Cover Bikes

Building the 2005 Big Bear Devil's Advocate Custom

November 30, 2006
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On the cover of this month’s issue we featured Alan Stiles’ 2005 Big Bear Devil's Advocate Custom. Alan and his brother Tony built this bike and we wanted to find out from Alan why he chose a Big Bear Choppers kit bike and what was involved in the build process. To see photos of the entire build process go to www.alschoppers.com

CC: Alan, why did you decide to build a kit bike, and why did you select Big Bear?
Alan: I decided to build a kit bike after chasing down all the parts through different venders and found that the kit bikes were about $5,000 less on the initial cost. It also gives you a single point for technical questions and parts tracking. I researched the kit bike venders for about six months and found Big Bear Choppers to have the best quality and selection of kits. They are very flexible with changing the kits around and you don’t have to order a predetermined set of parts. Big Bear creates the kit to your specs so it is no problem when you want to change any part from one of their other bikes to yours, or have them leave out a part or make a special part. I built this bike in 2005 when the EPA restrictions didn’t confine you to a single non-EPA certified bike in a lifetime. Big Bear bike kits are now all EPA approved.

CC: What was included in the kit?
Alan: The kit includes the frame, swingarm, engine, transmission, primary, gas tank, oil bag, fenders, forks, trees, shocks, pipes, controls, bars, electrical system, electronic ignition, lights and chrome hardware. Ninety-five percent of what you need comes in the kit. I changed the running lights and turn signals and added a speedometer, custom mount and pickup.

CC: What kind of instructional material was provided with the kit and how useful was it?
Alan: Big Bear included a DVD covering the assembly of the bike and a detailed owners manual. The video arrived after the mockup was complete; however I had also read several books relating to bike building during my research.

CC: Were there any difficulties you didn’t initially anticipate, and if so, how did you deal with them?
Alan: The welds were all done by a TIG and were almost show quality. My brother and I spent about 10 hours polishing them all out. Powder coating doesn’t allow for synthetic filler, so all the filler and shaping on the frame and swingarm was done with a welder & grinder. I didn’t anticipate not having a speedometer, so that was an additional purchase.

CC: Did you have any contact with Big Bear during the assembly process, and if so, how helpful were they?
Alan: I did have a few questions because the DVD didn’t get here until I the mockup complete. I spoke to and e-mailed Mike “The Greek” and Ryan from their support group. These guys helped out with parts tracking and swapping out a few parts for me after delivery.

CC: What tools, equipment, and skills were required?
Alan: The tools were pretty basic hand tools. I also used a bike stand, a welder, a grinder and a lot or sanding disks. I also had to modify a 15/16 socket to fit the rear axel nut.

CC: What alterations of your own did you make and why?
Alan: I used small bullet-shaped turn signals to make it look cleaner. I also went with a primary mounted tail light and license plate mount. I relocated the front turn signals below the tank and relocated the rear turn signals from the swingarm to the fender struts. I also had a friend mill out the speedometer mount from billet aluminum. I then polished the welds off the frame and swingarm, added a ForceWinder intake, a Kuryakyn intake tuner and installed torque cones in the exhaust.

CC: Considering what you learned in the process, what, if anything, would you do differently next time?
Alan: The only thing missing from this build was a lift table, which I’m ordering this winter.

CC: What advice would you give to someone who is starting a similar project?
Alan: Do a lot of research and figure out what you really want in a bike and get Big Bear to put it all in a kit for you.

CC: Why did you decide to sell your bike?
Alan: The only reason to sell any bike is to get another one. I want to build another bike!

CC: Have you decided on your next project? If so, what will it be and when do you plan to start it?
Alan: I have a design in mind for my next project, and yes, it will be a Big Bear, but that’s all I’m saying about it right now. I plan to start after I sell this one.

Interview by Mike Schweder and Stripe

Photos provided by Alan Stiles

Published in Cover Bikes

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