Sidewinder V8 Chopper Bike

Since we began this website almost two years ago, I have written close to 150 posts about interesting, rare, and unusual cars that I have seen. Of those posts, only one has been about a motorcycle – and it was to make fun of the owner’s tasteless customizations to his Yamaha R1.

While I have a passion for cars, motorcycles are a topic which I know virtually nothing about. They just do not interest me the same way that cars do. But a while back, I came across one very special motorcycle that really got my attention: the Sidewinder V8 bike.

In September 2007, I was on a road trip to drive the famous Apache Trail. I pulled over in Superior, Arizona and spotted a custom motorcycle in the parking lot. Curious, I wandered over to check it out. Right smack in the middle of it was a Chevrolet V8 engine!

As it turns out, the bike belongs to Tom Novak, a local resident who has been building “Sidewinder” V8 chopper bikes since 1975.

The idea of a V8 motorcycle isn’t brand new. Companies like Boss Hoss have been building them since the 1990s. However, the Boss Hoss uses a longituninally-mounted engine with the output shaft of the motor running parallel to the long axis of the bike. As a result, Boss Hoss motorcycles have longer frames than a normal motorcycle.

Tom’s bikes are true Sidewinders, because they use a transverse-mounted V8 engine where the output shaft runs perpendicular to the bike’s long axis. This allows the bikes to have a shorter wheelbase like a traditional motorcycle. There are very few custom bike builders who mount their engines this way, because it makes it much harder to add the transmission. Fortunately, Tom likes a challenge.

The V8 chopper I spotted is actually one of Tom’s smallest bikes. Here is some information about it:

  • Chevrolet 350 V8 Engine
  • Ultima 6-speed Transmission
  • 360mm Wide Rear Tire
  • 6″ Over Springer Forks at a 45-degree Rake
  • Weight: Approx. 900 lbs

Tom has also fashioned an ingenious system to quickly change out the seats. It uses a standard 2″ trailer hitch receiver which allows him to quickly change from a small “band-aid” seat to a more comfortable 2-passenger padded seat just by pulling the pin!

Tom Novak builds custom bikes by request, and he also sells plans to build your own! For more pictures and information, check out his site at: