The name Steven Tyler is synonymous with the band Aerosmith and, for many, he is considered rock and roll royalty. To add to that, since season 10 of the hit television show American Idol, the man’s legacy and brand has only grown thanks to the millions of viewers who now see him, along with Randy Jackson and Jennifer Lopez, as part of the three-person judging team that holds the fate of aspiring young music hopefuls in their hands. Die-hard readers of this publication should already know that on top of all that, Mr. Tyler has been an integral part of another three-man team, one that has been manufacturing high-end motorcycles since 2007.
The core team at Dirico Motorcycles USA is comprised of the rock star extraordinaire, who provides the artistic vision and design influence for the bikes; expert businessman and head honcho of AC Customs Stephen Talarico, who provides the manufacturing capabilities; and master engineer Marc Dirico, who provides the brains to make all the bikes work properly. This dynamic trio, along with the craftsmen who hand-assemble each bike, is the reason this small outfit in Manchester, New Hampshire, has been producing high-quality motorcycles like the Pro-Street Roadster you see here for almost five years running.
Having already ridden the Pro-Street and two other Dirico models on previous occasions, I decided I’d cruise up to Manchester and get some seat time on the new PS Roadster. I was told that the idea behind this new model was to make subtle-but-effective changes to the company’s Pro-Street model in an attempt to create a more versatile version of it. That explains the PS designator. In doing this, the Dirico trio have successfully created a new model that is more comfortable and rider friendly. When I look at the two models side by side, it’s easy to see that the Roadster comes with floorboards versus footpegs, has its own distinct sheet metal, and has different handlebars. Early into my initial ride, I found this combination of changes gave me more wiggle room while riding, making it a more comfortable ride for me than the Pro-Street. After skimming the spec sheet, I found more differences like the fact that this model comes with a Screamin’ Eagle 110B Twin Cam engine, a rock-solid BAKER RSD six-speed transmission with a hydraulic clutch, and a totally new Dirico right-side-drive softail-style frame.
Upon closer inspection at our lunch stop, I wasn’t surprised that the solid handling and effective stopping I felt was thanks to a 55mm Ceriani inverted front end and always reliable Performance Machine brakes and discs all around. Adding to the positive feel of the bike was the fact that the whole package rolls on 3.50-21″ front and 8.50-18″ rear Performance Machine Contrast-Cut wheels wrapped in Metzeler ME880 Marathon (120 front and 240 rear). If all that wasn’t enough to make the Roadster more rider friendly than its PS sibling, I was repeatedly told that potential buyers can get an optional, removable windshield and saddlebags to make this bike road-trip worthy.
If you look at Dirico’s brochures and marketing material, it’s hard not to miss its tag line: “Engineered to Ride, Built to Last.” More important to me is its statement that all its bikes are “Seamless, Practical, Functional, and Balanced.” I did my best to get Stephen Tyler on the phone so he could elaborate on these company convictions and find out what Dirico Motorcycles means to him. As you can imagine, I couldn’t get the front man. I’m not sure if it was simply because of American Idol red tape. I initially took it personally and wondered if it was simply the fact his people or even Tyler himself just didn’t want to talk to me, the lowly managing editor of the number one Harley-oriented magazine on the newsstand. As a side note, my mother made me feel better when she suggested that he was probably busy riding a motorcycle, enjoying the wind blowing through his feather-clad hair. My mom is an avid follower of celebrity gossip so she also added that he might be out riding JLo … or maybe Randy Jackson. I’ll never know the truth, but I like to think that if some secret Dirico American Idol model comes to market or some spy photos of a Dirico bike and JLo get published, my mom would be right once again.
The flip side of not getting a pull quote from rock royalty is that after spending a crisp autumn day riding the Roadster around New Hampshire, I did have the good fortune of sitting down for a full-access, one-on-one conversation with Marc Dirico (remember him? he’s the brains of the trio). It was during this time that it became painfully obvious to me that lots of engineering goes into each and every Dirico model. At one point, he told me (not to mention showed me) that there are CAD drawings made of each part on every model before he ever thinks about manufacturing them. A practical example of this is the Roadster you see here; it’s made up of about 160 parts, of which roughly 64 are proprietary (note that most of the other parts are right out of the good old H-D P&A catalog). Pretty amazing when you consider this bike is based on a Dirico model already in production.
After I left, Marc (he passed on joining me and the rest of the boys from the day’s ride at the bar) said two main things that resonated in my head. First, he wants to go above and beyond to make sure each bike he engineers is “dynamically balanced.” Translation: every bike he puts his name on has to be in line from the center of the engine straight through. And the second is a belief that “We just want to do a good job and build the best bikes we can, period.”
To me that explains it all. Over the years I’ve watched this company continuously tweak its models in an attempt to make things better. The beauty is that it’s a small operation, which makes putting its belief into practice relatively simple. A perfect example of this is that when I mentioned that the front end of the Roadster felt a bit heavy in slow parking lot maneuvers, Marc, without missing a beat, told me that the bike I was riding had a 36-degree rake, all of which is in the frame. He then added that he was already looking to switch it to 34 degrees in the frame and two or three in the triple trees. Miraculously, he already had a prototype frame in the fire so he could get some real world R&D on how the change would work.
At this point I should add that these guys are so confident about their product that every Dirico comes with a two-year, unlimited-mileage warranty just like what you get when you buy a new Harley. And for the record, any H-D dealership should be able to service a Dirico. But that doesn’t mean it will honor the warranty. The time I’ve spent on this and every Dirico model I’ve ridden has led me to believe these bikes are on par with any production H-D, so I don’t foresee owners having many problems. I feel that all Diricos are solidly built, reliable bikes that can be ridden all day long and live up to the company’s tag line. That said, I hope to get my hands on a few models to take on a tour this summer.
For the time being, Dirico motorcycles are only 49-state compliant and probably will remain so until they become fuel-injected. I’ve been told that the company’s goal from the start has been to manufacture 400-500 bikes a year, but lately it wonders if it might have come to market too late for such a lofty goal. Last I heard, there are some deals pending in Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar that might change things, so keep your eye on this company. Regardless of those deals, I’m watching these guys closely because you never know what Steven Tyler might come up with next. And, besides, I don’t wanna miss a thing. Okay, sorry, I’ll stop. AIM
NEW BIKE REVIEW By Joe Knezevic
Story as published in the July issue of American Iron Magazine.