2016 Indian Motorcycle Scout Sixty Ride Review

2016-Indian-Scout-Sixty-5NEW BIKE REVIEW by Dain Gingerelli
Peaceful smoke signals be damned! Indian Motorcycle is on the warpath to establish itself as a key player in the American motorcycle market. The tribe tripled its number last year with the introduction of three more models – the Scout, Roadmaster, and Dark Horse – and 2016 brings another addition to Indian’s brave new world. Meet the Scout Sixty, a motorcycle that’s bound to make new friends among a growing legion of Indian owners and enthusiasts.

People already familiar with the Scout might look at the new Scout Sixty and state the obvious: “It looks just like the Scout. There doesn’t appear to be any difference between the two bikes.” And, of course, those people would be correct in that assumption because the Scout Sixty does look much like the Scout. They even share the same identification tags, and you won’t see any “Sixty” script on that model, either. Close scrutiny, however, reveals that the Scout Sixty has less chrome and fewer sexy bare-metal machined surfaces on its engine cases and cylinders. Ditto for its black cast-aluminum wheels, and the Scout’s cast-aluminum frame is finished in a roughneck charcoal gray compared to the Sixty’s more conventional black coating, although both share the same design and dimensions. There’s also a difference in handlebars; the Scout has a chromed bar on black risers, the Scout Sixty has black on black. The seats are noticeably different, too: The Sixty’s pillion is covered with black vinyl, while the Scout’s passenger quarters are finished in the classic Desert Tan leather, although both solo seats are about 25.3″ off the deck.
So what gives? Why the big deal about the Scout Sixty? The big deal concerns its smaller retail price, $8,999, versus the Scout’s $11,299. And that’s a big deal because Indian Motorcycle hopes to recruit new riders with this price-leader model.

Obviously, achieving that $2,300 price spread required some cost cutting, and to do that, engineers were told to eliminate some components of the original Scout design. In a nutshell, the major cuts, in addition to the cosmetic changes mentioned above, include trimming engine size from 1133cc (69″) to 999cc (61″) and eliminating one set of cogs from the Scout’s six-speed transmission.  And, yes, the bike got its name from engine size, and we can only guess that Sixty had a better ring to it than Sixty-One.

Both of those cost-cutting steps were actually planned by Indian’s engineering staff long ago. When Indian Motor­cycle mapped out the original Scout’s corporate mission statement, it also decided that the new model would serve as the basis for a future price-leader model as well. Taking that route allowed the bean counters to amortize the research and development expenses between both models, thus allowing them to price the new Sixty an incremental amount less than the standard Scout’s 2016 MSRP of $11,299.

Reducing engine displacement was a rather straightforward process, using cylinder sleeves with smaller bore diameters – 2.898″ versus 3.661″ – to gain the sub-1000cc goal. According to Indian, the meatier cylinder walls account for the Sixty’s extra four pounds (claimed dry weight of 542 pounds) over the Scout’s dry weight of 538 pounds. Although the induction system retains the same 60mm throttle body, the ECU was remapped to compensate for the Sixty’s decreased combustion chamber size. There’s good news at the exhaust end, too; the Sixty’s stacked chromed mufflers resonate the same low burble that’s familiar from the Scout.

For the full ride review, custom bike features, tech stories and more,
CLICK HERE American Iron Magazine issue 333

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New Model Preview – 2016 Victory Magnum X-1

322-22-2_12016 Victory Magnum X-1

Ingredients for a sound performance

text by Dain Gingerelli
photograph courtesy of Victory Motorcycles

With all the noise that came from Polaris Industries’ Indian camp this past year or so, it was only a matter of time before the other motorcycle company from Minnesota broke its silence. And when Victory Motor­cycles decided it was time to be heard, the ruckus came in a big way: a new Magnum-based bagger that pipes 200 watts of audio amped into 10 speakers. Let’s hear it for the Magnum X-1!

“This bike is built to shatter the sound barrier,” says Brandon Kraemer, Victory’s product manager, during the X-1’s special sneak preview at an audio-video studio in Simi Valley, California, last January. Kramer was speaking in figurative terms, of course. His words were aimed at those 10 speakers — six of which reside in the fairing dash, the remainder in the bag lids — that are poised and ready to broadcast whatever tunes you deem worthy of playing through the onboard audio system. For the most part, the sound system’s controls are the same as those on the standard Magnum because the X-1 is essentially a reissue of that model, but with bolder acoustics and a wilder display of paint graphics (Victory describes the red pinstripes as Electric Red), and contrast-machined components that include an all-new 21″ black billet front wheel design. There’s also a sun-bright, smoke-tinted LED headlight that can practically melt your retinas to light the way.


Kraemer’s reference to the sound barrier explains the Magnum’s X-1 moniker, too. The first man to break the sound barrier was US Air Force test pilot Chuck Yeager, and he did so back in 1947 piloting the experimental rocket-powered aircraft Bell X-1. Victory’s new Magnum X-1 won’t necessarily take you near Mach 1, but people at Victory are hedging their bets that the 200-watt audio system is loud enough to break another sound barrier, of sorts. You want loud tunes while you ride? The X-1 will deliver, claimed by Victory to be four times louder than a standard Cross Country. And, to drive home that fact, the folks from Victory parked one of the new bikes in the acoustically rich sound studio where they cranked up the volume. Simon and Garfunkel’s classic “Sounds of Silence” most certainly was not on the play list. Indeed, the Magnum X-1 might be the vanguard of future models from the Minnesota-based motorcycle company because Polaris is poised to ramp up Victory’s role in how it markets motorcycles. Victory Brand General Manager Rod Krois explained that the motorcycle community should expect even more diversity between Indian and Victory models in the future, with America’s oldest brand (Indian) taking the lead in producing designs heavy on heritage while Victory will develop and produce what Polaris calls “performance and muscle” — cruisers and baggers such as the X-1.

322-22-4“We are investing in motorcycles,” Krois explains to motorcycling’s gathered fourth estate, and any doubt about that was left on the table when that same day Victory announced that it was going NHRA Pro-Stock racing. With ambitions to crack into the hotly contested quarter-mile drag racing arena, Victory is teaming up with S&S Cycle to develop an engine and dragster for two-time NHRA champion Matt Smith and his wife/co-rider Angie to compete in the Pro-Stock class this year.

“We’re going to take on Harley,” one Victory spokesperson confides. And his words will be verified by the time this issue of American Iron Magazine hits the newsstands because the NHRA season will already have begun with the first race at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

322-22-5No doubt the American V-twin landscape is becoming more and more interesting as time goes by. On one front, we’ve now got more than one American-made brand battling at NHRA race tracks, and we’ll have American baggers vying on the chorus line to see which bike is the loudest. So far the Magnum X-1 has top honors from Victory’s camp. And you can be a part of the magic, too, by underwriting the X-1’s MSRP to the tune of $24,499. AIM

This article originally appeared in American Iron Magazine issue # 322, published June 2015. To order a back issue of this or any other issue of American Iron Magazine, visit Greaserag.com.
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New Bike Review – 2015 H-D Dyna Low Rider

324-18-42015 H-D Dyna Low Rider

Versatility of a Swiss Army knife

text and photography by Dain Gingerelli

Here’s a recap of my workweek: after meddling with various tasks in my office Monday morning, I snuck out on the FXDL Dyna Low Rider for lunch at the big-box store, otherwise known as Costco. I’m an easy mark for Costco’s hot dog and coke combo, especially at the price, a buck fifty. I also can’t pass up an opportunity to get out of the office to ride bikes like the Low Rider, so the prospect of munching on that dog and coke sounded even more appealing as I saddled up.

In fact, my whole week went much like Monday.  Tuesday, I rode the Low rider through nearby Silverado Canyon in California to check if the US Forest Service had opened the gate to the dirt road leading up the Saddleback landmark. My best friend and I were planning a ride up that hill on our dual-sport bikes; if the gate was open, we would ride up the following weekend. It wasn’t open, but I still took the opportunity last tuesday to enjoy lunch on the way home at the Silverado Cafe, always a treat. The Low Rider waited patiently outside, its sidestand down, while I dined on a greasy, delicious burger inside.

I began writing this review first thing Wednesday morning, but soon enough, I reasoned that I probably should put some more miles on the Dyna to really “get a feel” for what the bike is about, so off I went, southbound on Interstate-5, taking me past Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. It’s a pleasant ride, with wide, sweeping vistas of the blue Pacific Ocean to my right, and the route takes me past the Basilone Road exit, named in honor of Marine Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone, recipient of the Medal of Honor for heroism at the Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II. Later during the war, he was awarded the Navy cross for his heroics at the Battle of Iwo Jima where he lost his life in further combat. I always pay my respects to the sergeant with a moment of silence from the saddle whenever I pass that exit. The Dyna Low Rider was in full stride, too, the Twin Cam 103″ engine purring smoothly the soothing din from its collector exhaust ever so discernible above the wind blast around my Arai helmet. It was as if the Low Rider knew that this particular gunny sergeant deserved respect.

And on Thursday, I heard about a new wall mural by street artist Bandit, so I rode the Dyna to nearby San Clemente to check out his handiwork with the spray cans, and now it’s Friday morning, and I’m staring at a deadline for this bike review. I’ll admit, too, that it was easier today to leave the Low Rider in my garage because its rear Michelin Scorcher “31” tire had, at some point during my week’s travels, developed a slow leak. Good excuse as any, I guess, to get back to work.

The Dyna Low Rider has a way of doing that, distracting you from everyday life. The bike is so congenial to all manner of street riding that you’ll feel confident taking it anywhere and everywhere there’s pavement. care to carve through a canyon, following the serpentine road as it snakes left to right? Not a problem because this Dyna’s steering is deliberate and precise, especially considering the FXDL’s cruiser roots date back to 1977. The Michelin rubber — 100/90-19″ up front and 160/70-17″ on the rear — do a fine job of gripping the asphalt, so you never feel off balance.

Like what you see? The full article is in American Iron Magazine issue # 324, NOW ON NEWSSTANDS! To order a back issue of this or any other issue of American Iron Magazine, visit Greaserag.com.
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2013 Harley-Davidson Big Twins New Bike Specs

It took 110 years, but the wait for the 2013 Harley-Davidson models is finally over. It’s a special lineup, indeed, for the anniversary year. Sticking to just the Big Twins for now, five models will be available in the special 110th anniversary scheme, which also means they only come with all available options installed, and only in limited production quantities. Each Anniversary model is highlighted by a solid bronze fuel tank badge and Anniversary Vintage Bronze/Anniversary Vintage Black paint.

The 110th Super Glide Custom is limited to 1,500 units and includes a Smart Security System, ABS, and chrome aluminum profile laced wheels. The 110th Fat Boy Lo is limited to 1,750 and also includes the basic Smart Security System and ABS package. The 110th Heritage Softail Classic is limited to 1,900 examples and includes the same package as the Super Glide Custom, but with the addition of wide whitewall tires. The 110th Road King is limited to 1,750 and comes with the Smart Security System, ABS, cruise control, and contrast chrome, 28-spoke, cast aluminum wheels. The Electra Glide Ultra Limited 110th Anniversary edition is the top dog and already comes with every available option. It also happens to see the highest production run at 3,750 examples. And for those looking to explore on three wheels rather than two, Harley included the Anniversary package on 1,450 Tri Glide Ultra Classics that get upgraded with a Smart Security System.

For those who thought Harley was going to take it easy in its anniversary year and not introduce too many changes, nothing is further from the truth. In fact, H-D is taking factory custom to the next level with its new Hard Candy Custom line. Harking back to the So Cal garage builders in the ’60s, Hard Candy Custom brings metalflake and chrome back into play. There’s 16 new “big flake” finishes available, three of which are even offered as a solid-color option on the 2013 Seventy-Two, Forty-Eight, Street Bob, Blackline, and Softail Deluxe. The whole concept of the 1960s California custom is being brought into play as metalflake springer seats, single-sided swingarm bags, and sissybars are all available straight from the factory.

The other big news coming out of the Motor Company is the restyled Dyna Street Bob. Harley’s budget Big Twin received updates for 2013 that make it a bargain. This urban muscle cruiser comes stock with the 96″ Twin Cam that puts out 94 ft-lbs. of torque through its six-speed Cruise Drive transmission. The 2013 edition Street Bob is even more blacked-out than its predecessors thanks to new black triple trees, battery box cover, fork lowers, and wrinkle-black cast dash console with ignition switch. The center taillight and license bracket get removed in favor of stop/turn/taillights found on other bobber-style models as well as a side-mount license bracket. A cool, round air cleaner cover now graces the right side of the engine instead of the football cover found on most Big Twins. Also, H-D got rid of the built-in risers on the upper tree in favor of rubber-isolated risers that make the installation of different bar and riser combinations possible. Also new for the Street Bob is the addition of H-D1 Factory Customization that gives prospective owners more than 2,000 setup combinations straight from the assembly line. Choose from a different handlebar, paint job, foot location, and — ready for it —an upgraded 103″ Twin Cam engine! Before I give too much away about all the updates for the 2013 Street Bob, check out Editor Chris’ review on page 54 to get all the down and dirty details on this bad-boy brawler.

How can anyone talk about the 2013, 110th Anniversary, lineup without mentioning that huge party that takes place every five years in Milwaukee? This year, in a bid to showcase the Motor Company’s globalization efforts, parties will be held in dozens of cities around the globe, the biggest being Milwaukee and Rome. Rumor has it that even the Pope is getting in on the action! Keep an eye on American Iron Magazine for monthly reviews of as many 2013 models as we can fit in, and, of course, 110th anniversary celebration coverage. AIM

NEW BIKE SPECS By Tyler Greenblatt

Story as printer in American Iron Magazine.

2012 H-D FLD Dyna Switchback Motorcycle Review

Harley-Davidson is casting a wider net for younger customers. And its latest lure is the FLD Dyna Switchback, which amounts to the lightest and least expensive bagger in the lineup. For under $16,000, a customer can ride out on a touring bike that weighs less than 700 pounds and boasts a user-friendly seat height of 26.1″. Clearly, the folks in Milwaukee have aimed this bike at new, and perhaps less experienced, riders.

But don’t be fooled by first impressions. The FLD Dyna Switchback is a bona fide bagger, a motorcycle that will hammer out the miles during a cross-country ride, yet as the name suggests, it can readily switch to around-town mode. You essentially get two models in one, thus the name Switchback. Best of all, you can make the switch in less than a minute if you’re deft with your hands; the lockable saddlebags and Lexan-base windscreen utilize Harley’s patented detachable mounting system so each component pops off and on in seconds. About the toughest part of the conversion is finding a secure place in the garage to store the bags and windscreen so that they won’t get scratched or dinged.

I had the opportunity to put about 1,300 miles on the Switchback, riding our Ember Red Sunglo test bike (also available in Vivid Black or Brilliant Silver Pearl) from Park City, Utah, to Sturgis, South Dakota. You can read in our sister publication, Motorcycle Bagger, about how the bike performed during a tour, but for now, my biggest observation is this: the more I rode the Switchback, the more I appreciated what it has to offer. By the end of the week I found myself defending the bike’s honor — this is not a baby bagger. This is a real motorcycle, folks, one that even a seasoned rider like myself, who has nearly 50 years riding experience, can enjoy.

But for the doubting Thomas who contends that this Dyna-based bagger really isn’t a bagger, let’s draw up a few historical facts that will help position the Switchback as a real motorcycle, not just a beginner’s bagger. Among the styling features that Harley-Davidson pointed out during its presentation are its chromed tube shock absorbers that purposely resemble those on early Duo-Glides, considered the world’s premier touring model in its time. The first Duo-Glide was offered in 1958, so let’s use that as a benchmark.

The Duo-Glide checks in with a 60″ wheelbase and weighs 648 pounds. The Switchback’s specs are 62.8″ and 696 respectively — both more than the manly Duo-Glide’s figures. Top speed for the 1958 model is 100 mph; I cruised across Wyoming’s wide open stretches at 90 mph aboard the FLD, and its big 103″ engine could have easily sustained 100 mph had I made the request. We won’t even get into the vibration factor; those 74″ Pans are notorious earth shakers. I can go on, but you get the point. The Dyna Switchback is bigger, and offers more and better performance than an early Duo-Glide in practically every way.

Despite my spirited riding habits, our Switchback averages 43.8 mpg, nearly 2 mpg above what Harley-Davidson advertises!

So let’s cut to the chase to discuss the Switchback’s most alluring feature, the detachable bags and windscreen. The windscreen uses the familiar detachable mounting system, and the bags have three proprietary rubber-grommet mounting points to isolate the bags from vibration. A quick twist of a knob inside each saddlebag releases its latching mechanisms. Slide the bags rearward for removal and you’re good to go. The grommets on the lower fender mount popped out on our test bike’s right saddlebag, so be vigilant here.

Visually, the saddlebags resemble those on the larger FL models, but in truth they have about 75 percent of the storage capacity. Like the familiar FL bags, the FLD’s bags have top-loading lids that lock using the bike’s ignition barrel key. The lids use a different latching mechanism than the standard FL bags, too. To close you swing the lid in, down, and then back toward you before securing the latch. They’re watertight and hold a surprising amount of gear. The saddlebags also necessitated the 2-into-1 exhaust system. Stacked or staggered pipes would have interfered with the saddlebag placement. It’ll be interesting to see what the aftermarket delivers as replacement pipes.

In terms of rider comfort, the Switchback has full-length floorboards for your feet, what Harley-Davidson describes as a mini-apehanger handlebar on pullback risers, and a two-up seat. In addition to the low seat height, the rider’s chair is contoured so that most vertically challenged riders can place both feet on the pavement at stops. I’m a shade taller than 5’8″, and I found the seat’s front taper to be excessive; a long stint on the interstate proved too uncomfortable because there wasn’t adequate thigh support for me.

But for back road riding, the Switchback’s saddle was fine, and I could move from side to side for weight transfer when cornering. Moreover, the FLD’s suspension proved to be compliant, with damping rates in the cartridge fork and nitrogen-charged shock absorbers matched closely with their corresponding spring rates. The rear springs have five preload adjustment points, too. I set my bike’s preload on number three and with a full load (including a strap-on trunk that I placed on an optional quick-detach sissybar/luggage rack); the Switchback felt surefooted and steady through the turns. You’ll probably want to dial back the spring preload a notch when riding without a load.

The Switchback has the same 29 degrees of steering rake found on most other Dynas, but additional trail was factored in to improve straight-line stability. Even so, the bike is easy to maneuver in tight places and at low speeds. Moreover, steer-in for turns is precise and predictable, and the net result is a bagger that’s easy to ride under practically every condition you’ll encounter, and there’s none of the headshake that’s common on Electra Glides.
Like all Dynas, the Switchback’s 103″ engine is rubber-mounted. Even so, I noticed vibration in the floorboards — more than I’ve experienced in a larger FL, but not enough to hinder the ride. There’s no heel/toe rocker shift lever, though. The Switchback has only a toe shifter, but the payoff is that you have more room to place your left foot on the board. The most comfortable foot placement for me was to wedge the sole of my boot just ahead of the ankle onto the rear of the board. This seemed to minimize the vibration factor to my feet.

Single front and rear disc brakes proved enough stopping power, but for riders looking for the safest stopping performance, Harley offers optional ABS as part of the Security Package Option bundle that includes a hands-free security key fob for the Switchback. Our bike was so equipped, as evidenced by the small black box beneath the battery box. Fortunately, I have never had occasion to use the ABS, but my experience in the past tells me that this option is worth the additional $1,195. No doubt the Switchback is going to be popular among new riders and women who want their own baggers. But in truth, the FLD is a model that is suited to a wide range of riders, from beginners to experienced saddle tramps. It’s a bagger whose time has long been overdue. AIM

NEW BIKE REVIEW By Dain Gingerelli

Story as published in the December 2012 issue of American Iron Magazine.

2011 Harley Davidson Blackline Softail FXS

NEW MODEL PREVIEW By Chris – Maida Harley-Davidson’s newest Dark Custom

The H-D crew was rocking it pretty hard at Don Hill’s, a major punk and alternative club in lower Manhattan last January! The event was the launch of its new Blackline Softail. Willie G and wife Nancy were on hand, as well as Karen Davidson who also launched a new line of H-D clothes to go with the new bike. Of course, a number of engineers and H-D media people were also present, all of whom were a pleasure to hang with. Whoever picked Don Hill’s for the launch really aced it! Right up there with the legendary CBGB, you just don’t walk into DH’s. The rope is up and you wait your turn, but that was not the case for those invited to this special unveiling. As you can see by the photos, we had a great time, and most of the H-D staff and a number of hot models were painted with the Blackline name. Nice work, H-D!

But enough of that; on to the bike! The Blackline Softail is “stripped to the legal limit,” as our H-D press kit states. The style of the Blackline is thanks to  Industrial Designer/Stylist II, Casey Ketterhagen at the Motor Company. According to Casey, he first built the concept bike shown below with no regard for DOT regs. He was then told to move as much of that look as possible over to a modern Softail chassis while staying inside DOT requirements. Casey worked with Softail Platform Staff Engineer Korry Vorndram to build a stock H-D that is barely legal.

Besides DOT constraints, the amount of cash allotted to the build was also a limiting factor.  For example, if you can use an oil tank that’s already been certified, you have more money to come up with a totally new handlebar setup. And that’s exactly what Casey did on the Blackline, as you can see on the accompanying rendering. The gas tank trim is another totally new part, as is the headlight and speedometer. Though H-D lists 104 parts as new on the Blackline, many are stock components with a new finish, but that’s not a slight of hand by H-D. If it has a new part number, it has to be listed as a separate (new) part.

Since you can get the full specification sheet online, we’re not going to reprint it here. However, I do want to mention one spec that’s close to my heart: the Blackline boasts the lowest seat height in the H-D lineup for 2011. Being 5’4″, that means a lot to me! AIM

Story as it appeared in the May 2011 issue of American Iron Magazine.

2011 Harley-Davidson Dyna Fat Bob

NEW BIKE TEST By Joe Knezevic – My favorite bike from Milwaukee
Let’s say hypothetically you were fortunate enough to have a suitor who offered to buy you a brand-new Harley-Davidson and all you had to do was pay to register and insure the bike. Do you know what bike you would choose? If I were given that offer, without a doubt I would choose a Dyna Fat Bob. Sure, I might go with the 2010 CVO version, but I would be just as grateful for a stocker like the 2011 Sedona Orange model seen here.

From the moment I first met Fat Bob, I felt like we had a bond. After my initial ride at the 2008 model launch where the bike was introduced, I knew I was going to really like the bike. So much so that it didn’t even bother me when I heard fellow journalists say “Look at Fat Joe on a Fat Bob.” In actuality, I thought that comment had a nice ring to it; it made me feel like Bob and I were best friends who just happened to be fat, and everyone else was just jealous at how well we complemented each other.

When I take a step back and look at the Fat Bob there are so many things that this bike does for me, I’m not surprised at how quickly it has squeezed to the top of my list of favorite Harleys. First and foremost, the rubber-mounted TC 96 engine and six-speed CruiseDrive transmission has a black powdercoated finish and features polished covers which, in my opinion, is the best look for a Twin Cam powertrain. From there, I’m drawn to the 49mm wide front end that is topped with drag handlebars and twin chrome headlamps. It’s also hard to miss that the bike is grounded by fat 16″ wheels (a 130 up front and a 180 out back). Add to that the aggressive tread pattern on the tires, and this bike has a nice, mean stance. Next, I appreciate how the classic 5-gallon Fat Bob fuel tank and Bobtail rear fender work so well together. On top of all that, the Fat Bob comes with forward-mounted foot controls, making it comfortable for a fat guy like me. I guess overall this bike just looks like it is made in the US and obviously made to be ridden.

This model is meant to be lots of things for the Motor Company, and I think it has succeeded. As I said in my first review of this model back in April 2008, to me, the Fat Bob is a throwback to all those FLHs that people bobbed back in the day. Even though it’s a modern bike, I believe it fits nicely into the Harley family tree from a historical sense. It may not be the smoothest riding Harley or have the quickest handling, but it does the job well enough for me especially since it has a starting price of $14,999.

In case you haven’t already figured it out, I like the Dyna Fat Bob, and I think it likes me. Whether it’s from a styling, comfort, or performance point of view, this bike delivers what I want in a cruiser. Sure, it’s not the most comfortable ride, but that’s what touring bikes are for. The handling is a bit slow thanks to the fat front and rear tires, but it’s not supposed to be a sportbike.

Heck, no bike is perfect, but this one does enough things well that it might be perfect for me. As always, there are some simple upgrades I would do right off the bat if I owned one. Those changes include making the bike more conducive for taking longer trips by upgrading the seat and adding some simple carrying capacity. And while I was at it, a new air cleaner and pipes to let the 96″ breathe better couldn’t hurt. Since this bike is owned by Harley corporate, I’ll see if H-D will let me make those changes to our test ride. If so, I’ll be sure to run those install stories in future issues of American Iron Magazine.

So next time you see a long-haired, fat, verbose guy riding a Fat Bob, be sure to stop him and say hello. If it’s me, I’d love to hear what you think of this bike and how I look on it. More importantly, you’d better have an answer for me when I ask you which Harley you would pick if someone offered to buy you one. You already know my choice. AIM

Story as it appeared in the May 2011 issue of American Iron Magazine.

Brass Balls Bobber Custom V-Twin Motorcycle

Brass Balls Bobber Motorcycle Model

As promised, here’s the bike I test rode during last year’s Sturgis rally and what a sweet little bobber it is. As for Dar, the owner of Brass Balls Bobbers, I think he’s nuts. Seriously, how he can sell this bike for only $16,995 and still make a profit is beyond me. But then, that’s not my, or your, problem, so on with the review!

Let’s start with my favorite part of a bike, the powertrain. My test machine is powered by a cast stone-stock Harley-Davidson 80″ Evo mill, which puts out a good level of power for this light bike. The 1S is equipped with an S&S Super E carb and air cleaner. The 80-incher started easily every time and ran like you would expect a Motor Company-built Evo to run: without a glitch. The exhaust is handled by a D&D Performance 2-into-1 header system that has a great sound, not too loud and not too quiet. The transmission is a five-speed BAKER that shifts just as you would expect it to: super smooth with no problem finding neutral. Next up is the 3″-wide Tauer Machine belt primary system and clutch setup. Everything was good to go here, too. The clutch released as it should, never slipped, and was easy to actuate. After all, there’s no need for a stiff spring with an 80″ mill. A standard 530 chain connects tranny to rear wheel and results in a final gear ratio that’s a perfect fit for this bike. The 1S cruises nicely on the highway in fifth. Though there’s no tach, I guess the motor was spinning at about 3500-3700 rpm at 85 mph when the engine got buzzy, which is normal for a solid-mount V-twin.

As for the chassis, this bike is light, and easy to handle and maneuver. That’s due to its low weight and the frame geometry being nuts on (36 degrees of rake with no stretch). The DNA 2″-under springer front end felt just right at all speeds, and the bike was a pleasure at slow speeds. The suspension works well with no wobble in the twisties, at least at the speeds I could hit in the Black Hills during Sturgis. Out on the open highway the bike handled just fine. The seat is a little bouncy, but that’s normal with a sprung seat. Everything electrical worked well, all switches were easy to hit, and lighting gave good coverage at night. As for the components, the hand and forward controls are from Excel while the 21″ front and 16″ rear 40-spoke wheels are from DNA and are wrapped with Metzeler tires.

In the easy-to-maintain department, there’s no paint on this bike. Anything that has a color, as in flat black, is powdercoated. Coupled with its Spartan design, this is one low-dollar, rough-and-tumble machine. Just ride the snot out of it, blast it with a hose, fill the gas tank, and have at it again.

AIM's Chris Maida Riding The Bobber

Ready for the glitches? Only thing that loosened up after over 400 miles was a lower rear fender strut bolt. That’s pretty good, since I ran the bike hard and so did another magazine before I got it. In fact, the bike was so dirty Dar had to delay giving it to me for a day just to get it cleaned up for the photo shoot. The other minor glitch was that the analog speedo read 5 mph high at true 40 and about 10 high at 80 mph.

The only real problem was with the brakes. Both the front and rear brake pad material was not matched to the rotors. The Wilwood Performance four-piston calipers worked fine mechanically, but the pads did not have enough bite into the rotors to be as effective as four-piston calipers should be. I had to grab a big handful of brake lever or stomp on the pedal to slow down. Dar has changed the pad material, so the brakes are now up to snuff.
So what’s the bottom line? I’m impressed with the 1S. It’s a good-looking machine that got lots of compliments and rightly

so. The Model 1S is a well-designed, bare-bones bike that’s easy to maintain and
definitely a bargain at this price.
Did I mention that Dar is nuts? AIM

— Chris Maida, editor of American Iron Magazine, the world’s best selling Harley magazine.

Riding Impressions
I’m glad this motorcycle is considered a barhopper because there’s no way I could spend a long time in its saddle. The riding position was uncomfortable for my taste. It puts way too much pressure on my wrists; I’d need at least a 1″ higher riser on those handlebars so I don’t feel like I’m falling into the tank. Funky ergonomics aside, the motorcycle rides solidly and feels well built, not a hodgepodge of parts thrown together. There’s an art to taking all the different components and bolting, welding, and fastening them together to make a motorcycle feel like it’s one solid machine. If you’re into getting looks, and don’t need this bike to ride to Sturgis or Daytona, this showstopper may be for you.

— Genevieve Schmitt

Darwin Motorcycles
401 South Blackwelder Ave., Dept. AIM
Oklahoma City, OK 73108