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My First “Real” Bike

By Dave Brackett


db7I had grown up in the Pacific Northwest, so due to interests in the area, I was watching hydroplane races, sketching boats during school classes, and built a kayak to enjoy. This suddenly changed, as my dad got a job in Southern California. Moving there in 1958, as a high school freshman, was culture shock, but my interests soon changed to cars, hot rods and bikes.
 
I was always mechanically minded, but I took courses in welding, machine shop, auto shop, engineering and electronics in college, graduating in 1965. I built several hot rods, and had a business building headers and racecar chassis, but was drafted in the Army in 1967. When I got out of the Army in January of 1969, I looked up my old friend
Tom McMullen, he and I had lived together in 1965 and built and raced hot rods. Tom, his wife Rose and friend Jim Clark had started a business in 1967, making parts for chopper style motorcycles. The business "AEE Choppers" now had about ten employees and was busy making a few parts for choppers and reselling other products for bikes. Tom immediately hired me to help the company grow, by organizing the welding shop and designing new products.

db6My motorcycle experience was somewhat limited, earlier; I had a Hiawatha doodlebug, a 1957 Cushman motor scooter and a Lambretta motor scooter. While I was building fixtures for the welding shop and hiring people to increase production, Tom and I talked about the chopper industry. The trend at that time was very Harley oriented, with a few BSA and Triumph bikes. I thought the market should expand to include Japanese bikes, so we decided to build a Honda Chopper. We got a 350 Honda street bike and stripped it down. There I was with an ugly stock frame with swing arm. The swing arm disappeared and I built a rigid rear frame similar to Harleys. I cut and raked the neck and we made a springer style front end 15" longer than stock. Not wanting to use a traditional gas tank, I designed and fabricated a gull wing style tank. A seat mount plate and electrical switch panel were added, a custom rolled rear fender mounted and short fork style sissy bar made. I made custom side covers to cover up the electronics, built custom headers and added Ciebe rectangular headlights. We assembled the bike and took it for a spin. The only change was extending the kickstand to accommodate the higher bike profile.

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Everything worked well, so the bike was taken apart, painted by "Molly", Whitey Morgan built a seat, parts were chromed, and the machine shop made up long pointed nut covers for accent. Front wheel was 16 inch, as well as real wheel, of course skinny on front and wide on the back. There was a lot of gold anodizing, and the paint was done in greens and root beers. Compared to the Harley bikes of the day, it was shorter and lighter, but handled nicely. We had made a custom front spool type hub, with no brake. The bike had a clean simple look and was well received. Tom and I were trying to decide what to name the bike, and the answer soon appeared. Everyone who saw the new bike asked what it was, we said a 350 Honda, and they said "really". So the bike was called "Really", and my first chopper was finished.
  
One result of this new direction for choppers happened quickly. When magazine articles came out about "Really", AEE Choppers was flooded with inquiries about front spool hubs, short forked style sissy bars, custom nut covers, and the gull wing styled gas tank. We soon tooled up
and manufactured all these new products. The market was now ready for more chopper style products for Japanese bikes.

One quick note, I was at the Bakersfield Hot Rod Reunion about four years ago, and I think "Really" was there, I saw a bike and it was very much like I remembered building. I tried to find the owner, but was disappointed as the bike soon disappeared. Such good memories about my first "real" bike. It proved to be the start of a new career for me, and successful business, AEE Choppers


Original Build Pictures

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HRHLBikes
would like to send out a special thank you to Dave for sharing his story with our readers. This story is a one of a kind original that all of our readers are sure to appreciate.

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