California-based Big Bear Choppers, which made custom bikes on a production line before falling victim to the recession and folding in 2011, launched its business in 2002 with the Reaper, a classic chopper. At its peak the company was making more than 1,000 custom motorcycles a year before the market collapsed; now the company’s model names and styles have been revived as build-it-yourself kits under another owner (Kevin Alsop, and his wife, Mona, who founded Big Bear Choppers, are affiliated with the new company; Kevin Alsop designed the entire original line).
The 2008 Reaper, a carryover, features the company’s proprietary 1,638.7cc, air-cooled, four-stroke V-twin engine made by S & S, it has S & S Super G carburetors in an OHV-pushrod configuration, paired with a Baker chain-driven six-speed manual transmission. The chromed 3.8-inch telescopic front fork boasts the extreme 40-degree rake of a classic chopper; the rear suspension a twin-sided swing arm.
The low 24-inch seat and pullback handlebars, six-inch stretched downtubes and three-inch stretched backbone are essential parts of the chopper’s long, sleek look, along with the chrome controls and details. The rear tire is a fairly modest 250mm rather than the wide 300mm used by some of the other choppers in the 2008 lineup.
The Reaper came in the same color options available for all Big Bear Choppers bikes: black cherry, candy-red metallic, charcoal metallic, electric blue, firecracker red, gloss red, orange pearl, satin black, and silver metallic. A buyer ordered the color and graphic package of his choice. Buyers always had the option of ordering unpainted parts and building their own bikes.
Playing with the rebel image of the chopper, Big Bear Choppers went with a spider web theme, decorating the 5.9-gallon tank, oil tank, gusset, and swing arm with it. The company believed that the chopper handled extremely well, without front-end flop or high-speed wobble.