We here at the Moto Cantina love the fact that we are a community run chopper site. Our forum is full of interesting characters. Recently we were approached by @shovelwitch with an interview to contribute to the site. We couldn’t resist and gave him freedom to interview his good friend Todd at Bearded choppers. This is our first user provided interview and I’m sure it wont be the last.. So sit back grab a drink and have a read.. -The Fist.
Bearded Choppers: A shop for the follically endowed, who happen to enjoy cutting up perfectly good machines.
My ultimate dream bike is an old Harley Flathead 80”…
SW- Whether it be that you saw a potential dream bike in the pages of a magazine, or saw first-hand a righteous chop banging gears past you on your commute to work, you have gotten hooked. For most of us being stoked on bikes involves purchasing a bike, and working overtime to be able to change this or that over time. For a select few of us that means it’s time to wrap up our life and dedicate ourselves full time to the art of building a motorcycle. We find these folks living a monastic life, regarded as absurd to the squares and revered by us folks in between. You can find them secretly welding alone at night in rented shops that have been converted to austere living quarters, devotees to the art of the Chopper.
Todd Boardman, owner of the Bearded Chopper fits the bill for one of most committed builders I know. After serving in the Army as a gunner aboard a Bradley armored vehicle, Todd returned home working odd jobs eventually settling in the university town of Stillwater, Oklahoma to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. Being friends before his shop opened its doors nearly a year ago, it has been inspiring to see a close homie work his way up completely from his own hard work.
It’s freezing and iced over in Stillwater, Todd and I decided to hit up a warm coffee shop right up the street from my house for this quick interview:
SW- What got you into bikes, particularly choppers? Is there any bike that you can recall that was a source of inspiration to chop a bike?
As far as getting a motorcycle is concerned, after being deployed in Iraq all I wanted was to recapture the thrill. Three months after being back from Iraq I bought my first bike. (featured sporty) I always liked CFL frame bikes made by West Coast choppers, there was one in red and black Jesse James made that was my favorite. What interested/inspired me the most was how Jessee James did everything himself, that’s what got me into welding and learning how to do fabrication my self.
I learned how to TIG weld thanks to my grandpa, who was a welding instructor at Tinker Air Force Base for nearly 30 years.
SW- What kind of background do you have as far as fabricating parts?
I learned how to TIG weld thanks to my grandpa, who was a welding instructor at Tinker Air Force Base for nearly 30 years. He invented a way to weld on titanium without using a bag and purge line on the backside of the welding surface, the process was developed by him for NASA to be used on the Space Shuttle, I think it’s safe to say welding comes natural to members of my family. I am almost finished with a BA in Mechanical Engineering, which sure has taught me a lot about fabrication processes
The Bearded Chopper is exclusively a fabrication shop, for one of a kind hand-made frames, sissy bars…
SW- What kind of chop shop are you running?
The Bearded Chopper is exclusively a fabrication shop, for one of a kind hand-made frames, sissy bars, if you have requests for any fabrication work involving bikes I’m open for requests and up to the challenge. I do have pre-fabricated handle bars in stock, but I can build any set of bars directly to your specifications if you are interested in a one of a kind look.
SW- Do you have any plans as far as future developments or product lines?
Right now I’d like to get full sets of polyurethane foot pegs, shift pegs, brake rubbers, sold as a set, a line of shop shirts will be available soon as well. I’m interested in making sets of handle bar grips down the line too.
SW- Ultimate dream bike?
My ultimate dream bike is an old Harley Flathead 80” in a custom frame built by yours truly, for the classic look I’d like to throw some fat tires on their front and back. I think it would be even funnier to throw the bone-stock crowd off and install air ride suspension under the seat and give it better performing more modern controls”
SW. A couple of days after meeting up the cold spell lifted a bit so I made my way, a blocks away from my house, to where The Bearded Chopper shop is nestled between a UPS distribution center and other shady looking steel buildings. The commercial district in Stillwater Oklahoma is on the other side of the train tracks literally, and is a perfect setting for standing in a shop with a door open, beer in hand, talking bikes. Todd lives with his Shiba Inu named Scoot in a two story steel building that has been converted to a living quarters and shop, the building has had its fair share of seedy tenants I the past according to Todd,
“Haha I guess before I picked up the place there were mirrors all over the walls and ceiling, and a stripper pole in the ‘bedroom’.” -Todd
“All in all I scored a cool dent in my gas tank from my nuts and a great story.”
That shit show has since been cleaned up it is apparent one of Todd’s unspoken laws is shop cleanliness. The frame jig, tubing benders, metal stock, and finished products all have a designated portion of the shop which just in my visit Todd picked up the broom twice to sweep.
The Sporty featured is Todd’s first bike, and first build as well. Look it over carefully because there is a lot to be missed, a Chassis Design rigid frame with a subtly concealed rear axle hardware, all the mounting for the tank, controls, and engine were welding on by his steady hand. The paint work was the first run ever done by one of his friends and it really sets the bike apart, that and a very distinct dent on the back of the gas tank, Todd tells the story better than I:
“I was leaving campus during my second semester in school a mail truck swerved into my lane and brake checked me. I chose to down shift and brake hard, my only other option was to fly into the left lane where I hit a car stopped to make a left turn. I had a broken pelvis, I almost lost my left nut as it didn’t have blood flow for over 16 hours….. All in all I scored a cool dent in my gas tank from my nuts and a great story. I was back riding in five weeks after told to take it easy for six months haha” -Todd
Well I’m glad Todd can laugh about it now……
I have known Todd now for more than five years, longer than I have even had a bike. Before I met the dude and even had a chance to decide what kind of bike I wanted, he helped me make my mind up by riding his chop through traffic with his beard flapping over his shoulder. His style of building has stayed consistent to what he is stoked about, which is hard to find in a culture that flits to trends like locusts. Todd does not discriminate on what projects you want done, his taste in its basest form is quality workmanship not a particular era or trend of bike building. Whether it’s a sky scraper throwback sissy bar like the HA rocked in the 60’s, or a crazy one of a kind modern air bag ride frame I know Todd at The Bearded Chopper has got you covered.
If you have a favorite fabricator, indie shop, painter, etc. contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and run it past us… everyone knows someone cool.