Green Flamed Big Bear Chopper & Suzi

“You don't have a bike like this to just sit in the lounge — it should be ridden hard,” said Jai.

I’VE BEEN riding dirt bikes my whole life. I’ve had six dirt bikes since the age of five and multiple pit-bikes but always aspired to get a Harley-Davidson. I never wanted a road-bike because I couldn’t trust myself; I have always ridden outside my ability.

One day I was looking on Ace Book and came across a standard-looking Big Bear Venom Chopper with heaps of engine work from Chicago, Illinois. I was unsure at first with the unfamiliar manufacturer and international purchase, but after hours upon hours of research, I was confident in the huge gamble. I was especially reassured in the brand when I found out Jesse James (owner of West Coast Choppers) owns a Big Bear Titanium.

After waiting nearly five months, it arrived on a pallet in 1000 pieces. The guys from Chicago had torn it down to avoid import approvals. Straight away, eager to make a start, my mate Joel Trigg shipped it to Victoria and started mocking it up, chopping, lowering fenders, shooting stuff off to paint; all while I was sitting back in sunny Darwin throwing money at bolt-on’s.

 When the mock-up stage was complete, my mate Bruce Terry from Bruckybrushing, Ballarat, got straight into laying colour on all the tins from the cartoon blacked-out flames with a painted pinstripe in-your-face to a multiple layered green flame in the background. They were then flow-coated in clear and baked so none of his multiple layers of paint could be felt.

The bike then went to my mate Rick Saville from A.E.S Automotive Electrical Services, Ballarat, for a full rewrite with minimal hidden wiring which came out great.

As this long drawn-out project was finally coming together with all the bits in the one spot, I thought I’d better book a flight for the third time down from Darwin to Melbourne to work on it hoping I could have it all back together in the short time-frame of a week.

Obviously, everything didn’t go as smoothly as I hoped. It came to fly-out-day and it still wouldn’t fire up. We robbed ignition and leads off a mate’s Harley, and with this being the last hope, we had one last try and it fired straight away — and did it sound tuff! There is nothing like the sound of a carbide V-twin with a cam and set of Frankie Serrano Designs 1.75-inch to 2.50-inch stepped pipes (FSD Exhausts).

The build was finally complete so I tidied up all the loose ends and arranged to get it picked up for its journey to Darwin.

When it turned up I obviously started riding it straight away. Excited as I was, after multiple shake-down rides I was struggling to get the power to the ground — breaking pulley bolts and studs, spinning clutches, and then breaking two belts. I’ve since fitted the chain conversion which is holding in there.

You don’t have a bike like this to just sit in the lounge — it should be ridden hard. The first and only show I have entered I got runner-up in the Shannon’s Hot Rod and Motorcycle Extravaganza for Best Modified Bike.

I’d like to thank my cousin James Wren for his help; my mate Robert Berry from Shannon’s Insurance for insuring the build from start to finish; my mate Richard Cross from Alicross Engineering for the custom tune; Shane from East Coast Imports for getting it here from the States; Josh cook from the CHIEF group for the use of his workshop for the shoot; and Rick Benson for the photos. Thanks also to Suzi Van Engelenhoven for making the photos shine with her presence.

photos by Rick Benson; words by Jai

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