Special thanks to the guys over at Blue Collar Tattoo in Costa Mesa, California, for the use of their wall for the photo shoot.
Special thanks to the guys over at Blue Collar Tattoo in Costa Mesa, California, for the u
Try saying "Big Bear Bear Bones Budget Bike" five times fast. I guarantee it's much easier and more fun to just say "$19,500." Not only is $19,500 easier to spit out your mouth, but it's a lot easier on your conscience when considering purchasing a new motorcycle, especially in this economy. And that's exactly why Big Bear Choppers (BBC) recently refocused its attention on its production bikes and decided to create a more budget-friendly motorcycle, the Bear Bones, which has a price tag of $19,500.
When I think "budget" or "bare bones" I automatically think of cutting corners, or making sacrifices to meet preset goals. But this isn't the case with the Bear Bones; in fact, by producing much of the bike's components in-house, like the frame, sheetmetal, wheels, foot controls, and frontend, BBC is able to save on costs and apply the savings toward the components it doesn't produce like the engine, transmission, and electrical components. But even when purchasing parts, BBC doesn't skimp, using high-end components such as a proprietary BBC 100ci engine produced by S&S, a Baker six-speed right-side-drive transmission, a Wire Plus wiring harness with a proprietary BBC gauge, a Spyke starter, PM calipers, Jardine two-into-one exhaust, and Progressive Suspension rear shocks.
"One of the first things I noticed when I got on the bike was the seating position; yes, it is low..."
"One of the first things I noticed when I got on the bike was the seating position; yes, i
Not only did BBC build the bike to be easier on the pocket book, but it was also designed for people who like the company's pro-street and chopper models but want a shorter wheelbase and less rake than most of the other models BBC offers. With that in mind BBC created the Bear Bones to be more rider friendly as well as more responsive. The bike is based around a single downtube frame with 34 degrees in the neck, 6 degrees in the trees, a stretched-out midsection, and BBC's famous Venom swingarm built around a 250mm rear tire. With a total wheelbase of 82 inches from axle to axle, by slightly stretching out the middle section of the frame, BBC was able to mount the oil bag behind the transmission allowing them to lower the seat height to about 20 inches. Even though the wheelbase may sound extreme when compared to stock Harley standards, the lowered seat height, placement of the rider more forward of the rear tire, and right-side-drive chain drive setup helps create better weight distribution and better handling.
A mix of narrowing points and smooth curves, the overall look of the bike is aggressive and menacing, yet elegant. The combination of solid satin black paint and raw components with a sprinkle of chrome here and there really proves that you don't have to have a loud paint job and flashy chrome to get noticed. It's subtle but still attracts attention, especially when you blast by someone on the freeway (it's OK, I was just trying to keep up with Kevin on his personal Bear Bones with a 145ci S&S). Like I said, even though it may be called the Bear Bones, BBC knows how to delicately add features that you'd find on any high-dollar full custom. I'm talking about items like a hidden axles front and rear, tribal-cut forward controls and triple trees, machined and engraved primary, smooth-lipped, forged aluminum, 18-spoke wheels, and BBC's BrakeDrive system made by PM, which is the rear sprocket drive and brake in one setup.
One of the first things I noticed when I got on the bike was the seating position; yes, it is low and the drag-style bars with slight pullback made me lean forward a bit, but nothing too uncomfortable or unmanageable.
As for the handling, the first thing I did was take the bike into my local canyon to see how well it handled some good curves. With its overall length and the chunk of 250mm rubber hanging out back, I had preconceived notions of what I could expect. But they fell to the side within the first couple of turns. Initially hitting the corners at a drastically reduced speed than I would on my Softail, running the Bear Bones in and out of the curves was as smooth as rubbing baby oil down a freshly shaved stripper's leg. The seating position and even balance of the bike encouraged me to continually increase my speed until I was leaning deep into each and every turn putting pegs to pavement.
As I mentioned earlier, BBC has a proprietary engine with S&S. BBC worked with the engine manufacturer to produce an engine that would meet its desires and requirements and the result was the 100ci Smooth engine. Delivering plenty of power and tied to the easy-shifting Baker six-speed transmission, overall the drivetrain is, well, pretty smooth.
After a couple days and a few hundred miles in the seat, it was time to let the Bear Bones roll back up the mountain, and I will say I was reluctant to let it go. There was just something about the low-slung seating position that puts you right in the heart of the bike and once you hit the road it really changes your demeanor and makes you feel like a badass outlaw (well, that's what was running through my head, I probably looked like an overweight rodeo clown holding on for dear life).
I did have some concerns/gripes about the bike, the biggest being that the finish of some of the raw and machined components was a little rough and could have used a little more attention to detail. My other complaint was the exhaust was too quiet and stuffed up. I discussed my concerns with BBC and they informed me that our bike was one of the first to roll off the line so there was still some issues with the finish that were being addressed. As for the pipe, well, that's one of the sacrifices you have to accept to build an EPA-compliant bike.
Overall I liked the bike. It's sexy but tough. Comprised of quality components with custom features, at $19,500, it's priced just right to entice those who want something more than just another bone stock Harley. For the price you are getting more power, custom looks, and sleek style.
||S&S Super E
||BBC enclosed wet chain
||BBC-PM Brake Drive
|some in the midsection
|FUEL TANK CAPACITY
||BBC 3.8 gal.