Chopper Bycicle

    Frustrated by the lack of existing bicycles which flowed with the ease and grace of traditional chopper-style custom motorcycles, Morgan found the chopper bicycle style to be the perfect challenge. The goal, to create a handmade bicycle that unlike any of it’s known pedal-having ancestors,

would distill the highway art of the custom Harley that it’s essence might be manifest in the much simpler, naked, context of the bicycle. So a design was needed that flowed with that crystalized movement, yet was simple, yet was audacious. Long forks (though not too too long) stretching into the distance before the rider, a staple of the genre, were a must. A low seat, pedals as far forward as they could go, and high bars got the rider position right. The biggest

break from past chopper bicycles was learned from lowriders. Ride height - have as little as possible. In this case about 1”. Another design objective was to use as few components as possible, thus emphasizing the simple beauty of the bicycle in its purest form. From these ideas a design was born and sketched and chosen.

    Most bike frame designs, made with straight tubing, can be largely broken down into numerical descriptions of the diameters and lengths of each tube and the angle of each intersection. This contributes to ease of fabrication because the individual tubes can be cut and shaped based on the math of the design, which lays out concrete ideals of accuracy. However, the curvy design of the chopper dictated a more artistic, feel-based construction approach. The primary design sketches were projected onto large paper and

copied in life size scale. Then with the help of Joe Graham and his tubing roller, straight pieces of aircraft quality 4130 cromoly steel tubes were curved to match the lines of the drawing. Actually they didn’t match closely - steel in hand it became clear that design adjustments were necessary, and they were freely made.    

   With the tubing of the chosen dimensions rolled to the desired curves, the ends of each tube were trimmed and coped to fit together perfectly with the adjacent tubes. The tubes were then brought back to Graham Cycles where they were tack welded together while held in alignment (more or less anyway) in Joe’s frame jig. Traditional fillet brazing was chosen as the construction method for its combination of strength and unique visual impact, especially in raw form. The brass of the brazing filler also goes well with the gold colored lowrider bike parts selected to go with the handmade frame. With the brazing completed, files and sandpaper

were used to smooth the joints and to remove the flux left of the joints from the traditional brazing process. Fine emery cloth brought the whole frame to a pollish.   

   The double-clamp semi-flexible girder fork was Joe’s suggestion and the implementation with bottom-mount ape hanger handlebars is believed to be the first in the world. Another first was the live fish in the glass bowl mounted beneath the seat, inspired by the little-documented Zlayboy-esque bosozoku car with a slot machine in place of the tail light. The rest of the parts include a rare white, Welsh, leather saddle, custom white ostrich leather grips, staggered white wall tires and wheels with 144 spoke each. 

   The bike is now on display at Modestman Brewing in Keene NH, where it continues to bring smiles to faces young and old alike.

© 2020 Laughing Alligator Design - Created by Elias G. Elliot