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|Model: Chopper "Tangerine Dreams"|
|Model from Revell Kit # 7315 Built on 01-10-2011 1/12 scale|
is a type of motorcycle
that was either modified from an original motorcycle design
("chopped") or built from scratch to have an authentic
appearance. The main features of a chopper that make it stand
out are its longer frame
design accompanied by a stretch front end (or rake). To achieve
a longer front end, while the frame is being designed, the fabricator
will tilt the neck of the frame at less of an incline and
install a longer fork.
Another unique aspect of a chopper design is that there is
usually no rear suspension meaning the frame of the motorcycle
will extend from the neck (or front of the frame) all the way to
the rear wheel. This can make handling the motorcycle more
challenging and the ride a bit more "bumpy". These
attributes may seem radical to some but is necessary for the
look that is desired. One look that is becoming more popular
with chopper designs is a low frame to ground clearance or a low-rider
look. Well known examples of chopper designs are the customized Harley-Davidsons
seen in the 1969 film
Before there were choppers, there was the bobber, meaning a motorcycle that had been "bobbed," or relieved of excess weight by removing parts, particularly the fenders, with the intent of making it lighter and thus faster, or at least making it look better in the eyes of a rider seeking a more minimalist ride. An early example of a bobber is the 1940 Indian Sport Scout "Bob-Job" which toured in the 1998 The Art of the Motorcycle exhibition. Indian Scouts and Chiefs of the time came with extravagantly large, heavily valenced fenders, nearly reaching the center of the wheel on the luxurious 1941 Indian Series 441 while racing bikes had tiny fenders or none at all. The large and well-appointed bikes exemplified the "dresser" motorcycle aesthetic and providing a counterpoint to the minimalist bobber, and cafe racers. Choppers would grow into and explore the dimensions of the space between the stripped-down bobbers and weighed-down dressers.
In the post-World War II United States, servicemen returning home from the war started removing all parts deemed too big, heavy, ugly or not absolutely essential to the basic function of the motorcycle, such as fenders, turn indicators, and even front brakes. The large, spring-suspended saddles were also removed in order to sit as low as possible on the motorcycle's frame. These machines were lightened to improve performance for dirt-track racing and mud racing.
Forward-mounted foot pegs replaced the standard large 'floorboard' foot rests. Also, the standard larger front tire, headlight and fuel tank were replaced with much smaller ones. Many choppers were painted preferably all in either flat black or in shiny metallic “metal flake” colors. Also common were many chromed parts (either one-off fabricated replacements or manually chromed stock parts). According to the taste and purse of the owner, “chop shops” would build high handle bars, or later “Big Daddy” Roth Wild Child’s designed stretched, narrowed, and raked front forks. Shops also custom built exhaust pipes and many of the “after market kits“ followed in the late 1960s into the 1970s. Laws required (and in many locales still do) a retention fixture for the passenger, so vertical backrests called sissy bars were a popular installation, often sticking up higher than the rider's head.
While the decreased weight and lower seat position improved handling and performance, the main reason to build such a chopper was to show off and provoke others by riding a machine that was stripped and almost nude compared to the softer-styled stock Harley-Davidsons, let alone the oversized automobiles of that time.
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