Harley Davidson Easy Rider (Captain America Chopper)
Close your eyes and say the word “chopper.” Chances are good
that the image that forms in your mind is the bike in this photo.
Such is the power of the iconoclastic “Captain America” bike from the film “Easy
Rider,” a machine that epitomizes the chopper genre and brought it to the
mainstream. It’s about as classic as they get, from its raked-out, brakeless
front end to the all-star paint job to the rigid rear end.
Of course, the fact that it starred alongside Peter Fonda in the most famous
motorcycle movie ever made doesn’t hurt.
Captain America was built by Fonda, bike customizer Tex Hall and fellow actor
Dan Haggerty for the 1969 motion picture “Easy Rider.” It was one of two
motorcycles, along with the Wild West-inspired “Billy Bike,” that carried Fonda
and Dennis Hopper eastward from Los Angeles to New Orleans in their search for
Starting life as a 1952 Harley-Davidson Hydra-Glide, which Fonda bought at a
police auction, Captain America retained its original H-D Panhead engine, while
everything else was stripped, bent or extended for the chopper look.
Of course, that meant creature comforts like turn signals, a front brake, seat
springs, a front fender and a horn found their way to the bottom of the trash
bin. Everything left was then reshaped and dipped in chrome—well, everything
except for the American flag tank and the ultra-high-back sissy bar seat.
Two Captain America bikes were built for the movie. One was stolen, along with
both Billy Bikes, after filming, and the other was crashed in the final scene.
Rebuilt by Haggerty, the crashed Captain America was sold at auction in 1996.
The Harley-Davidson 1969 Easy Rider motorcycle
was made in the U.S.A. It featured an air-cooled 45o v-twin four
stroke engine. The ignition was from a battery and coil. The engine was rated at
60 b.h.p. at 6,000 r.p.m. The displacement was 74 cu. in. (1207 cc) based upon a
bore and stroke of 3.4" X 4". Fuel was supplied via a single Linkert carburetor.
Getting the power to the ground was by a four speed transmission. The suspension
featured front telescopic forks extended and raked with a rigid rear. Braking
was provided by a rear drum. The motorcycle weighed in at approximately 600
pounds. Top speed for the bike was 90 m.p.h.