Being born in SoCal is a dream for many and only a privilege of a very few. Screw the movie and rockstar crap. Being able to wake up and dip your toes in the ocean then hop on your bike and make it deep into the mountains for a snow session by lunch is what makes living at the ground zero of surf, skate, and cycles great.
Take for instance the Cycle Zombies—a family of individuals bound by blood and forever clad with the surname of Stopnik. The patriarch of this dynamic dynasty is 55-year-old Big Scott Stopnik. A Huntington Beach-born blue-collar worker, who—along with his wife, Julie–has a family brood to the tune of seven children. Big Scott started building bikes a few decades ago as a release from the daily grind of his general contracting business. A few years and bike builds passed, and it was soon after his ushering into middle agedness that Big Scott’s sons Scotty (now 27) and Christopher “Turkey” (now 22) were putting down their Legos and building bikes well before they could legally ride. Big Scott’s nephew Chase (now 27 years old) was the next in line and has built quite a few killer variations of choppers in a short period of time. Now Taylor, the youngest Cycle Zombie, is currently halfway through the build of his first Shovelhead at the age of 15.
When I first met the Stopniks I was very impressed at the quality of bikes these guys were building in half of a two-car garage. The other thing that struck me was that these were some of the nicest folks I had ever met. Big Scott and I had so much in common that it was almost like I grew up next door to him. To think of all the clichés and cool-guy bullshit that this family could have adopted from the ’80s and ’90s SoCal beach and biker culture is amazing. It seems to have all been staved off by a need to do it the Cycle Zombies way. What is that you ask? Just keeping their lips zipped and living, skating, surfing, and building bikes with a simple yet extreme proficiency. These actions are the root cause of keeping Big Scott and the boys clear of any and all bandwagons.
The Stopnik kin are at the pinnacle of garage-built motorcycles. If there’s a cycle swap within 500 miles, the Cycle Zombies are there before dawn buying, selling, and generally having a good time while doing so. But the real fun is when the sourced and selected parts are dragged home and another creation is composed. Whether it be an FXRP, a Roth-inspired ’36 Knucklehead, or some sort of junky and funky ’70s dirt bike, once the Stopnik boys reanimate it in the Cycle Zombies style, the real fun begins.
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