It’s been a long winter. No really. Lots of people say that, but, more snowstorms have battered Colorado and have left an inch of snow on the ground, in the Denver Metro area, continuously, for the longest amount of time since, like, 1908. Believe me, for anybody who likes motorcycles, more specifically, the act of riding their motorcycle, these past few months has made for the worst riding winter that anybody, in these here parts, can remember.
For anybody outside the front range area of Colorado, the words “riding” and “winter” are almost never used in that order. Southern States are excluded of course, because their problems are exactly the opposite. Riding in the heat of summer gets to be brutal in some states like Texas or Nevada.
Where I’m from, in Upstate New York, its starts to snow right around the first couple of weeks of October and then if your lucky, a nice day in April or May, if its not raining, you can get a couple of miles under your belt. Of course, that’s after replacing your battery and the draining the sludgy mix of oil and water, from condensation, out of your bike. Seven plus months of it sitting in your garage will make you acutely aware of all the problems associated with letting your ride sit, with no precautionary maintenance, waiting for that one day in May where you might get to ride.
No, in the almost ten years that I have lived in the great state of Colorado, there have been at least 3-4 days of acceptable riding weather in every winter month. The definition of acceptable varies from one to the next, but without question, from the last week and a half of December to the middle of February, there wasn’t anybody, but people on snowmobiles, on the streets.
I haven’t ridden in awhile, and that has made me bitter. In turn, I haven’t written an article in Quick Throttle in awhile, and while I could have made up some test rides, like I did awhile back, in this very magazine, concerning the Dodge Tomahawk, I instead chose to keep it real, and wait for the aforementioned crap-ass weather to break.
Deep breath. Count to ten. Sweet. Thanks for reading my vent. Back to business.
I was assigned to head down to Colorado’s only Big Bear Choppers Dealer, Colorado Custom Motorcycles, in Longmont, CO, and try out their newest sensation, the Sled ProStreet. While I’m in the business, I hadn’t heard about this bike as of yet. I kind of blur out the mention of high dollar custom choppers and sort of write them off as one more of the same kind of high dollar custom chopper. But as a test rider for a magazine, I have to be objective.
I received my assignment and called up the proprietor of CCM, (Colorado Custom Motorcycles) a guy named Tracy Lockhart. So, I told him of my assignment and he would have been happy to oblige, with the exception of the fact that he didn’t have one in stock. He has sold three in the past couple of weeks and fields 6-10 calls regarding them a week. (I would normally regard this as a brag, but he received a call on one while I was in the shop. I used his phone and noticed that he had 33 missed calls…that day.) Now, his business isn’t all Big Bear Chopper related. He is also Colorado’s exclusive dealer for Swift Motorcycles, Sully’s Custom Bobbers and Choppers, and Proper Choppers. We actually profiled Tracy and his shop in our October ’06 issue. (Check out the back issue story on that.)
So with no primary objective to ride, the “replacement ride” was also a Big Bear Chopper. This was as close to the original assignment as we could get. The Sled ProStreet was a similar model to the Sled Chopper, with which I found myself aboard for about forty miles. The difference being the rake and stretch of this bike is more extreme than the low-slung nature of the ProStreet version. .
The Sled Chopper has striking good looks and the most striking would have to be the gas tank. This bike is nine and a half feet long and the gas tank is molded to cover the sloping backbone of the bike that flows into the seat, which is an unbelievable 19 inches from the ground. With a rake of 40 degrees and six inches of stretch in the fork tubes, this bike looks intimidating to ride. I was thinking to myself that this will be another counter steering testimonial. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t bad at all.
The paint on this one was a dazzling basic black, covered with stylized silver metal flake flames and finished with a fire engine red pinstripe. The frame was a soft tail style and sat on a set of 10 spoke Performance Machine Hooligan rims. The swing arm is a patented design by the manufacturer that has become one of BBC’s trademarks called only, “Venom”. It was swing armed to house a 300mm Venom tire and covered by a sculpted to a point, massive rear fender. The 21 inch front tire was also covered in a similarly shaped fender. Initially, as I was waiting for Tracy to fill it with gas and attach a Demo plate, the thought occurred to me that I wasn’t going to enjoy the ride as much as I thought I might. So, in a shameless attempt to sway my opinion of this bike to that of favorable, he provided me with a free BBC black t-shirt. In my size even.
Normally, over nine feet of bike is usually more eye-candy than ride oriented. I mean, in all probability, because of the perceived difficulty of riding such a machine, this bike would be trailered from rally to rally and sold to the next guy in a couple of years with under a thousand miles on it. I was determined to give it a good wrangling and see for myself, it might be the only action this bike would ever see….let’s hope not.
When I first sat on the bike the weight of over 600lbs didn’t feel bad at all. The unusually low center of gravity made the bike feel over a hundred pounds lighter than it actually was. This bike was also a right side, chain drive, so it didn’t need an offset primary to accommodate the massive rear end. The Sled style bars, also made by BBC, stretched back and met my hands with the feel of a set of drag bars on a regularly adorned, non superstretched model. I have a 34’ inseam and the BBC fabricated, flame sculpted, forward controls were a little more forwardly placed than I might have liked, but combined with the handlebars and seat height, made for a very comfortable, relaxed riding position.
I turned the key on the left side of the motor, pushed the starter button on the right handlebar, and fired the beast up. The motor was a carbed, S&S Proprietary 100 Smooth, low vibration, show-polished engine mated with a Baker six-speed tranny. The catalogue claimed that this set up would deliver 112 foot pounds of torque. We’ll see.
I was expecting to hear the windows on the front of the CCM building rattle and break, but in a day full of surprises, the exhaust was a 2-into-1 Supertrapp styled disc end cap style of pipe. It made some deep throated noise, but was not at all obnoxious. I waved good bye and wound my way out of the parking lot, down a frontage road and onto the highway.
The day was perfect. It was sunny and about sixty degrees. Dry roads and nothing else to do that day. I ripped down I-25 south at around 80mph, and in a straight line the bike handled very smooth and tracked accordingly.
The overall steering position was a little squirrelly at the top end. I shifted into 6th gear and felt the wobble subside a little but still felt its presence. I pulled off the highway and pulled into a local H-D dealership and waited for the expected drawing of a crowd. I popped in and made my own pit stop and came back out to the crowd I had foretold of. Many oohs and aahs and questions as to the bikes origins. This bike definitely turns heads.
I was only halfway through my planned ride, so I ended the jawing, hopped back onto the bike and blasted back North, towards the starting point. I know I mentioned it before, but the riding position of this bike was very comfortable. All the controls on the bike were in familiar positions, same as on my H-D Softail. The digital speedo sits right in your line of sight and worked great. A small complaint is that I couldn’t figure out how to keep the odometer on all the time. There’s a small sensor in the middle of the gauge’s face that when pushed, scrolls the mileage across the little screen for about a second. That could be user error, I probably could have asked. I took some back roads through Longmont to see if I could tax the steering. This bike is certainly no canyon carver but handles like a bike with a much smaller turn radius and the counter steering, while necessary, isn’t as severe as I first thought. I arrived about 50 minutes later than when I left and was raring to try out something else.
I burst into the shop and happily gave my accounts to Terry and he sat back in his chair, smiling and listening to my praises like he’s heard them so many times before.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve at least heard of BBC. Started a decade ago, Kevin and Mona Alsop built their business in the mountains of Southern California into a worldwide network of Industry leading American fabricated and custom built choppers. You can walk into any authorized dealer, in the state of Colorado that would be Tracy Lockhart’s Colorado Custom Motorcycles, and order up an already built bike or start from a frame and personalize a kit for your own build with all parts ready to go from Big Bear. For more on the history and selection of these fine motorcycles, check out www.bigbearchoppers.com.
As for the test ride, I can say that the BBC Sled Chopper was a kick in the ass to ride. It looks silly good, handles above and beyond expectations, and pulls like motherf@*ka. Of course, that’s just my opinion. The bike as pictured and ridden retails at Colorado Custom Motorcycles for just over $31,000.00. That’s a lot of coin for a bike, is what I’m sure you are thinking, but damn if it ain’t a bike you won’t absolutely love to look at and ultimately, ride the hell out of. If you want this bike in particular, as of press time it was still available.
Tracy said he’d give me a call when the next Sled ProStreet comes in that wasn’t pre-sold, so I can’t slide my carcass on it and rip up Northern Colorado with it. If it handles and looks as cool as the Chopper version, I don’t expect I’ll get that call anytime soon.
If you are in need of a bike like this or any other of bikes in Big Bear Choppers lineup, or any of the other bikes sold at Tracy Lockhart’s Colorado Custom Motorcycle Shop, check out his website, www.colocustomcycles.com or give him a call, toll free 888 522-0882 or locally 970 535-4647.
Duane Duncan is a salesman at Sun Harley-Davidson/Buell in Thornton, CO. If there is a bike you are looking to see him test ride or if you are looking for anything new or used in Harley-Davidsons or Buells, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303 301-2356.