An Overview of the Classic Captain America Chopper
Photo By Brian Snelson via Wikimedia Commons
The Captain America chopper is a bike that remains an icon in American culture. These bikes date back to World War II, but didn’t become cool until later on. The sleek chopper look that we first saw in the 1960s has become a popular style of motorcycle that is quite common today. In true chopper style, this bike is powerful, fast, and includes only the necessities needed to make it run. Most chopper bikes are easily recognizable because of their unique style and lack of common items such as a windshield, mirrors, front brakes, and even the speedometer. The Captain America chopper is no different.
The Captain America chopper made its debut as Peter Fonda’s iconic ride in the movie “Easy Rider” back in 1969. It was originally built by Peter Fonda and Dan Haggerty, both actors, and bike customizer Tex Hall. The Captain America originally started its life as a 1952 model hydro-glider. There were two bikes built for the movie. One of them was stolen after the movie was filmed. The other was crashed in the film’s final scene. The crashed bike was later rebuilt and loaned out to the National Motorcycle Museum in Iowa where visitors can still enjoy its beauty.
The Captain America chopper is one of the early chopper style bikes. To make it, the crew extended the forks, made the handlebars taller, added fishtail style mufflers, and a included a unique gas tank. The chopper style has become quite popular through the years and is easily recognizable with its tall sissy bar seat and stretched out handlebars. This bike also has a 42 degree rake which is the distance from the front wheel to the frame. In order for this bike to have the chopper look, many extra items like turn signals, front fender, and even the horn were discarded. The frame and engine are original, with an added chrome finish on the frame. It is best known for its colorful gas tank and matching helmet in patriotic colors. The seat is black leather with chrome buttons that actually came from a 1964 Chevrolet.
The 45 degree v-twin, four stroke engine was rated at 6,000 RPM. The engine is fully exposed and chromed out to match the rest of the bike. It has a four speed transmission and a single Linkert carburetor for fuel supply. The Harley Davidson engine had a displacement of 74 cubic inches. The front brakes were removed, so only the rear drum remained. Since most of the weight is in the back, front brakes are not a necessity. The bike weighed about 600 pounds, and could reach speeds of up to 90 mph. The exhaust was routed to the back in two fishtail shaped mufflers. In usual chopper style, the front tire was 21 inch spoke, while the back tire was 16 inch spoke.