In May of 1970, I had been working at "AEE Choppers" for well over a year, and a lot had been done to create new products for the growing chopper industry. Rigid Harley frames were difficult to find and to install a bolt-on or weld-on hardtail section was time consuming, and then you still had to rake the neck to get that long chopper look. Next, you had to spend hours grinding off unnecessary tabs and grinding down welds. If you wanted to buy a rigid chopper frame for any other make bike, you were out of luck. I thought it was time to build complete rigid frames for chopper style bikes of many makes.
I talked with Tom McMullen about making new rigid frames, and he said "No”, AEE had too much else going on and my time was to valuable to waste designing and building frames. I still thought it was a good idea, so I decided to proceed with my own venture.
I was getting ready to start building a chopper for myself, and liked the idea of the smaller, lighter Japanese bikes. I decided to build a complete new chopper using a Honda 450 engine. A wrecked bike was bought and the engine and rear wheel assembly removed. Since I was going to build a new rigid chopper frame for my new bike, I decided to build a fixture, and mass-produce parts to build more frames to sell.
I started "Brackett Chassis Co.", and my new venture was underway. I still worked at AEE, but built the frames in the evenings and weekends. While I was building the jig for the Honda 450 motor, I decided to make the fixture adjustable and adaptable, to accommodate other styles and makes of bikes. I eventually built rigid frames for Honda 350, 450, 500 and 750, and also Harley Sportster. I sold these frames to AEE Choppers, as well as others.
Having finished my chopper with the Honda 450 motor, I went to register it, and had trouble with the Department of Motor Vehicles. They wanted invoices for all the major components of the chopper. Knowing this might be a problem for the future, I asked about other ways to register newly made bikes. I was told I could get a license to manufacture my own bike. I looked into that possibility, and decided to give it a try.
I enjoyed watching the "Jack Parr" show on television, and one night he had a pet lion on the show named "Amani", the Swahili word for 'Peace'. I liked the name and decided to use it for my brand name of the new bikes. By now it was 1971, I had Brackett Chassis Company with a license to manufacture new chopper style motorcycles. "Amani" was the brand name, and my logo was "Amani, for peace of mind". This was great, because instead of trying to keep track of all the component parts and invoices, I filled out a "Certificate of Origin" for the new bike and sold them, then being registered as "Amani" motorcycles.
I used an engine from some manufacturer, and added my rigid frame and either made or bought all the other component parts to build a complete chopper. I tried to make each one different, so every one had it's own identity. They were finished with paint by "Molly" and seats by Whitey Morgan. Of course, lots of chrome plating was done to finish the chopper look.
Progress was slow, as my first responsibility was to AEE Choppers, then to my frame business, but I eventually had time to build a second "Amani" bike, which also had a "Honda 450" engine. In late 1972, I left AEE Choppers to pursue my own ideas and started gearing up to build more new bikes. I eventually built five "Amani" bikes, four with Honda motors, and one with an opposed four. One was a three-wheeler.
One thing that was cool, I had manufacturers license plates, like a dealers plate, and just put them on the bikes and rode them, they were not registered till I sold them.
I was now ready to actually sell bikes, but started to realize, the price I could get for one was not enough to justify the time and expense to build them. The market was much different then. People who enjoyed choppers wanted to build it themselves, and probably could not afford to buy one already built. Now, choppers easily sell for tens of thousands of dollars, but I would have been lucky to get $2500.00 then. It was sad to see my dream of complete new chopper bikes fade away, but at the end of 1975, I canceled my license with the State of California, to build bikes.
In the early 1970's, there was a set of 66 bubble gum trading cards released featuring motorcycles. One of the cards showed the first "Amani" motorcycle. Having my name and information on a trading card has always been one of my favorite accomplishments.
When I sold Brackett Chassis Company to Jan Lowe in 1975, he purchased the first two "Amani" bikes, and I still have the remains of the other three. I am planning to rebuild the bikes in the near future, and again see my "Amani" motorcycles on the street. I have always wondered what happened to the two "Amani" bikes I sold.