We first met Copr Choppers’ owner, Tony Martinez, in Laughlin at the 2007 Custom Bike Show. Martinez wasthere as the reigning Colorado Biker Build-Off champion. The Ground Pounder was battling a Big BearChopper build for the title, only to be edged out of the top spot by a mere half point. After that, the GroundPounder began a six show streak of “Best of “ honors, giving Martinez confidence heading into Sturgis for the2007 World Championship of Custom Bike Building. Ground Pounder’s streak of victories came to a close astwo board tracker-inspired bikes took top honors. These retro-cool custom bikes have been a hot commoditysince Roland Sands came out with his KR V-5 Boardtracker. But Martinez still put himself out there and gainedrecognition for Copr Choppers. If you’re going to have a victory streak ended, there’s no shame in beingdeposed by the likes of Chicara and Goldammer.
Martinez got the custom bike building bug about four years ago. He had been working on and modifying Harleysfor about 12 years, but it was his first full-blown custom chopper, Blade, that breathed life into Copr Choppersas a business instead of a pastime. Martinez opened up shop in ’05 and has been producing award-winningbikes ever since.
“After I saw how many shows I won with that one bike, I decided to stop buying other people’s products and tostart making my own,” Martinez said.
We can see why. For his first custom build, Blade’s an impressive effort. Low-slung, fat backed, with a high,arching backbone, a serious chopper rake, and a wicked custom tank, the bike has the classic components ofa cool custom. Throw into the mix a fire-breathing Engenuity 147-inch engine and a clean design with anoticeable absence of visible wiring and you have the winner of the 2005 Red River New Mexico Bike Rally andthe 2005 Thunder in the Rockies show. And life, as Martinez knew it, would never be the same.
He got another taste of success this past spring at the renowned Rat’s Hole Custom Show with his super-sized 10-foot-long chopper, Kong, the first-place winner in the Super Radical Class. The build has some of the same styling characteristics of Blade, like its high, arching backbone, handcrafted tank, and internal wiring. But its frame is monstrous, the rear tire is even wider than Blade’s, and the custom risers and handlebars sit high on top of some of the longest forks we’ve seen. No need for ape hangers here. Though the 6-foot 4-inch tall owner of Kong has no problems reaching the bars, it would leave a vertically-challenged rider hung out to dry. Not to mention they wouldn’t be able to see over the tank.
“You know how tall guys look real funny on standard motorcycles, they just don’t fit them right. So what I did was build this chopper that was oversized everywhere, it was stretched and it fit him perfectly. But if I was to ride it I’d look ridiculous,” said the 5’8″ tall Martinez.
And while Kong was built up, the Motorcycle USA Biker Build-Off winning Ground Pounder gets down. How low is low? The back tire sits even with the gas tank. There’s no kickstand either. The air ride suspension and 360mm Vee Rubber rear tire eliminate the need for one. It’s so low you have to take a second look to see if the frame’s touching the ground. Martinez worked closely with American Suspension to bring his trick design from concept to reality. The majority of motorcycles equipped with air ride systems have air-only on the back and that limits the amount of Ground Clearance when the bike’s lifted to a couple of inches. Martinez had American Suspension do a one-off custom front end for him that gives him air up front also. The result is a more rider-friendly bike with 4.5 inches of clearance and the ability to go over speed bumps without the anticipation of that awful metal-scraping-asphalt sound.
The Ground Pounder is certainly one of the cleanest builds you’ll find. The art of concealing the wiring that Martinez experimented with in Blade and Kong is taken to a new level in the Ground Pounder. Take a look at the custom Copr Chopper handlebars. There are no visible clutch or brake levers. It’s a grab-the-grip-and-go system. Martinez hid the internal clutch and throttle with the help of a Twist Clutch made by Exile Cycles. Martinez fabbed the custom handlebars to accept the mechanism while he welded them into place. Once into position, he had them painted black and then flipped the chrome billet grips over the Twist Clutch so that it concealed everything. However, this does make activating the clutch on the Ground Pounder a little tricky. The clutch is twisted clockWise to activate it and then the throttle rotates normally. As you take off, you have to release counterclockWise with your clutch hand and twist the throttle to get it in gear. Martinez says it takes about 20 minutes and a few spins around the block to deprogram yourself from the standard clutch action.
“You have to retrain your brain because you’re so used to a clutch being there, and it’s kind of scary at first, but once you get it down, it’s second nature,” he explained.
There’s no switch housings, speedo, mirrors or hand brakes cluttering the bars either. The Ground Pounder does have front and rear brakes, but even those are hidden. The bike is equipped with ‘suicide brakes.’ This doesn’t mean that stopping’s a game of Russian Roulette. It just means that it’s a linked system controlled by the right foot pedal. A short, stocky American Suspension B-17 fork made it easy for Martinez to hide both the brake and air ride lines. With no apparent brake lines running down to the front wheel, many people think that the Ground Pounder doesn’t have front brakes at all. He uses a Baldwin & Wilson 360 Brake that connects directly to the hub of the 23-inch Tight Customs front wheel. Martinez says that it’s about the size of a softball, but integrates so cleanly within the left side of the wheel that it goes unnoticed.