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Let's get this out in the open right from the beginning, I'm not a professional bike builder. I don't do it for a living, nor do I intend to. It's my hobby and my passion. Every spare hour I can spend in my garage working on my bikes, is the best time of any day for me.

Building bikes isn't rocket science and it is within the capabilities of allot of today's riders, due to the quality and availability of great after-market parts and custom accessories.

With good parts, careful planning, patience, and a number of "how to" articles, the average enthusiast can do what we are doing here.

The Build a Bike Articles are a series of articles that I wrote for Rumble Magazine. I'll take you through the process of building your bike from the frame up.

With that said...let's get started!


The Frame

We're starting a new project bike from the frame up, it's going to be a chopper, but with a few different twists that will hopefully distinguish this from the typical chopper prowling the streets.

True to tradition our chopper will be a rigid frame, but ours will house a 250 rear tire, with right side drive and a 1 " single downtube rather than the conventional twin down tubes.

Our frame was custom built to our specs by Rolling Thunder,from Chatequay Quebec, Canada, one of the premier aftermarket frame manufacturers. This frame has five inches of stretch up and an additional 3 inches of stretch in the backbone, and with the 41 degree rake in the neck mated to the 5 degree raked triple tree's we're using, it should have the long, low slung chopper profile that is so popular today.

You might wonder, why the unconventional right side drive? Simple, to accommodate a 250 rear tire mounted to an 18" x 8.5" wheel and running a 1 " left side drive belt, something's gotta give! The transmission and primary and or engine are usually offset a fairly substantial amount to the left to line up with the rear pulley.

This can result in a poor handling bike that harnessed to one of the monster motors in today's customs can pose some potential drive train problems. Our Rolling Thunder frame has the transmission off set " to the left to accommodate the transmission pulley on the right side. The unit is a box 5 speed from Baker and it comes housed in a Baker chrome transmission case, and the finish is a work of art.

The Powerplant

Our chopper will be powered by a 121" Total Performance Engineering motor that is set on center in the Rolling Thunder frame. It will only require the primary drive set-up to be off set " to mate up with the transmission, a very workable set-up which will make for a nice handling chopper.

Our engine is a Pro Series box unit from Total Performance Engineering, that was especially built for our needs by General Sales manager David Pisciotta.

Before our 121" motor was assembled and ran, it was sent out to have the cylinders and heads machined smooth of all casting imperfections before they were show polished to an absolutely blinding finish. It was then assembled and ran by TPeng before being crated and shipped to us here in Phoenix.

Sitting next to the Baker chrome 5 speed, they will produce the eye candy that is essential to the appeal of a chopper like this.

Not to underscore the sheer exhilaration of the brute horsepower, torque and reliability that Tpeng motors are noted for.

The Builder

Now for another twist, our chopper won't be fabricated or assembled by any name builder, it will be totally fabricated, and assembled in our home garage. Did I mention, we will be building some pretty wild sheet metal and molding and custom painting our chopper all by ourselves in this project?

One of the greatest satisfactions in owning a bike like this is answering the question that is so commonly asked, " wow, who built your bike?" with the smug, but satisfying response, "I did".

It isn't out of the realm of possibility for most guys who are handy around the garage and willing to be patient, thorough and willing to devote the time, to produce a truly quality finished product.

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