When Patrick Stroupe started this project five years ago, the only thing he knew about BSA choppers is that he wanted one.
He was unaware, for instance, that when a so-called friend offers you a 1968 Thunderbolt motor in milk crates and a hardtail frame of suspect ancestry for $100, you are supposed to run screaming in the opposite direction.
A graphic designer by trade and a painter by pastime, Stroupe’s engine-rebuild skills were next to nil, so he took the scattered internals to Thoroughbred Motorcycles’ John York, one of Southern California’s Britbike gurus. Never as popular as Triumph Twins, BSA’s “power egg” 650 nonetheless makes a handsome enough lump when treated to the polisher’s wheel.
Engine intact and slotted into trued-up frame (it was 1.5 inches off to one side), Stroupe’s next project was front suspension and brakes. Warned to steer clear of the stock “Flintstone-style” binders, he scored big when he scrounged a 1980s Yamaha dirtbike fork, desirable for its disc brake, its advanced damping qualities and its 6 inches of fork-leg underhang, giving the effect of extended tubes without hiking the front end dubiously into the air. A junkyard Suzuki donated its rear rotor and caliper.
Like any good chopper project, this was a joint effort. Master custom-builder Denny Berg was instrumental in the BSA’s progress, always available for advice and parts acquisition. A good friend with a lathe and mill came in handy. And Stroupe himself got pretty adept with a bandsaw, disc sander and grinder. But it wasn’t easy.
“The simplest things were headaches–and nothing was simple,” he says.
Even painting, Stroupe’s area of expertise, had its trying moments, the frame taking a knuckle-busting 60 hours of smoothing out before it was ready for its coat of candy purple.
As partial repayment, the bike has snagged more than a few trophies and last October copped its biggest booty yet, taking Best Custom Rigid honors at the prestigious Del Mar Concours. Doing most of the work himself, scouring swapmeets and trading favors, Stroupe figures he has all of $6000 tied up in his award-winning Beezer. Proof that show-stoppers don’t have to be bank-breakers.