so bunches of war and their mates banded for a bit more thrill seeking and out and out raising.

There was also frustration with the mundane and it a changed and non understanding society had fought so hard for and had now returned to. So for a venting their anger and up the straight citizen became an outlet. what better way to break the rules, parade the enemy’s symbols and be what society wasn’t.

What their attitude, speed and handling was a high priority and a bike was a good start. known as bobtailing (removing hinged fender section to a bit like the American ‘Bobtail the stripped bike generally labelled as a bobber.

Bobber. the usually had standard length and rake, high bars, rear mudguard (often the hinge pin pulled out and the rear discarded), no front mudguard, seat and all the ‘junk’ removed.

The weight plus straight out were a simple way to increase and manoeuvrability and show yourself from the crowd. This and the one below are both knuckleheads, the modern overhead valve They were made 1936 and 1948.

Old school . was the bobber with narrower wheel, smaller tank, bar, often a short extension and usually a flashy job. A light and quick bike. With all the stock removed, the old school chopper its straight outs and better really flew, in comparison to its format.

Classic Chopper. was a of the early seventies and very with some wild Usually had long slim ends of 10 to 18extension (forks mostly narrowed), raked head, lowered rear end rigid), moulding, fancy job and lots of chrome. Paint was very bright and multicoloured a lot of home jobs done.

The of styles was quite staggering. was often extensive and frequently

After market narrow and girders were most and dual square head common, Seats were dual seats being common as a chick on the back was the of the day. Cobra and King/Queen were most popular. bars, often quite and ornate were virtually a Forward controls were much mandatory on all makes of

Petrol tanks were holding 1-2 gallons which limited their range, but was the cool look.

By the early Americans were beginning to the jap imports particularly the CB750/4 the one below.

Digger. was designed for line Freeway drags. they didn’t come up the concept Arlen Ness and his son popularised the style. Sportster (seen here) was the most as it was a naturally quick motor could stand a lot of ‘hotting Races commonly were on and off ramps, so acceleration was premium

Diggers rarely had sissy or pillion seats. Tank on Sportster is a diamond tank. popular development that on from the coffin tank.

Long Bike. was a development of the 90’s, generally long front forks and rake, raked triple trees, low seat, stretched tank, fat rear tyre, tendency to use of billet aluminium parts as forward controls, wheels, swing arms etc. An on sculptural effect is achieved often by the shape and design of rather than moulding as was on the earlier choppers.

There is space for a pillion passenger (in contrast to the classic chopper of the and therefore no sissy bar. generally leans forward wide, low handle bars, the classic chopper jockey sat behind high narrow

Cruiser. Chopper builders can full credit for this style of stock bike. Japanese (and every country’s) copy of Harley’s of the old school chopper. Probably the sensible bike (after the of course!) on the road.

Basically a of the big Harleys with low seats. Harley and chopper riders have the last laugh We copped all that abuse British and Jap riders about our and big wheels, low seats, forward pegs, backrests and high and big motors (750 was plenty big and V twins. well they out of the Ark!) Guess what?

some blokes have caught up with us 25 years

Telescopic forks (glides). soon after WWII the oil telescopic front fork was a effective font end. them is as simple as having new tubes machined and swapping with the old (and lengthening a few

They begin to loose effectiveness at greater than 45 rake, but do go over curbs at this angle. Over 6 extension telescopic forks from tweek bars braces) an aluminium bar clamped above the upper reach of the sliders to reduce twisting of the under braking and when Owners of classic Harley invariably narrowed their for lightness, their slim and better handling. this is a panhead.

Springer. Standard forks from 1906 after their inception in through to 1949 (see the of the old school chopper above). strong, but bouncy without

A popular early springer were cast forks off the VL which were longer standard or the forks from the XA shaft drive, horizontally desert army Harley were 4 longer than

Next discovery were radius rods. These had a cross section to the Harley The springer back legs be extended by welding in sections of the radius rod.

Classic usually used narrower and after market springers the one in the second photo. Bottom joints need to be kept lubricated and tight. Once wear, the front end becomes loose and handling suffers.

work at any angle and handle big and objects on the road better telescopic forks. A springer of the extension as a telescopic fork have less trail the axle is further in front of the head centre line, a not understood by current Australian with their 550mm head to axle rule.

motor is a Harley knucklehead. It have gotten very hot all chrome plated. These bars would have handling the bike very and the rider’s arms would get tired after a few miles on the but the lack of footpegs and headlight suggest this photo was before the bike was completed.

In Harley introduced 16×5 (advertised as balloon tyres for soft ride) to replace the tyres previously used, so the 18 wheel on this chopper may be an Most choppers ran 5×16’s right through until the when wider tyres from 180’s through to began to gain popularity. Any tyre over 150mm while good for straight riding are poor handlers in and are really not viable if you plan a lot of on your chopper

Af termarket were made by many in the 70’s, some good many bad. Rocker and balanced spring rates are to handling. the two sets of springs on a springer will cancel other’s harmonics and prevent the development of an ever increasing usually ending up in a nasty From the 30’s onward HD had a friction damper, but chopper invariably removed them to up ‘ the front end.

Standard European forks after WWII. The girder was a classic chopper front end and had friction dampers. Because of the leverage, there is more and tear on a girder’s links and need to be checked regularly.

Top and link should be same to retain a constant trail. On bike, bottom link is to lower bike with rake. definitely not recommended.

Spurder. This front end was by Bill Harman and patented in Over 4000 were and sold. The company also frames and forward controls. It was rigid and so could handle the encountered by very long ends.

It was reported to handle better than the springers of the although it did not have damping. The bars were integral the front end.

This chopper had a frame made Chrome Molly tubing a stiff steel alloy, but not to weld safely and there was debate over its use in bike at the time.

Rigid. Uncommon on show bikes, but was a fad at one stage. ‘clean’ front end, but no suspension very rough on very smooth tarmac and not a handler!

If the forks were enough and the rake large you would get a fair bit of flex in the

Tweek bars (fork Clamp just above travel on telescopic front to reduce twisting when etc. A modern form of brace clamps across the top of the legs.

Risers. are mounted into top triple tree holes to fit handle bars and them higher. This shows a combination of short and low W bars. design on tank was using fish net when one of the layers. Fishnet and doyley were popular with painters.

Dog bones. mount handle bar mounts to raise bar height. Called dog bones they have a bulge at end to take 7/8 or 1 tube. Harley are 1′ while all other are 7/8.

Here are a set of Z bars on height dog bones.

Ape hangers. bars of the 50’s-60’s were and grips rose about 4 mounts. Ape hangers 10, 12 and sometimes got the rider’s hands up and allowed to sit more upright.

This American rider, Indian was until his … in 2004 as the US guru of old school choppers. He was respected as a man and as a chopper builder. He was doing one the stunts he was famous

Z W bars. Getting apes in the years was not always easy or and they often only in one size. Solution? Get some and your welder and make own. Much easier trying to bend tube.

W like the ones on this bring your hand to a nice comfortable angle and down) and release pressure on wrists. Drag bars, T and Z bars being flatter are comfortable than a good set of

T bars. are flat bars to tall risers. By thus the top clamp with welded the rider ended up with a set of bars. In the bad old seventies, using T with extended telescopic allowed Honda four to quickly return to stock when the inevitable defect came along!

Drag Flat bars previously on boy racers (cafe racers the fairing and rear mounted pegs) but on choppers raised up long risers.

Pullbacks. your bars back to bent elbows. Quite a steering sensation. Less on your wrists than six bends.

Six bend pullbacks. Put hands in your lap and your at a more comfortable angle plain pull backs. on these are unusually steep throttle action a tiring.

Controls. Chopper riders like to have their stretched forward. On the original this was easy to do. simply the footboards and putting a footpeg in the front hole of the footboard (see below).

The later the English bikes and later the bikes were not so easy to do. A on the front of the frame (usually the mounts) had to be modified to take a piece of bar onto which could be mounted. Linkages to the lever and brake had then to be

The complexity of this exercise that most 70’s choppers had mid mounts and Highway so the controls did not have to be modified.

Mid Mounts. These were on the Sportsters and British and Japanese as that was were the stock already were. For a short in the early seventies midmounts fashionable on the ‘Big Twin’ as well.

Highway pegs. On that came stock mid-mounted controls, Highway were the way to get the stretched out chopper position. They did not have or brake levers near so were mainly for when the was away form traffic.

very high highway were added to choppers already had forward controls for not the look, but also a second position for longer trips.

Pegs . these were market folding foot initially to replace the Harley boards. They came in all of designs, but with the same mount. Here are a few, 30 or more years old.

retention of original non sprung end common of pre 50’s European and pre American bikes. More on heavy bikes with wheel base such as Can be pretty rough on British and Jap with only mild extension and standard length ends.

The entire frame on little Honda is home

Hardtail. Adding a rigid to replace rear swing shockers and rear frame Usually done on British and bikes. In the seventies hard could be bought for most and either bolted or welded front frame section. Triumph has had some extra added to its stock steering

This rear mudguard is a ribbed version which had used on British bikes for Tank capacity would get you to the corner store!

Struts. the shock absorbers with struts of solid bar or tube is a cheap and a simple way of dropping the end, losing weight and the chopper look.

Swing Standard rear suspension 50’s til now. Suspension usually shortened or remounted to rear of bike. Better offset by higher, heavier and complex looking bike.

a sissy bar was also more and rarely as attractive as running a sissy bar off the axle plate on a bike.

Tw in carburetors as on this was uncommon. The carbies here are ‘injectors’. Lake made a carbie, but they had machined and weremuch more expensive had no float bowls, so relied on pressure directly from the tank. As a result, pressure between a full tank and an empty tank, so the mixture be rich on a full tank and lean off.

For this and the fact that they very difficult to tune they did not remain popular for

Plunger. Axle is mounted to unit rather than a weighty swing arm. better ride than The advantage over a swing arm is easier mounting of a sissy bar but travel is limited and chain to snatch. It was also hard to the wheel from twisting in

Most 70’s plunger were undamped making for a ride over bumps and handling in bumpy corners.

tail. Modern combination of look while retaining introduced by Harley in 1984. are horizontally mounted under the box.

Not a new concept as HRD-Vincent had system in the 40’s although were under the seat.

‘cos it’s shaped a peanut. Like the Sportster that follows only about a gallon. This tank has also had a hollow into it and a scorpion set in resin.

Choppers Australia if you want a of the article on how to do this for $5 posted.

Tank used on stock Sportsters and very popular on choppers. The sporty tank was from the Hummer, a 125-175cc two built by Harley Davidson the

The early sportsters had a longer tank initially and the Hummer was first introduced on the stripped off XLCH in 1958 and quickly a tank of choice for the chopper

Coffin. Potentially holds fuel than peanut and tanks while still pretty trick. An easier for the home builder to make as now curves are involved. Invented by Littlejohn a well know builder in the 70’s.

He was also in a lot of movies and was a stuntman for over a movies.

Diamond. These on from the coffin tanks. very popular on the diggers of the mid Quite popular in Australia.

were very slim and less fuel than the and peanut tanks.

M ustang. A popular tank on Harley this tank originated on the capacity Mustang motor brainchild of William Galdden in

The 1947 Mustang featured a cylinder, 320cc side-valve a three-speed Burman transmission. The BSA had a similar shape, but with seams across the top. It has a profile, to a peanut tank, but is and holds a bit more fuel.

. these tanks are original tanks. They were two On the earlier Harley models and the valves, one side held The big speedo and ignition switch mounted into the top of the tanks.

of fatbobs beside their look is that the top of the engine is so it is hard to keep clean and the is inaccesable. Fatbobs were extremely ugly in the classic era, but did allow you to travel times as far between fuel

Drag pipes. were unbaffled straight, short When adding shorter to your chopper you will need to rejet your Shortening your pipes lean your mixture and burn your exhaust

Twin throat Weber on this Panhead gets in the way of the rider’s right leg.

were drag pipes turned down ends. The metal rocker covers on Pan head have been with cast after covers. Lights were Lucas

Shorty mufflers. A saving and good looking way of your loud exhausts. A tube usually ran through the of muffler and the space between it and out casing was stuffed with which had a limited lifespan to a gradual and considerable noise

Upsweeps. The upsweeps on this panhead have mufflers with fishtails and a sweeter you will never hear. if you carried one had to be careful not to touch her leg on the top pipe.

Bird shooters. why they are called this. were briefly quite Mixture was richened on pipes long and rejetting was required. needed to watch where she put her

This Triumph has a high King Queen seat and tank. It has some rear vi a Stock 50’s Triumph ‘Sprung Hub’. The later hubs recognisable by concentric on the side were apparently reliable and easier to service

Another way of getting exhaust out and keeping pipes light and .

Megaphones. Not the original straight megaphones, they were with a megaphone shape. were also called shakers. These were popular on Australian choppers.

The on this early model are offset (ie they turn at an to the exhaust pipe). Straight were available too. came with tubular that were held in by one 1/4 bolt at the rear.

This sports what appears to be an Harley springer and six bend backs.

Info coming


Solo pad. for the solo Springs make for less crushing on those unexpected pot (mandated requirement on every road) and speed bumps.

follows the contour of frame and Looks nice and allows a a modicum of comfort (sort This three pronged bar was a popular classic chopper

Cobra. version of banana but with a definite cobra shape going from seat rails to narrow Inlaid colour is nice, but can be uncomfortable.

King Queen. the comfortable seating. Back for both rider and passenger. seat. covered in fabric is not to be used in wet weather. The fabric wears very quickly.

back. good comfort for but if very high like one can give a lot of uncomfortable whip on a rigid frame. Some of pattern work, bars and other designs not only good, but provide extra Where a lot of stitching is done as in example, plastic needs to be under seat cover to entry of rain if the bike is to be in inclement weather.

Piping at of seat top and side is great for circulation and not advisable unless going to wear leather

Sissy bar. Not for sissies. your lovely lady and happy.

Great for tying to, especially if you are a traditionalist and like to do thing on your beloved including the weekly shopping and up your oil and new parts.

Rake. long forks, the most thing about a chopper is raked front end.

is the angle (measured from of the steering head.

Motorcycles in the generally had about 20є rake. was ok for slow speeds and dodging pot and wheel ruts, but as speeds the ‘speed wobble’ or ‘tank became a very real with many riders up thrown off their wildly motorcycle! It took a long for companies to address the problem and even today many bikes are less than at speed.

Early solutions ‘steering dampers’. a hand protruding from the steering which you tightened once you up speed. You had to remember to loosen it as you down or the stiff steering cause to weave alarmingly! A version is a hydraulic damper to one fork leg back to a frame

From the 1950’s through to the time rake increased to 28є for a standard road bike.

riders discovered that they lengthened their or added 21 front wheels chopper was more stable at speeds. They then cut the neck area of their frame and raked the neck. practice was to increase rake a standard rake of about 28є to

The resulting bike with its longer forks looked and was so stable at highway speed, it like it was on rails. and if done the speed wobble was never to be again.

In the 70’s rake was listed as fractions of an inch the (eg ј that the bottom of the steering was swung forward after (see A).

A second method of the neck (second Diag to cut the front ‘down tube’ heat the rear point of the (at A), stretch the steering head and weld in ‘slugs’. This had the advantage of raising the backbone and head, giving more to ‘show off’ the engine and allowed longer forks to be

American Classic Motors RIGID CHOPPER Cruiser
American Classic Motors RIGID CHOPPER Cruiser

A raked front end if done and strongly is much safer a standard length fork when hitting an object on the not just because of the increased but also because the spring will absorb more of the instead of it being transferred to the themselves, the frame and the rider.

When rake is increased, is increased. The greater (or more the trail, the more resistance the wheel has to a deflection such as a brick on the road.

The wheel be deflected, but its tendency to continue in its direction will be stronger a front end with less This is called ‘castor’ on a car and is why on cars you don’t have to ‘steer’ the car. its tends to say in a line. When you reverse you will note that the wheel then wants to out of your hands to the side.

is an example of what would if your motorcycle had ‘negative

The two down-sides of increased rake and are heavier steering (‘wheel at low speeds and more stress on the head area. Bikes 40є+ degrees of rake extra strength built the neck area, usually thin metal plates ‘gussets’.

Stock trail was around 1Ѕ-3. Optimal for highway speeds is between 8 and 12. A wheel based, heavier will handle greater than a light short

Trail is less for a springer of the length and rake as telescopic due to the forward set of the axle on a springer.

Design Rules (ADR’s) for specify that the maximum forward of the front axle the steering head is to be 550mm. is supposedly to prevent the long ends that were so with the classic 70’s

If you are building a chopper, a 40 degree with 6 extended telescopic will be about the maximum you can do and keep within the 550 ADR.

T he 550 is an unscientific regulation for a number of It is not related to wheel base, not account for springers and assumes are not strong enough to handle a front end than this. It assumes that the optimal head angle (rake) is of around 30 degrees used by bikes. great for quick around town, but unstable on the especially if the wheel is deflected by an object.

550 and the springer. Because the axle on a is about 2 further forward of the head line, a standard springer on a stock rake an already minimal trail by a 2. If the ADR was to be realistic in the real world it relate to maximum trail and fork length.

550 and steering strength. Any modern (1950’s road bike’s steering and frame are quite capable of up to 40 degree rake and 10 extended Plenty of bikes frames handle bigger loads but it is worth adding in strengthening over this extension and

Headstem bearings will out quicker though and it is advisable to ballbearing races found on Japanese and British bikes tapered rollers. and keep a check on headstem conditions.

550 and rake’. 28-32 degree commonly found on road are a compromise to keep the bike handling in city streets and to bring to a stop at traffic It is also strongly influenced by bikes which have no connection with the reality of road riding.

40 degree with its accompanying trail is much safer on the open

550 and fork length.

Telescopic of the 70’s usually only had of 32-36mm in diameter and lacked at anything over stock Any tubes extended over 4 to develop slop (twist) and a fork brace. When your forks over 6 it is to find a larger diameter set of from a later model and adapt them to your head.

Springers and more so, are much more rigid telescopics when extended and be used when extending than 8 .

Raked triple In the seventies raked trees a cheat’s way of getting the raked with out the expense of raking steering head. The angle of the are greater than the angle of the post.

They reduced often producing negative and were extremely dangerous. of the modern long bikes just enough rake into the triple trees to trail at around 3-4 inches for the of light steering at low speed .

Steering head angle also be increased by lengthening the down tubes to swing the head up and out.

Upward This yellow Triumph have been terrible to as front forks are solid (ie no Bike is running a standard set of backs.

This knuckle Harley has lots of forward in the ‘Digger’ style that in the early seventies. Handle are called ‘Tiller Bars.

A way of stretching your frame out gaining steering head The first goosenecks (this was one of the first) were pretty but modern fabricators are usually restrained.

Forward controls. controls on the 40’s Harleys easy. just throw the foot boards, and bolt a peg through the front foot mounting hole. On European and Jap forward controls are a whole ball game and require forward mounted brackets and a bit of fabrication and interesting linkages to get out there.

Transverse Jap fours the further problem of having feet splayed wide and the (guarantee?) to burn your calf muscles on the hot finning! properly positioned forward do make for a much more riding position and less on long distance runs and is a classic chopper requirement.

The use of body putty (sometimes to smooth out unsightly frame and lumps and to produce smooth lines. This Triumph is extensively moulded to produce effects on tank, mudguard, rear mudguard stay and light. After some of riding cracks would likely appear around stay.

Tank looks a of frame but is actually removable. has also been dished in), a common treatment in the seventies

This moulding job is more basic and used to smooth frame casings and This style of moulding not looks great, but makes this Triumph much Megaphones used on this were a very common in the seventies.

Scallops. An extension of where thin sheet often edged with rod is to produce swing raised Scallops were used on tanks and between converging near the axle on a rigid end.

This is a fairly example.

How safe is the classic

All motorcycles are a compromise designed to to the broadest range of rider and inexperience.

The classic chopper like a ‘cafe racer’, a a dirt bike or a drag is a purpose built machine. any of these other machines, a chopper is ridden according to its cruising, sedate cornering and line acceleration, it is a very and effective design.

The chopper of course have the Look to many is much of its appeal, and can be its down fall when for that reason alone, thought for proper geometry and integrity. Keep in mind the sports bike and racing alikes are built to achieve the too!

Our comments on chopper obviously are made assuming construction and geometry and obviously some of the wilder show stuff.

1. W hat are the classic chopper’s drawbacks to safety.

a heaviness at below 15 km per hour which some extra concentration,

the rigid rear end which poorly at speed on bumpy

undampened springers and girders can a disconcerting ride at speed in conditions if the spring rates properly balanced against other. A common modern method is to mount a steering in front of the springs. This a big difference.

the small narrow does not usually allow the to grip it with his knees, is a disadvantage in wet slippery or sandy and conditions.

the feet position not provide as much control in conditions.

2. Why a well set up chopper is safer than most think.

Low seat position.

The low seating position (especially on a also greatly increases safety and manoeuvrability especially at low and more than compensates for low speed steering that is due to the trail. Any one who has thrown around a rigid chop will to fantastic confidence and ease of with this set up.


The chopper’s upright rider gives a better field of in all conditions than a sports and more steering control the handle bars are below height and not too wide. Putting the upright and further back braking safety by putting weight towards the back

The chopper rider in his upright tucked into a high-backed is less subject to fatigue on the than a sports bike The tourer’s windscreen (not on a chopper!) is an advantage in open cruising. except in high winds. Some wind is one reason for the sleeping bag (poor fairing) often seen on out on the highway.

Passenger position and fit.

The chopper passenger has a field of view (over the head) giving an added set of for the rider. She is very secure a back rest or sissy

If anything on the road is dangerous, it has to be the set up on many sports bikes. I the poor sports bike perched precariously on a tiny of padding, feet tucked with no back support. I am that it is even legal.

The is invariably built to suit its stature (at least it should be) and is inherently safer because fits like a glove.

of increased trail.

The chopper is safer at high speed a sport bike because of trail, longer wheel and lower seating position. all, if sports bike’s geometry was optimal, why would it a steering damper.

Sometimes, builders aiming for the Look understanding the benefits of trail, add rake into the triple to bring the trail back to stock for light low speed This then only the rider a small advantage in wheel base and loses the all chopper stability gained extra trail.

A well set up front end with its extra is a delight to ride at highway and speed. The shovel pictured at the top of article with its 6 extended end and 40 degree rake has been up to 200kph (on the speedo) on a less perfect road and it sits on the like its on rails. A 550 Honda ridden by the outhor’s son is raked to 45 and has ten inch extended forks.

It is to push around the garage and is heavy up to walking speed, but then on this chopper is and sure and excellent to ride at speed. Handling in tight requires a slightly different but it is very predictable and easy to put the ‘twisties’.

One engineer once to me Long front ends on are the next best thing to air bags and should be mandatory and is another good point.

stress on raked front

Engineers calculate increased produced by greater rake and front forks and warn the danger of broken frames and trees. The facts seem to that sensible welding, and the tubing sizes found on are more than adequate to with these extra Stock (but raked ) have been ridden for 20 or 30 years without failure.

do have benefits.

Critics of the springer should also that springers handle found out on the highway better telescopic forks despite less travel. Their action also retains a constant trail, a key to handling in cornering conditions. not that riders are into cornering.

wheel base spells

And the chopper’s long front The chopper’s long wheel is a significant safety advantage. The wheel base does for slower and different cornering but chopper riders are not into racing anyway. which the chopper jockeys life 1000 fold!

The short base of racing bikes is for quick handling and direction in a racing situation. Sports have followed the same despite public roads seriously unsuitable places to Even cruising sports with more up right screen etc still compromise road stability for the look and low light handling of the racer.

a longer the wheel base, the the has more time to correct a change in direction such as a rear or front wheel due to or an obstacle hit by either wheel. A of chopper riders I have spoken to have reported from tricky situations they are sure they not have on their sports

This rider has hit a pair of 6 and 4 logs on a sharp corner at and aside from being clean off the seat, one twitch of the and then it was on down the road as if had happened. This was because of the self-centring action due to greater and trail and the long (6′) base. I would have scraping up my skin off the road if had stock length forks and and been sitting on the bike than in it!

Designed for a purpose.

bikes are set up for quick cornering not for speed touring, choppers are set up for cruising not fast hills No one would dispute that bikes are in their element on the but that their knobbly are a hazard in city traffic and on sealed roads. Each has a different purpose and should not be in each others roles.

safety. When compared the off road tyres and poor allowed on off road bikes and the sports bike high instability and dangerous lack of security, the classic chopper very well in the safety

The classic chopper is definitely a design and should not be criticized by the or legislated against.

You think writer is biased? Well I am, but then again, maybe not wise to criticise the chopper you’ve spent some riding a well set up chopper to suit you. Perhaps you try it. you just might end up a convert!

Seventies chopper builders.

coming. US builders. including choppers, Bob Hardy, Sugar Gary Littlejohn, Ron Finch, Ness, Amen, Tom McMullen AEE Ed Roth. and some Australian

American Classic Motors RIGID CHOPPER Cruiser

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