2006 American Ironhorse Legend Review & Road Test

As of 2006, American IronHorse Motorcycles finds itself among some pretty elite motorcycle companies. Back in 2005 when the company announced its '06 model lineup, the Fort Worth, TX, manufacturer of high-performance, luxury custom choppers and cruisers began a celebration of its 10th year in business. Anyone who has followed the American V-Twin market lately can attest to what an accomplishment that is these days.

Over the past few years, under the leadership of the company's management team, including CEO Wil Garland, CFO Bob Krause, VP of Design Jeff Long, VP of Engineering and New Product Development Scott Waters, Director of Warranty James "L.T." Little, VP of PSO (production) B.W. Clark, and Director of Sales Gary Sipes , the company has positioned itself in an enviable position in the industry. The aforementioned team has sharply focused its sights on the future, and in doing so has come up with a strong plan to help realize those goals. While IronHorse's focus is on the upcoming years, in no way has the company forgotten its humble roots; past and current employees; and, most importantly, all of its customers, way back to the very first one.

IronHorse's '06 models include four chopper-styled bikes and three Pro Streets (IronHorse considers them "Cruisers"). Without a doubt the Legend is included with the choppers-there's no denying that-but the Legend is not as radical as the Texas Chopper or rigid-framed LSC, although the bike certainly has very definite chopper roots. Acting as a bridge between the tall choppers and the shorter Pro-Street bikes, the Legend finds a unique place in IronHorse's lineup. While this may not be immediately apparent at first glance, it makes more sense as you look at the bike's specifications, then throw a leg over it and go for a ride. You would be doing yourself a disservice if you walked past the Legend on the showroom floor, only to check out another bike sporting a larger rear tire or a frame with more upward stretch. This bike is the real deal; there are more things to consider when purchasing a bike than trying to find one with the largest rear tire.

Where the Texas Chopper and LSC each have 8 inches of stretch in the dual downtubes, the Legend has only 6 additional inches. The backbone shares the same dimensions, with 4 inches added when compared to stock measurements. This allows all the choppers to utilize IronHorse's patented Super Stretch Chopper Tank, which became an instant classic when it debuted on the Texas Chopper back in 2002. Another major factor differentiating the Legend from the rest of the chopper family is this year's introduction of a new set of handlebars designed exclusively for this model. The bars and their integral risers are designed to pull back to the rider 2 inches farther than the bars on other models. This, coupled with the shorter frame, doesn't just make for better ergonomics-the bars add to the bike's overall ridability and control.

The Legend shares many common features with other '06 AIH models. As with the entire lineup of AIH bikes, the Legend begins with a frame manufactured exclusively for AIH by Daytec. One of the industry's premier manufacturers of frames (both suspended and rigid), Daytec will be providing all the frames used by AIH in 2006. Manufactured from DOM tubing and other high-quality components, the powdercoated frame unites an A-frame Softail-style swingarm tethered to the frame via a pair of Progressive manually adjustable shock absorbers. Out front, the neck is raked to 38 degrees and comes with a set of AIH's own 4-degree raked anmensions, with 4 inches added when compared to stock measurements. This allows all the choppers to utilize IronHorse's patented Super Stretch Chopper Tank, which became an instant classic when it dd polished triple-trees, complete with internal fork stops. Leveling out the front of the bike is a set of 10-inch-over fork tubes with polished lower legs.

Big news from AIH this year includes the availability of chrome wheels (actually, it's a chrome package consisting of wheels, matching brake carriers, pulleys, lower legs, triple-trees, axle covers, and such), which come from the factory backed by a five-year chrome warranty (five years on the wheels only) that's honored by AIH's wheel manufacturer, RC Components. Our Legend was fitted with a pair of Burner wheels: a 21x2.15-inch up front and an 18x8.5-inch anchoring a 240/40/18 Metzeler.

Powering the Legend is a 111ci polished Super Sidewinder Plus engine. This proprietary powerplant is standard on all '06 models and can be upgraded to either a polished 117-inch or a polished 124-inch motor, both from S&S; (upcharges are $1,000 and $2,000, respectively). S&S;'s 111-incher boasts bore and stroke numbers of 4-1/8-inch bore and 4-1/8-inch stroke for smooth operation, while its compression ratio is set to 9.5:1. IronHorse only offers the motor in a carbureted version with no EFI option at this point. Completing the EPA-approved package is an AIH ignition, and a good-looking and -sounding two-into-one exhaust system, complete with heat shields.

The Legend's primary drive is standard fare, consisting of a wet chain drive and clutch setup sending rotational forces to a right-hand-drive six-speed transmission. Final drive consists of a pair of 32-tooth and 70-tooth pulleys that provide a home for a 1-1/2-inch Kevlar belt.

Other features found on the Legend are a hydraulically operated clutch designed to give the rider reduced effort at the lever, four-piston brake calipers, floating brake rotors, and a hidden-strut rear fender. The turn signals have also been upgraded from traditional bulb-style to vibration-resistant, long-life LED-style. In addition, the rear LEDs have been relocated to the rear of the fender to allow for better rearward visibility of the lights. AIH also redesigned the wiring system to include what the company calls an electronic harness controller, which is designed to give a higher degree of control over the bike's electrical system. AIH has made available to dealers two new diagnostic tools designed to work in conjunction with the harness controller. This combination makes it easier for technicians to troubleshoot and diagnose problems.

The '06 Legend shares AIH's digital information center with the rest of the line. Also new for this year is a redesigned kickstand, giving the bike more cornering learance on the left side of the motorcycle.

In addition to the chrome package itself, buyers have the option of choosing from 10 different wheel styles for that truly custom look. The base-priced Legend comes standard with a solid one-color paint job. AIH offers many different color and graphic choices; all told, there are more than 2,500 different combinations to choose from. AIH prices the paint and graphics in four tiers: Series S, $1,650; Series XT, $2,250; Series XTR, $3,100; and Series XTR Plus, $4,500. If you still can't find a combination that makes you happy, AIH will quote you a one-off paint job on a case-by-case basis.

We have had possession of the Legend for a while now, and after having multiple riders take it through its paces, we must say that this is one well-thought-out and -executed motorcycle. Right from the start, the designers of the Legend did an excellent job of combining both form and function, creating a motorcycle that is not only fun and easy to ride but looks great doing it. By scaling back on the height of the frame and not pushing the limits of the rear tire to 280mm (or larger), the combination of frame geometry, flexibility, suspension, power, and tire contact patch all add up to a great-riding motorcycle.

We always have different-sized riders on our test bikes, and quite often there is a large disparity in the way a particular bike fits various sizes of riders. While this is true with the Legend, most of us felt comfortable on the bike. The new handlebars go a long way in adding to the bike's comfort; instead of having to lean forward to reach the bars, they come back nicely, allowing for a natural seating position that takes a lot of strain off the rider's lower back.

Power from the S&S; motor is very predictable. The powerband is strong and wide, affording the rider the ability to quickly accelerate over a broad rpm range. At times when cruising at a particular rpm for an extended period, the engine exhibited a slight amount of hesitation as the throttle was wacked open hard. The solid-mount motor ran smooth and did not transmit any nasty vibrations into the frame at any of the rpm ranges in which we operated the bike. Based on the power produced by the S&S; mill, AIH's designers did a good job matching the braking system to the stopping demands of the bike. The system is very predictable and smooth, although application of too much front brake can cause the narrow tire to lock.

Having the ability to drop the transmission into an overdrive (.86:1-ratio) Sixth gear was welcome as we ran the bike down the freeway in the 75-80-mph range. A simple gear change at that speed allows for an even smoother, quieter ride as the rpm drop somewhere in the 300-rpm range. Due to the fact that the tachometer is digital, there are only three divisions for each 1,000 rpm-the reason for our ballpark figure. This reduction in engine speed is welcome, as it not only quiets the motor but reduces wear and tear on its internals as well.

Keeping tabs on the bike is a snap, thanks to AIH's digital information center. Everything you need is right there between the handlebars. At a glance you can check on speed, rpm, odometer, trip meter, hi/low beam, turn signals, and Neutral. The supplied information is almost as easy to read in the sunlight as it is in darkness. We would like to see the addition of multiple trip meters, which should be easy to add with the advances in today's electronics.

When you consider that the Legend has a base MSRP of $30,195 and is backed by a 98-dealer network that will take care of the bike under warranty for 24 months and unlimited miles from the date of purchase, we feel that the Legend is a very good value.