Subscribe to Atomic Zombie News


After Burner Chopwork Orange Firecracker Stinger Wizard Lion Granny's Nightmare Tour Carnage SkyWalker

Tour de Hell

Section 1    |  Section 2


*** Featured on and ***

 This old style 12-speed bike was chopped up and re-assembled into a lowrider chopper.


Chopper bicycles seem to fall into two distinct species - the traditional long-forked species and the lowrider species. The lowrider style chopper usually involves dropping the key components of a standard bicycle frame as low to the ground as possible and pressing the front wheel way ahead of the head tube in order to compensate. These bike make great show bikes, especially when riddled with copious quantities of chrome and custom components, but overall ridability is not as good as with traditional long fork choppers. The front wheel placement and fork design make the bike steer more like a front end loader than a bicycle, and only a true "choppacabra" can make riding these beast look easy.

Do a search for "lowrider bicycle" in your favorite search engine and have a drool over all of the show bikes - note the strange front fork arrangement I was talking about. For this project "Tour de Hell", my goal was to not only create an evil beast of a lowrider, but to poke a little fun at the spandex clad skinny wheeled race bike pilots at the same time. Race bike enthusiasts take the science of their sport to new levels, designing frames using space age components, and shaving every ounce off the bicycle. They love the design of the venerable "double diamond" frame, and will defend it to the death, one of the reasons why recumbent frames were banned from Olympic racing after blowing away all the other cycles, according to my extensive research on bikes and bike racing over the years.

Anyhow, the chopper I was about to build would take a speed bike and turn it into the exact opposite of what a true racing cyclist would desire - a dangerous chopped and lowered speed bike with handling characteristics similar to that of an angry blind mule on steroids. Yes, a lightweight low riding speed bike, with erratic handling, yet still capable of serious speed!


The idea for Tour de Hell came to me when I was digging through the scrap pile at the local dump. With so many old speed bikes in the pile, it was too bad that I had no use for them. Because of the lugged frame construction, and easily warped rims, I usually had no use for the bike, or any of its components. I remember one day out riding with the chopper gang, and being snubbed by a few spandex boys on their $2,000 wedgie racers. Wouldn't it be a trip to hit the bike path on a chopped speed bike. Imagine the horror on their faces if I rode past them on a "chopper speed bike"!

So here you have it - an old 12-speed race bike found at the local scrap pile (Photo 1). The bike was in horrific condition, but that was not a problem, as it would soon be ripped apart and built back into something evil.

Photo 1 - Yikes - look what the cat dragged in!


Most of the damage was due to seized cables, shifters and brakes, but that was not a problem, as my design was going to be fixed gear anyhow - set for all out speed. The components are laid out and checked over (Photo 2). Chopping shall now commence.
Photo 2 - Speed bike torn to bits.


To create the lowrider style front end, two pairs of forks of the same general size and length would be needed. Luckily, I had a bucket full of speed bike forks in the garage, and an identical set of chrome forks was found (Photo 3).
Photo 3 - Two pairs of chrome front forks.


Start by cutting the original forks at the base of the stem (Photo 4). Get as close to the top of the forks as possible, then grind away any leftover metal from the top of the forks.
Photo 4 - Cut the fork stem at its base.


The stem is then welded back the forks, but on the side (90 degrees) as shown in Photo 5. This takes a hundred years of bicycle science, and throws it right out the window - things are looking good! With forks of this design, a bicycle's steering geometry is radically altered, and it actually pivots rather than steering like a normal bicycle.
Photo 5 - Four identical 90 degree elbows.


With the fork stem welded at 90 degrees to its original position, the bike frame is dropped to ridiculously low levels (Photo 6). Do not try to sit on the frame, or put weight on it yet, the forks are not nearly strong enough to take any abuse at this stage in the build.
Photo 6 - Now that's a low frame!


The second set of forks will form a triangle with the bottom set of forks, similar to the rear triangle of a bicycle frame. In Photo 7, I am getting the basic angle of the top set of forks in order to cut them for welding to the steel gooseneck as will be shown in the next few steps. Draw a line from the top of the fork stem closest to the wheel upwards across the top fork stem to be cut. They are currently bolted to the front wheel, overlapping the original set of forks on the wheel's axel.
Photo 7 - The top half of the new forks.


Once the fork stem is cut to the proper angle, it can be welded to the steel gooseneck as shown in Photo 8. To make this job easier, the gooseneck can be placed into the fork stem, and the forks bolted back to the wheel as they were in the last photo and then tack welded in place. The resulting unit will look like it does in Photo 8, with the gooseneck clamp turned around backwards from its original position.
Photo 8 - Welding the forks to the gooseneck.


The completed lowrider forks are installed onto the bike (Photo 9) by inserting the gooseneck, and bolting both front fork dropouts onto the front wheel axel. One of the forks will have to have its legs opened slightly wider than normal so both pairs can share the axel, but this is easily done by pulling them apart by hand. You could weld the two fork legs together, but then the forks would never come off of the bike, not that this would really be a problem after painting the bike.
Photo 9 - The completed lowrider forks.


To keep as much of the original bicycle as possible, and continue doing every thing a serious speed cyclist would hate the most, I used the original curly handlebars and turned them upwards (Photo 10). Because of the ridiculous low position of the head tube, it would be very hard to reach them if they were any lower than this.
Photo 10 - Handlebars installed.


Section 1    |  Section 2


build gladiator chopper








































All content copyright 2003-2009. All rights reserved.