I constantly hear someone say, even industry folks, "Choppers are dead." That's bullshit. The industry is growing in Europe and Australia. Choppers aren't dead. The economy in the US almost died, but when it's back, so will Choppers. But I love the growth in Europe. We were recently contacted by Hogtech Choppers in Sweden with an announcement about their first long, Absolut, choppers approved by the EU for sale all across Europe. These bikes are cool, but I asked Peder ”The Wizard” Johansson from Hogtech, if he would give me a report on the EC Certificate of Conformity (E-approved) bikes available in Europe and he was kind enough to turn over info on eight additional companies. That's a helluva positive sign, and some of the manufacturers include American companies such as Big Dog, Big Bear, and Saxon. So the world wide chopper industry is spreading. Folks gotta ride!
We are going to focus on the Wizard's line of hot looking Absolute choppers this week, but we may bring you reports on some of these other builders in the future. Here's the Wizard's story:
After years in manufacturing chopper frames for enthusiasts round the world with an old fashion Swedish blacksmith tradition that goes back to the 1000s century of the Vikings.
Precision handcrafted to tight tolerance with high quality Swedish steel. Completely welded, then heat treated and cooled in the fixture. Due to this precision craftsmanship the production is not a high volume product. But their frames were tested among others by a Round the World trip on a rigid Chopper 45.000 km (30.000 miles) and also thru TUV in Germany to meet the highest standard.
People started to talk a few years back about the problems to get long forks and custom bikes legal in a lot of countries. Then we started a plan. What could we do for all the enthusiasts, coupled with our passion for Choppers? Then we attended the S&S 50th Anniversary and had some interesting talks with the crew (Kurt Pettersson, and Charlie Hadayia). We discussed building a special engine for our new project, a Hi-Tech engine with the classic looks, good performance, and emission legal.
Finally, when this goal was reached, the work was to sort out what we had been riding and building for over almost 30 years. The focus was on Swedish made parts for the chassis, a deep-rooted research and development plan was initiated with parts manufacturers with function, reliability, clean design, and performance in mind. We had transmissions and belt drive systems US made with our design. The best electronic equipment was discovered in Germany.
Shows and magazines featured our long, exotic Swedish styled bikes for the last 25 years. That led us to believe there was a market for the "Swedish Style" choppers with an E-type approval.
It has not been an easy way to go but now we are finally finished and the COC license is ours.
To start production we focused on two models, “The Icelander,” chopper for passengers and with touring in mind. “The Black Ice,” is a mean chopper with attitude (the dark side).
The Absolut Icelander
Natural drive line with S&S rocker covers. Brushed Aluminum parts (Hand/Foot Contr. Calipers, Lower fork/ tr.trees). 1 Colour paint, Plain leather seat/grips, Rebuffini Ellipse foot pegs. Polished S-S spoke wheels, Satin Stainless Steel parts (Chain guard, Lic.plate/ Top motor mount, Transmission plate and Master cyl.bracket). Polished Long H-bar & Sissy bar.
Wizard Explorer tanks.
The Absolut Black Ice
The Black Ice:
Black drive line (Polished Crankcase/ Tr. Case & Covingtons rocker covers). Black pkg: Fork/Calipers/ Hand contr./ Headlight/ Belt cover/ Turn signals/ Forward controls Rebuffinis Comet Black/ grips.
One Colour paint, Luxury leather seat, Polished S-S parts (H-bar, Ch.guard, Lic.plate/ Top motor mount and Transmission plate with Master cylinder bracket). Spoke wheels with Black rim & Hub/ polished spokes. Ragnarok tanks.
So what is the Swedish Style?
Stockholm New No. 10 describes it as follows: “It was in the postwar years when the WWII fighter pilot veterans started customizing motorcycles, to ride lower, laid-back, outlaw fashion, turning the bikes into 'choppers'.“
The custom of prolongations and ”raking“ the fork, the style made global by the Easy Rider
movie, was quickly outlawed all over the world – except in Sweden, where the legislation still, strangely, leaves a loophole allowing registration of choppers. This is an explanation why Swedish bike builders have become respected and demanded all over the world for designing choppers – plus the natural inclination for a clean, minimalistic, stripped-down expression which characterizes most all Swedish designs.
The Story behind ”The Swedish Chopper Wizard” Peder Johansson
It started in Pajala (Northern Sweden) April 1964, after some years the family moved down to Sundsvall (middle of Sweden) where I build my first Chopper in the early '70s.
That was a Bicycle with longfork.
The first Motorcycle project started 1982 with a driveline from a Norton 750cc –'67 witch turned in to a Chopper in Swedish Style, I took the first award with this chopper in 1984.
Now I started to help friends with Custom building and since 1992 this has been my profession (full time work).
In 1993 I made a round the world trip on a rigid Harley chopper with my big love Visnja (My wife after the trip 1995).
We made the trip thru Europe, Sweden-Holland-Belgium-France-Italy-Greece-Turkey, then Israel-Egypt-India-Singapore-Malaysia-Thailand-Indonisia, crossing Australia-New Zealand, and Fiji. We came to USA in June 1994, and I started to work in a Harley shop for a couple of months then we rode up to Canada, down to Sturgis and over to N.Y. Then we went back to Los Angeles to start up a bike shop for a Company there.
In July 1995 we moved back to Sundsvall in Sweden and started up Hogtech. The main business was to build high quality frames made with Swedish steel. We also built a couple of complete choppers every year too. In 1999 we moved the family and the Company to Eskilstuna.
On the millenium day we had a real bad fire in our house and workshop. Everything was destroyed in this fire, including three bikes and two project builds. After one year of hard work we was back on the track with a new top modern workshop. It took five tough year to repay the loan caused by the fire (not enough insurance).
In 2005 I was awarded the Jury`s first price in Norrtälje Custom bike Show, with my Pink Floyd Knuckle chopper “Delicate Sound of Thunder,” That was my happiest time in my career. This price included an invitation with all expenses payed to World Championship in Custom bike building in Las Vegas 2005 and European Championship in Custom bike building in Mainz 2006.
Choppers has been in my soul since I was a kid, specifically the super clean Swedish Style Choppers. Over the years I had a lot of help and support from my wife in the office.
Since 2006 Andreas is my partner and a good craftsmen. It is too bad that the regulations in a lot of Countries makes it impossible for people to build their own custom dream bikes. I guess it has to do with the culture we have here, in Sweden, with an understanding and respect for customised cars and bikes. It goes back to the '50s, Rock`n' Roll with Steel.
Specifications ”Absolut Chopper”
Med Vänliga Hälsningar
Hogtech Sweden AB
Lilla Lovhulta 17
635 07 Eskilstuna, SWEDEN
Ph: +46 16 510080
Frame: Hogtech Northern Spirit 3” stretch , 46° rake
Fork: Tolle +21”(1230 mm), Hogtech tree 7°, CC 220
Trail: 70 mm
Seat/ height: Black Leather, 570 mm
Ground clearance: 100 mm ( 4” )
Wheel base: 2160 mm CC axles
Front wheel : Erixon Stainless19” x 2,15”, Tire 90/90-19
Rear wheel: Erixon Stainless17” x 6” Tire 200/55-17
Front brake: ISR 6 p. caliper/ 270 Ø fl. rotor (Hogtech design)
Rear brake: ISR 6 p. caliper/ 48th.spr disc brake (Hogtech design)
Hand controls: ISR 14 Ø p, adjustable grip (Hogtech design)
Foot brake M-cyl: ISR 15,87 Ø p, adjustable unit (Hogtech design)
Fuel tank/capacity: Parker (Hogtech Design), 13 L/Res 1,5 L
Oil tank/capacity: Hogtech , 3 L (3.2 qts)
Engine: S&S (Hogtech design alt/gen Round cyl/heads).
Displacement: V-Twin 1640 CC (100-inch)
Stroke & Bore: 107.95 mm x 98.425 mm (4.250 x 3.875)
Compression ratio: 9.6:1
Camshaft: S&S 520G (Special)
Exhausts: BSL Stainless, Catalyst
HP/Trq: 70 Hp ( 4300 rpm)/ 135 Nm (2450 rpm)
Fuel system: S&S E Carb, (emission/ fixed jets)
Transmission: Baker OD6 speed (.86 final ratio)
Primary drive: Belt drive 2” (Hogtech design), Ball bearing clutch
Final drive: 530 chain, 23/48th. Sprockets
Electrics : MG Speedo & M-Unit
Ignition: Electronic single fire S&S
Charging output: 32 amp charging by Cycle electrics
Battery: 18 amp/310 CCA
Total weight (Wet) : 240 kg / Max permissible mass 420 kg