Back in 1998, I tested the then-new Pitbull from Big Dog. That machine was a bare-bones bike, sporting the only hardtail in Big Dog’s lineup. I loved it! I also froze my butt off riding it around Connecticut since it was late February. I rode this 2010 Pitbull at the same time of the year, but, being 11 years older and a little smarter, I did it in Florida during Bike Week. Much better!
Both the Pitbull and I have changed over the years, and, depending on your point of view, hopefully for the better. The newer version sports lots more in terms of creature comforts than its forefather. Where the earlier version was a basic street blaster, the new Pitbull is much more refined and comfortable. It’s also heavier and longer, having a total dry weight of 691 pounds and a total length of 8-1/2′ (101.8″). The evolution of the Pitbull reminds me of the changes the Ford Thunderbird went through from its birth in the late ’50s to a luxury car by the late ’60s.
Ready for some specs? The Pitbull is powered by a S&S/Big Dog proprietary 117″ (1916cc), fully-polished, Evo-style motor that you can get equipped with either a carb or EFI fuel delivery system. Since the shiny stuff is plentiful on this bike, a fully polished and chromed primary system and six-speed BDM Balance Drive setup is the only way to go. That powertrain spins a chrome billet aluminum rear wheel wrapped with an Avon 280/40-20″ rear tire. A matching front wheel, which is wrapped with an Avon 130/60-23″ front tire, is held in place by a chromed and polished 41mm front end. These large diameter wheels definitely give the Pitbull a different stance than the original version I rode back in the last century! Stopping power is via rotors that match their respective wheels and a set of polished, four-piston, differential-bore calipers.
As for my impressions of the bike, the first thing I noticed as I pulled from the curb was that the Pitbull is well-balanced. I could ride it without my hands on the bars by just shifting my body weight. However, as with ultra fat rear tire bikes, I had to scoot my butt to the leftac about 1/2″ to make it track straight with no hands. The bike is heavier than most rigids I’ve ridden, but I’m sure that’s due to all the billet-aluminum components. Also, you have to make your turns a little wide due to the bike’s long stance. And even though it’s a hardtail, it handled well on the highway. However, the front end was a little bouncy on uneven but decent pavement.
As for fit and finish, I fit the bike well and had no trouble reaching the forward controls with my short legs (29″ inseam). I was definitely flat-footed at a stop. The Pitbull’s components all fit it well, too. And Big Dog’s paint and finishes were excellent, as always.
In the Stop and Go departments, the brakes worked well and were correct for this weight bike. However, the rear brake made a groaning sound sometimes when I applied it. When I asked Big Dog about this they stated it could have been due to the Florida humidity. Another possibility is that since it was a new bike the rotor may not have been seeded properly.
My favorite part is the Go, and this S&S 117″ mill always fired right off; sometimes needing a little choke on a cool morning. It also had nice power output at all throttle positions. The pipes also were a good match for this engine and provided a nice rumble even though they were EPA-approved. Since the Pitbull is fitted with a BAKER proprietary primary system and six-speed transmission, tranny shifts were much smoother than a stock H-D tranny, as usual. The clutch’s action was nice and smooth with no surprises. Yes, smooth is the correct term for both the clutch and tranny. Even popping the bike into neutral was cake, but I did that as seldom as possible since the Pitbull was a helluva lot of fun to ride.
Maybe I can convince the powers that be at Big Dog to send another one up to me in Connecticut for “extended testing.” But let’s do it next spring. Winters in the Northeast have gotten worse in the last 11 years! AIM
–Chris Maida as published in American Iron Magazine, the world’s best selling Harley magazine.
Big Dog Motorcycles