Me First Chop

Fast forward to 1971, and I’ve progressed enough to build me first chop. Yay! Lotsa funky stuff to talk about here, blue metalflake seat and backrest (from good ol’ Jack Bottomley’s in Manchester). I think blue ‘flake grips with white ends too.


I still couldn’t weld, so I unbolted the rear subframe then carried the main frame over my shoulder on me pushbike and cycled to the local blacksmith, who welded on the rigid struts made from bending a big iron bar into a U shape, plus welded a slug in the downtube where I’d cut it to rake out the headstock. He had the good sense to weld a brace in too. He also welded up the sissy bar and forward controls for me at a later stage. A mate of mine made the tank to my design, it was slab sided to follow the stock gooseneck on the Triumph frame, and held a whole 3/4 of a gallon. I painted the tank in clear varnish then dropped lotsa gold Christmas card glitter on it, with a silver swastika in the middle. Then every morning before school and twice every night for about three weeks I coated it with more clear varnish – the only way I knew to get a finish cos of all the sticky-out flaky bits. The paint was about quarter of an inch thick by the time I’d had enough. I extended the forks six inches by using dodgy screw-in slugs, and fitted a pair of T-bars. It was all still on stock 17″ Triumph wheels front and rear. I stuck all the electrics in the space in the frame and covered them with a sheet of stainless steel, but then I’d got no bloody room for the oil tank, so I made one out of cardboard and the mate who made the gas-tank copied it in sheet steel, and I fitted it on the sissy bar behind the backrest. I sprayed the frame candy yellow (wish you could still get those ace candy-apple metallic spray cans), and painted the head and barrels in VHT yellow (ah, those were the days…). It was on the road in 1971, I used to ride to school on it, complete with school uniform and a WWII German helmet I swapped a BSA M20 combo for.


Here’s t’other side (this one had an Iron Cross on it). You get a better view of the dodgy front down-tube… Note the funky twisted bar for the headsteady (took bloody ages in the vice with the mole-grips). The forks had external springs, and they were obviously too short when I extended them, so I used a pair of headlamp brackets to hold them halfway down the legs. The front light is off a dynamo pushbike. You can tell this is a reet early shot, I must be only just turned 17, cos I ain’t covered in no bloody tattoos yet… I guess the groovy curtains date it as well…

By the following year I’d already rebuilt it – savin up from the Saturday job, plus workin for me old man carryin coal durin the summer holidays, I’d earned enough to score some tattoos and some proper extended fork legs – Yay! I could only afford 7-inch overs, so I removed the distance piece between the bushes on the sliders, and then ran the forks solid(!), so I got 10-inch overs. Bouncy, but groovy…



I used the 6-inch slugs as fork top-nuts, and ran a second cut down top yoke, with a pair of old pushbike handlebars (you couldn’t get risers or pullbacks back then…). The bike also got a repaint, into funky lime green, still with Christmas card glitter on the tank, only this time with a trippy 70’s swirly design in darker green flake each side. I spent a fortune getting all the engine side covers chromed (chrome on aluminium was in its infancy then – an it all bloody fell off the followin year…!), plus I ran a skinny Honda 50 tyre on the stock 17″ Triumph front rim, and got a wide 16″ alloy rim laced onto the back. Trouble was, I couldn’t get a 500×16 Avon in the back cos the stock Triumph swingarm wasn’t wide enough. Bollocks! But I managed to get hold of a 4.50×16 front tyre, off an old S7 Sunbeam. I spent hours sat out in the garden cutting the ribbed tread pattern into a block one with a razor blade – cut me bloody fingers to ribbons – but this was the shit you had to do back then.


I was in a club by then, the Fourth Reich MC. We did have proper sewn colours (in those days you could buy Hells Angels rockers and deathsheads in magazine adverts, printed on vinyl ready to stitch onto your cut-off…!), but really, we were just a bunch of boys playing at being hard. We used to go over to Southport at the weekends to help the Southport Angels fight with the Kirby Mods (sometimes there’d be 500 bikers massed outside the Flying Dutchman, then we’d march mob-handed through town lookin for gangs in Ben Sherman shirts), and when the Whitsun Fair came to our town we used to scuff with the Preston Mods, but it wasn’t like today where people got kicked to death, mostly it was just posturin and the odd chasin each other about. If you were unlucky enough to get caught you got a bit of a bashin, but then the next weekend you went down and put the windows through at their coffee bar and the status quo returned to normal…


An’ I guess somewhere around this time I must have developed a penchant for photographin girlies on motorcycles (a theme which will crop up pretty regularly on these pages…). This was me first proper girlfriend, from the next village along. Pretty cute eh? I was dead lucky cos she was the pick of the youth club – God knows what she saw in me, but we went out together for about 4 years…!

(And of course, they’re only here so’s you can see more of the bike…)