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Anyone in Denver wanna go for a ride?

Morgan – Well, let me preface this by saying this was my first build… and my first bike. I had looked at motorcycles – especially choppers – from afar for a long time but never really considered getting one. My Dad never had one. I didn’t have an older brother who had one. My Mom hated them, So did my wife.

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Probably in mid 2009 I started to obsess over them, especially the DIY, garage built rat bikes – many of which I saw on this site. I ended up wearing down my wife, promising to always wear a helmet, and the following year a friend of mine ended up getting his hands on an ’82, totally bone stock. That ended up becoming mine on trade for some tattoo work. I got it not even knowing how to ride a motorcycle.

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I knew I wanted to chop it, but didn’t want to rush in not even knowing how to ride the thing.  It ran, but I didn’t want to ride around on it with all the stock crap still attached.  I’m an electrician by trade, but have never been a car guy.  Thankfully, I’ve got the ego to assume I’ll learn everything as I go.  I bent up a homemade set of drag bars, bobbed the rear fender, made a half assed solo seat, and stripped off the turn signals, stock air filter, bulky plastic bits, and chopped off the mufflers.  What I ended up with was something ugly and ratty…but it was becoming mine.

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Skipping over learning how to ride and a huge fiasco with an out of state title, I finally had it Colorado plated and was on the road. Being an inexperienced rider, I was too intimidated to ride with friends and many other people, so I spent the fall and early winter of 2010 exploring Denver and the surrounding cities on two wheels by myself.  Thankfully, despite it’s Rocky Mountain reputation, Denver stays particularly mild most of the year, and was able to ride comfortably all the way up to Christmas Eve. I called that one my last for the year, and finally retired the bad bitch to my garage that would become both it’s tomb and place of resurrection.

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In late December I started disassembling.  By the beginning of this year it was down to the frame and I was ready to make my first cuts.  I was moving along at such an easy pace, I figured I’d have it done by March.  Yeah right.  My wife and I had our first child on top of me being out of work for 6 months (which meant no money to buy parts) brought things to a screeching halt for weeks or months at a time.

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But finally I got on my feet and on my way.  I wanted it to be a budget built from the get go – not just because I’m cheap, but I wanted to start off knowing what it was like to build parts and come from the ground up.  There was some stuff I obviously ordered, but I wanted to be able to end up with a badass bike, and know it cost me very, very little in the end.

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I built everything in my long single car garage with nothing more than a 120v MIG welder, cordless drill, angle grinder and hand tools.  I didn’t even know how to weld when I started so that was yet another learning curve and part of the process.

Here’s how everything broke down:

  • Frame – TC Bros hardtail
  • Tank – Ebay find peanut tank
  • Fender – Repurposed front fender to be rear
  • Pipes – Homemade using TC Bros pipe kit
  • License/Tail Light Bracket – Homemade and hand hammered from scrap steel
  • Pegs – Repurposed original peg brackets – hand-me-down rigid passenger pegs
  • Seat – Generic solo seat and springs from TC Bros
  • Seat Pivot – Homemade from scrap steel
  • Battery Box – Homemade from scrap steel
  • Electronics Box – Homemade from a piece of 4″ conduit and scraps
  • Bars – Homemade from scrap 1/2″ rigid electrical conduit
  • Headlight – Generic garage sale find
  • Grips/Throttle – Garage sale find and generic “old school” grips
  • Front Brake Master Cylinder – Slimline from MikesXS
  • Mirror/Clutch Lever/Key Switch/Air Filters – Generic

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Everything else is stock and otherwise moved and/or adjusted. All in (after getting the donor bike on a trade), I’ve probably only got about $700 or so into this. Once it was “done” I went through a few pairs of homemade bars before I built these and was happy with them. As well, somewhere along the line I had the classic charging system problem. By that point, I was so burnt out on troubleshooting that I had to ask for some help. Had the reg/rec replaced along with the brushes and battery and she was on the road.

I put some rattle can rust/brown on the frame and otherwise haven’t put much thought into paint before getting her running steady. That’ll be this winter’s project – I’m just enjoying riding her for the time being. Huge thanks to xs650chopper.com for the endless inspiration to finish this heap. Anyone in Denver wanna go for a ride?

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