750 CB Honda Choppers
An Introduction to the CB750 Honda Chopper
The CB750 Honda Chopper is a classic American form of the motorcycle. They are, by definition, each unique, and so are the people that build and ride them. As the front page of HondaChopper.com boasts "The bikes of Chopper Hedz are built to threaten convention and inspire individuality. Our bikes are a uniquely American form of motorcycle, just as Jazz is a uniquely American form of music." Honda released the CB750 in 1969 and Chopper Hedz, as the enthusiasts call themselves, have been chopping and customizing them ever since - the bike doesn't become a CB750 Honda Chopper until you make it one.
A "Chopper" happens when a motorcycle has been stripped of all it's unnecessary parts, such as saddlebags and windshields, to minimize weight and thus increase speed. The hobby became a trend soon after World War II when veterans started buying surplus military bikes and making them their own. Choppers have hit a recent fame, thanks in part to Jesse G. James' West Coast Choppers and Orange County Choppers, who have been featured on the Discovery Channel. Despite the names, many motorcycles produced by them and other companies (such as Falcon Motorcycles, Von Dutch Kustom Cycles, Indian Larry, etc) are actually considered "custom cruisers" and not "choppers." Also there is a distinction between a "bobber" and a "chopper"-Bobbers keep the original factory frame, choppers have customized and welded frames. Choppers have an extended front end that is chosen for aesthetic reasons, and for a smoother feel at high speeds-the Honda CB750 can reach speeds of 120mph. Unfortunately the extended front end makes turning difficult, which doesn't help the bike's bad reputation.
The CB750 Honda Chopper has a reputation for being a dangerous ride. The United States is one of very few countries that allow custom-built choppers to be licensed for use on the highway. Again, in order for it to be considered a "chopper", it must have been chopped, broken down and built back up again. And In the 50 years that have passed between its first release in 1969 and when you would be finding it now, that bike has probably been chopped by at least a few different pairs of hands, and often inexperienced hands at that. There are many ways a Chopper enthusiast, looking to create a CB750 Honda Chopper of their very own, can go wrong. Luckily for Chopper Hedz, choppers are as stripped and basic as you can get, so stripping off the poorly constructed parts can be fairly easy for those that know what they're doing. Also attributing to the bad rap is the fact that in the stripping of the bike, often times many safety features have been stripped off.
When you're looking into the CB750 Honda Chopper, there are two basic options- the single overhead cam, or SOHC and the dual overhead cam, or DOHC. The SOHC was produced between 1969 and 1978. It's the original, the classic and since it was in production for 10 years, parts are easier to find than the DOHC, which is faster, but was only produced between 1979 and 1982. When the DOHC was first released in 1979 it had a bad cam chain tensioner. There was a recall and the only bikes affected were the early 1979s, but that still resulted in a bad reputation for the DOHC. In 1991 Honda introduced the CB750 Nighthawk, a versatile model notable for its low-maintenance, producing it until 2003.
The CB750 Honda hasn't been made for over 40 years, so finding an original to modify from scratch yourself is nearly impossible. You can buy an already chopped bike and work from there, or you can buy the pieces individually and build your own. Between the engines, the frames, the tires, the handlebars, the paint job, your options are as limited as your imagination, budget and know-how. Finding a ready-to-ride CB750 Honda Chopper is difficult and expensive, so be prepared to know what you're getting into. The Motorcycle lifestyle is a distinct subculture in the United States, and the Chopper lifestyle is an entirely different subculture of that. The people that live in that lifestyle are as varied and unique as the choppers they create.
If you're preparing to delve into the Honda Chopper world, be prepared to learn a lot, to sweat a lot, get frustrated with your bike, fall in love with your bike, spend hours in the garage confused and excited, and spend more money than you think to get it rideable. Be prepared to meet many interesting people who know exactly what you've gone through to get your bike how you want it. People that have been there and can appreciate it and also help you out, give you tips and sell you parts when you need it. You're going to get to know every inch of the CB750 Honda Chopper, and know that that bike is uniquely yours.
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