Low Budget Rigid Custom Bike Project

by Frank Wakefield
(Wesley Chapel Florida)

rigid custom chopper

rigid custom chopper

I have ABSOLUTELY NO MONEY in this rigid custom...

The picture above is during the sheetmetal mock-up.

I have bartered for every single part on this bike so far. I do tile/Marble and remodeling and have traded with no fewer than 7 or 8 people so far for what you see here, I also have a shovelhead engine {not pictured} and primary that I traded a room remodel with Alan from "Santiago Choppers" in Riverview Florida.

I have a Tile installation company and do a little bartering on Craigslist trading my labor for things of interest. For instance, I have a 2001 G.M.C. truck that I got for remodeling a bathroom, a 99 Sea Doo that I got for doing someone’s living room floor, so one day about four months ago I got an offer to do a floor for a Custom built rigid frame rolling chassis built by a CNC machinist who discovered that he just simply didn’t have the time to work on his project, so he saw my offer on Craigslist and decided to offer the roller for having his living room floor done. I was a little hesitant at first because I really have no experience building bikes but have always had an interest, and my dream "of course" has always been to own my own Harley.

The thought of owning a "Custom" had never really entered my mind since they are soooo expensive but I have to admit that every time I see one I immediately start fantasizing of owning and riding my own. Anyhow, even being skeptical about doing such a large room for a frame that I really didn't even know where to begin building on, I went on over to this guys home to take a look at the job and the roller, well, let me tell you, as soon as I saw that brand new huge 250 Avon on the back of that bike up on his lift, I fell in love, and even if I couldn’t finish this build, I was going to do this job and get this bike at my house, if for nothing else but to just be able to look at it anytime that I wanted and to be able to say that it was MINE, and because I knew what it could someday be even if it never made it !So I did the job and brought my new bike home!

I tell you man, I stared at that bike for hours and hours! My wife started getting jealous of the time that I spent out in the garage just looking at it! I couldn’t sleep at night thinking about how I was going to get MY BIKE on the road! I started buying magazines and doing all kinds of research on bike building on my computer and stopping at every bike shop that I could find just to talk to someone, anyone, who could tell me something about building bikes! Well, GOD must have been watching me and decided to help me out because after about 2 months I was looking on the computer one day and "BAM" there was my motor, a beautiful complete Shovel engine for sale for $2500 dollars! Well I really don't have the money to buy it but I thought "What the hell "I'm going to call these folks and see if they might be interested in doing a little bartering for
their motor.
Well, I couldn’t believe my luck because it turns out that these people are professional bike builders and own a company called "Santiago Choppers”, and build customs everyday!!! What a find!!! I met them and it turns out that they are looking to have a room addition built onto their home to extend their bedroom and add a bathroom.

custom chopper motorcycleMAN WHAT LUCK!!! I struck a deal to do the work in exchange for not only the engine, but also a new five speed transmission AND an open belt primary! Oh MY GOD! I was sooooo happy!!! So I started working immediately on their house and the next thing that you know, I have an awesome Shovel with a tranny sitting in my frame! Well, I can only work on their addition on the weekends and whatever days that I have no paying jobs on so needless to say, the project is taking weeks to do. Well, this is o.k.

With Alan & Christene, {They are the owners} so I just keep on working every available day that I can and slowly but surely, the addition is coming along, so, since the project is taking a little while, I am building a friendship with these people, and we are talking about my bike and Alan eventually tells me that he will help with the build! What a GREAT human being! So I bring my bike to his home garage and the next thing that you know, every time that I come to his house, he has brought home some part needed on the bike and is about 3/4 of the way through the mock up!!! Up till now he has gotten me a Brand new rear fender, a starter, sprocket/rotor set up for the rear tire, a stator charging system, a BADASSED tank, a front fender, a headlight which he just emailed me about tonight and I haven’t even seen it yet, I'm sooo excited! And the best part so far and the only thing that I didn’t really like so much on my roller was the front end, it had a set of c.m.c. trees and some stock forks with a stock rake which I really wished was raked out there a little more.

Well Alan got me an AWESOME set of 'PRO-ONE’ trees with seven degrees of rake and the matching fork tubes and killer lower legs with a hidden axle!!! Oh my GOD I can't believe how perfect that it looks now with the front tire out there a little! It’s PERFECT! The picture that I have on here now is of the roller as it was when I first took it to his house, and before the engine or any of the things that I have just told you about, but as soon as we get some recent pictures of it now I will post them. You know, the real sweet part of all of this, besides meeting Alan and getting all of his PRICELESS help, is that all of these things are being bartered for! EVERYTHING!!! I don’t have ONE DIME in this bike! Alan is letting me work for all of this! I have truly been bitten by the build bug, and am so, so, so happy and blessed right now and can only hope that all of you out there have the same kind of good fortune that I have had up til now with your projects!

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Apr 28, 2015
more info
by: Michael Brantley

What is the neck degree angle you are using and what is length of down tubes?

Feb 26, 2015
Lucky Bastard! :)
by: Alex G

Man you are the luckiest SOB out there. Wow, what a story. I can only HOPE to get into that situation some day. Oh well, there is Always Hope!
I can wait to see some finished pics.
Feel free to email them to me at: a_gonzales4@hotmail.com

and all the best!


Jan 13, 2010
by: Anonymous

Bro...I have been involved with CHOPS and builds for 38 years. I have a shop in central Minnesota. I donate what I can to the local (Minneapolis MN) shop class although I am 150 miles away. My take is.....when I was in shop class in '68, I soldered up a couple of ash trays and when it was wood class, built a few bird houses. Now my main bro and instructor of this special class is "TEACH" (Kevin Baas at Kennnedy High School and see him at www.baasmetalcraft.com if you want cool parts) and he teaches the "kids" how to build.....fricken' choppers!!! How cool is that? You have sold your soul to the choppers gods in a great way, bro. I belive in bartering and what you gave for parts was your talent at what YOU DO and sell....a part of you. And I would bet, you do super work and are meticulous in everything you do. You are to be congratulated and I cannot wait to see your scoot. It will not only be a low cost project to you, but a perfect build using the same talents you barter. GOOD LUCK and if you are in Minnesota....I need my bathroom remodeled too! I have parts galore! Great things will come your way and remember....Keep the greasy side down! Take your work seriously although others may say "you're lucky, I say you are a good barterer' (is that a word?)!
Doc (Tim) Devorak
Doc's Choppers & Customs in MN

Jan 07, 2010
What is it with Wakefields?
by: Bob Wakefield

Okay Frank, we must be of the same gene pool or something as I also barter for parts/paint/help. It's the only way to go, I don't have an unlimited fund pool as some do so this is THE BEST way to get what you need and help someone out with their projects.

Well done and keep up the "Barter Way"


Apr 27, 2009
Awesome Story
by: Anonymous

What a lucky Dog !!!

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