Old school Honda choppers have always had a special place in my heart. I kind of fell in love with Donnie Walker’s Sweet Woman during Biltwell’s Parking Lot Sale earlier this year. It was parked amongst a sea of Harleys, and I was instantly smitten. Donnie‘s bike reeked of the early 70’s. With its raked front end, awesome prism gas tank, and radical paint job, it leaned with style. Yes folks, what you see here is an original Denver’s Choppers bike that is actually ridden everywhere today. Donnie and I have been doing the “let’s feature your bike” dance for awhile, but I had to put it on hold 'til Donnie worked on some small issues. This is where photographer Twila Knight stepped into the picture, as she offered to photograph the bike. I would have loved to spend the day behind the lens but, here at ChopCult, we believe in letting others enjoy the exposure. I would like to welcome Twila to the contributing staff, and thank her for getting the photos and details below. I would also like to thank Donnie for his time and allowing us to feature his Sweet Woman.
Photos by Twila Knight Photography
It starts in May of 2002, cleaning out my Uncle’s shop. My Uncle owned Steve’s Machine’s in San Bernardino, however he was hit, and killed, on his motorcycle. A few bikes are sitting there and one is under a sheet. I walk over and check it out, it’s a Honda Chopper, I grew up seeing Honda Choppers since my Dad painted for Denver’s Choppers. Call my Dad and ask him to come down to the shop and check it out. My dad takes a look at this bike and says, “Yeah, I remember painting this bike back in 77-78 at Denver’s.” So, of course, I had to have this bike. Talked to my Aunt and we struck a deal. Now, this bike at the time was a roller with a motor and all the paint was there. There were flat tires, had no wiring, chain, cables, license plate, tail light or head light and a few other pieces missing here and there. What did I know about “building a bike” at this time. NOT MUCH!!! We all start somewhere though. We searched out parts, made some in our garage, and had things made that we couldn’t do ourselves. A few months later, the bike is a runner. I rode her around for about a year before coming to the realization that a gallon of gas is a joke. Took the jump and start building a new tank. With no pictures to use as reference I grabbed some cardboard and started making a template. I made it look as if it had been on the bike when it was built back in the late 70’s. About a week later I had it finished. Painted it black and filled it up for the first time… three gallons. My dad then starts thumbing through some old street chopper magazines, finds a Denver bike with a tank almost exactly like what I had just built.
So many stories and memories made with this bike. The first time my folks and I took off for a ride together. That might be one of the best feelings for someone that rides, to ride with your folks and live that free feeling that you only get on a bike. The multiple conversations I’ve had with random people about when they had a Denver’s, their memories of that time in their life, and sharing stories of the passion for riding. It’s pretty safe to say that this bike changed my life, in ways that I couldn’t even put into words.
About a year ago now I felt it was time to actually paint the tank to fit the feel of the bike, plain black just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I questioned my dad since he had painted it originally. I wanted to make it as period correct to the time as I could, with modern paint. Half way through the tank and I realized I’d need to paint the rear fender as well so that it matched the tank. It was a little weird to sand off a paint job that was done over 30 years ago even though I knew I was going to match the original quality. Got the tank and fender all finished and had to put the final touch, the Denvers logo on the tank. Dad gave it the stamp of approval and that is what really mattered.
So many more miles to ride and memories to create with this bike. The fall is here, and camping is what the weekends are for. Time to point in any direction and ride ‘till the road ends, then point another direction and keep on riding…….
Owner name, location: Donnie Walker, Riverside CA
Chop Cult Member profile: DarkoDon78
Engine, year and make, model, modifications: 1978 Honda CB750, Stock
Frame: Denver’s Choppers Honda Rigid- 52 degree rake-8” up and out
Fork: Denver’s Choppers Springer 18” over
Chassis mods: I had to make a few of the parts for this bike because when I picked it up they were missing. How do you find old Santee or Denver parts in today’s world? Make them yourself, just like they were made back then. Santee box for the electrics Battery box Axle spacers Many other parts Had to wire the bike from scratch I made the gas tank, stock one held 1 gallon of gas. Now I get 3 gallons Repainted the tank and fender, still has that 70’s look, just freshened up
Tire/wheel size and style: Front: Santee 21”/ Avon SpeedMaster. Rear: Honda 16”/ Shinko 240 MT90-16
Favorite thing about this bike: When I first saw this bike at my uncles shop, I called my dad and asked him to come look at it, knowing he knew a thing or two about old Honda chops. He looked at it and said, “Yeah I remember painting this one back in 77-78 while I was at Denver’s.” The feeling I had right then and there was that I had to have this bike. I bought it on the spot. Now, when I make a U-turn at a light, the look on people’s faces is priceless. Yes I can ride this bike as if it was any normal bike. It is a normal bike. My bike is a part of me and we move together. People trip out like it’s some un-ride able machine. “I don’t know how you ride that thing man!?!” I ride it the same way you ride your sofa while watching TV, with a beer in my hand.
Next modification will be: I really need to fix the exhaust pipes. One broke while riding down the freeway one day, I took the saw-sall to the other 3 to make them all the same length. It just doesn’t sound the same with the shorter pipes.
Other mods, accessories, cool parts, etc: I got this rad 3 foot tall sissy bar off ebay for the weekends that we load up the bikes with camping gear and take off. Only $15, and that is the best money I have spent on any part for this bike, ever!!
Any building or riding story or info you'd like to include: The first ride… Finished all the wiring, tested for battery power, turned the key and it started!! No throttle cable, no lights, no helmet. Didn’t even know if the rear brake actually worked but I pulled it down the driveway into the street, tested the brake and it worked. Using the carb linkage for throttle, I put it in gear and I was off. Went around the block and
The time I made up my mind to make the 3 gallon gas tank... I was watching some chopper show on TV and they were making a tank for their bike. Why can’t I make a tank?? I CAN make a tank. Went to the steel yard for metal and home depot for a welder. Made a few cuts and bends, welded it up and BAM! Sure it wasn’t pretty but that’s what paint is for. That was about 10 years ago now. Yup, I made that tank.
Thanks to: MY FOLKS!!! All the friends that have helped over the years Norms ATV in San Bernardino, 909-885-7667, for all the Honda parts and knowledge a guy could need. Denver Mullins, Kim Kohrell, Junior Hernandez and Don Walker (dad) for making a sick chopper that is still standing the test of time. Cycle X, for those random parts you thought you might never find.
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