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Rebuilding the "Amani #3" Chopper
By Dave Brackett

     In 1970, I was working at AEE Choppers, and thought it would be profitable to start building complete rigid frames for various bikes. I asked Tom McMullen about building frames, but he was not interested. I thought it was a good idea, so I started my own business, "Brackett Chassis Company",  making rigid frames for 350, 450, 500, 750 Honda and Harley Sportster. I sold frames to AEE Choppers and others. I soon started building my own chopper using a 450 Honda motor, but making everything else from scratch.

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     When I went to register the bike, there were problems.  I would have to produce all the invoices for all parts of the bike and have inspections.  I asked if there was another way to build a new bike, with only the motor from some manufacturer.  I was told I could get a motorcycle manufacturers license, then I could build my own bikes, install my own frame numbers and create a new motorcycle using a Certificate of Origin.
     This seemed to be an easier way, so I applied for a license and got it in 1971.  I finished  the first "Amani" motorcycle, amani is the swahili word for peace, put on my manufacturers license plate, and started riding.  No registration hassles.  How cool.
     I built five "Amani" motorcycles, but stopped because the market then was not ready for complete chopper style motorcycles. Today, baby boomers spend 30 thousand for a new chopper, but then it was hard to get $2500, most bikers wanted to build their own bikes. Product liability insurance costs were also very high. So after building two "Amanis" with 450 Honda engines, one with a 750 Honda,

another 450 Honda three wheeler, and one with an opposed four, I quit.  I sold the first two "Amani" bikes to Jan Lowe, when he bought my chopper frame business in 1975, but kept the other three.  Over the years, I have robbed parts for other projects, sold off some items, but always wanted to redo the bikes.
     Well, in the spring of 2010, I started redoing "Amani #3".  It was originally powered by a 750 Honda. The motor was long since gone, and I had sold off many of the other components. What was left was rusty and in foul shape. How to start  the project?

(click on photo to enlarge)






    First, I had to get a new motor,  but 750 Hondas are hard to find and parts are more difficult and expensive.  I found a Suzuki GS1100 that was in good shape, a 1982 vintage.  The engine was about the same physical size, except it had dual overhead cams, and four valves per cylinder.  Now the hard part started.  The original bike had no frame, at least appeared that way.  As you see in the photos, the headers create the frame.  The new Suzuki motor was slightly different than the 750 Honda, so I modified the existing frame to accept the new motor, and rewelded the new configuration.  Some slight modifications were made to accommodate the Suzuki rear wheel, and for safety, I used the newer hydraulic rear brake, the original brake was mechanical.
     After mounting the new motor, I restored the original front end.  It was a sleek two tube springer style front end.  I put on the old Honda 90 front wheel with mechanical brake, to keep it legal.  The old rolled flat style rear fender was in bad shape, and I could not find the original style, so I built a new one, narrowing a trailer fender.  A new sissy bar was made to closely match the first one. After mounting pedals, footpegs and the electronics, I made new side covers to hide all the ugly stuff.
     The seat never existed, so I made a sheetmetal frame, to match the original style AEE King and Queen seat, and sent it out for upholstery.  Now for the tank.  I sold it, so I checked my old drawings, and fabricated a new one, in the then popular coffin style.  It was mounted in a cantilevered manor, off the neck, note the gapping hole between the seat and tank.  My switch panel was built into the rear of the gas tank.
     I decided to have a few chrome accessories, but have the main components painted or powdercoated.  I also replaced the original chrome footpegs, which were very slippery, with rubber handlebar grips, they work great.  I painted the bike purple with single stage urethane paint, and had a local guy do vinyl graphics, and the original "Amani" logo, so the 35 year old chopper was again on the road.  Choppers of the 70's were mostly for chugging around, but now they are more performance oriented, so the Suzuki 1100 adds plenty of power.
     This bike was pretty unusual in its day, it is still very unique, and truly one of a kind.  t is a tribute to the 27 bikes I built in the 60's and 70's. Old school is still cool.  I wish I had been more aggressive in promotiing the "Amani" bikes, perhaps there would have been many more around. At least I know that  before there was Arlen, Jesse and Orange County Choppers, there was AEE Choppers and Dave Brackett. 

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