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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If someone wanted to build a "Chopper" where would they start? By that I mean, is there a specific bike model needed or could you convert say a Sportster into a Chopper - just for arguments sake?

Oh and what "constitutes" a Chopper - is it only extended forks or is there more to it?
 
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I always thought chopper meant you cut the downtubes and maybe the backbone near the neck and raked and/or stretched it. Some just a little. Some waaaaaay over. A 28° rake becomes a 32° rake. Or 36°, or 40°, or ??? So much up and out. That's what causes the need for extended forks. But nowadays, chopper can mean whatever someone wants it to mean. Take your turn signals and fenders off. Add some Ape hangers and you can call it "my chopper". That would be more of a bobber. But don't let a little terminology get in the way.

And purists would probably say it would be a hardtail. But most people aren't hard enough for a hardtail anymore.

You could start with a complete bike. Or maybe a motor. Or maybe a frame or rolling chassis. Or even just a vision in your mind's eye. There's no written rule.

Unless you are having someone else build it, it would call for more than the ability to turn a screwdriver.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
My wife told me I needed a hobby (another one) as I get bored easy so thought I might buy a cheapish bike like a sportster and try to convert it into a chopper for something to do. If it worked great, if it didn't - oh well at least I would still have my "daily rider" in tact :)

Just tryin' to think of things to do to keep me occupied and that might be worth while :)
 

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Won't she let you have those two young female assistants to help you install all those parts for your current bike still stacked on the porch. Seems like that would be enough of a "hobby".
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I wish BUT alas not - besides, I would like to be alive to enjoy the work done (on the bike) when it was done :)

And - the work on my current bike will be done on the 14th of July by a pro - err meaning a Harley Shop :)
 

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Yeah, but you could be the burly, barrel-chested biker dude. And did I leave out the word "nubile"?
 
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I always felt the term chopper was simply chopping off what wasnt necessary from the old days. Raked out long forks today is what many see it as. It's a too eaches own kinda thing.

What you use I guess depends on the look you're aiming for. The longer the front end usually you lose your turning radius. It's a toss up.
I'd look at different bikes with different rakes then go from there
 

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There you go. That's what I mean.

Didn't you ever watch Beverly Hillbillies? Dr. Granny was going to bob Mr. Drysdale's tongue because it kept getting in his way while he was talking. That's removing what's not necessary.

Here's a chopper.

You got your pan head. You got your knucklehead. Might even have a flathead. Maybe an Indian. Could be a brit bike. Triumph, BSA, etc. No Hondas, Yamahas, Kawasakis allowed. At least until the late 60s. Before the 50s, they were just about all hardtails. Various types of front ends. Springers, girders, and then along came the nearly modern forks. You didn't go to any catalog and order a chopper. Whole or in parts. Most if not all this was done in your garage by you and maybe some like-minded friends. People actually did this themselves. They didn't buy it done.

You take your bike and strip it to the frame. You cut the front downtubes somewhere just below the neck. Stick a long pipe in the neck and with a little heat, you pull up on the pipe until you reach a predetermined angle. It could be going from a 30° angle to a 40° angle. Hope you had a plan. Once set, you weld in some tubing to fill the gap in the downtubes. If you did have a plan when you started, you would know that you need 16" over forks or 20" over or 8" over, whatever. Mild to wild. That gives the bike a normal riding stance. Handling is completely different than before because all that rake and trail has gone out the window. And it wasn't just putting 4", 6" or 8" over forks on a stock bike. They're pretty funky handling too. But for different reasons. That's just a stock bike with over stock fork tubes.

That's where chopper came from.

You can call them whatever you want. Only Dems want to send people to jail for calling something by the wrong name.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This is my first recollection of a chopper:
Tire Wheel Sky Vehicle Cloud
 
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Wombat…consider buying models you glue,put together and paint. Its a great hobby.



 

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If you're gonna use a Sportster engine the '98 to '03 EVO is the best bang for the buck in performance AND reliability. You will be tempted to use an Ironhead engine. DON'T. You are not mechanically experienced enough to work on it.
There are many unfinished projects out there on CL and ebay. Finding a roller is a good start. Make sure you're not just buying a bunch of old parts that someone threw together. A hardtail frame by a respected frame builder is good....

Holy crap! I could keep going but you need to watch some U-Tube videos and go to something like ChopCult and do some research. I think Part timer was saying that it's a major undertaking and not to be taken casually like a hobby.

 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
That was one of the reasons I thought I might take a look at it - to "practice and play" with a bike that wasn't going to put mine off the road. Use it to learn how to do things. If it didn't work, so be it ... if it did (over time) then great, I'd have another bike :)
 

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The original chopper was any old Harley that had all of the un needed parts "chopped" off of it. A lot of them were surplus war bikes that people were able to buy cheap. Or worn out bikes the PoPo sold at auction. When I was in highschool I went to a police auction in Philly, just to see what it was about. I was too broke to buy anything. It was crooked as an auction could be. You registered and got your number, then you went over to a guy who looked like he was making book. You paid him $50 and picked your scooter out and they chalked your number onto it. When that scooter came up, you held you card up when the auctioneer opened the bidding, and he dropped the hammer. If the bike you wanted was already spoken for, you picked another. There was no bidding the price up. Same with the cars except they moved them in lots of 10. Sorted as to what they were good for.

The bikes above are both examples of extended fork choppers. With Captain America having the neck raked.

Today, you're more likely to see high angle extended forks or tall neck frames on customs. The most common build to see is a Sporty with a hard tail kit. The cost of building a chopper has become prohibitive, so most people save 20 grand and buy a used factory chopper left over from the 90-2000 chopper craze. Right now its all about GT baggers and rat bikes. Thank god the big wheel thing has died off.

I have to say it always makes me chuckle when I see a more or less new bagger that has $30k worth of GT mods and is still shod in Dunlop HD tires with big ole chicken strips.
 

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If anyone has thought that the brakes on a 02 heritage sucks they should try a chopper with no front brake. Dennis Hopper said his bike looking good was its only redeeming factor. Handled terrible and was uncomfortable.
 

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in·san·i·ty
/inˈsanədē/

noun
noun: insanity
  1. the state of being seriously mentally ill; madness.
    "he suffered from bouts of insanity"
    h
    Similar:
    mental illness
2. no front brake
 
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