Viper Motorcycle’s Diamondback demonstrates what can be done with 152 cubic inches of power when its harnessed correctly. The rider had better release the brake soon before he chews the rubber down to rim.
One gripe I hear all the time about factory custom bikes is that it’s mainly a bunch of bolt-on crap strapped on around an S&S engine. And many times, this grievance holds water. That’s one of the big reasons I got excited when I ran across Viper Motorcycles. Running on somebody else’s mill just didn’t fly with the Minnesota-based company, so they built their own. After a couple of years in development, Viper’s efforts have resulted in an air-cooled billet aluminum 152ci short-stroked engine capable of a claimed 128 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque. The 45-degree V-Twin was developed in conjunction with Al Melling Designs. The Englishman, also known as Mr. H (H standing for ‘horsepower’), is best known in Formula 1 racing circles for his work on both the TVR and GT-1 engines. Melling brought some of that Formula 1 know-how with him and incorporated the technology into the Viper powerplant. His help has been instrumental in producing a monster mill that not only puts out the ponies but also is claimed to produce 30% less heat than competitor’s air-cooled V-Twins.
And while having gobs of power between your legs ready to unleash with a quick twist of the wrist is always a good thing, transferring that much torque to the rear wheel can be a challenge. Viper initially used a conventional gearbox, but the 152ci mill kept snapping the shafts and gears. It solved the problem with an industrial-strength right-hand drive 6-speed transmission with overdrive.
The new billet aluminum 152ci 45-degree V-Twin made by Viper Motorcycles is air-cooled and is a refreshing change of pace from most small factory custom houses that all use the standard S&S mill.
“Viper had already designed and developed patented frames, drive systems, and air ride systems to handle an engine of this size. We also have developed brake and clutch controls to increase braking power and clutch durability. The engine is incredibly smooth. The high torque engine never has the feeling of ‘lugging’, even in sixth gear below 1500 rpm. With our patented drive systems, we also have removed added vibration through the frame,” said Viper’s General Manager, Fred Proctor.
Viper Motorcycles is a company to keep an eye on in 2008. It will be introducing four new production models at the Cincinnati V-Twin Show February 1 – the Diamondback, Diablo, Diablo Deluxe, and a Rigid Chopper. While the Diamondback and Diablo are carryover models, the Deluxe and Chopper will make their debut at the Cincy Trade Show. Viper is pinning its future on riders who want a true OEM bike and will be attracted to its purported proportion of proprietary parts being over 80%. If you’re into kit bikes, sorry, you’ll have to shop elsewhere.
Among the attractive list of in-house machined parts and systems is Viper’s integrated isometric damping system and its adjustable air-ride suspension. The air-ride system works in conjunction with its proprietary chrome billet aluminum swingarm and should attract the attention of prospective buyers as air-ride suspensions have been very popular on the custom builders’ scene this past year.
The Diamondback is one of four models that Viper Motorcycles will be introing at the Cincinnati V-Twin Show February 1.
While we don’t have spec sheets on the new bikes yet, we were able to dig up some vital stats on the ’07 Diablo and Diamondback. If you think the 152ci Viper mill is too much power, there’s an optional 115ci model available. The engines include aircraft-type ground cylinders with forged pistons and advanced port technology. The powerplant is carb-fed by a Mikuni HSR 45 Flat Slide model. It has stainless steel fuel lines and a chrome billet air cleaner with a K&N air filter. Viper mounts the mill within a frame of its own design and secures it with a patented rubber mounting engine system. The thick-tubed frame serves dual purposes. Besides its chassis role, Viper has incorporated the dry sump oiling system into the bikes’ frames. The muscular Pro-Street cruisers are long, in the 96- to 100-inch range, and low, with an adjustable seat height starting at 24 inches. There’s plenty of chrome, including its Marzocchi fork, rubber-mounted handlebars and switch housings, wheels, engine and pipes. Everything’s tastefully done without being over the top.
And if you have any doubts about the performance of the Viper engine, consider that it won the Viper Challenge about a year and a half ago. It was “Viper vs. Viper vs. Viper” in a timed race that pitted Viper Motorcycle’s Black Mamba against the Dodge Viper against the Air Force’s F-16 Viper Jet. The friendly competition was held at Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, New Mexico, for the honorary title of fastest Viper. In a surprise victory, the Black Mamba posted the fastest time of the trio on the three-quarter mile runway at a speed of almost 158 mph. Though Viper isn’t claiming to have the world’s fastest production engine and doesn’t claim to build racing bikes, the results of the contest speak volumes by itself.
We give Viper Motorcycles props for making most of its own parts, including the frame, engine, swingarm and air-ride suspension on bikes like its Diablo.
Viper Motorcycles has strong selling points that should help it succeed. It produces a high-powered, American-made V-Twin in a platform that features plenty of proprietary parts on a hand-built motorcycle with cool custom paint choices. They’ve got a modern 36,000 sq/ft facility to call home and a name that’s already associated with high-performance. And even though there’s no affiliation between the two companies, in the public’s mind the name ‘Viper’ will still conjure images of going fast. Only this time, it’s on two wheels, not four.
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