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Restoring Amani #5
By Dave Brackett

     In 1974, I was busy building motorcycle frames and choppers at my business Brackett Chassis Company, in California. I wanted to build a new and different chopper, so I decided to build a chopper with a VW bug motor, but not a three wheeler, a two wheeler. I bought a motor and proceded to build a frame around the motor. Sitting on the bike was difficult with the wide motor, so I had difficulty getting the seating position I wanted, the lean back foot up front style of the day. I built an inverted springer front end, to finish the basic look. I had some difficulty with shifting linkage and clutch hookups, but got the bike about 95% done, no seats, paint or chrome.
     I lost interest in the bike, and started other projects and decided to sell my business in 1975. I still wanted to finish the chopper I started, so I sold the bike to myself, to get it out of the business, and moved away. I have hauled the bike around for years, and in 2006, decided to convert it to a drag bike (check out that story). In the process of doing that, I actually solved one of the biggest problems about the chopper, all the shifting and clutch linkage issues. I built a glide clutch, which makes the bike drive like an automatic tranny.

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     Our local drag strip is having problems and may not be racing in the future, so I decided to return the drag bike to its original chopper version, but now with the automatic tranny. I had several problems, I had turned the original top rail into a gas tank for drag racing, only holding about 7/8 a gallon. There was no battery on board, and not much room for one, no room for a necessary oil cooler, and I have also developed a problem with my left leg and have trouble holding up a two wheel bike. The solution came when I was visiting friend Drew Coleman, checking out his bikes. He had an older Harley with a side car. It gave me an idea.
     At AEE Choppers, I had designed a chopper style side car for Harley rigid framers.  If I added a side car to the chopper, I no longer have trouble holding the bike upright, and I have plenty of room for all the accessories on the side car. The gas tank sits between the bike and side car, the battery under the side car seat, and the oil cooler in the front of the side car foot box. Perfect!
     I started by replacing the drag slick with a street tire, removing the drag bike front end, seat and rear foot pegs. I had sold the old springer front end, so I built a new inverted springer with square tubing, and added a twist. I reversed the springer action, placing the springs behind the fork tubes. Makes a nice sleek look. Long pull back handlebars complete the front end. I used a later model Honda front brake to hold the increased weight of the bike and side car. The original bike had a tall sissy bar and King and Queen style seat, but with the side car, I wanted a solo style seat, but added a low profile sissy bar to match the look of the side car seat frame.

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     The rear wheel of the drag bike had a centerline automotive wheel, so I got a polished spun aluminum VW front wheel with sealed ball bearings, as a match for the side car. I fashioned an axle and attached it to the bike frame with four 1/4" nut sets. I added three more cross members from the bike to the side car, for stability. I built a tubular framework for the side hack, and covered the front foot box with an aluminum skin, like you would an old dragster. I added a baffle to the header to quiet the bike for the street, made footpegs and added a chromed Harley master cylinder for the hydraulic rear disk brake. I made a small panel for switches and wired the bike.  After building seat frames from sheet metal, I sent them out for upholstery, and sent the other parts for powder coat.
     After all the parts were finished, I reassembled the bike with side hack, and was ready for the maiden voyage. Everything worked great, the bike handles well, and the glide clutch makes driving a breeze. Plenty of power from the 125hp VW motor, and I saved money not having to chrome and install a kickstand. What fun!



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