If you've been reading HOT BIKE for any length of time, you're probably familiar with the road tests we perform on a regular basis. For this month's article we decided to go through all the bikes we tested in '06 and come up with our top five picks. While all the bikes we brought you were worthy of consideration, we found the following ones to be outstanding. In no particular order, here they are.
Big Dog MastiffIn the June '06 issue we tested the Big Dog Mastiff. While the Mastiff has been around since 2001, 2006 proved to be the year that redefined the motorcycle from its previous incarnations. In an effort to stay on the cutting edge of motorcycle styling, the new Mastiff has been geared more toward the long and low Pro Street style of bikes (as has the Pitbull), while the remainder of the models are more in line with chopper styling. The Mastiff's frame has been totally redesigned from previous models. The in-house-manufactured frame boasts a 6-inch backbone stretch and stock-length downtubes. Also manufactured in-house is the A-frame swingarm, which was designed to cradle the Avon 250/40-18 rear tire. Leveling out the front of the bike is a 41mm frontend comprised of 2-inch-over tubes and a set of 3-degree raked triple-trees, which hang from a 39-degree raked neck. Providing a good contact patch with the asphalt is an MH120/70/21 Avon tire, designed to work well with the 250 out back. Providing cushioning at the rear of the bike is a pair of manually adjustable shocks.
Powering the Mastiff is an S&S 117-inch, overhead-valve, air-cooled, 45-degree V-Twin engine. Big Dog has worked closely with S&S over the years. This relationship has culminated in an engine that includes a proprietary cam design, Super G carburetor, electronic compression releases, and specially designed fins on the heads and cylinders that not only aid in cooling but also result in less high-frequency noise emanating from the engine. All of the S&S powerplants for '06 are assembled at Big Dog's Wichita, KS, plant. Located just behind the engine is what Big Dog calls its balanced drive system (BDS), which consists of a wet-chain primary and clutch setup that relocates the starter from its traditional position and places it down and farther back. In addition to the primary, another major component of the BDS is a Baker six-speed right-side-drive transmission. The result of all of these components working in conjunction with one another is a narrower, more centered and balanced drivetrain.
As for the sheetmetal, the Mastiff has a few new and cool features-for example, the oil tank is actually an enclosure for the bike's battery and electronics. So where's the oil stored, you ask? It resides in a 3-quart curved reservoir sitting just in front of the rear tire. Big Dog equips the Mastiff with numerous features such as a rear-mounted kickstand for better cornering clearance, billet hand controls with internal brake master cylinder, one-touch switching wired through Big Dog's ground-trigger switching system, integrated speedo/tach, floating rotors, Performance Machine brake calipers, and a disabling starter button that prevents unwanted starter engagement. Big Dog also offers a line of accessories designed to let customers tailor the look and functionality of their bikes. The Mastiff's frame and just-over-stock-length frontend make for a very stout combination. This setup allows for a very stable and predictable ride, with no surprises coming from the rear tire. While the bike is set up with what is still considered a fat rear tire, you'll quickly notice the bike is very easy to pitch from side to side. The combination of the 250 and the 120 tires makes for good handling characteristics.
The S&S 117-inch powerplant delivered more than enough power in a variety of riding conditions. The motor comes on strong from around 2,400 rpm and doesn't let up 'til you reach the redline.
If you're looking for a custom bike straight from the factory, one you don't need to do much to in order to make it look as if it were built specifically for you, then you need to take a serious look at Big Dog's Mastiff. This bike is definitely a bargain at its asking price.