Heavily modified frames utilising scooter engines and other parts have always had a polarising effect and this beautiful chopper is no different. But if any chopper could win over the most steadfast of ‘original’ scooterists, it’s this one. Bones Returns…
The second reincarnation of this well put together chop.
Scooter-powered choppers always provoke a reaction – they probably have equal numbers of lovers and haters within the scene. Debates on pros and cons have been, and will continue to be, heatedly discussed. No need to continue the debate here though, as most individual opinions regarding radical machines are set fast in concrete. But for me personally, I can say I love them; particularly the thought which goes into a good one. One thing which has always struck me about scooter chops, especially Lambretta-based examples, is that in silhouette they exude something of a skeletal appearance. A bare and simple beauty uncovered.
Blast from the past
Spookily, Northumberland-based scooterist and engineer Tony Bowey has twice owned this particular machine. Back in the 80s when it was first chopped and christened Bones, and now, having re-acquired, refurbished and rebuilt his old steed. Today it’s simply named Bones Returns, and the name fits like a glove. After it was found by a friend of Tony’s, albeit only as a frame and forks, Tony was given the heads up. He got first dibs, bought it for the second time and set about building THE custom chopper that he would’ve had 30 years previously, if he’d had the cash to lavish on it back then. Having the ability, confidence and engineering knowhow made the physical makeover of Bones Returns a relatively straightforward task.
The fabrication work went pretty much as planned. That said, Tony did find having to wait for parts to arrive with him a bit frustrating. He told us: “Fabricating, building and putting it all together, including hand making a bespoke loom all went exactly as I wanted, waiting for parts was a killer. I was impatient waiting for them to arrive.”
Pocket-rocket from the crypt
When scooter choppers are built to be ridden (not hidden) it’s always a temptation to splash out on a powerful engine (same with any scooter I suppose). Tony initially fancied an AF fully race-tuned motor for Bones Returns but sensibly the chaps at AF Rayspeed managed to talk him out of that idea. Instead he chose to go with a tour setup RB250 unit (see spec sheet). Tony told us: “I’m glad I was talked out of having a fully race-tuned engine. It would have been too much for a chop. Even with the touring spec RB250, which I’ve yet to open fully, it is still too pokey for a chopper if I’m honest… though it is a fun engine! Plenty of power there, right through all the gears.”
It’s always handy, irrespective of the style of scooter you’re riding, to have a bit of extra power on tap if and when needed. Though chopper scooters are more about appearance and visual impact than they are about brute force acceleration and top speed. As for one-off and special items fitted to Bones Returns with practicality in mind, there are a few featuring as part of the machine. For example, the Harley springer forks grafted onto the front end have made the handling fairly decent, for a chopper; a definite improvement over the handling from extended Lambretta forks. A skull headlamp was sourced from Elite Custom in America, and slightly tweaked to fit by Tony.
From the ashes
In the phoenix-like resurrection of Bones Returns, Tony had to farm out three elements integral to the finished machine that he wanted. For the artwork, paint and airbrush work went to Wizard and East Coast Airbrush respectively. “When I went for a chat about the murals I had a few loose ideas but nothing too definite. I asked for a reaper mural on the tank and gave them a free hand for everything else. I’m well pleased with what Kev at East Coast Airbrush did.” Plating of various fixtures, fittings and integral parts, in both chrome and gold, was shared between Midas Touch and Quality Chrome. All the intricate and illustrative engraving was entrusted to the man whom Tony, and many others, refers to as ‘The Master’ – Don Blocksidge. Additional gold plating to front and rear wheel hubs, as well as one or two other parts, is planned for the very near future. “I like the visual contrast of engraved gold plating offset by chrome, I think it both sits and looks right.”
The end game
Testimony to Tony’s engineering and build skills, Bones Returns sailed through its MoT after completion. “Everything went together as it should when I was doing the final build, no problems at all. Everything was 100% right first time. When I
took it for the MoT, apart from the tester having a ‘what’s that’ moment, there were absolutely no problems.” One of Tony’s requirements for building Bones Returns was that he wanted a show winning scooter chopper. Granted, winning silverware at any shows can be hit and miss, with show judges’ own personal tastes subjectively coming into play.
First time out showing Bones Returns is on Tony’s calendar for Scarborough: “That will be the first time I’m going to put Bones Returns in a show. It will be interesting to see how it goes down there. I’m more looking forward to Kelso, which is bit closer to me so a less painful ride. I’m not as young and daft as I was back in the 80s.”
Not that I’d ever try to second guess show judges’ decisions, but I’ve a feeling that at some point soon Bones Returns will see Tony’s ambition to build a show winner realised. Words: Sarge
Photography: Gary Chapman
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