Dar warming up the GT3 for us.
There is no disputing that the FXR was one of the best handling out-of-the-box Big Twins Harley ever made. To say it has a cult following would be a huge understatement. Legions of riders will simply not give up their FXRs due to its stance, geometry, and ride quality. It's sad to say, but time has passed and the components that are bolted to even the last years of the FXR are a bit lackluster by today's standards. Leave it to Dar Holdsworth at Darwin Motorcycles, aka Brass Ball Bobbers, to take the FXR's chassis to the next level. Dar decided that he wanted to update and recreate the basis of the FXR, and by building the Brawler GT3, he has done just that.
The bodywork on the Brawler is a thing of beauty, and we can't find a single soul that doesn't like the way it looks. Dar constructed the seat and tail section from a fiberglass mold that was then partly covered in pleated leather. The triangulated side covers below the seat are constructed from pure carbon fiber and made for Darwin Motorcycles by the Rahal Letterman Indy Car race team. The fuel tank, with its deep knee cut outs, is also a custom piece with each one being hand-fabbed by Dar's in-house crew. Another highlight of the Brawler is the brushed chrome and aluminum metal finishes, which is one of Dar's signature looks.
When we testrode the bike in Sturgis, we picked a fast, yet twisty stretch of highway close to Deadwood. Before we even sat on it, Dar gave us the 411 on the genesis of the Brawler GT3. This is what he had to say: "When designing bikes, I like to look to our past for inspiration. You can see it in our other bikes. As I create a new bike, I try to design a timeless bike that would have looked good to the eye no matter what era it was built in. We do not care about following trends. It's about proportions and performance, industrial elegance, simplicity, and style. The initial prototype for the Brawler was not supposed to be sport-based at all. It was conceived as a well-handling convertible cruiser, but as we continued forward, I couldn't help myself. It just morphed into a Harley-meets-Norton-meets-GSXR-type machine."Once Dar said that we pretty much pushed him off of the Brawler GT3 and hopped on for a quick ride.
With the push of a button, we fired up the S&S motor, knocked the Baker six-speed into First, and let out the buttery-smooth Evil Engineering clutch. As soon as we hit Second and heard the throaty groan of the stainless and carbon pipe, we knew there was something good about this bike. Real good.
"As soon as we hit Second gear and heard the throaty groan of the stainless and carbon pipe, we knew there was something good about this bike."
"As soon as we hit Second gear and heard the throaty groan of the stainless and carbon pip
The cockpit was seemingly made for our 5-foot 10-inch stature due to the selection of ProTaper "Raptor" bars with 2-inch risers and moto-inspired ISR hand controls. The seat height and mid controls were comfortable yet sporty, and we had no aches or knee pains during the time we were on the bike.
Wheel choice is critical to a bike such as this, and it seems more builders of late have been blinded by big-inch bling instead of picking the right circumference for the bike. Luckily the GT3 has a tastefully sporty set of billet 19- and 18-inch wheels that were carved up by Leroy Thompson. Coupled with a set of Metzeler Marathon tires, the combination lent itself perfectly to roll well on both balls-out straight shots and carving the twistiest of corkscrew curves.
After putting a few short miles on the bike, it was evident that the handling was effortless and there was always more torque when we needed it due to the rather gutsy S&S Evo-style 124ci powerplant. The engine pulled like a freight train and on the straights, the slickly mounted top tree digital speedo hit triple digits well before entering Sixth gear.
Suspension-wise the bike rode great, but how could it not with an inverted 56mm Mean Street frontend and a set of custom-tuned Suspension Technologies shocks bolted to an FXR-style frame? Being right at 200 pounds, we would have liked to have seen the frontend preload amplified as well as the length of the fork increased due to the amount of travel-robbing sag our manly figure bestowed upon the bike. Other than that, we would say the Brawler was a great all-around bike. It was both sporty, yet comfortable and looked good while doing both. The Brawler GT3 is a very limited production bike of less than 25 units, so putting a call into the crew at Darwin Motorcycles should be done rather quickly if you are interested.
After riding the bike we would say the high points of the GT3 were its nimble handling and gobs of horsepower on tap. The low points were the lack of front suspension at high speeds and the as tested price just short of $40,000. Luckily both of these can be remedied. The first, by raising the fork at least an inch. The second, by raising our weekly pay.
|Primary Drive||Evil Engineering|
|Transmission||Baker FLT six-speed|
|Final Drive||Brass Balls by Wilwood|
|Front Brake||Brass Balls by Wilwood|
|Rear Brake||Brass Balls by Wilwood|
|Frame Rake/Stretch||30 degrees/1 inch|
|Fuel Tank Capacity, Gal||5 gallons|
|Seat Height||27 inches|
|MSRP STARTS AT||$29,995|