SP Rides: Chopper Mike Goes For It
By Michael Kitchens
Name: Chopper Mike Chow
Occupation: Owner of Mike’s Tire Shop
Hobbies: Jet skiing, motorcycles, sports
Year/Make/Model: 2010 Custom Chopper
Color: Tie-Dyed Custom
Build Time: Six months
Mike Chow has been tinkering with bikes ever since he was a youngster growing up in Hilo. At age 17, he took over the family backyard business of custom chopper fabrication after his father passed away, building a solid reputation as a custom bike builder and motorcycle enthusiast. Eventually, he became known as “Chopper Mike” by those in the Big Island community. Today he operates a tire shop and continues building custom motorcycles like this 2010 tie-dyed Custom Chopper.
I’ll admit that I don’t know a ton about bikes, almost to the point of embarrassment. What I do know, however, is that this custom chopper is absolutely outrageous and probably one of the craziest builds on Oahu. The first thing you’ll notice is the 6-foot-long front forks, which are absolutely massive in length. The entire bike rocks the tape at an absolutely stunning 19 feet, making it one heck of a ride.
“I can leave the keys and pop off to Zippy’s. Nobody can take it — it’s a hard bike to drive,” he says. It’s not a problem for him though as he cruises everywhere throughout the week. This particular bike, in fact, serves as a fantastic calling card for his custom skills.
Mike drew his inspiration from the classic 1970s chopper and then went a little wild. He sketched everything out on paper and gave the bike a modern upgrade by adding larger tires to the front and rear. He then pored over parts catalogs, ordered bits and pieces, shipped others off for polishing, and eventually the plan came together.
The bike features a custom-built frame developed by Mondo Porras and Denver Choppers, and set to Mike’s specifications. The engine is 96-cubic inches and mated to a 6-speed Baker transmission. Built up, it includes a big cam inside, roller rockers, and a 3 and ½-inch Rivera Primo belt drive. The front tire is a 19-inch front rim and a tire made by Avon while the rear is a 17.5 rim with an Avon 330 tire that is super meaty. JB Custom controls are fitted to the top and bottom handlebars and foot controls. Shifting is done jockey shift style (aka “suicide clutch”).
The frame was layered in tie-dyed custom paint by Dennis Mathewson of Cosmic Custom Airbrush. When combined with the gleaming chrome and polished pieces that make up the rest of the bike, it’s simply a joy to behold. Mike split the engine case in half, polished every nook and cranny and slapped it back together. It’s called a back breaker because of the overly firm suspension. The quality in the work was so fantastic; he soon began receiving phone calls asking for the same custom builds.
“It was right there … I got it,” says Mike upon completion. For now, he’s done after with this build after six months of hard work. The bike after this was completed in four and the upcoming builds should be even faster. He believes that “If you want to do something, my suggestion is to do it. It can be done. My goal is to go for it.”