Many of you may find the story of my build to be a familiar one. Prowling the Internet one night, I came across a great deal. The brand new 12 over taper legged Paughco springer was 50% off. Seldom biting at stuff like this, I thought, if nothing else, I would flip it. Little did I know where that impulse buy would lead me. Clicking “purchase,” it was on its way. Not to my house, but to my parent’s place in Colorado, as I live in the southern part of India and have so for the last 5 years. The forks sat until I was home for a few weeks in December of 2013. Looking at it for the first time, I knew I would be accompanying me on the long journey back to the subcontinent. It was time to build a chopper!
Gathering some allies in a project like this is always a good idea, especially if you have never built a bike from the ground up in a foreign land. Flash forward to November of 2014. How do you find out where the best shop in town is? Ask some biker friends. Soon, I was headed to a distant part of the city seeking out Mr. Munian. The awesome thing about this worldwide infatuation with customization is that there are experts everywhere. After a quick glance around his shop, it became obvious that he, his son Suresh, and their crew knew how to make stuff. Haasikha Bikes created the first belt-driven Royal Enfield in India, and routinely do rear disc brake and dual disc conversions. They even engineered a shaft-driven Enfield. You know that feeling you get when you have struck gold? There I was, in a city of 11 million people, celebrating my discovery to get the project rolling.
Luckily for me, I have a good friend helping me out. I had the good fortune of meeting Bill way back in 2006 when we were both working in Mumbai, India. We have been fast friends since, riding together in India and in the U.S. a bit when we are able to. Bill is one of those guys that has a special presence; his kindness and good nature are contagious and the life is better with him a part of it. Living in a place where it is often hard to find common items in the U.S, luggage space is a premium on the trips home. We have had great luck sending chopper parts to his 80-year old mother’s house and then lugging that stuff across 12 time zones.
The real fun began when we started bending the tubing for the frame. Buying the steel was a typical Indian adventure. One we found the nagar, or neighborhood, of Alandur. It is typical that many metal vendors set up shop in one area of the city. It was time to find our 1.25 inch diameter tubing, along with the other metal we would need to build the frame. My experience has been that the people of India are wonderfully curious, helpful and friendly. Due to the social structure here, and the remnants of colonialism, there are places where expatriates are typically not seen. From the looks on people’s faces, we were engaged in some out of the ordinary shopping.
Both the jig and the frame plans we are using come from chopperhandbook.com. Gary, the owner of that site, has been very helpful in forwarding me blueprints and answering our questions about the process.
Although I have nearly taken my shovelhead back home completely apart and put it back together again, I have never built a frame. We found a loaner motor are to use during the mock up, and perhaps in a month or so, all the metal will be cut, bent, notched and ready to be fused together. Neither Bill, nor I, TIG weld, but with the help of our Indian friends we are moving ahead. We are having a great time learning how to do all of this and is good to know the chopper spirit, which includes helping out others to accomplish something out of the ordinary, is a trait shared by people all around the globe.