About 12 years ago, Peter Blakeman left the big smoke behind in Auckland, travelling south to small town Raetihi, lured there by his love of skiing.

Blakeman, 52, worked for six years at both Ruapehu Alpine Lifts and TCB Ohakune, but now spends much of his time working on his passion project, Raetihi Choppers.

While working at TCB, Blakeman was introduced to an off-road electric bike and discovered a whole new world.

"I just got seriously addicted with what you can put electric motors on, as many people around the world have," Blakeman said.


"I had enough knowledge with bicycles to do the mechanical side of things and since then I have ended up building two off-road electric dirt bikes."

Since he began building about five years ago, Blakeman has finished three e-Choppers, the electric dirt bikes and he has also converted bicycles into electric bikes.

Once completed, Blakeman lists the finished product either on Trade Me or on his Facebook page for sale, however, his goal is not to make money.

"As soon as something like this becomes about money, the fun goes out the window. If I can sell a bike for what it cost me to put it together, then I'm happy.

"That means I've got a good hobby that's not going to make me bankrupt."

The latest completed build was an electric bike for a child and he works on any number of projects at one time.

At the moment, Blakeman's lounge, which he calls a workshop, has a go-kart sitting in the middle of it as it undergoes a transformation.

Blakeman said his favourite thing to work on and the most challenging are bicycle choppers.


"Once I saw the giant stiletto chopper and thought 'they're absolutely perfect' because as a normal bicycle, you can't get a lot of power in them.

"It's a comfortable bike, but because the pedals are in front of you, you can't get a lot of power in them, so they're absolutely perfect for e-bike conversions."

Blakeman has sent a bike as far away as Queenstown, but for those who purchase in the North Island, he delivers himself and is soon delivering to Gisborne.

At some stage, he is keen on building bikes to order and will continue scouring Trade Me for "anything with wheels that you can put a motor on".

"They have pub races where people race toilets and kegs," Blakeman said.

"Anything can be done. There are lots of ideas out there, the crazier the better."