Its interesting how life and people work, how situations shape a persons goals and perspectives. After having the time of my life in the USA on our honeymoon I returned to Australia with so many fond memories of inspirational moments.
I have been off work after getting surgery to repair my finger that I hacked through with the angle grinder, under strict orders to rest I picked up a pile of DICE magazines that I acquired in the USA, I flicked through them all and instantly had ideas on building a bike.
I searched high and low on the internet for a cheap project bike, I found nothing that was a reliable buy and decided to give up on the idea, I just couldnt resist though so I opened the garage and used my left hand to extract the TS185 that had been gifted to my good friend Dean Walters and then given to me to build for Dave Boyd of Imperial Surfboards as a little promo scoot. In a very tragic set of circumstances Dave passed away that day and left many of us who knew him with a heavy heart. I didn’t know Dave as well as most others but he was enthusiastic about seeing this bike come to life.
I took emotion, inspiration and one hand to that TS185 and I vowed to make it something I would be proud of, something people would get a kick out of and something that showed people you don’t need $$ to create happiness in your garage.
I cut the bike down to its bare bones, just enough frame to hold the engine and triple clamps in place and hand made the rest.
Once I had the outline of the bikes shape and stance using a fender from Lowbrow Customs, and some ERW bright tube from my local Metaland, I used the MIG welder to quickly tack it all in place and get the look I was after.
I removed the motor and gave it all a good clean, two goes with paint stripper, some pressure washing and one blast with some Allubrite metal cleaner is all it took to shine like a new one.
Seeing all the vintage choppers at Born Free gave me plenty of styling inspirations, the one thing I loved was the suicide shift, the lever on the 4 speed gearbox and the foot pedal for the clutch made the handlebars clean and free of levers, seeing those guys blasting down the highway looking through narrow uncluttered bars made me want this setup, so I set up the shifter and clutch to work like this and it works great.
I used an old dinged up KTM 85cc expansion chamber that set the mood for the exhaust that wraps through the frame.
It was important to me to have the pipe follow the lines of the bike and I wanted that expansion chamber to seem so large on the skinny little chopper.
With an old V band flange that finishes the exhaust after it snakes through the frame, its all about keeping these bikes as slim as possible.
The tank is another item from Lowbrow Customs, this is their Cleveland Cycleworks made P-Nut tank that is the smallest tank availiable that has the right tunnel depth for what I needed. See the little switch mounted on the frame gusset just forward of the tank, thats the kill switch to stop the motor, its that simple.
The front of the bike is all stock, the factory 21″ front wheel benefited from a bit of polish, I painted the spokes and then shaved the forks.
I just cut all the tabs off with an angle grinder and then sandpapered the forks to give them the brushed look.
The stock headlight is used with a neat little custom steel mount I made up, the triple clamp I cut the loops off for the handle bars and drilled the holes through 10mm to run bolts up into the new bars I made.
Huge thanks to Dean for the shifter knob, Dean had this on one of his old Holdens, its so rad and suits the bike perfectly.
The seats temporary while I work out how to trim up a neat tuck and roll leather item.
There were so many things on this bike I wanted to go wild on, but in true “me” fashion I took a reserved and calculated take on the old custom of styling, its neat and clean and gives some subtle design to the bike.
I just love that rear profile.
Theres really not many things on the bike that I didnt modify, but I am so happy with the way everything works together, I had a strict policy of black, chrome, raw steel, raw aluminum and weld burn as the colour scheme, its timeless and classy.
I got my stitches out and it was time for a test run, I premixed some two stroke fuel and loaded the finished bike into the van.
It sits ready for action.
Firing up the little 185 isnt as hard as I am making out in this photo, just that token fire up flick!
Opening it up on the road it has a suprising amount of power, I would say the pipes made it a lot more agressive, the powerband has shifted and it screams to life.
Cruising along the two stroke has a harmonic beat that has to be heard to be believed.
Change back a gear.
Or two and let the rpm rise it takes off, its light nimble and carries itself well.
Its almost too good to be true, an idea, a week of work, looking at the bike now im actually amazed at how good it looks, I honestly didnt really know what it was going to turn out like, like usual I didnt do any drawing, make any calculations I just used what I could get my hands on and turned it into something that I knew I would like.
I have to send a massive thanks to Dean Walters for supplying the initial bike and taking the action shots.
I built it in the true spirit of the “Chopper” the freedom and feeling of being on your own creation taking you where you want to go, with very little invested in this project its given a lot back to me, take a look around you, see what you could build out of whats lying around, you could surprise yourself.