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.