Chopper kits have been around for quite a few years now with names like Custom Chrome, Zodiac, Pro One and Flyright all offering bolt together Custom bikes that according to their spiel, just need ‘gas and a paint job.’
All of the above are specifically aimed at big block V- twins whether they’re Sportsters or humungous big bore S&S engines, none of which could exactly be called budget projects. But in 2006 a start- up company named Hardknock Bobbers joined the fray.
The bike kits appeared to follow traditional Bobber lines complete with hardtail frames, 16 inch rear tires with a springer front end and skinny tire and say HK, were a ‘throwback to a time when bikes were simple cheap and fun’. But what made people do a serious double-take, was the 50cc engine.
Yup, you read that right; the full on hardcore Bobber in a box had been specially built to take the type of 50cc single cylinder commuter engine that had dominated the Far Eastern scooter market for decades.
Strictly speaking, it wasn’t the first ever 50cc Chopper ever built, check out this Fantic Chopper from the 1970’s, but it was certainly the most hard core little entry level Bobber ever built.
Furthermore, it was aimed at a section of the biking community that is often overlooked. Not everyone just starting out on 2 wheels wants a step-thru with a shopping basket and the Hardknock Bobber encouraged creativity and individualism in the next generation of bikers.
The controversial tiny chops did seem to polarize opinion though, with company owner Kelly Kikkert receiving negative feedback on the Internet regarding the bikes, customer support and even the legality of them for the road, but having scrolled through a broad section of the comments, they do tend to relate to the early days of the company.
Anyways, Kikker 5150 as the company is now known seems to have gotten its act together with a range of new engine sizes going from their original starter 50cc to a 125cc, 200cc single, 250cc single and for the traditionalists, a 250cc V-twin. And if the engines look familiar, that’s because they are all made in China under license to the big 4 Japanese manufacturers along with the cycle parts.
Also says Kikker, the bikes have now addressed the legality issue with both DOT/EPA approval in the United States and EC-Type approval in all European countries and Switzerland.
Having never slung a leg over one of these bikes I can’t honestly say what they’re like in terms of performance, reliability and finish etc. but there are certain aspects of them that are to be totally applauded. Firstly, the latest Mk III version of the frame and cycle parts and even the wiring harness have been designed specifically to interchange any of their engines with just a change of engine plates. And secondly although the bikes appeal to bikers of all ages, their low cost and ease of construction mean that they’re encouraging the next generation of Custom biker and that can’t be bad.
Stop Press: Kikker have just announced plans for a 250cc single engine Café Racer called the Nailhead. Don’t forget where you read it first.