World Debut of New Motorcycle Brand: Vanguard Roadster

2018 Vanguard Roadster first look

The Vanguard Roadster is the first release of the new brand that also intends on building a Cruiser and Racer version as well.

Vanguard is unveiling its Roadster at the New York Motorcycle Show (December 9th to 11th)

Conceived, designed and built in New York City, Vanguard is an exciting, entirely new and wholly distinct motorcycle brand.

Vanguard, with its forward-thinking design and pioneering features, is a product without equivalent as well as a brand with the potential to bring new perspectives to the motorcycle industry.
Vanguard is excited to invite members of the media and public to come see its new Roadster in person. The world premiere is scheduled for the International Motorcycle Show in New York City on December 9th.

2018 Vanguard Roadster 117 cubic-inch engine

The Vanguard Roadster is powered by a 117 cubic-inch variation of the S&S X-Wedge engine teamed to a six-speed gearbox.

Form and function have never been more complimentary. The Vanguard Roadster has a striking contemporary silhouette, the result of clear and well-informed design decisions. The lines emerged from breaking everything down into rethinking needs and solutions.

The Vanguard Roadster is a running prototype, with production slated for 2018. It boasts many unique features including a frameless structural engine, unitized crankcase, integrated exhaust and a tablet-size digital dashboard with rear-view camera. The Roadster is the first of 3 motorcycles built on a common powertrain platform that will cover all riding positions: Roadster, Cruiser and Racer.

Vanguard Roadster unitized crankcase

The Vanguard Roadster has a frameless structural engine and a unitized crankcase.

Vanguard motorcycles will be assembled in New York City at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The modular construction, based on large sub-assemblies, revisits traditional manufacturing methods. Combined with worldwide sourcing and the support of key motorcycle vendors, Vanguard will deliver exceptional value and quality.

Starting at $29,995, a premium price within reach, the Vanguard Roadster is a strong alternative to current premium motorcycles. Selected dealers are signing up to be the ambassadors of this game-changing brand.

Vanguard is led by renowned designer Edward Jacobs and serial entrepreneur Francois-Xavier Terny. Together they form a dynamic team of drive and vision.
With a fresh perspective and unique approach, Vanguard promises to be a premium motorcycle brand of revolutionary effect.

Come see the world premiere at the International Motorcycle Show in New York, taking place December 9-11 at the Javits Center in Manhattan, booth #438.

2018 Vanguard Roadster Specs
Engine: 117 cubic-inch (1917cc) air-cooled 56-degree V-twin (S&S X-Wedge based)
Transmission/Final Drive: 6 speed / shaft drive
Target Torque: 110 ft-lbs.
Frame: Frameless Structural Engine
Front Suspension: Ohlins fully adjustable 48mm
Rear Suspension: Single-sided swingarm, Ohlins mono-shock suspension
Front Brake: Brembo 4-piston calipers, 320mm X 2 semi-floating discs
Rear Brake: Brembo 2-piston floating caliper, 245mm disc
Rake Angle: 27 degrees
Seat Height: 32 in.
Wheelbase: 65.5 in.
Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gal.
Target Weight: 550 lbs.
Tires: Metzeler ME880 Marathon 240/40 VR18 or 200/50 ZR18 (rear); 130/60 VR18 (front)
Available: 2018
Target Price: $30,000

No. 001 Jack Daniels Indian Chief Vintage Sells for $150,000 at Barrett-Jackson

No. 001 Limited Edition Jack Daniels Indian Chief Vintage

All funds from the auction benefit U.S. Military personnel and their families through Operation Ride Home

Indian Motorcycle, America’s First Motorcycle Company, is proud to announce that the #001 2016 Limited Edition Jack Daniel’s Indian Chief Vintage motorcycle auctioned at Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas on Saturday October 15 raised $150,000 for the benefit of Operation Ride Home, a program that assists active duty U.S. military personnel in traveling home to visit their families through a partnership with the Armed Services YMCA.

One hundred fifty individually numbered 2016 Limited Edition Jack Daniel’s Indian Chief Vintage and Indian Springfield motorcycle models were made available for purchase on March 4, 2016, for $29,999. All but #001 of the 150-unit production run sold in just eight hours on the first day of availability, with that first unit being saved for this auction. These motorcycles represent the first time in the century and a half history of Jack Daniel’s that any vehicle has had an officially sanctioned Jack Daniel’s livery, making this motorcycle even more special.

#001 of the limited edition series, an Indian Chief Vintage version, was auctioned at world-renowned Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas on October 15 at the Mandalay Bay resort. The full $150,000 of proceeds from the auction will benefit Operation Ride Home, which assists active duty U.S. military personnel in traveling home to visit their families. Approximately 700 individuals – both service members and their families – will be reunited this holiday season care of this sale alone. Collector Vincent Amato won bidding and will take the motorcycle home to display in his collection.

Limited Edition Indian Chief Vintage Barrett-Jackson auction 2016

(Left to Right) Vincent Amato (winning bidder), Brian Klock (Klock Werks), Steve Menneto (Indian Motorcycle), Dave Stang (Jack Daniel’s) and Craig Jackson (Chairman/CEO of Barrett-Jackson Auction Company).

“It’s fantastic to see these two great brands partner for such a worthy cause,” said Steve Menneto, President of Motorcycles for Polaris Industries. “Both Indian Motorcycle and Jack Daniel’s have a respect and admiration for our enlisted men and women, and bringing military families together for the holidays is something that is truly special.”

“The generosity shown by Mr. Amato in purchasing this special bike is simply remarkable,” said Jeff Arnett, Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller. “Just knowing how many more service members and their families we’ll be able to assist with travel this year is something that makes us all very proud. It will make this holiday season even that more special for these heroes and their families.”

Created to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Jack Daniel Distillery and designed in conjunction with Klock Werks Kustom Cycles of Mitchell, S.D., both Limited Edition Jack Daniel’s Indian Springfield and Indian Chief Vintage models feature an array of genuine Indian Motorcycle accessories, as well as Jack Daniel’s-inspired custom paint and logos, badging, leather saddle and saddlebags. Each fender is inscribed with the names of the seven Master Distillers who have overseen the Jack Daniel’s distilling process over its 150-year history, and an inscription of Jack Daniel’s “Bottles and Throttles Don’t Mix” mantra reminds riders that drinking and riding are meant to be enjoyed separately. Finally, both models also came with a custom-printed Jack Daniel’s whiskey barrel top to commemorate each bike, a two-year unlimited mileage factory warranty and free membership in the Indian Motorcycle Riders Group for one year.

For more information about Operation Ride Home, or to make a tax-deductible donation, please visit Jack Daniel’s press information can be found at the Jack Daniel’s press room located at Learn more about Indian Motorcycle by visiting and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram social media channels.

Big Dog Motorcycles Attempts Comeback with 2016 K9

Big Dog Motorcycles (BDM) was once a juggernaut when motorcycles with 300mm back tires, monster V-Twins, and showroom-quality paint were the rage. Over the course of 17 years, 30,000 motorcycles came off its production line. But the company got hit hard by the most recent recession, and ultimately Intrust Bank foreclosed on its motorcycle division in 2011.

“We got too big and couldn’t shrink fast enough to keep up with what was going on in the economy at the time. It was a perfect storm of stuff that went down. We had retail financing changing, we had wholesale financing changing, we had legislation change in Washington, poor business decision-making on our end. We were gambling the economy was going to turn around faster than it did and we came out the other end with our market share,” said Big Dog Motorcycles’ current owner, Matt Moore.

But Moore, who was once Big Dog’s Director of Sales, never lost faith in the company. He was the first person former Big Dog owner Sheldon Coleman hired when BDM Performance Parts was formed after the production side shut down. He kept the dream alive when he helped form Kansas Motorcycle Works, a garage that repaired and customized Big Dogs and made a couple of production bikes in the Big Dog vein. Now, Moore and his family own the rights to Big Dog Motorcycles outright and are working hard to resurrect the company with a grass-roots approach, concentrating more on putting out a high-quality product instead of aiming for high-volumes.

Big Dog Motorcycles 2016K9

While the 2016 K9 may look familiar, it’s got a new electrical system, bigger 124 S&S EVO engine, and a JIMS six-speed transmission.

“We released the K9, it’s kind of our bread-and-butter, and we’ve got a limited edition run of our Mastiffs we’re going to be building, 10 – 12 of those this year. We’re keeping it small, sized for the economy, and have no intentions of getting as big as Big Dog once was,” said Moore.

For the 2016 Big Dog K9, Moore said his team went to the drawing board “to figure out what’s working and what’s not working.” At the top of their list was Big Dog’s electrical system, something that had been problematic in the past. Moore said they looked for a non-proprietary system from a reputable company with a proven track record of performance standing behind it which led them back to Thunder Heart. They were already selling a retro-fit kit that converted Big Dogs to a Thunder Heart EHC system, and the Thunder Heart harness controller had already proven it worked better, making the decision that much easier. The new BDM also ditched the old proprietary Big Dog drivetrain, too, moving away from the 117 to the 124 SuperSidewinder.

2016 K9

The 2016 K9 has been a popular seller for Big Dog in the past, so offering it as the first 2016 Big Dog Motorcycle makes sense based on its history.

“We went with the best vendors we could find. The 124 motor is the biggest production EVO engine that can be 49-state certified that we know of. We’ve got a long-standing history with S&S, they’re a great company and have really gotten behind the project with us. It’s stronger overall, quieter on the top end, and fully supported by S&S,” said Moore.

BDM also went with a standard Softail-type primary configuration using high performance parts. Initially they reached out to John Andrews at Andrews Gears because of his proven track record of making high-performance NASCAR transmissions and asked if he’d make a gearbox for Big Dog. While Andrews reportedly said he could make a transmission for them, no problem, he suggested they look into going with JIMS Transmissions.

“They’re the only company left that controls their product from foundry to finished product, from metallurgy, heat treating, gear cutting,” Moore said. They opted for a JIMS 6-speed, right-side drive transmission with straight-cut gears that “will hold the power the 124 is putting out.”

The new Big Dog Motorcycle owners have established a small dealer network. The first dealer to sign on was Fury Motors out of south St. Paul, Minnesota. They’ve also signed on Dream Machines with locations in Wichita, Dallas and Austin. They’re also shipping bikes overseas to Lycan Customs in the United Arab Emirates. But Moore says their focus is on the U.S. where the majority of their sales are currently. They’re opting for fewer dealers with increased dealer territories. He said Big Dog’s former advertising policies were very restrictive, only allowing dealers to advertise within their geographic area, and dealer development functioned under strict guidelines, too, from the minimum number of bikes on the floor to parts inventory to fixtures. Moore’s new business model also embraces the evolution of online sales.

2016 Big Dog K9

The new 2016 Big Dog K9 looks pretty clean from this angle.

“The retail landscape here in the U.S. has changed from what it was five years ago. We never used to be able to consummate a sale and curate an active sale of a motorcycle online. Now people are buying from both sides of the country just looking for the best deal. I would say in our market more items are bought online than are bought in the retail dealerships. Internet-based marketing and sales is a definite staple in our business now as we’ve adapted our programs and policies to allow dealers to capitalize on that,” Moore said.

While Moore stated there’s more dealerships in the pipeline, he wants to focus on meeting the needs of the initial four dealers first before expanding. Big Dog is scheduled to produce 65 motorcycles this model year, which ends in August. BDM also has a new bike in the R&D room right now, something they’ve never done before at Big Dog, Moore stating they’re “taking a gamble on where we think the industry is going and hope to be the first one in the pot with it.”

The company is still selling parts and servicing older Big Dog Motorcycles, the business model divided into two different entities, one focusing on manufacturing, production and new product development and the other product support.

Moore’s aspirations for Big Dog are ambitious without being overly ambitious. This is evident in the fact that he’s moved the company into a smaller facility in Wichita and is trying to keep overhead managed right. He didn’t have to retrain employees because all but one formerly worked for Big Dog. And his initial offering consists primarily of one model, with a very limited edition run of another. The new project they’ve got in the works based on where they think the industry is going shows he knows his company has to adapt to survive. History has proven it’s not easy being the Big Dog on the porch. Hopefully lessons have been learned from mistakes of the past as he attempts to establish relevancy and respectability to Big Dog once more.

2016 Big Dog K9 S&S 124 EVO

The new powertrain of the 2016 K9 includes a 124 S&S EVO engine and a JIMS right-side drive, six-speed gearbox.

Motorcycle News – Erik Buell Racing Asset Auction July 21

Here is your chance to buy a complete and running American motorcycle factory and operation – complete and ready to roll!

For anyone who wants a near-turnkey motorcycle production outfit, the auction date for the Erik Buell Racing (EBR) assets has been set for July 21.

The sale is no onesy-twosy liquidation. Rather, the business is to be sold as a going concern, including finished inventory, parts and intellectual property.

“The sale of EBR assets has now been scheduled. It will be done in a bidding process on July 21st between a number of potential buyers at an event managed by the receiver. Then all bids are subject to court approval, scheduled for July 23rd,” states a post on the EBR Facebook page. “Looking forward to moving ahead soon!”

The court overseeing the EBR liquidation earlier appointed Milwaukee attorney Michael S. Polsky as the receiver at Buell’s request.

2011 VIPER DIAMONDBACK Motorcycle News

It’s all about size. I regret to inform you that no matter what your girlfriend or wife tell you, size does matter. Now, can you imagine what your honey would say if you came home with 152″ between your legs? Well, thanks to the Viper Motorcycle Company and its Diamondback super cruiser, every man can now get a 152″ augmentation for less than 40 grand.

Let me digress for a moment. I was first exposed to Viper and its short-stroke, air- and oil-cooled, 45-degree V-twin 152″ billet aluminum engine while visiting Vegas in 2007 (reviewed May 2008). Back then, I was impressed with the overall package this small manufacturer from Minnesota was producing. Since then, Viper has teamed up with race engine manufacturer Ilmor Engineering to refine and produce its latest incarnation of the 152 motor. Basically, what this collaboration has done is make an already good engine even better.

My latest Viper rock star experience occurred while attending the 70th anniversary Sturgis Rally this past August, where I had the good fortune of pounding on the 2011 Viper Diamondback for the week. From the start, it quickly became evident that even though I was at a major rally with hundreds of thousands of motorcycles around, there were few V-twins on the road that had more cubic inches then I did. Those that did were usually customs with one-off engines, definitely not a refined production motorcycle like I had between my legs. The best part of my testing a bike in Sturgis and its surroundings is the fact that it was easy for me to use the vehicle in a variety of different riding scenarios. What I found with the Diamondback is that it didn’t matter if I was riding through the twisties of the Black Hills, dealing with traffic jams on Main or Lazell streets, or ripping it down the interstates. This bike was versatile and could do it all even with a 152″ power plant. The bike was so reliable that I even went as far as using it in a painfully slow speed group tour called the annual Mayor’s Ride, and through it all, I can honestly say that the Viper never once misfired, missed a shift, or overheated.

Even at a glance it’s hard to overlook the over-square gem of an engine Ilmor and Viper have created. It’s loosely based on an Evo mill and features honed steel cylinder sleeves with forged pistons and a 4.70″ bore by 4.375″ stroke. Four plugs and advance ported heads allow this engine to efficiently burn fuel, which I found to be flawlessly delivered by a Mikuni HSR45 flat slide carburetor. Air intake is through a chrome billet air cleaner with K&N air filter while tuned pipes take care of the exhaust. An Ilmor-designed dry sump oiling system does a great job of keeping things cool. So much so it seems like this 152 runs cooler than some stock 96ers I’ve ridden.

When all is said and done, Viper claims this power plant produces 130 hp and 160 ft-lbs of torque, which my seat-of-the-pants dyno has no reason not to believe.
Further inspection reveals that the engine is cradled in a proprietary 38-degree raked Viper frame using a patented rubber engine mounting system. It’s unique in that it is a center-mounted engine/transmission system that uses an eye-catching seven-piece chrome billet swingarm that is not rubber mounted. Mix in the Marzocchi inverted, adjustable cartridge front fork and an oil dampened, on-the-fly, adjustable air-ride rear suspension, and the Diamondback has a smooth, almost vibration-free ride, which is amazing considering the engine’s displacement. In general, short-stroke engines tend to rev a bit higher, but that is not an issue here since you have a BAKER RSD, six-speed overdrive transmission and gobs of horsepower and torque available.

The overall length of the Diamondback is 100″ making it 5″ longer than a Harley Rocker C and 6″ longer than a Dyna Wide Glide. This bike’s wheelbase is 71″, which is again 2″ longer than a Rocker C and 3″ longer than a FXDWG. The dry weight of the Viper I rode was 645 pounds, which is just about the same as a Dyna Super Glide. The whole package rolls on a 130 front and 260 rear chrome billet wheels that feature single four-piston brake calipers front and back. The forward controls are adjustable in seven different positions, easily accommodating riders of many sizes, including my 6’2″ frame. All this translates into a stable motorcycle that is comfortable and easy to ride. Note that I did feel a high-speed wobble around 110-120 mph. That said, I believe that since I was on a practically brand-new bike, a simple break-in service and a retorque of the front neck would address this wobble, making it a nonissue.

The Ilmor Engineering and Viper collaboration has made owning a 152″ monster motor bike civilized. With a Diamondback in your garage, going for a thrill ride is as simple as turning the key, pressing down the two compression releases, flipping the petcock to On, squirting a couple of twists of gas into the carburetor, and hitting the starter button. Then, after letting the billet motor warm a few minutes, you’ll be on your way. If you ask me, it doesn’t get any easier, especially for a large billet engine. The best part might be that once you’re on the road, it’s up to you if you want to take a mellow ride around town or do some hell-raising across the countryside. Whatever you choose, this bike can deliver.

So if you’re a Harley rider who simply feels inadequate with 96″, 103″, or maybe 110″, try putting a Viper between your legs. Trust me, you won’t regret dropping the cash. Hopefully, your girl will appreciate it, too. AIM

NEW BIKE TEST By Joe Knezevic

As seen in the April 2011 issue of American Iron Magazine

Magazine Review Big Dog’s 2010 Ridgeback

As far back as I can recall, I remember people referring to me as a chubby kid. As I got older, those comments turned harsher, and I was called fat, especially by other children. So it’s no wonder that I have grown up to be thick skinned. Over the years, I have also gathered a plethora of knowledge on how to hide my size when possible and how to use it to my benefit when needed. For example, wearing black or horizontal stripped shirts has advantages when trying to conceal my 18-pack abs. Or pounding someone into the ground quickly shuts him up and stops any teasing.

Over the years I have mastered many of these techniques, but while at Daytona Bike Week this past March, I discovered what might be the ultimate trick for a big guy trying to hide his size, and, no, it doesn’t involve beating people up. It’s simply riding a bike with a 330 rear tire. This one act may be the most slimming thing I have ever done. Well, besides actually shedding some pounds, but that’s a different story.

I stumbled upon this latest technique while test riding one of Big Dog Motorcycles’ (BDM) Ridgeback models. The combination of massive rear tire and long rigid frame created the deception, or let’s say optical illusion, that I was actually smaller in stature than I really am. Being a rigid, this could have been a painful lesson, but it wasn’t, thanks to the fine BDM engineers doing a great job designing this bike. Amazingly, this bike has a surprisingly smooth ride for a rigid. This is partially due to that freight train-like overall 107″ length that was achieved by stretching the frame’s backbone 4″ and down tubes 8″. Mix in the 42-degree total rake (39 in the frame and 3 in the trees) and the 41mm telescopic forks being lengthened 12″, and this bike almost flexes over bumps and uneven road surfaces. But not to worry; there is 4-1/2″ of ground clearance, so bottoming out is not a problem, and I know this is one of those rare situations where my nearly 300-pound mass comes in handy since it flexes almost any frame.

A carbureted, Big Dog exclusive 117″ S&S engine easily powers the Ridgeback up to scary speeds and the compact, slick-shifting six-speed BDM balance drive primary and BAKER transmission easily handles it all. The whole shebang rolls on a 21″ front wheel and 17″ rear wheel. The 82-1/2″ wheelbase gives the bike Cruise Missile-like stability in straight lines. As you can imagine, having 330mm of meat out back makes taking turns an exercise in leaning, correcting, and leaning again, but, once more, this motorcycle surprised me since the turning process quickly became second nature after a day or so.

Even with a seat height of 24-1/4″ this bike didn’t seem to cramp me like so many other machines with low-slung cockpits. The seat itself is plush and comfortable and helps you forget that you have no rear suspension. Considering the overall size of the Ridgeback, it’s surprising the gas tank only holds 4.4 gallons. But to be honest, even though the Ridgeback is one of the most comfortable rigids I’ve ever ridden, I was ready to get off and stretch by the time I flipped to the 0.4 gallon reserve.

Stopping the combined weight of the bike (it weighs in at 680 pounds dry) and me is no simple task, but the combination single Performance Machine four-piston differential bore front brake and a regular PM four-piston rear brake handled the task with ease. Vibrations going through the bike were nominal so long as I rode in the lower rpm ranges, which is easy to do thanks to the torque put out by the 117. Rubber inserts in the grips and forward foot controls also helped in this department.

In my opinion, all Big Dog Motorcycles have a built-in street presence. The Ridgeback takes that to another level thanks to its length and size. Each model comes with a two-year manufacturer’s factory warranty. The Ridgeback has a base price of $27,900 and you can customize up from there. The bike I rode featured SuperTrapp Mean Mother exhausts with slash tips which gave this dog a mean bark. That, combined with the custom paint job, increased the list price for this specific dog to $31,255.
In my mind, Big Dog Motorcycles produces some of the best-value motorcycles on the market. With the Ridgeback, not only are you getting a factory-produced, killer chopper that you would be hard pressed to build yourself for that same amount of money, but you also get all the R&D and American craftsmanship that comes along from this US-based motorcycle manufacturer. That said, I just heard someone tell a fat joke so I’ve got to go pound him into the ground. AIM

New Bike Test: by Joe Knezevic

Harley Magazine Review Sabertooth V-8 Motorcycle

Like to blend in with the masses? Are you the type that shuns attention? Then don’t buy this bike!

As I told you in my coverage of the Virginia Beach Bike Classic and Myrtle Beach last year, I blasted down the East Coast to both events on this Ford V-8-powered beastie. I had so much fun on this bike, especially on the highway, that I racked up about 1,600 miles before I returned it. And the attention it got was astounding, but then it’s not every day you see someone blowing past you on the interstate with eight cylinders of Go Juice humming away. The way I was surrounded by guys in cars and pickups, you would have thought I was handing out free NASCAR hats! Forget about making a gas stop; there were cellphone cameras all over. Guys were leaving their wives to pump the gas while they talked with me about the massive, but sleek, machine before them. (I’m such a showoff!)

Okay, enough of that. Let me tell you a bit about this Sabertooth WildCat ($40,110). This bike sounds as bada$$ as it looks! The carburetor-equipped, 350″ Motorsports engine runs smooth as silk, with just the right amount of lumpy idle. (Due to EPA regs, all bikes will now have EFI.) Power output is great, and the sound from those short dual headers is outstanding. When in second gear (you only have two), it’s easy to keep things mellow but rumbling. That is, until you crank open the throttle. Cruising speeds are 2500 rpm at 70 mph and 3000 rpm at 85 per. First gear goes up to 90 mph. (I know because I hit that before I got out of a toll plaza!) Second, I’m told, goes up to 170, but I didn’t go that fast, though I got pretty close a number of times. As you would expect, a flick of the wrist sends you rocketing; to blast from 70 to over 100 takes only a couple of seconds or so.

In the handling department, it took me about 100 miles to become comfortable throwing the Sabertooth around a parking lot and into turns, which you must drop into for a good turning radius, as it is with any other long bike, be it chopper or V-8 monster. The Sabertooth is well-balanced for such a heavy bike (1,050 pounds). Hands-off operation on the highway required just a slight lean to the left, which is pretty standard for a machine with a 300 rear tire.

What about that two-speed tranny? Shifting was good and clean. To upshift, pull in the clutch, shift into neutral, then shift into second. But do not let out the clutch as you transition from first to neutral and then second (no speed shifts). I found that upshifting at about 35-40 mph gave me the smoothest transition. Of course, you can do it at a higher speed, but you have to wait a tad longer before getting into second. To downshift into first, you must be going 20 mph or less. As for the manual, cable-actuated clutch, which is one feature I really liked about the Sabertooth, it has about the same pull and feel as a V-twin performance clutch. On my bike, there was no reverse, so I had to be careful of where I nosed in, since a downgrade would have been impossible to get out of without mucho assistance.

As you can see, the chassis is remarkably sleek for such a big bike. When stopped behind me, many people didn’t know the Sabertooth was fitted with a V-8. The bike is basically as wide as the frame that’s around the 300mm rear tire. Even the engine is about the same width. However, when I’d make a turn, I could see jaws drop as people realized what was powering the bike that had been sitting in front of them.

The bike’s air suspension system worked well once I got used to it. Since I’m a short stack, I would drop it down when around town, so I could get a flat foot on the ground when stopped. Once I was on a stretch of road devoid of stop signs and lights, I’d just switch on the air compressor and count to 25 slowly. This put the suspension fully up, which gave me decent ground clearance for turns, sweepers, and going into gas stations. And since we’re on the subject of gas stations, the Sabertooth has an appetite like its namesake. You get 20 miles per gallon if you don’t play with the throttle, and that tank holds exactly 6 gallons (new bikes now have 8). You hit reserve after 100 miles/5 gallons. There’s no slack to be had here. Once you hit reserve, find gas within 20 miles, or you’re on the side of the road. And the Sabertooth is no picnic to push!

As good as my time on the Sabertooth was, the bike did have one flaw and a few minor glitches, which I chalk up to teething issues. The flaw only rears its ugly head when you crank open the throttle at a slow speed. Under hard but only half-throttle acceleration, the belt skips on the rear pulley. Personally, I’d prefer a 630 chain or two back there, but then again, I like to play. The crew at Sabertooth told me they went with the belt since that’s what most riders are comfortable with nowadays. Their fix was to go to a larger front pulley, which Sabertooth says has fixed the belt problem. That is, except for the WildCat X model, which doesn’t need it since it has a 360 rear tire and drive chain.

On my test bike, which was an early version, if you dropped the suspension all the way down, the top of the rear fender hit the seat support tube. The bumpers for the rear swingarm were not positioned properly, since they should protect chassis and rear fender should the air system ever fail. However, this glitch was corrected on my test bike and all newer machines so equipped.

Once I got stuck in stopped traffic on the highway for a long time. Before I shut the bike down, I noticed that at idle, the battery charging rate is too low, and the battery is at a slight discharge. If you find yourself stopped in traffic for an extended period of time, keep an eye on the voltage meter. In normal stop-and-go traffic this is not an issue, since as soon as you’re at any rpm above idle the charging rate is fine. I’ve been told all new bikes have a larger alternator pulley, so discharging at idle is no longer an issue.

When under power, there is a slight squeal from the rear wheel area at very slow speeds, which I think is just brake dust on the belt and pulley. The bike also has what I call good mechanical noise: tranny whine, etc. I don’t like my machines to be too sanitized, especially a bada$$ one. The sound of machinery at work is a good thing.

Since I’ve a pair of short sticks to walk on (29″ inseam), I would burn a leg once in awhile on the rear of the rocker covers (both sides), but this would only happen when I didn’t pay attention and let my knees pull in toward the engine. Guys with longer legs shouldn’t be concerned with this.

Another every-once-in-awhile glitch involved the starter system, but it has nothing to do with the actual electric motor. The wire that goes to the starter solenoid is located right by your right foot, so it’s easy to knock it loose from its clip. Once I figured out the problem, if the starter just clicked when I pushed the button, I slipped the wire back on and I was good to go. So you don’t have to mess with this, this connector has been changed to one that doesn’t pop off.

One look at that seat tells you it’s not for touring! In fact, it becomes a slab of wood after a few hundred miles. Of course, only an idiot goes touring on a V-8. However, since I may not be the only idiot out there, the seat has been given the gel insert treatment. That’s cool with me, since I’d like to try out Sabertooth’s new Pro-Street model, the StreetCat, on a trip later this year.

In closing I should thank the guy who let me put so many miles on his bike: Brian Montgomery of Tennessee! Brian, as I told you, I almost didn’t return your bike, since it was so much fun to ride, but being the upright guy I am, I just could not keep it any longer. Of course, the fact that you were going to send up a few good ol’ boys to help me see the error of my ways had nothing to do with it. AIM
–Chris Maida

Sabertooth Motorcycles
1oo Hurricane Creek Dr.
Dept. AIM
Piedmont, SC 29673

Ecosse Heretic. American Muscle Motorcycle, Euro Sexy Looks

Ecosse Heretic sportbike style motorcycle

Ecosse Heretic motorcycle

What’s a millionaire to do if he wants an all-American motorcycle with Harley style power but that unique look and feel more like a Confederate, Ducati, MV Agusta or other exotic Euro-sportbike?

Well, one of his options on the short list would have to be the Ecosse. A VERY limited production machine that he is quite unlikely to see another on the road.

For more than the cost of a decent used Porsche 996 Twin Turbo, you can buy an Ecosse  Heretic for about $70,000 – give or take a little.

Consider what you get for that money is a rare handcrafted motorcycle with a massive air-cooled, pushrod activated Harley-style two liter sized engine. It’s machined from solid billet aluminum, and mounted in a hand-welded custom frame that carries the oil supply similar to some of the 1970s Triumph motorcycles. Handling is top notch thanks to the world class Öhlins suspension.  This machine, like any good high end machine, is bristling with high strength, low weight carbon fiber.

Interested in more information or to order your Ecosse? Visit the Ecosse web site.

This post is from our friends at Sex and Harleys.

Working Mans Special Motorcycle

Sucker Punch Sally Bobber Motorcycle

I don’t know what your Daytona trip was like, but mine was a blast! Though most of what happened I can’t put into a family magazine, I can tell
you about this cool little bobber I got to run around on all week. Built by the Sucker Punch Sally’s (SPS) crew in Phoenix, the Working Man’s Special is a low-cost version of the company’s flagship bike, the Traditional Bobber.

Simple and to the point: my test bike was well-built and fun to ride.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll tell you some of the particulars. My Special was powered by a stock 80″ (1340cc) Harley-Davidson Evo mill fitted with low-compression (8.5:1) pistons, which meant I could put 2.25 gallons (max) of any grade of gas in the thing, and it ran fine. The motor is connected to an Ultima six-speed tranny via a 3″ BDL open belt drive system. As you can see, the final drive is a standard 530 chain wrapped around a 51-tooth rear sprocket. The clutch is also from BDL and it, like the primary system, worked like a charm. As for the Ultima tranny, while it did its job efficiently, it was noisy, shifting felt a bit clunky, and it was almost impossible to get into neutral once stopped. However, by the time you read this, Ultima gearboxes are no longer used on SPS bikes. A RevTech is now standard and you can upgrade to a BAKER transmission if you choose.

The chassis for the Special, being based on the Traditional, is well-planned and constructed. Up front, the SPS-proprietary 30-degree rake, no-stretch rigid frame is held up by a DNA springer that rolls on a Midwest 60-spoke, all-chromed wheel wrapped with a 3.00-21″ Avon tire. The Special is also available with a standard tube front end, if that’s what you prefer. Out back is a 180/60-16″ Avon wrapped around another all-chromed Midwest 60-spoker. Stopping power up front is supplied by a four-piston polished HHI caliper grabbing standard issue 11-1/2″ chrome Drag discs. Out back, there’s a four-piston, black H-D caliper doing the hard work. Braking power was definitely adequate, since the Special is a light bike.

This chassis combo results in a nice handling, 495-pound (dry weight) bike with a 65″ wheelbase, 4″ of ground clearance, and a 24″ seat height. With numbers like that, you know even a short stack like me has no problem being flat-footed at all times, or reaching the forwards. The apes also put my hands in a comfortable spot, though they were a bit over my shoulders. The sprung seat was fine during all my short blasts up and down the interstate, as well as around town.

The only glitch I had during my test was a lighting issue, as in the front right blinker did not work. But that was fixed in short order by the SPS crew, and the rest of my test was pleasantly uneventful.

Since the Working Man’s Special is the budget version of the Traditional (the price starts at $18,995), you don’t get all the glitz of the flagship bike. (For example, it only comes in solid colors.) However, you do get all the usual quality of a Sucker Punch build, plus a one-year warranty.

Sounds like a good deal to me! AIM

–Chris Maida as published in American Iron Magazine, the world’s best selling Harley magazine.

Sucker Punch Sally’s
14982 North 83rd Place
Suite 100, Dept. AIM
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

Motorcycle Review Pitbull

Testing The Big Dog Motorcycle

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!

Big Dog Motorcycle Pit Bull

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