Navajo'daka

Navajo'daka

Navajo'daka


Chris Tope’s 1967 Hodaka Ace 100



WORDS Michael Hilton  IMAGES Gregory George Moore


 

Chris Tope is a Texan biologist currently living in a camper trailer in Bangor, Maine, building bikes in the 10-by-12-foot “toy hauler” section of his mobile home. It’s where he built this bike, a 1967 Hodaka Ace 100.

The bike’s story starts at Rice-o-Rama swap meet, where Tope came across a chrome gas tank. “I thought this would be a cool lamp project, so I negotiated and got it for 20 dollars. I got home and started doing research on Hodaka, the manufacturer of the tank. Honestly, I had never heard about Hodaka, which is funny because they were stout bikes back in the day. I had always heard about the vintage TT and track bikes made by Bultaco, Husqvarna, and Penton, but Hodaka never came up. After learning about the company, I fell in love.”

Tope convinced himself that building a tableside lamp out the Hodaka Super Rat tank would be a waste. He needed to do a full-on build. He found a complete 1967 Hodaka Ace 100 on eBay, placed a bid, and won the bike for $120. He then began imagining what the build could look like, deciding to pull inspiration from the Native American art that hung all around his childhood house. “We had art and paintings all over my house growing up, which inspired some of my sketches in my journal — an Indian chief, feathers, a dreamcatcher, a tepee. I thought, ‘This is it, I am somehow going to incorporate this into my Hodaka build.’” And so, Tope settled on a Navajo theme.

Paying homage to Native American culture, Tope commissioned artists to hand-engrave an 1882 Morgan coin and two 1937 Buffalo nickels with a skull in full native headdress and some petroglyphs, then attached the coins to his $20 fuel tank. He wanted the tank, the cholla cactus grips, and vintage saddle blanket seat to attract attention in order to draw people in to discover the small, intricate details, like the gold Hodaka logo hidden among the petroglyphs in the coins. On a hanger under the seat is a dreamcatcher, a gift from his mother.

It wasn’t easy to find Hodaka parts, but with a lot of digging, Tope managed to source appropriate parts from a few different places. “I’m a perfectionist, so any little piece that was not perfectly polished would bother me,” says Tope. “It took a lot of elbow grease and some long hours to get it to where I was pleased with the result. But I did enjoy working on a Hodaka. They are fun bikes with simple motors and few of the bells and whistles that can make working on a bike frustrating.”

“I don’t feel like I’m ever fully finished with a build, but I am very happy with how this one turned out,” Tope says, reflecting on the unique project he pieced together in the back of his camper. “I never thought a sketch in a notebook or a tank purchased at a swap meet would lead to one of my favorite motorcycle builds to date.” 


Owner: Chris Tope   Build Time: 8 months, 10 days   Shop: Fifth-wheel toy-hauler   Fabrication/ Assembly: Chris Tope   Base Model: 1967 Hodaka Ace 100B+   Engine: 125cc two-stroke single   Carburetor: 28mm Mikuni   Air Filter: Modified K&N Cone   Transmission: OEM, 5-speed   Exhaust: OEM, ceramic powdercoat   Fuel Tank: OEM, re-chromed with coins by J. H. Ranger and Joey Cole   Gas Cap: Custom titanium CNC   Frame: stretched 3" with filled-in weld seams   Wheels: OEM, 19" front, 18" rear with Buchanan spokes   Tires F/R: Maxxis Maxxcross/Maxxis Surge   Front Fork: 30mm Ceriani   Shocks: Koni   Handlebars: 7/8" Emgo   Handgrips: Cholla cactus wood inlaid with turquoise by Greg Madrigal, CNC sleeves by Mark Atkinson, Hobo Buffalo Nickel bar ends by J. H. Ranger   Hand Control: Joker Machine   Headlight: Vintage CEV   Taillight: Prism Motorcycle Supply   Foot Pegs: Joker Machine   Turn Signals: Joker Machine   Seat: Vintage native saddle blanket seat and seat pan by Counterbalance Cycles   Painter: Bill Lebeau


Originally featured in Iron & Air Magazine Issue 030.
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