Street Chopper - - Contents - words: rich silva pho­tos: mark masker

Oh, Look, A Den­ver’s Chop­per Un­der A Tarp…

My Name is Rich Silva, and I am a res­i­dent of the Lake Elsi­nore, Cal­i­for­nia, area. The strangest thing hap­pened to me at the end of 2015. My neigh­bor called and said her un­cle, Ron­nie Jenkins, had passed away and he had a bike cov­ered up in the cor­ner of his garage. She asked if I would iden­tify the bike and help them sell it. I asked her to send pho­tos first. When I got the pho­tos I was in awe. It was a 100-per­cent orig­i­nal Den­ver’s Chop­per!

The bike had been sit­ting since 1982 and def­i­nitely needed a lot of love to get back on the road. It did not have reg­is­tra­tion; there was no trace of a VIN on the frame or the mo­tor. Af­ter a con­ver­sa­tion of how much work, money, and time it would take to make this bike Cal­i­for­nia le­gal and run­ning again, my neigh­bor was a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed that this would not be an easy, quick sell. I quickly of­fered $1,000 (all the sav­ings I had) and as­sured them I would get it back to the orig­i­nal state that their un­cle had it in when he got it new from Den­ver Mullins. We shook hands and the bike was mine.

They gave me all orig­i­nal doc­u­men­ta­tion and pur­chase re­ceipts signed by Den­ver him­self. My end goal was to clean it up, ride it, and show it in its orig­i­nal con­di­tion. The bike would not be a trailer queen! I re­fused to buy any new cos­metic pieces or send any­thing off to chrome. How­ever, it re­ally needed new tubes and tires. I sim­ply cleaned it up to ride and show it as is. I believe every bike has a soul and a story. I want to keep this bike true to its story the way the orig­i­nal owner, Ron­nie, would have wanted it. I am not a bike builder, but I love rid­ing and tin­ker­ing on mo­tor­cy­cles. The bike was brought back to

life by my bud­dies at Klass Cy­cles in Foun­tain Val­ley, Cal­i­for­nia. Lots of love, time, and el­bow grease went into get­ting it back to the shape it’s in now.

I have been in con­tact with a gen­tle­man who re­stores Den­ver’s Chop­pers. His name is Kayelynn John­son and he has been a tremen­dous help in this jour­ney. He made some calls and found out that the paint was done by Don­nie Walker Sr. and strip­ing by Lil’ Louie of Den­ver’s Chop­pers. I was for­tu­nate to meet Don­nie at Ris­ing of the Rods 2016.

Rid­ing this bike is a blast. The first time I rode it to a show was for Hippy Killer 2016 where it won Best Met­ric. That’s pretty neat for its first time back out on the road since 1982. The bike was also ac­cepted into the Arlen Ness show at BornFree 8 2016 and has won Most Rad­i­cal at Ris­ing of the Rods 2016. The wife and I rode it 480 miles round-trip to the Biltwell Kernville Cam­pout where it won the Sik Dal­ton Pick award.

I would like to thank Brian and Cam at Klass Cy­cles for bring­ing this bike back to life af­ter 34 years of sit­ting un­der a tarp in a garage, Mat Car­roll for the front-wheel in­for­ma­tion (In­sta­gram @old­nip­pletwister), and James at Amey’s Mo­tor­cy­cle Garage in Mur­ri­eta, Cal­i­for­nia, for di­al­ing in the front end.

I plan on rid­ing this bike the long way to El Di­ablo Run 2017. There’s word of a group head­ing to Cabo San Lucas and then head­ing to San Felipe for EDR 2017. Can’t wait! Thanks to the man up­stairs for keep­ing my wife alive. F—k can­cer! SC

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