California-based Big Bear Choppers launched its business in 2002 with the Reaper, a classic custom chopper. At its peak, the company was making more than 1,000 custom motorcycles a year before the market collapsed. Unfortunately, Big Bear Choppers joined the ranks of other specialty chopper builders in bankruptcy court in 2011. In 2012, the company’s model names and styles were 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 2009 Reaper features the company’s proprietary 1,638.7 cc, air-cooled, four-stroke V-twin engine made by S & S. It has an S & S Super E carburetor and a pushrod overhead valve configuration. The engine is paired with a Baker chain-driven six-speed manual transmission and a belt final drive. The chromed 3.8-inch telescopic front fork boasts the extreme 40-degree rake of a classic chopper. The rear suspension is a Progressive twin-sided swing arm. Hydraulic disc brakes with four-piston calipers in front and back furnish the stopping power.
The low 23-inch seat and pullback handlebars, six-inch stretched down tubes and three-inch stretched backbone are essential parts of the nine-foot-long chopper’s long, sleek look, along with the chrome controls and details. Like most choppers, the instrumentation is basic, with just a speedometer. The rear tire is a fairly modest 250mm, rather than the wide 300mm used by some of the other choppers in the 2009 lineup.
The 700-pound (dry weight) 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 or gloss black, and silver metallic. With so many combinations available, a buyer could order the color and graphic package of his choice, and the bike was built to his specifications. Buyers also had the option of ordering unpainted parts and building their own bikes. When Big Bear Choppers built the machine, the company played up the Rebel image of the chopper, decorating the 5.87-gallon tank, oil tank, gusset, and swing arm with a spider web theme. The company alleged that the chopper handled extremely well, without front-end flop or high-speed wobble.