Easy Riders

Published 7:56 pm Friday, June 25, 2004

By By Arthur McLean
Call them young entrepreneurs or just a couple of crazy kids if you want, but 11-year-old Cody Mooney and 12-year-old Adam Kelley prefer the title "chopper boys."
Whatever you call them, this pair of Atmore youths is making its own bit of economic development as a burgeoning bike customizing shop.
Calling their operation L.A. Choppers (Lower Alabama), Mooney and Kelly are turning bicycles into Harley-Davidson chopper styled rides with a little homebrew metalwork. And it seems to be turning into a full-time business, though it didn't start that way.
First, it was just Mooney. "I was looking through a magazine and saw this ad for a low-rider bike, and I wanted to make one of my own. I've had this idea now for about a year. I told my mom, and she thought it was a good idea."
But like many entrepreneurs and tinkerers, his first experiment wasn't quite the success he'd hoped for. "I built my first one using aluminum, but that wasn't strong enough and it bent," Mooney said.
But from the ashes of that first failure came a second, improved model, built three months ago. It's still catching the fancy of those who see Mooney pedaling the this two-wheeled ride that looks like it's about to fall backwards.
"I didn't do this to make money," Mooney said, speaking in a way that belies his age. "But people kept commenting on it and wanted one."
So far, Mooney's built three of the customized bikes. One is a gift for his nephew. "We put a mountain bike fork on it and put different bearings in it so you could steer it better," he said. "If we get some forks with some rake in them, that would be really cool."
Two more bikes will soon be picked up by an out-of-town customer who saw one of the bikes and placed her order for it on the spot.
Things are looking up for this little operation. Mooney picked up his friend Kelly as his first employee, and they plan to build more of the chopper-styled bicycles along with some custom tricycles as well.
As no man is an island, Mooney has gotten help with his logos from "the painter man" and help fabricating the forks from "Harold at the Western Auto."
While not sure how many he'll wind up selling, the consumate businessman Mooney made sure to give the phone number to order 368-1711. Orange County Choppers and West Coast Choppers of cable television fame just might have some competition on their hands.

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