As I’ve written in my column, to have the best of both worlds everyone should own a bagger and a hot rod. The bagger is like a wife, designed to go for long distance rides in comfort. The hot rod is like a mistress, just the ticket for a few hours of adventure. And while doing this with two women can get you in deep trouble, it’s the perfect setup when it comes to motorcycles. After blasting around on Saxon’s Reaper for several hundred miles during the Sturgis rally, there’s no doubt in my mind this little bobber fits the hot rod requirement nicely!
Weighing in at 430 pounds dry, the Reaper is an excellent, fully street-legal example of the breed. Nimble, easy to handle, and quick, this little bobber was a pleasure to ride both on the highway and while trying to get around the extremely congested streets of Sturgis. Powering my test bike is a S&S 96″ (1573cc) Evo-style mill, which has rightfully earned a reputation for being as dependable as a hammer. The 3-5/8″-bore, 4-5/8″-stroke, and 10.1:1 compression 96 moved the lightweight Reaper along easily. And I had no pinging or other issues in the heat of a South Dakota summer on 10-percent ethanol fuel. (You get to carry 3.25 gallons of the stuff in that Sportster-style tank.) The engine’s S&S Super E carburetor never gave me any trouble on starts and had excellent throttle response at all points, just what I’d expect. Like on a stock Evo-powered H-D, the bike is equipped with a VOES to advance and retard the ignition timing. That made it easy to drop idle down and let the engine chug like a Shovelhead to keep engine heat down, since I was often in heavily congested rally traffic. My test bike also had a nice sounding exhaust: a good rumble but not anything that will get you in trouble with the local police or your neighbors late at night.
The transmission is a Rivero-Primo six-speed, which shifted nicely through all gears. It was also easy to get into neutral, until it got very hot. Then it took a try or two, just like with a stock H-D five-speed tranny. The chain primary and wet clutch system worked well, and I had no issues with it whatsoever, even when very hot. But that’s all moot now, since from this point on the Reaper will be equipped with a BAKER six-speed. However, there was a slight seep from two bolts on the primary cover. Definitely not a leak, only enough weep to collect a little dirt in the dusty conditions of the Buffalo Chip. In sixth gear on the highway, the Reaper cruises nicely at 75 mph at about 2500 rpm and at about 3000 at 80-85 mph. I can’t tell you exactly what rpm in either case since the tach uses a dot indicator system. The speedo, tach, and other indicators are all contained in one gauge, which worked very well, but, as always with this setup, it’s hard to read in direct sunlight.
As for the chassis, the frame geometry (2″ stretch in backbone, 34-degree rake) is nuts on! The Reaper was easy to control and handled great. For those interested in specs, wheelbase is 68″ and total length is 95″. Being a rigid, the only suspension is via the DNA springer front end and sprung solo seat. And while the springer worked well in turns and such on smooth roads, it was bouncy on bumpy ones, which is about the norm for a springer front end. However, a couple of helper springs inside the present ones would stiffen up the ride a bit. The seat is comfortable, and the springs do a nice job of smoothing out the bumps. Seating position in relation to the handlebars was very comfortable for me, too. My short legs (30″ inseam) had no problem reaching the forward controls or ground (27″ seat height). Joe, however, at 6’1″ was scrunched. The Brembo calipers front (four-piston) and rear (two-piston), which grabbed floating discs, worked very well once they were broken in. The 80-spoke wheels, which are wrapped with a 90/90-21″ Metzeler up front and a 200-18″ Metzeler in the rear, looked great. Ditto for the simple black paint job with silver panels.
Many times it’s the little things that make or break a bike. Here again, the Reaper did very well. For example, it was very easy to check oil in the 3.5-quart tank. Just rock the filler cap from side to side to get it out and read the dipstick, no need to remove the seat. The handgrips were comfortable, and the H-D-type hand controls and switches were familiar and easy to operate. The Saxon team designed nice supports for rear and front fenders. I also liked that the rear chain guard was well-designed and welded right to the frame. The key switch is in a good location on the lower left side of the bike in a natural position for your hand. I also liked the fact that all the DOT-required running gear (front fender, mirrors, front and rear turn signals) is easy to remove, and their wires can be tucked away out of sight. This way, if your state is not anal about this stuff, you can strip the Reaper down even more and run it bare bones for an even cleaner look. The only negative in the details department were the rear axle adjuster collars and big Allen axle bolt, which were plain metal. Before my test week was done they were starting to rust. When I inquired about this I was told by the Saxon crew that this is not how a customer’s bike would be. I didn’t think so, but it was on the test bike, so it ends up in the review.
The bottom line is that the Reaper, called the Henchman outside the US, is a cleanly designed bobber that’s nicely executed. Plus it comes with a two-year limited warranty, and that never sucks! Neither does its MSRP of $19,845. AIM
NEW BIKE REVIEW By Chris Maida as seen in American Iron Magazine