Fxr Chopper Part 1

For years now I have dreamed of building and owning an FXR Chopper!  Around 2017 was the first time I saw the famous “Frisco” fxr photo, It dug a hole in the back of my mind to marinate.  Our Listeners of “The Fast Life Podcast” would probably tell you they have been sick of hearing about my desire to build one.  

the first inspiration

A few years later, Al Emerson @aechoppers (one of my favorite builders) started posting progress pictures on the gram of a De-raked FXR chopper he was fabricating for @soldiers_fullerton.  I have always wanted a full-on rigid chopper,  but my lack of knowledge within the vintage scene has kept me at bay. Over the years I have made progress in understanding the vast differences in choppers and have learned to appreciate the existing chopper scene for all the effort that has been put into the culture past and present.  The answer for me seemed to lie within building a Chopped FXR, something I’m very familiar with while dipping my toes into the unfamiliar chopper world. 

Al Emerson build from AE choppers

With countless other influences and nudges at going down this road.  The straw that broke the camel’s back to make this FXR Chopper a reality came in November 2022 at the Down South Campout.  Justin ( @mymachinist) expressed to me one night over some drinks the idea that would later evolve into “The FXR Tour”.  

justin and i at the down south making fxr plans

Justin and I felt as though the industry needed something that focused on the right attributes of building motorcycles.  Competition amongst the builders has been the common theme in pretty much all build-off-type events.  While competition is a major driving force, we felt that the competition should be building the most kick-ass fxr you can imagine and riding it 1000 miles from Durango Colorado to the Yellow Rose Canyon in East Texas. The tour became a 4-day riding event kicking off at Durango Harley Davidson on Monday, October 16th.  On Tuesday all 10 builders would ride the 450 miles from Durango to Tripps Harley Davidson in Amarillo Texas. Wednesday we would ride the 400 miles from Amarillo to Legendary Strokers Dallas for the Official Born Free Texas Pre-party.  Finally Thursday we would finish the 150 miles into Yellow Rose Canyon for the 4-day Born Free Texas’ second annual event.  The challenge is the build must be ridden the complete 1000-mile trip.  

As a result for the last 9 months, the 10 of us have been in a group chat helping each other from finding parts to sharing knowledge within our areas of expertise.  The idea is to see all your fellow builders make something they are proud of and complete the ride.  This is another important aspect of the FXR Tour that is not always present within typical competitions.  Comradery.

As Justin and I share the responsibility of creating this event and working out the details of the tour, we are also building our FXRs. The New Year kicked off and I had to find an fxr to build from.  I started with a 1985 frame, picked up from a local FXR guy Brooks Blanton out of Canton Texas.  The frame had seen better days but what I intended to do with it none of the damage was a factor for me. At $800 with a clean Texas title, it was a no-brainer. I already had a late model twin cam complete drivetrain laying in the shop which would make a perfect reliable power plant for this fxr Chopper idea.

85 fxr frame

I debated asking a few different fabricators to help create the look I was after with the frame,  initially I was thinking of asking Al Emerson to get the stance dialed for me since he was the main influence.  With AE Choppers being close to 1,000 miles away even if Emerson would have been able to fit me into his schedule, I wasn’t confident it would fit into my schedule of completing the bike for Octobers Born Free. Due to my work and travel schedule for the year.  

I can’t fully remember if someone brought it up or maybe it happened organically at a bike night, but Cory From MainDrive Cycle is local to me and ended up being able to fit me in alongside his FXR Tour build.  Cory’s work through my eyes always seemed to focus on a main attribute I find important on any type of bike build.  Stance!  Add in the cleanliness of his fabrication style which he refers to as “it’s not rocket science” and you get some very clean classy but impactful builds over the years!  Lucky me Cory needed some custom paint done on his build so a good old fashion barter deal was made! 

cory Maindrive cycle

My year was scheduled to be very chaotic,  I dropped my frame off to Cory in late March, just before I went to pick up a new Lowrider ST that was to be my travel bike for the year.  Late April was our 6th annual fast life campout, followed by my anniversary with my wife and a trip to Oklahoma to paint some motorcycles for Covington Customs in May.  Shortly after I had a rush to get the Lowrider painted and customized for the ride to Born Free in California in mid-June.  Once home from California, I had 6 days before heading back out on another motorcycle trip with my friends up and around the Great Lakes.  Once home I was only a few weeks away from heading up to Sturgis.  At this time I was able to make a trip up to see Cory so I could sit on the frame and get a feel for where we wanted the neck to be.  

We decided to go up 4.5” on the neck and keep the stock rake.  We decided this was perfect for me and my size.  Cory and I spent hours talking over what we felt was important to convey in this build.  While I came to him with a vision, Cory was able to refine my vision and bring it to life in ways I was oblivious to.  Along with reworking a few areas of my frame to restore it to stock,  Cory knocked it out of the park. 

Originally I was gifted a West Coast Choppers Villian tank from Frank at Speed Dealer Customs.  While the tank is the shape and look I was after on my build, due to the length of the tank and not wanting to stretch the backbone of the fxr, I had to find another solution.  For the better half of 10 years, I have had a king Sportster tank hanging in my shop.  By using the Sporty tank Cory reworked it to have the “Frisco mount” I was after as well as maintain a fair amount of fuel capacity since I intended to do some cross-country rides on this chop.

The Last big area of fabrication was making my idea of using the factory 2018 Fat Bob rear fender work with the much more narrow subframe rails of an FXR.  Over the last 8 months, I have spent many sleepless nights scrolling down the hashtag #Fxrchopper on Instagram.  What I noticed on 90% of FXR choppers, was they maintained a factory rear fender and pretty much all the other factory aesthetics on the rear.  I’m not saying this looks bad at all,  but with this build, I wanted to focus on the back half of the bike and create a new feel just as we had done with the front.  All in all, it gives the bike a new look and vibe.  Once again Cory was able to narrow the fender re drill mounting holes to use the factory fender struts.  I decided to stick with the factory frame rail dimensions on the off chance I need to run bags in the future and the factory mounting holes are needed.  

Sturgis rolled through and once we all got back in the shop this August, The FXR Tour updates started flooding in from all 10 builders.  The week after Sturgis Cory wrapped up the fabrication work on my chop and was ready to head back to the Fast Life Garage.  Years ago the Lyndall wheels from my first FXR build were acquired by Mark from Texas Performance Motorcycles in Austin Texas.  They spent the last 5 years in his shop collecting dust as he was looking for the right build to use them.  To add to the sentimentality of this build I was able to get them back from Mark at a fair price. 

With the FXR in my shop and sitting as somewhat of a roller I have been spending late nights staring at it from all angles and heights, something I have always done in the past.  I have a pretty vivid imagination which helps me envision colors, paint jobs, parts, etc. This process guides me in the next steps to take.  Now with Tons of parts on order and a few more tricks up my idea sleeve if you’re reading this the day it was released we have exactly 7 weeks until we have to be In Durango for the first day of the tour.   

One thing about building or customizing a Chopper-style motorcycle is the freedom.  Sounds cliche right?  Well maybe, I find it very freeing to customize such a bare-bones bike that doesn’t have a predetermined box it has to fit in.  There are rules, but they are your rules to make or break as you see fit.  On the grand scale, I hope that the masses like what we are building,  due to the massive skills within the Craftsmen I have asked to work with me on this project and how it’s shaping up in my eyes.  I love it and for the first time in my almost 20 years of customizing motorcycles, I feel like this one is truly for me.         

my sketch for my fxr chop build

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