ROAD TEST: Unleashing the Pitbull

By CD

OK, I promise that’s the last cheesy canine reference I’ll make. Well I’ll try at least. You see I’m pretty darn happy with my 2005 Big Dog Chopper, and throwing a leg over that one and firing it up, still makes me wanna growl a little, or make guttural, primal Tim-the-Tool Man sounds when running it through the gears. I’ve ridden lots of bikes, most of them Harleys, and I swear there’s just something so cool about a chopper. I’ll take a Road King or Street Glide for 300 miles plus, but for having fun the minute you hop on, my chopper can’t be beat.

Well this new Dog isn’t a chopper, but it’s born of the same pedigree (ooops, knew I couldn’t make it, sorry). The Big Dog Pitbull has the same killer S&S 117 inch engine, with just gobs of torque, mated to a smooth Baker 6-speed tranny. Add to that the BDM right-side drive and you have a balanced yet purely powerful package. The Pitbull is completely redesigned for 2008, and while it’s clearly “retro” I won’t bore you with analogies to board-track racers or any old-time spring seated classics. The styling absolutely works, it looks good from all angles, and sure turns heads, even from those old-school types who bike builders are always trying to please. And unlike those “bobbers” that look good but don’t sell OR ride, this one does both.

One of the first things you notice about this bike of course, is the spring seat. You then discover, after the first big pothole, that it’s a rigid mount. Now I do keep my chiropractor in the dark about the things I do to my spine, but after this trip he knew right away I’d seen some action. Yes, it’s true the shocks on the seat are adjustable, but I couldn’t see how to do so. When you buy this bike (and trust me, many of you will) they’ll deliver it to you and show you all the bells and whistles. I got no such primer. I just hopped on a bike I thought I knew well enough, and rode. Well after about 300 miles running around AZ Bike Week, I must say that for me, the seat didn’t absorb as much as my lower back did. But again, I now know it’s adjustable and I’d make that my first order of business next time.

As an aside, can I just ask, what IS the purpose anymore of a rigid mount? I mean I sat higher on this than on my chopper (which is a softail), and the low-slung look you used to get from a typical rigid is sort of canceled out by the spring seat. So what’s the point? To call it a rigid or to adhere to some tradition? Hey I won’t judge, I just don’t get it. As for this bike though, again it works. It looks phenomenal and combines some unique styling elements into a cohesive yet radical form.

One of the best changes they made to the new Pitbull is having scaled back to a more curve-friendly 280 rear tire. A 300 rear is still manageable, but you give up a lot in intuitive handling. I’m used to a 250, where I can hang with almost any bike, but the 280 was still adequate on the turns, and perfect for the straight-aways. You always feel planted to the road, you never feel any odd lateral shifting across freeway rain-grooving (take that Mr. Bagger) and it goes where you tell it. That said, you do have to TELL it. I got lazy a few times on left hand turns and drifted across an extra lane, so you want to lean a bit more on this set up. But for me, the fact that you have to DO more as the rider makes this kind of ride more exhilarating than the average cruiser. When bike and rider are thus engaged, the whole experience is more fulfilling.

Now I mentioned baggers a minute ago, and I do love them. Especially when riding a bike like this – Ineed a bagger riding shotgun to put my stuff in! I can’t imagine putting bags on this, but it CAN be set up to carry a sissybar and thus a t-bag. All you need do is swap out the struts and you’ve got a convertible.

The brakes front and rear are 4-piston PM’s, and they more than do the job. Riding in everything from organized rides at AZ Bike Week, to stop-and-go traffic, I did have to hit them hard on more than one occasion. No worries though, both worked as they should.

The forward controls are absolute perfection, at least for me and my standard-issue H-D boots. Unlike on my aforementioned Chopper, I did not have to continually shift my foot position for braking or shifting. I might have to slap a pair of these babies on. The clutch by the way has also been improved, to greatly reduce the pull needed to engage it. You’ll appreciate this for the next parade (or rush hour traffic) you’re in. I could go on, but let me wrap this up with one more comment – thank you Big Dog for still using carburetors! Yes I know all the arguments for fuel-injection, but I guess I’m still one of those pain-in-the-ass old school types, and I like the carb, especially for this kind of ride.

This bike gets my “Bitchin’ Ride!” stamp of approval. I also want to thank Big Dog Motorcycles and Hacienda Customs for lending me the bike for AZ Bike Week. I had a ball, rode the heck out of it, and didn’t put a scratch on her! If you want to learn more about this and the rest of the strong line-up at Big Dog, go to www.bigdogmotorcycles.com or stop by Hacienda Customs in Scottsdale, Arizona Victory in Tucson or Phoenix, and California Boss Hoss in Harbor City, CA.

Factory Warranty………………………………………… 2 Years
Dry Weight – Front………………………………………. 294 lbs
Dry Weight – Rear……………………………………….. 384 lbs
Dry Weight – Total……………………………………….. 678 lbs
Fuel – Total………………………………………………… 4.6 Gal
Frame Specs………………………………………………. 6″ OS BB, 1″ OS DT
Frame Rake………………………………………………… 33 Degrees
Tree Rake…………………………………………………… 0 Degrees
Trail………………………………………………………….. 4.5″
Front Suspension……………………………………….. 41mm Telescopic
Seat Height………………………………………………… 25.5″
Spring Seat Ground Clearance………………………. 4.75″
Wheel Base………………………………………………… 73″
Total Length……………………………………………….. 102″
Front Brake………………………………………………… PM 4-Piston Diff Bore
Rear Brake…………………………………………………. PM 4-Piston
Front Tire…………………………………………………… 130/60R23 65V
Rear Tire……………………………………………………. 280/40R20 89V
Front Wheel……………………………………………….. Billet 23 x 3.75
Rear Wheel………………………………………………… Billet 20 x 10.50
Engine………………………………………………………. OHV 45 degree V-Twin
Displacement……………………………………………… 117 c.i. (1916cc)
Bore x Stroke……………………………………………….4 1/8″ x 4 3/8″
Compression Ratio……………………………………… 9.6:1
Fuel System……………………………………………….. Carbureted
Transmission………………………………………………. 6-Speed
Primary Drive……………………………………………… Chain/Balance Drive
Final Drive…………………………………………………. 1-1/8″ Belt
Ignition……………………………………………………… Electronic Single Fire

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About Chris Dalgaard