Like most brothers, the Chappell Brothers have different tastes. Rob prefers to live in Ontario, Canada while Chris chooses to live in Los Angeles. Their taste in bikes is different as well. Rob’s style leans more towards racing and café racers while Chris loves bobbers and choppers. So when they decided to build their latest project they chose (after much debate) to build a bike in the middle – a board track influenced bike that would have a custom frame, traditional girder front end and tall skinny wheels. If time allowed they would also tackle their first custom gas tank! (which they did). They found the perfect donor bike in the form of a 1982 XS650 Heritage Special and got to work on this project that was really going to challenge these part time bike builders.
Over to the brothers to describe their ambitious project: “One of the factors regarding timing on this build was that Chris was due to be a first time father right in the middle of it, so the scramble was on to cut the original frame, plan the new design, and get as far along as possible until garage time would be cut drastically. Before cutting into the frame Chris built a frame jig and engine jig to mimick the stock angles of the original XS in terms of headstock angle, engine position and wheel base. He began cutting away the stock frame being sure to keep the original headstock so the bike could still be registered. “We believe the final bike should always be as rideable as it is cool looking, not just a display piece” says Chris, so with that in mind a few photos were sent over to Rob and he whipped up some photoshop mock-ups of potential frame layouts. A selection was made and the tube bending commenced.
In order to get the stance just right they went with two XS 19” front wheels Chris drilled holes in the wheel spokes for some added flare, then used an aftermarket front wheel conversion kit to fit it on the rear of the bike. On the front they used a Harley style girder front end and had to modify the headstock for fitment, wheel bearings were sourced, and front wheel spacers were machined by Chris to fit the XS wheel to the girder. The seat design was going to be tricky because “we wanted to create the illusion that the seat is floating in mid air where the frame ended,” says Rob. They figured out with some paper mock-ups the design and the seat brackets were plasma cut and mounting points added to the frame. After looking at the completed frame and a lot of photos of old board trackers they decided that aftermarket gas tanks just wouldn’t cut it, so the fabrication began on a custom tank that would fit the frames lines.
A custom leather seat cover was created by their friend Luis over at Luis leather stuff showing the traditional 33 logo (3rd letter of the alphabet is c = cc Chappell Customs) and stained to look vintage. The build then moved over to the engine while Rob was in town to help with the tear down.
The engine was recently rebuilt but still got cleaned, degreased, soda and walnut blasted, fitted with new piston rings, honed cylinders, valves re-lapped and all gaskets and seals replaced. Chris also machined a custom tach plug to eliminate the stock tach gear that sticks out of the right side cover, and a custom hydraulic clutch was fitted into the left side cover. For electrical the bike uses a Boyer ignition system, a Sparx Capacitor, and a PMA (permanent magnet alternator). This bike is capable of running battery-less. Chris also designed and fabricated a custom 2 into 1 aluminum intake system running a single 36mm carb. Chris, with help from wife Jessica, made some custom leather grips and a matching battery bag also stained in the antique style of the seat.
With the arrival of a new baby and time at a premium the build stalled for a while over the winter, small components were being created by Chris in L.A as well as a 200 square foot garage addition to help make room for the expanding machine shop and Rob was busy on his own builds back in Canada. Fast forward 7 months to July and Rob was back in L.A. to help get the build finalized.
Many of the parts Chris had already powdercoated so a lot of the bikes theme discussions were based around colors already selected. Once Rob was there in person, things started to change. They stripped the first color of powdercoating off the wheels so they could finish the bike in the new theme’s direction as dark wheels no longer suited the build. “We had been discussing themes for the bike over emails and phone calls and knew we didn’t want to go with a flashy paint scheme that would detract from all the work put into the bike, but those dark wheels weren’t cutting it” says Rob. “I wanted it understated and classic, not disco, something like a pint of my favorite dark beer,” says Rob and “Stout 33” was born.
From the cream wheels nestled inside the dark metallic bronze frame with copper accents, the dark engine rising up to the frothy head of cream on top, we think we achieved our goals on this build. Classic Custom built Cool – indeed. While it took much longer than our typical builds we feel the end product was worth the wait. We weren’t trying to go over the top or “strange for strange sake,” but remain elegant and functional with extreme attention to detail and that overall ride ability we strive for in every build. We hope you like it – Chappell Customs.”