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Meet the Vancouver man building top level custom chopper-style electric bikes (PHOTOS)

Snoop Dogg has one, just sayin'

EastVanChopcy​cle ​​is a bit of a mouthful, but it's descriptive of what Eli Varzari is doing (though doesn't tell the whole story).

Also, it sounds like 'popsicle.'

"I chose the name because the bikes look kind of like chopper-style motorcycles with the added electric motors," Varzari explains, standing in his Mt. Pleasant shop full of Oldster bikes.

"Then also for the full name, it kinda sounds like 'popsicle,'" he adds. "I did that because of popsicles; everybody likes popsicles, but also the colours, the colours of popsicles look really good on the bikes."

Nearby a baby blue bike with chrome accents and white wall tires gleams.

Varzari started the unique shop two-and-a-half years ago. A car mechanic by trade, he's worked as a handyman, contractor and run his own custom car shop. A few years ago he decided to get back into cycling but couldn't find a bike that was comfortable. One he bought started to fall apart, and he decided to take it apart and rebuild it better, as an e-bike.

"It turned out really good and there were a lot of people that said you can't do this or that," he explains.

But he followed regulations and industry leaders and came up with his own unique e-bike that gave him a special feeling.

"The feeling of when your a kid and you didn't have any worries or anything, it's just ultimate fun and the air is blowing against you and you can drive wherever you want," he says.

The business has grown from that; he's built more than 30 bikes since then, including one for Snoop Dogg with gold-plated accents and custom designs. Locals he's built for have become friends he rides with.

He doesn't hold back, either, getting hand-welded frames from Italy and Germany, going to auto shops for paint jobs when needed, and using high-performance components.

"The bikes perform better than they look and that's something that's really hard to say," he says.

Speeds top out between 70 or 80 km/h; that's not so people can speed around on them, but so the motor isn't stressed when it hits 30 or 40 km/h. Also, with that sort of power, no hill is too steep even with an injured knee.

"All electric components are where they get air-cooled," Varzari says."When you have really nice things or if you have a performance device you want to have good cooling."

That helps with the bike's range and lifespan of parts.

While they look a bit like motorcycles and have higher top speeds, they're classified as overpowered electric bikes, so they're legal on bike paths and trails.

Another difference between his bikes and typical e-bikes is front-wheel motors with regenerative braking.

"As soon as you get past any speed over 30 km/h, it gets to the point normal bike brakes don't work well," he explains, adding safety is an important piece of his work.

Also, putting the motor on the front wheel means when a rider starts to pedal the bike becomes all-wheel drive.

The bikes also have independently powered headlights and active brake lights.

"I've taken all my automotive knowledge and put it into the bikes," he explains.

Between all his personal designs, customization and differences from standard e-bikes Varzari isn't sure anyone else is doing the same work he is.

An EastVanChopcy​cle ​will run somewhere between $7,500 and $10,000, though he recently sold a special model for $12,000. It started off as a showpiece with electric motors on both wheels and a special copper-plating finish. There's also a big hydraulic brake to bring it to a safe stop.

"The copper-plated bike is one of the craziest e-bikes in the world right now overall," he says with a grin. "For technology and looks."

In the end he hopes his bikes can bring that feeling back for some adults.

"People forget about it and you need it," he says. "Regardless if it's my bike or not."