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Chris Tragert

has been building bikes since 1972, starting with a Honda S90, built from a basket case. A continuous succession of race bikes, cafe racers, choppers, and customs have passed through his hands. Venice Choppers was created in 1990, providing custom built "picture" bikes for use in television commercials. Venice Choppers have starred in national spots for Kodak, Coca Cola, Crown Books, and Coors Light, to name but a few. In addition to corporate clients, Venice Choppers does ground-up custom builds, as well as period correct restorations of original 70's survivors. Venice Choppers have been featured in several magazines, including multiple issues of The Horse, Back Street Choppers. Check out the featured bikes, and feel free to contact Chris with your custom needs, or just to say hi.


VENICE CHOPPERS. This bare-knuckle venice bobber is a product of its environment.  A light, compact weapon was needed to slice through the traffic-choked urban sprawl surrounding the sea-side oasis where it was conceived.  Lightweight, quickness, agile handling, and good brakes were top priority.  The resulting menacing appearance would give murderous cagers something to text about.

To achieve these criteria, an early 70's Amen rigid frame was scored, complete with it's unique oil tank/battery tray.  A stock length CB750 front-end, combined with a 21' rim, had the frame sitting low, and level.  A 17' CB750 rear wheel kept thinks slim, it's drum brake actuated by a 40' Ford brake pedal itself operated from solid, mid-mount foot pegs.
Confident the chassis was up to the task, it received a silky coat of satin black powder coat, topped with stainless steel spokes, and polished caliper, triple clamp, and rear sprocket.  
Motivation comes from a 78 CB750F motor.  Stripped down, and rebuilt, with chrome covers, and stainless hardware, it breathes through early CB carbs, jetted to suit the vintage Dunstall exhaust.  This rare 4-2 collector is tipped with 2" exhaust cutouts.  8" baffles attach to the end caps, providing a mellow exhaust note from discreetly drilled outlets.  Removing the end caps reminds the neighbors who the bad boy on the block is.  Sparking the mix are chrome Harley coils, with copper core wires, and "Rajah" caps, more commonly found on flathead Fords.  Coils position mimics drag racing magnetos, in case anyone questions your intentions, which should be clear, based on the aggressive riding position.
Clubman bars get your hunch on, while keeping your knuckles below mirror level when splitting lanes.  A Hyabusa master cylinder feeds the venerable Honda disc some extra juice, in a world of ABS induced delayed reactions.  Completing the interface of man, and machine, is a West Eagle seat, sprung with 2" Bates springs.  It's kicked up rear keeps yours in its place, and off the 5" rear fender.
Joining the minimalist movement is an alien gastank, powder coated charcoal metallic, with a candy red top coat.  It's 80+ mile range will see you clear to the edge of town.  Spontaneous, nocturnal missions are illuminated by a Lucas driving lamp.  Backup is provided by a VW turn signal, stuffed with red LEDs.  Wired up, and fired up, this bike has proven to be an effective tool for traversing the urban landscape.  It's lean looks are a direct result of it's dedication to function, proving less is more, and if you need more, here it is.


VENICE CHOPPERS. This bike started out with a mystery frame I bought for $150.00 on good old Ebay.  I figured it was for a Honda, so I grabbed it.  Measuring revealed it was for a CB500/550 Honda engine.

Searching the local classifieds turned up a clean '72 CB500 that had kissed a bumper.  The engine ran sweet, and it had a 16" rear wheel, and new Bridgestones.  I had some 7" over fork tubes from a previous CB550 project which worked perfectly.  I like the smaller Hondas, they don't use an oil tank, so you can build them tight, and light.
More searching Ebay turned up: a chrome peanut tank, chrome fender, chrome disc cover, finned engine covers, drag pipes, velocity stacks, seats, and chrome and stainless steel hardware to bolt it all together.  The bike was mocked up and brackets fabricated to mount the battery and electrics behind the engine.  A solid state regulator and coils from Cyclexchange cleaned up the electrics, without resorting to using chrome boxes.
Originally, I had planned for a red frame, but with the chrome tank, I figured it would look like a Hodaka.
when I looked at color samples at the powder coaters, Phsyco Green jumped out at me.  To hell with superstition, we're talking two-wheel T-Bucket! White seats, and grips, 'cause you meet the nicest people on a Honda.
bolted back together, with new chain, cables, and fattened up jets, this 500 has been ripping it up around Venice Beach.
People really dig it.  Some remember when Honda choppers ruled. Others, only aware of megabuck designer bikes, can't believe what you can create on a tight budget.  I say, "cool is, as cool does." Build it, and have fun.


VENICE CHOPPERS. This Venice Chop started life with the swap meet purchase of an old Durfee girder-short and stiff. I immediately envisioned the "digger" style chops I saw tearing around the San Francisco bay area in the late 1970s.  Out by Redwood City, attacking the twisties on my RD350, I was passed by a strutted, low-riding Sportster.  It was a particularly defining moment.  I was a squid.  ˇhat cat was cool.

Redemption came over 25 years later in the form of a vintage Santee frame. It had the necessary stretch and just enough rake to achieve the long, low look I was after. It also had a cracked top tube, and some gnarly stick welds. A new top tube was clam-shelled over the old one, and much grinding ensued.
A skinny 18' rear wheel and a 21" trail bike front wheel were bolted to the beefed frame, keeping things looking lean, and providing some useable stopping power.  Hustle comes from a stock CB750 motor.  The flow from powder coated cases, Alphabet filters, Harley coils and a Cragar S/S points cover.  Merged head pipes tuck in tight, and feed into Wassel mufflers for a mellow tone.
The prism tank was salvaged from the remains of a pink metalflake Z-1 chopper that turned up in a Penny Saver ad.  Along with the custom seat, 5" fender, and one piece pullback bars, it keeps this modern rendition locked in the '70's.
the frame and tin were filled with weld and ground smooth in preparation for powder coating.  The color was chosen by an informal survey.  I rode the bare metal mock-up down to the Venice boardwalk, with color chart.  Of those whose opinions I admired the most, blue with silver sparkle was the unanimous choice.
Bolted back together with stainless hardware the finished product is light and responsive with sleek looks.  The Venice Digger has captured the qualities of the original creations that inspired it .  Cool at last.


VENICE CHOPPERS. CB750's have been the basis for great choppers since their inception in 1969.  Hard tail frames, springer forks, and spool hubs were the foundation for a whole generation of hardcore customs.  

To create this modern version of a traditional chop, it made sense to look to the past.  A collection of vintage parts were accumulated, starting with the rigid frame.  It had received an extra 2" in the down tubes, giving the neck extra height, and rake, to allow the use of a narrow, extended springer.  A 17" spool front wheel completed the geometry equation for neutral, stable handling.  A stock 17" rear wheel was chosen for its stainless steel spokes, and narrow profile.  Custom made controls, color matched to the frame in metallic copper powder coat, include welded chain foot pegs, and drag bars, cut to follow the angles of the original Amen coffin tank.  Together with the hex oil tank, and 5" flat fender, the sheet metal got a dose of satin black powder coat.  Vintage dual headlights, cat face taillight, and two piece seat complete the chopper profile.  Power for this classic custom comes from a 78 F model CB750.  The factory black block was dressed with polished hardware, and breathes through a breadbox air filter, and a custom lakes pipe header, with frame huggin, baffled tail pipe.
Custom jetting guarantees this potent powerplant, combined with the lightweight chassis will get your attention, as well as theirs.