Steven Tyler seeks freedom riding motorcycles. He confesses that it’s one of the few places the Aerosmith front man can find freedom – freedom from paparazzi sticking cameras in his face, fans clamoring for autographs, and unwanted adulation that waits around every corner. So what does he do to get away? Tyler finds his freedom riding motorcycles on the back roads of New Hampshire, a freedom he now
The three amigos who started up Dirico Motorcyles – (right to left) Mark Dirico, Steven Tyler, and Stephen Talarico. The last guy is long-time friend, test rider, and former Boston motorcycle cop, Donnie Whiteman.
finds in the saddle of a Dirico Motorcycle, a fledgling moto manufacturer he helped start up with a little help from his friends.
Those friends just happen to be Mark Dirico and Stephen Talarico. Dirico made his name in the printing biz and his 20 patents attest to his engineering prowess. Talarico is a savvy businessman who built his empire in corporate real estate, auto dealerships, and now runs two successful Harley-Davidson dealerships in New Hampshire. And what began as a friendship between three riding buddies has evolved into a little business venture originally known as Red Wing Motorcycles, but now flies the under the banner of Dirico Motorcycles. With a ticket to ride in our back pocket, Motorcycle USA recently packed its gearbag and headed to Boston for a first ride on the 2009 Dirico Motorcycles.
The company’s success hinges on its desire to be a small niche manufacturer. It doesn’t have its sights set on world domination, but instead is focused on small, specific goals. Dirico aims to build a bike that not only looks good, but also rides like a mutha, fires up every time you thumb the electric start, and is easily serviceable. Mark has taken on the task of combining the right parts to fit the bill. And though at the core of Dirico Motorcycles are parts like a Kraft-Tech frame, Harley-
The 2009 Flyer has a cool retro look with its Springer front end, deep-welled fenders, spoke wheels and Art Deco paint.
Davidson engines, and Baker transmissions, they didn’t just slap a bunch of H-D parts together and call it a motorcycle. That angle would negate all the time Mark spent at the drafting board designing the motorcycles, hours of engineering to ensure that engine and frame are mated together in a well-balanced bike that clings to the road and doesn’t rattle the teeth out of your head. It would also undermine Tyler’s artistic vision in helping to choose components, color schemes and graphics.
“The project is about passion and about the motorcycle itself,” said Dirico’s Chief Engineer and namesake, Mark Dirico.
But all the passion in the world doesn’t mean squat if the bikes don’t perform well. To test Dirico’s claims, we spent the day touring the history-filled New England countryside onboard two of the company’s models, the retro-styled Flyer and the contemporary Pro-Street. I got to hitch a ride primarily on the Flyer, a vintage-looking cruiser highlighted by a Springer front end, deep-welled fenders, spoke wheels, and wide pull-back handlebars.
Dirico has been sourcing three Harley-Davidson lumps in its motorcycles. The standard Flyer comes with an H-D 88 cubic inch Twin Cam B. Heading out of Manchester, New Hampshire, the home of Talarico’s Harley-Davidson dealership where the bikes are manufactured, it took a whole two minutes before we were pinning throttles and running through gears as we jumped on I-293. Despite its retro exterior, the Flyer’s performance is purely modern. Each twist of the right grip greets you with a burst of linear, progressive power. The Big
Twin doles out 1450cc of thrust throughout the broad powerband and doesn’t sign off until you hit the rev limiter. Fuel delivery is spot-on, evident by the snappy, grin-inducing throttle response, courtesy of H-D’s proprietary Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection. The surprisingly exhilarating ride was heightened by the boom coming out of the jet black Thunderheader 2-into-1 pipes. The engine delivers the goods but is well-balanced, with nominal vibes being felt in the seat or bars. Getting the power to the rear is no problem thanks to H-D’s 5-speed leftside drive tranny which shifted smoothly, reliably, and engaged without a bunch of clunkiness.
The words ‘well-balanced’ can also be used to describe the ride quality. The Flyer is easily manageable at low speeds and holds its line well at speed. The rural roads rolling through the New Hampshire countryside provided opportunities to test the Flyer’s generous lean angle. The Springer fork keeps the front end planted and has just enough travel to smooth the ride without being soft. The softail-style rear suspension is a tad stiff with no adjustments for preload or riders of different sizes. I held an inside line on many of the roads, deliberately seeking the worst the road had to offer, and being able to click out the rear a tad would have been a boon to my backside.
The Dirico Flyer has old-school chops combined with modern performance. Its 1450cc engine delivers plenty of pop.
Sixteen-inch spoke wheels front and back contribute to the Flyer’s retro feel. Metzeler rubber, 130mm fore and 150mm aft, maintains plenty of contact with the road and adds to the bike’s agile nature that belies its cruiser classification. The Flyer runs Harley-Davidson brakes with single discs front and back. The front unit lacked bite, no matter how hard I squeezed the lever. The back is much better, so I relied mainly on a few pumps of the rear pedal.
The Flyer’s vintage flair matches the air of nostalgia you get from riding through small New England towns, with white columned porches on big houses still standing since the Colonial period. It’s no wonder Dirico, Tyler, and Talarico used classic lines on their first motorcycle. The Springer front end establishes the throw back tone as the wide handlebars and casual upright riding position add to its old-school style. The earth-tone color of the Flyer I rode was splayed on the fork, fenders, Kraft-Tech frame, swingarm, fenders and tank. Art Deco pinstriping and Dirico graphics on the tank complement the look. Little choices like the struts and small light on the front fender and the small round air filter cover adds to its rustic charm, as did the boot-sized forward-mounted floorboards and H-D heel-toe shifter. The boards are up high enough to allow for plenty of clearance when you get the Flyer tipped into the turns.
After riding the Flyer for most of the afternoon, I came away impressed with the zeal of its engine, its ease of handling, and its comfortable ergonomics. Its classic chops turned a lot of heads and I heard them mistakenly identified as the new Indians on more than one occasion. And Dirico Motorcycles come with something no other motorcycle
With Steven Tyler as one of your partners, why not use his celebrity to help sell bikes? Autographed fenders and an electric guitar color-matched to your motorcycle might be just the bait to get buyers to bite.
manufacturer can offer – rear fenders signed by Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler. Maybe you’re not a fan of the band, but I’m sure there are plenty out there whose decision on their next big motorcycle purchase could be swayed by such a novelty. To sweeten the pot, for an extra $250 you can get a cool electric guitar color-matched to the Dirico Motorcycle you just bought which likewise bears Tyler’s autograph.
Shoving nostalgia aside, there’s nothing antiquated in the stance of Dirico’s Pro-Street motorcycle. Long, low, narrow up front, fat in back, the contemporary styling is full of custom credibility. While the H-D TC 88B engine fits the retro style of the Flyer, the Pro-Street brings on the beef via a Screamin’ Eagle 103 cubic inch Twin Cam B engine. With a claimed
Eric, meet Steve!
output of almost 96 lb-ft of torque, the powerplant means that this ‘train kept a rollin’ all night long.’ Styling and performance gets a boost from a forward-facing Harley-Davidson ‘Heavy Breather’ intake system jutting off the right side. The Flyer’s Harley gearbox has been switched out for a Baker rightside drive 6-speed transmission to accommodate the higher revving, higher horsepower engine. Slash-cut Vance & Hines pipes run low down the right side as well, giving the bike a bark that matches its bite. The powertrain is cradled compactly within the twin downtubes of the Mark Dirico-designed frame that Rowe Machine hand-builds for them out of DOM mild steel.
The front end is set at a healthy rake, with a 21-inch tall custom billet wheel draped in a tire-hugging steel fender leading the charge. The front end geometry allows for an aggressive Pro-Street posture without totally sacrificing handling. The fat backside balances the bike’s lines, offsetting the tall front tire with a low-profile 240mm meat wrapped in plenty of ground-hugging Metzeler rubber. Dirico’s Pro-Street, like the Flyer, is well-balanced and handles better than you’d expect from a motorcycle with a 240mm wide tire, but it does require more work at the bars to ease into turns than its rockin’ retro brother.
Throttle action is lively. Give the stiff clutch lever a firm tug and rev it out to about 4K and you can easily leave a black streak on the pavement. A loose clutch cable did cause a little frustration when I couldn’t get Neutral engaged at stop lights unless I pulled it all the way to the bar, but otherwise the Baker tranny clicked reliably through the gears.
“The gearing’s right, the power’s right, it’s dialed in nicely,” said American Iron Editor, Chris Maida.
A softail-style setup took care of all road imperfections except the most heinous of potholes. Suspension duties are provided on the rear by twin shocks connected to an A-frame swingarm, while a telescopic fork sorts out the ride on the front. And while the intake pipe on the Screamin’ Eagle air filter is stubby, I still had to wrestle for leg room with it at times for solid footing on the forward-mounted foot controls.
Dirico’s idea of a power cruiser comes in the form of its 2009 Pro-Street motorcycle and its 1690cc, 103 ci. engine.
Riders are positioned low on Dirico’s Pro-Street motorcycle, with a seat height I’d estimate in the 24.5-inch range. The reach to the bars is up in comparison to the Flyer, with arms sitting about mid-shoulder. The stretch to the forward- mounted foot controls was comfortable for me but looked dialed in even better for American Iron’s Maida, who stands a few inches shorter than me. The black leather Corbin seat scoops down low, and for a six-foot guy like myself, it exerted numbing pressure in the small of my back after about an hour straight in the saddle. Noticeable vibes in the saddle at 70 mph didn’t make it any more comfortable, but the vibrations were centralized under the seat and not the bars and didn’t come on until you were past most legal speed limits.
The Pro-Street blends custom-quality styling with arm-stretching power. Granted, it’s no canyon carver, but it still holds its line when the roads get curvy. Top-notch components like its Baker transmission, Vance & Hines pipes, steel braided brake lines and a Dirico-designed frame will keep people guessing whether it’s a one-off custom or factory-produced motorcycle. Wicked paint combos applied by Steve Contos out of Pembrook, Massachusetts, ensures Dirico’s Pro-Street model won’t get confused with its competition.
The final bike in the 2009 Dirico lineup is the Speedster. I didn’t get sample the goods because there was only one Speedster available and we couldn’t pry American Iron’s Joe Knezevic out of its saddle. Which is a shame, because the Speedster sports Harley’s 110 cubic inch Twin Cam B engine. Though the Speedster and Flyer share many of the same styling traits, it runs a Baker RSD 6-speed tranny instead of a Harley unit to go along with its big jump in displacement. The fenders are also different, and a cool kick starter option gives it even more old school cred. Mark Dirico also mentioned that he increased the free length on the Speedster’s front end springs. I can’t attest to how the bike handles the more powerful engine, but the continuous smile on Joe’s face gives me a clue that it’s one fun ride.
And even though Dirico Motorcycles is a small player in a big market, it is already establishing an international presence, with distributors in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Tokyo, Japan. In accordance to its Russian ties, Dirico is in
With Vance & Hines Big Radius pipes, Arlen Ness controls, and some killer custom paint, this custom Dirico Pro-Street should make a great gift for the wife of the Russian Minister of Fishing Resources.
the process of building a custom motorcycle for the Russian Minister of Fishing Resources. Custom paint, Arlen Ness controls, and Vance & Hines Big Radius pipes give the customized Pro-Street motorcycle plenty of attitude. Seeing as how the motorcycle is said to be for the
Stripper Pole Wheels
Fishing Minister’s wife, I got a chuckle out of the stripper pole custom wheels with a matching flywheel that features a silhouette of the hot-bodied chick you see on the mud flaps of American big rigs. His wife must be some type of woman!
Dirico has also been commissioned to build the official 2009 Black Hills Classic raffle motorcycle. The blacked-out bike has been outfitted with leather bags and special Sturgis badging and will be presented by the Chamber of Commerce with proceeds benefitting the city of Sturgis. For a new company still trying to make a name for themselves, it is a big-time
What better way to top off a great day of riding through the New Hampshire countryside than an Aerosmith concert in front of a raucous Boston home crowd?
commission that equates to exposure and potential sales. Riders that are headed to Sturgis who desire t o get a closer look at Dirico Motorcycles can catch them at the Buffalo Chip on Wednesday, August 5, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at its Consumer and Dealer Launch.
“We have invested a lot of time, money and energy into our bikes from conception through completion with a focus on integrity – integrity in design, engineering, and product. We believe that a Dirico truly is a bike which is ‘engineered to ride, and built to last,’” said Talarico.
I can vouch for Dirico’s ‘engineered to ride’ claim. The motorcycles’ performances exceeded expectations. But I’ll have to wait until ‘I’m back in the saddle again’ before I can comment on their longevity.