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Big Twin 2012 - the Inspiration

Big Twin 2012 - the Inspiration

Revamping "Amani #4"
By Dave Brackett

     In 1974, I built a three wheeler at my shop "Brackett Chassis Company" in California. It was a modest chopper, had 750 Honda motors, a Springer front end, and a cute Model "T" looking pickup bed. The frame was all square tubing, which made it interesting.  I sold my business in 1975, and sold the bike to myself to get it off the company books.  I still had the remains of the bike and was planning to rebuild it the summer of 2011, but something interesting happened.
     I
n late 1969 and early 1970, I built a very unusual bike for

"AEE Choppers".  It was a five wheeler, four across the rear, and had two Sportster motors side by side up front. The bike won the 1970 Oakland Roadster Show Grand Sweepstakes Award. The bike was called "Big Twin" and it was the hallmark of AEE Choppers for several years. In late 1971, it was sold to bike show promoter Ray Fahrner, in the midwest. It was seen around the show circuits for several years, then disappeared. It has been a topic on motorcycle chat rooms for years, "What happened to Big Twin?".
     In July of 2011, "Big Twin" came up for sale on an online auction. It had a starting bid of $5000, but was not in good shape. Some of the frame had been cut up, upholstery was missing, exhaust pipes missing, carbs missing, different front end, lots of chips and dings, but the running gear seemed intact. I was excited and tried to buy the bike so I could restore it. The bike did not receive any bids. After several months of negotiations and trying to get the bike myself, I was frustrated. I stopped my effort to buy the bike, and got back to projects at hand.
     As I thought about redoing my modest three wheeler from 1974, I got an idea. I would modify it, to make it more interesting and somewhat in the style of "Big Twin". It would have two Suzuki fours, side by side - I had sold the 750 Hondas - seat three people, a body with spoiler, but only two tires in the rear. The four tires had created some problems with traction and braking.  I would make the focal point of the bike the exhaust, having eight pipes go down under the motors like drag pipes on old hot rods.  I also wanted an automatic tranny with reverse, for ease of riding and handling.

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     By early October, I had assembled most of the parts.  Motors, wheels and tires and some accessories were on hand. I wanted the bike to be true to bike standards of the 1970's. It would be chain driven and with a suspension more bike like than "Big Twin", which had torsion bar, independent rear suspension. The rear of the body would have a spoiler, like a formula car. I would modify the Springer front end and have more comfortable seats for the passengers. I would also install disk brakes, for better stopping as "Big Twin" had small drum brakes.
     The original bike had a rigid rear end, but I now wanted suspension, so I modified the rear of the frame to use a wide swing arm. I created a 30" wide swing arm, holding the original chain driven rear end, fabricated with Harley Servicar differential case and Ford 8" rear end.
     I mounted motorcycle disc brakes, using hats from Speedway motors, and welding a plate to the housing to mount each caliper.  I finished with four spring-over motorcycle shocks for suspension. Now I had to alter the front of the frame to mount the two Suzuki motors side by side.
     The original bike had only one seat, so I added framework to create a bench seat for three people, also adding three sissy bars. Now to give the bike more appeal, I added some body panels to make room for a great paint job, and cover up battery, electronics and other stuff. This bike now has a cleaner chopper look of the 1970's.
     When I finally fired the motors, I realized that having eight carbs was problematic. Trying to adjust all the carbs and the linkage was impossible.  I decided to change all that. I built a log manifold connecting both motors together, and timed the cranks so firing would be even, like a V8. I then added one Harley CV carb between the motors, so now linkage and adjustment were very simple, and the motors ran smoothly. I thought about adding a blower in the mix, but decided the parasitic loss to the motors would be too great, considering the work required for the larger, heavier vehicle.
     The original front end was modified to make it different. I rotated the square tubes to make a diamond shape, and lowered the spring perches to make an inverted Springer. The old accessories were replaced with newer stuff, and upholstery and paint were completed. Chrome plating costs too much for this old retired guy, so powder coating replaces what was chromed. 
     Most of my bikes were painted by "Molly" the international painter and designer. I had talked with him about painting the trike, but he sadly passed away in 2011. I decided to do the trike in green and orange, with gold trim. In honor of my friend Molly, I chose Kawasaki green as Molly created the color for Kawasaki many years ago.
     While I was working on the bike, I tried to think of a name for it that would be kool, like "Big Twin" was. Because there are so many people texting now, and the bike has eight cylinders in a row, I called it "8STR8".
     I am so happy that "Big Twin" resurfaced because it gave me the idea to modify my old simple three-wheeler into a more exotic 70's chopper. The project was a blast, and helped me relive the old school days of choppers. What good memories.



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