Creating a custom chopper bike, where to start?

Creating a custom chopper bike, where to start?

So you want to build a custom chopper? I do too, so the first question I asked myself was where to start. Should I make a business plan, schedule, financial statement, or just buy my wife flowers and go ahead blindly? I guess I should do all of the above, but not necessarily in that order.

I’m going to start by trying to justify this purchase and, or try to do that, I’m going to list my reasons for building the Chopper. 1) I want to drive a custom helicopter, totally cool stretchy, fire breathing, gas eating, pavement pounding, old lady scaring, 2 wheeled monster. 2) I want to be able to say “I built it” when someone asks me where I got this totally sick bike. 3) I want to be able to customize the bike beyond the standard aftermarket parts that I can get for my current Harley Davidson Fatboy. 4) I want to be able to make this dream come true, which means I have to be able to pay for it. A $35,000 helicopter is out of my current budget. 5) I’ve been talking about this for 5 years so why don’t I get to it and stop talking and start doing some building.

Now I have a few reasons on paper and will look at my options, then make a plan, schedule and find some extra money.

Let’s start with my build options and plan for a slow and steady approach. I realize I will need to do a lot of research before I start. I have 4 main options, a kit bike, a rolling chassis, starting from scratch or an extreme makeover of an existing bike.

Option 1) If I start with a motorcycle kit, I might be ahead mechanically and behind financially. What I mean by that, a kit bike has all the parts, it just needs paint, labor, gas, oil and a little love. The trouble with a full bike kit would cost me $12,000 right now. It’s a little outside of me spending a ton of money now then not being able to ride a bike for a year or two I think. If I get a kit, I might be able to put it together faster since I’ll be motivated and have all the parts ready to go. As a first bike I think this is a very good option considering all the expensive mistakes I can make that way. One downside to this option is the amount of customization I can do to the bike while it’s assembled. Since all the parts are in the kit, I can resist the urge to get new rods or different sheet metal or other parts.

Option 2) Start with a rolling chassis, that’s the middle of the road option, spend a lump sum of money, about 1/2 what the whole bike will cost, and get a basic setup that works together.

The rolling chassis kit consists of a frame, 2 wheels, forks and triple clamps and bars, all built and configured to work together. Add a motor and transmission and all the basic functions of a motor are in place. This setup helps avoid some of the major work required to mix match and mount these items together. This option also allows for a lot of customization of the parts people see and the parts that give the bike its personality. For me, this is a very serious option to consider. I’ll only have 1/2 the price and 1/2 the parts sitting around collecting dust until I find the time to put it together.

Option 3) Find each part one by one and build a fully custom bike. I know I can do this, but I also know I will run into more unexpected and possibly expensive problems with this type of build. This option will give me a bike that no one will ever duplicate. This could be very good or this could be very bad. What if some possible combination of frame, bike, forks or wheels doesn’t work together? It wouldn’t be discovered until the bike was together. I think this option is better left to the serious pro who builds a bike all night, as they work on other people’s bikes and run a business during the day. I might consider this for my second custom chopper.

Option 4) Take an existing bike and start cutting and modifying it. This might be as complicated as cutting and re-welding the frame to create a new camber and angles. Or it could mean simply getting a new frame and using the engine, transmission and various other parts to build a new machine. I like this idea and think it would be a cheaper alternative to all the new custom parts. With this option you can also keep the current registration and title if the frame is not changed. This is also a lower cost option as many of the different parts can be reused.

I know that in one page all possible combinations of Custom Chopper build cannot be fully explained, I just hope this information gives you something to start and build on. It helps me head in the direction of a rolling chassis so I better shop around.

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