When you think about the classic chopper there are key elements that come to mind. First, the frame is a rigid, no rear suspension, or, as some call it, a hard tail. Second, an extended front fork, it can be as short as a six inches over stock length, or as much as twenty. Third, the stock gas tank is often replaced with a custom unit, typically mounted higher on the top frame rail than stock. Fourth, the rider and passenger seat, it is usually a minimal affair that follows the lines of the frame and rear wheel. Often, but not always, there is some type of passenger back rest, what is sometimes called a “sissy bar.” Fifth, the paint, it can be anything, from basic black, to an outrageous paint job with flames, skulls, or other graphics and wild colors. Long and lean, and stripped of every non-essential, a chopper is a hardcore machine for hardcore riders.
April Knapp’s Sportster is a classic chopper in every way. April’s bike started life as a 2000 Harley-Davidson XL 1200 Custom, and now, thanks to several modifications, it looks nothing like stock.
The first order of business was to convert the frame to a rigid. Seth Petersen at Road 6 Customs installed one of their hard tail conversion kits designed for the 1982 to 2003 Sportster. He then stretched the top frame tube 3 1/4 inches out, and added 8 inches to the front down tubes, the steering neck rake was set at an angle of 45 degrees. Those frame modifications, combined with a Paughco 12 inches over stock tapered leg springer allows the bike to sit low and level. Seth fabricated a set of custom rockers for the springer to correct a slight problem with the trail, and, according to Seth, “It drives perfect.”
The front brake is from Performance Machine, controls are by Hawg Halters Inc., the exhaust pipes, sissy bar, and wheels are from Paughco.
The classic King and Queen seat that works so well with the Paughco sissy bar was provided by LePera.
The coffin gas tank is also a Paughco item, the lace panel paint was by Rusty Nash at Paints By Rusty in South Carolina.
The ape hanger handle bars are made in house by Road 6 Customs, they feature an angular “Z” style construction with bracing and “speed holes.”
This chopper was originally created so that April would have something to ride to Smoke Out Thirteen, it was finished at 8:30 PM the night before she left. In the beginning of this article I mentioned that choppers are hardcore machines for hardcore riders, well, April is a hardcore rider. She lives in Nebraska, and she rode her Sportster every mile to the Smoke Out and back, a round trip of 2,900 miles. Since returning, she has been enjoying her new chopper, and even entered it in a local custom motorcycle show where it won “Best of Show.”
Congratulations April, you have a fantastic machine, thank you for sharing your story and images with us!
Words By: Terry Cavender
Images By: Road 6 Customs