We like to keep things interesting at Purpose Built Moto, so when we were asked to build a Shovelhead chopper my mind wandered straight to creating something special from a standard Early Style springer.

Before we get into it, I want to give a shoutout to Meatballs Springers for hooking us up with one of their replica early style springers and the gear we needed to get the job done. 

Now for the Idea.

We wanted to create an Air Ride Shovelhead that would drop to the floor like a cali lowrider on request. Doing this on an old school chopper is a bit left field, so we wanted to make sure the styling was period correct on the bike rather than using obviously modern parts. 

The Question was what would an air ride chopper look like in the 70’s?

We’ve sourced a set of Vintco air shocks for the job. These are usually set up on older VMX and vintage enduro bikes like the ol Cr500 or Maicos of the day. The styling of these air shocks was perfect and although they’re covered up in our video for protection, they will look right at home once the job is complete.

First up on the build list  was ditching the 41mm Shovelhead forks, with 6” over legs and mounting the Early style meatballs springer, mocking up a 21” front wheel and checking where we stood in terms of ride height and overall stance.

We’ve also swapped out for a tube style swing arm, over the box section arm that comes standard on this model. On fabrication the first job was to chop and narrow the front leg of the springer. The narrowing wasn’t a necessary adjustment, but if we’re chopping it anyway we might as well make something special right?The Front leg has been narrowed 35mm overall to create a slimmer front view on the springer that better suits the single air shock that’s been mounted. Creating the bracing, and top and bottom mounts required some simple lathe and milling work that soaked up a fair bit of time to have it templated, and machined to fit.

Once the fabrication was finished on the front end and the new air shock mounted, the front end was sent for chrome. If you’ve ever had anything electroplated in Australia you’ll know it's not cheap or quick, so we had plenty of time to play around with some other fabrication while it was gone.

We’ve custom made an air tank that sits in front of the engine inside the frame, this will help to regulate the pressure between our shocks and the onboard compressor that’s neatly tucked under the revtech 4 speed. 

A set of WR style split tanks have been mounted super low on the frame, and chopped out around the rickler boxes in a cut down style to further lower the top line of the bike. With the fuel tank mounted we set out building the custom oil tank that houses a stock style shovelhead oil filter in the cap to make sure the engine runs clean. Shaped out of aluminium in a clean style with some mild detailing done on the bead roller before it was rubber mounted to the frame. 

Last job before the custom springer went back on the Shovelhead chopper was to customise the rocker boxes. I set up a jig on the mill and detailed the rocker boxes with a ball nose end mill that machined some vertical lines in the aluminium. Another machining task that wasn’t hard to do but soaked up a lot of time. 

With all the parts back in hand the front end was mounted up and shock installed. Using a top clamp with integrated bar riser and a custom set of dual bend handlebars made to measure by Jono at Kansai Giant out of 1” stainless steel. 

We still have some work to do to have the system operating properly but initial signs point to this being a successful venture. Raised up on the air ride we have a nice low stance that’s more than rideable, and with the rear end and custom meatballs springer aired out the frame rails sit about 25mm or 1” off the floor, perfect for a small centre stand to be flicked out and have the bike sitting on the floor when parked.

A pretty strange idea, and definitely something different we’ve tried with this one, but our client is stoked, and so are we. If you have any feedback, suggestions, or questions about the work let us know in the comments!

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