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2009 Big Dog Motorcycles First Ride

Thursday, November 27, 2008
Big Dog Lead Graphic
Big Dog Motorcycles celebrates 15 years in the biz by producing its 25,000th motorcycle and by releasing its largest lineup to date, including the X-Wedge-powered 2009 Wolf.
Pressing my face against the giant glass windows of Big Dog Motorcycles new Orange County store, I felt like Charlie waiting to get into the Chocolate Factory. Within sight but just out of reach sat Big Dog’s 2009 lineup, a cavalcade of chrome and custom paint on stretched-out frames with a monster V-Twin in the middle. I admire the symmetry of super-long forks and tall chrome wheels all slanted in the same direction with bated breath. Big Dog has six new models on hand for a quick ride around OC and I’ve got my eye on a stunning nine-and-a-half-foot long 2009 Wolf and am eager to ride my first motorcycle equipped with the X-Wedge engine.

It’s a big year for the factory-custom manufacturer out of Wichita. Big Dog is celebrating its 15-year anniversary and just produced its 25,000th motorcycle, a patriotic-themed
Big Dog s Orange County store is the only factory-owned dealership outside of the one located at their HQ in Wichita  Kansas.
2009 Wolf hand-painted with plenty of red, white and blue stars and stripes. The company-owned Orange County store seeks to give Big Dog an increased presence in one of the largest potential markets for high style bikes, Southern California. Big Dog plans to increase its international presence too, with the launch of eight stores in Canada soon.

But how do you maintain your claim as “The World’s Largest Manufacturer of Custom Bikes” with competitors doing their damnedest to wrestle away that title? Releasing its largest lineup to date, seven models in all, three of them being all-new is a good start. Dropping prices on its gateway motorcycle and utilizing the newest technology available in the form of the EPA-friendly X-Wedge engine are sound business decisions as well. Using current trends in the industry, consumer feedback, and dealers’ input to steer the direction of your company are also keys to continued success.

During Marketing Director Paul Hansen’s intro to the 2009 lineup, I learn the Wolf is the second generation of the thinking process that brought us the 2008 Pitbull, which bodes well for the Wolf since the Pitbull was voted 2008 V-Twin Bike of the Year by Easyriders’ parent company, Paisano Publications. The immediate similarities are in the lines of the tank design and in the flow of the bikes. But where the sweep of the Pitbull is broken by its dual-spring seat, the Wolf keeps going as the 4.5-gallon tank, seat pan and steel rear fender run together seamlessly the length of the bike. And with a stance that’s 9.5-ft long, your lines had better be sharp and refined.

The front wheel on the Wolf is a whopping 23-inches tall.
The front wheel on the Wolf is about as big as they come at 23-inches tall.
The Wolf attains its enviable attributes by virtue of a seven-inch stretch to the backbone, a backbone that’s claimed to be so over-built, so heavy duty that there’s no torsional twisting. The front end has a three-inch stretch on the fork, which is exaggerated by the motorcycle’s 45-degree rake - a combination of 40-degrees in the frame rake plus five-degrees in the triple trees. The seat sits almost even with the gargantuan 23-inch front wheel. I sit low and upright on the motorcycle, making it a straight reach to the 1.25-inch rubber-mounted pull-back handlebars.

Tall tires front and back make sure that the bike is proportional. The front wheel is about as big as you can get and still be functional. The rear is no slouch itself at 20-inches tall, and the 220mm width is enough to provide
Prowling the streets of Orange County on an apex predator  the 2009 Big Dog Wolf.
Long and low with killer paint, tons of chrome, a monster V-Twin and better-than-expected handling - yes, indeed, the 2009 Wolf is one formidable pro-streeter.
the custom look that buyers require without totally sacrificing handling. The machined aluminum wheels give it a true custom look. They look so good that Big Dog went to the trouble of placing the rear brake caliper and rotor behind the drive to provide an uncluttered view of the chrome design. A single left-side disc on the front puts the lead wheel prominently on display as well.

And sitting in the middle of the 83.5-inch wheelbase is the heart of the 2009 Wolf, S&S Cycle’s 121 cubic-inch X-Wedge engine. What’s the big deal about the X-Wedge, you say? The air-cooled, pushrod V-Twin is the first 49-state certified lump that meets the 2010 US Environmental Protection Agency’s Tier II standards. According to S&S, the belt-driven, three-cam design has its valve train geometry aligned for maximum efficiency and minimal
The 121 cubic-inch X-Wedge is a tri-cam  square-bored V-Twin that provides 1976cc of power.
The 121 cubic-inch X-Wedge is a tri-cam, square-bored V-Twin that provides a heart-pounding 1976cc of power.
noise. This adds up to a claimed 21% reduction in vibrations, 22% more fin area, and a 30% reduction in parts. The ’09 Wolf also has a new primary compensator sprocket to provide a smoother, quieter ride as more throttle is given.

But you want to know the best part? The X-Wedge puts almost 2000cc of power in your right hand. Twist the throttle with authority on this baby and you’d better be holding on. Big Dog claims the big pro-streeter will hit 60 mph in less than four seconds, and I believe them. You’ll find most of the torque early, between 2000-3000rpm. Throttle response isn’t instantaneous, but fuel delivery to the 4.25-inch cylinders is even as the closed-loop EFI constantly checks air temp, engine temp and speed, throttle position and exhaust oxygen levels. It makes power similar to the 117 cubic-inch S&S mill we dynoed in our review of the 2008 Pitbull, where max torque came on around 3300rpm.

On the freeway I cruise along with the engine rumbling efficiently at 2650rpm in sixth gear. The combination of under-molded rubber grips and footpegs, rubber-mounted handlebars and the efficiency of the engine itself temper down vibrations and keeps heat coming off the air-cooled engine tolerable, but the air-filter cover toasted the inside of my right thigh pretty good while sitting in stop-and-go traffic.

Climbing on one of the longest motorcycles I’ve ever ridden, I anticipated executing a turn would be a chore. With 45-
Big Dog s Sheldon Coleman provided a little insight on BDM s future while we lunched at Cook s Corner.
Big Dog's Sheldon Coleman provided a little insight on BDM's future while we lunched at Cook's Corner.
degrees of rake, a wheelbase almost seven-feet long, and tires that damn near come up to my waist, wouldn’t you? But that’s where the Wolf surprised me. The bike is much more manageable than anticipated. When Big Dog designed a new swingarm for the 2009 Wolf, it aimed to provide a smoother, more comfortable ride, and after my time in the saddle I have to commend them on the job they’ve done. Of course, having full suspension helps as well. The rear shocks are tucked neatly out of sight and are adjustable, which will come in handy because even though there’s no pillion, detachable saddlebags for the Wolf is an option that will be available come spring. Big Dog’s decision to run only a 220mm rear also contributes to its rider-friendliness.

Jumping onto Highway 405 and running through the gears of the Baker 6-speed transmission, shifting feels a little dry and the gears have that new-tranny notchiness. It also resists going into Neutral easily, despite BDM’s Neutral Detent System that’s supposed to simplify the process. When traffic clogs up ahead and it’s time to get on the brakes hard, stopping action relies heavily on the 4-piston Performance Machine calipers on the rear’s racing-style floating rotor as the larger disc on the front is a little soft for a bike that boasts a 770-lb dry weight.

While Big Dog has amended its 2009 marketing strategies to appeal to a larger consumer base by offering its most affordable motorcycle yet, the Wolf’s $35,900 MRSP means it is still tailored toward the high-end rider. Amongst the movie stars and moguls of California’s Orange County, it fits right in. It is the type of motorcycle that will give you instant celebrity status.

The Coyote is the lightest  most agile of the 2009 Big Dog lineup.
The Coyote is the lightest, most agile of the 2009 Big Dog lineup and gets the most out of its 117 c.i. S&S engine.
After spending time behind the handlebars of the big, bad Wolf, I opt for the other end of the BDM spectrum next, the 2009 Coyote. The Coyote replaces last year’s Mutt, and Big Dog dealers were said to be very excited about the potential of the bike at the recent dealer meeting. With its $23,900 MSRP, it rings in a cool grand cheaper than last year. The fact that it isn’t as visually intimidating as the Wolf is another strong selling point.

The pro-street style Coyote shares many of the same traits as the Wolf, only in smaller portions. A torque-filled S&S 117 cubic-inch engine provides the punch to the 6-speed Baker tranny. The backbone sports a six-inch stretch while the 21-inch front tire sits at the end of 39-degrees of frame rake on a two-inch over -standard stretched fork. Both roll on hidden rear shocks, with the Coyote’s suspension receiving a few tweaks to soften it up. Crawling off the ultra-long Wolf, the 8.5-ft-long, 665-lb Coyote almost feels small.

“With the Coyote, we aimed to build a motorcycle that would appeal to a broader range of riders, namely through a more attractive price, but not compromise the design, style, and performance that has been expected from Big Dog Motorcycles for 15 years,” said Paul Hansen.

The Coyote, like the Wolf, is long, low and classy. Killer paint decorates the gas tank, fenders, and oil cover. You can easily catch your reflection in the copious amounts of chrome, and the big S&S not only provides plenty of punch but looks sharp with its diamond-cut heads. The Coyote gets new 2-into-1 double barrel exhaust that run low down the right side. The black leather seat is also new and situates riders slightly more forward than the Wolf even though the reach to the bars and foot controls are about the same.

The Coyote boasts a six-inch shorter wheelbase, three-degree tighter rake, and a two-inch shorter front tire than the Wolf. Team that with a low center of gravity and you’ve got the best-handling Big Dog that I’ve ridden. And this despite the ’09 Coyote having a hefty 250mm rear tire. The motorcycle is well balanced, benefitting from its BDM balance drive technology that places the final drive on the right side of the bike. Being the lightest motorcycle amongst the 2009 Big Dogs, it also gets the most out of its 1917cc engine.

The 2009 Big Dog Bulldog is set to launch in December. It will be powered by a 117 c.i. S S engine  use gas shocks and run on a 250mm rear tire.
The 2009 Big Dog Bulldog is the company's first bagger. It will come with a fiberglass front fairing and windscreen to go along with its hard saddlebags.
The third new motorcycle in Big Dog’s 2009 contingency, the 2009 Bulldog Bagger, came about as a direct result of dealer and owner requests.

“Last year dealers told us that they wanted a bagger. They told us they wanted rubber mount, they told us what tire size, and they wanted it to be a full bagger,” Hansen said.

And as eager as our throttle-happy group of motojournalists were to christen the new motorcycle, Big Dog’s first factory bagger won’t be ready until late December. What we do know about it is that it will be powered by the 117 cubic-inch S&S mill with three rubber mounts. Suspension duties will be provided by gas shocks and an inverted fork. It appears to be outfitted with a single disc up front with 4-piston PM calipers to go along with a single disc out back. I’ll wager that the front tire is 21-inches tall, and I know the rear is 250mm wide. You can bet it will be in the nine-foot range with a low seat height of 25.25-inches. The touring package includes a front windscreen, a fiberglass front fairing and hard saddlebags. Both rider and passenger get floorboards, and Sirius satellite standard completes what we know about the $37,900 package.

The 2009 Mastiff and Pitbull fill in Big Dog’s ‘09 pro-street line. The Mastiff has the widest rear tire among the pro-street Dogs at 300mm wide. It continues to be a best-seller for the Kansas-based manufacturer, so BDM didn’t muck much with its styling. It does come with the choice of a Super G carb or EFI to deliver fuel to its 117 cubic-inch engine, and stickers for $27,900.

The Pitbull got totally revamped last year, and its boardtracker-inspired design won so many awards in 2008 that Big Dog kept the same styling cues for 2009. The Pitbull is easily identifiable by its sweeping, contoured one-piece fuel tank, its leather seat with dual Works Performance shocks, and its tall wheel combo. The small shocks underneath the seat are all the rear suspension you’re going to find on this otherwise rigid ride. The most noticeable difference between the ’08 and ’09 models is the price – the 2009 Pitbull rings in $600 cheaper than last year, with an MSRP of $26,900.

Also back for another run are Big Dog’s nine-foot-long choppers, the 2009 Ridgeback and K-9. Frame dimensions are the same for both – 1.5-inch tubing with an eight-inch stretch to the backbone, four-inches on the downtubes, and a 12-inch over-standard fork. The
Another great day of riding comes to an end.
Another great day of riding comes to an end. But there's always tomorrow!
Ridgeback boasts the bigger tire of the two at a whopping 330mm and is a rigid while the top-selling K-9 gets its own beefy 300mm backside but has the luxury of hidden shock suspension. The smoother-riding K-9 costs a little more with a MSRP of $28,900, while the classic-styled Ridgeback sells for $27,500.

Though the motorcycles share many common bonds, “Each bike has a purpose” according to Big Dog’s head honcho, Sheldon Coleman. Their main purpose at the moment will be to maintain the claimed 50-60% market share for factory-custom production bikes that Big Dog owns. Their secondary purpose will be to bring riders the exhilaration of finding a golden ticket and being given the keys to the kingdom. Twenty-five thousand motorcyclists confirm that Big Dog’s got a good thing going, so who are we to argue?
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2009 Big Dog Pitbull
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Bryan Harley's Big Dog Gear Bag
Big Dog tweaked the suspension on the Coyote s A-frame swingarm for a softer ride and gave it a plusher seat to further smooth it out for riders.

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BIG AL REVISED -wolf  January 20, 2011 08:46 AM
have a 2009 wolf. Once broke in raced my fxr with 131 h& l motor on it. to my suprise beat it out of the whole all the way up to a 110 mph. With the right rider Me. if you have money 2009 bdm wolfs are the bike to buy hands down once broken in beat them like a dirt bike nothing breaks. ! Single sticks motors of the past always blowing up on you. heads gaskects etc. always balance perfectly, whether i take my hands of at 5 mph or 120moh . x wedge motor sounds like a 327 chevy motor straight pipes on it out of the box
Richard Fellbaum -2 bigdog family  January 13, 2011 01:25 AM
If Big Dog remaims in bussiness Sheldon Coleman needs to look at his very bad warrenty program ! My wife has a 2009 Coyote and I have a 2008 Mastiff. The Mastiff has had alot of problems. The first year I put 13,000 miles on the bike the second year 3,000 miles on the bike. The second year the bike spend more time in the shop that it did with me.The problem with the Mastiff started just as Sheldon Coleman closed the factory dealership in OC, Califorina. All the problems had started before the closing of the dealership. Because my wife was buying the last bike (2009 Coyote)sold by the dealership we were told by factory reps all the problems with the Mastiff would be taken care of. They were not taken care of. When Mastiff warrenty was up (was still in shop) and I pick up my bike and the bike had not been fixed correctly. I called the factory and was told sorry warrenty is is up by Bob Lockwood . So I had to get the bike repaired out of pocket. The problems are in design issues in the tank, exhaust, and painted covers . I hope I run into Sheldon at Cooks corrner to give him a piece of my mind cause you can't get a hold of him at the factory.
DeBra -"Dyno's" human mom  March 13, 2010 05:10 PM
Hubby and I both ride harleys (we have three in our "corral" here in the country). We also have a 260 lb english mastiff named "Dyno". People that are looking for info on our stud mastiff and google "Dyno Mastiff" end up on your site! They told us about it so we checked it out. Amazing looking motorcycles!! We are impressed with "Big Dog" !!!
Keep up the good work!
sk javed -hindi  January 20, 2010 09:14 PM
i like big bears motorcycles and i like ride
Bruce -Cost  December 21, 2009 05:40 AM
Look, I'm blessed to make more than a six figure income, but I can't see spending 29K for a bike. I bought a rigid frame, and I'm looking at an Ultima 127 motor and Baker tranny. If I built it myself, paying 2x as much with American components I can build a great ride for 9-12K. An excellent ride should not cost more than 15K or so guys.
Bam-Ink Motorcycles -Two Motorcycles for the price of one.  May 16, 2009 03:47 PM
Most ads, listed in your articles are great in selling new or old product, mainly Motorcycles,But, My claim to fame is my new concept I introduced at the Laughlin River Run,The hard worker that has saved for many years to buy maybe his dream motorcycle, but not until he gets it home or has ridden it he's made a mistake in his choice, On the other hand when you buy my concept you can have two motorcycles for the price of one of my competitors,I offer the same running gear, I just give you two body kits that interchange on your rolling frame complete, two different looks, for the price of one, and if you read OCC pricing I can give you five motorcycles for the price of there's, and it includes my Bagger,and four other styles. Bam-Ink, The other motorcycle Guy, Rick Bedford, Founder
MJC -X-Wedge 117  February 21, 2009 01:41 PM
Go here and scroll down to the dyno graph: http://www.x-wedge.com/ It made 90.4HP and 102.1TRQ. 90HP seems a tad weak for 117CI but at least it will be a nice engine......
John Helliwell -S & S 117 vs. S & S 121 X Wedge  January 5, 2009 04:07 AM
Which engine has the most hp?
lacy -motorcycles.  December 16, 2008 08:22 AM
My neice and I,she is 2,love to look at these motoecycles.the are amazing.
09 Wolf Owner -Cruiser VS Rocket  December 8, 2008 04:23 PM
If the BDM Wolf had anymore horse power and torque, you would fly off. It's a cruiser, not a race rocket. If you need to travel faster than 100 mph or beat a Lambordini from light to light ( I am sure the bike will hold it's own in both situations). You want a race bike, not an american crusier. I bought the Wolf so I could ride a powerful show bike and it;s all that. The Wolf (factory stock)is capable of filling any other brand cycle shop parking lot full of admirers and picture takers. I seen it.
Harvey Connection -American vs Japanese  December 8, 2008 08:56 AM
I agree with Bob. I would love to supporrt American made but not at twice the price.
Bob Lawrence -Where's the American HP and Torque?  December 2, 2008 02:32 PM
Friends and I have owned and ridden different brands for decades. We'd love to buy American cruisers again, but for the high prices, where's the high HP and torque? Harleys are still pathetic, Indian is better, Victory is good, Viper is exciting, and Big Dog shows promise with its S&S 121 cube X-Wedge, but still - for these high prices, where's the high HP and torque? For half the price of American cruisers, Japanese cruisers offer great tech, engineering, design, HP, and torque (the Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic has 141 pounds of torque). When will American bike makers create a high tech, well-engineered, well-designed, reliable, rideable, liquid-cooled 150 cube, 150+HP, 150+ pound torque V-twin cruiser? We'd be GLAD to pay $30K+ for that!
MCUSA Harley -X-Wedge HP  November 28, 2008 04:35 PM
Hey Steve G, sorry for the mix-up, but we didn't have a chance to dyno the new 121 c.i. X-Wedge. We did, however, dyno the 117 c.i S&S used in the 2008 Big Dog Pitbull, which measured 84.23 hp @ 5400rpm. We hope to do a full review of the Wolf in the future at which point we will post the findings from our dyno. As far as comparing it to the Star Raider engine, the Raider hits max torque and horsepower a little earlier in the rev range. It does give up almost 120 ponies to the X-Wedge and is tuned differently, so it's not exactly apples to apples. The Raider engine and chassis are dialed in much more for performance while the Wolf's engine is all about pure power.
X4 Michael -HP?  November 28, 2008 04:04 PM
First time I read about the X-Wedge they estimated it 130+ HP. I would be very disappointed to read 77.5 now. So how much is it really? Give us the ponys back.
Steve G -Horsepower  November 28, 2008 01:31 PM
You said you put it on a dyno but didn't give the HP output. I heard that that new engine put out about 77.5 HP What did your dyno show?
Nick -X-wedge  November 28, 2008 08:11 AM
How does the X-wedge stack up against the Yamaha Raider engine?