Big Bear Choppers (BBC) is probably best known for their long, low, and wide chopper-style motorcycles. Their bikes are often distinguished from one another by how long the frontend extends in front of the neck, or maybe the low seat height of the popular pro-street style scoots, or even how over-the-top the custom paint and graphics might be. Aside from selling complete, factory direct, fully licensed OEM customs, kits, and parts through a nationwide BBC dealer network, BBC sells a product consisting of more than two wheels. They offer an attitude, a lifestyle, and an image. Through ever-changing bike designs that meet and exceed the current market trends, as well as business acumen, owners Kevin and Mona Alsop have placed BBC high atop the custom motorcycle pyramid. Kevin and the rest of the growing BBC staff work and live in mountainous Big Bear Lake, CA, where some of the best riding country anywhere can be found. A roughly 30-mile ride up from the L.A./Berdoo basin, the twisty roads ascend over 7,000 feet.
Although many of the bikes BBC produces are more than capable of long distance riding, Kevin saw an opportunity to give riders more: More power, more comfort, better handling, and most importantly for touring-type riding, more storage and passenger capacity. Kevin envisioned building a bagger that was different in both form and function than any other production bike in the industry. Working alongside one of BBC's main designers, Kevin and crew came up with a prototype drawing for a touring bike that would incorporate the new, as yet unreleased S&S; X-Wedge motor. Combining the intent of the bike and the new motor, the bike was tagged as the Grand Touring X-Wedge, or G.T.X. for short. Within one month of the original rendering, a full-size foam model was made, followed by a working prototype two months later. Slated to be released this coming October, the G.T.X. will have taken a mere nine months from paper idea to production.
Although the G.T.X. has BBC-esque styling cues, this bike is not simply a chopper or Sled platform with fiberglass bags bolted onto the sides. Instead, the entire package was designed from the ground-up: Frame, sheetmetal, fuel and oil tanks, bags, mounts, and so on. Using the X-Wedge motor necessitated an entirely new frame, as the new S&S; mill doesn't bolt into the traditionally utilized Harley motor mounts or frames. Secondly, Kevin and crew had some different ideas about how the rider and passenger would sit on this bike. Instead of their drop seat-style frame that sits the rider low in the frame with the passenger sitting a few inches higher over the tire on the rear fender, the G.T.X. was designed to position both riders on the frame, more centered on the bike. This may sound easy to accomplish, but required stretching the framerails (from behind the transmission to the swingarm pivot) by 12 inches. The rear fender still hugs the fat 300 tire, but the passenger no longer sits on top of it; rather, he is positioned in front of it. Moving the passenger in front of the rear wheel moved more weight towards the front of the bike in addition to dramatically lowering the center of gravity. That affected the front forks and final determination of the ideal rake and trail figures. Combined rake of neck and triple trees adds up to 43 degrees. These changes lead to increases in handling and stability. According to Kevin, nobody has yet been able to touch down the floorboards, stating the G.T.X. handles better than the very good riding Sled Pro-Street. We'll bring that riding report to you as soon as the first production bikes are available.
All of that space created by stretching the framerails allowed BBC to get creative, using all the added space behind the Baker transmission. The five-plus quart capacity oil tank and the auxiliary fuel tank are housed under the seat. This arrangement further aided in lowering the bike's center of gravity, keeping more weight low in the frame. An electric fuel pump for the fuel injection system is located within this lower three-gallon fuel tank. Placed in the traditional location above the backbone is the main fuel tank that holds three more gallons of gasoline. Both gas tanks are joined together and connected to the motor via 1/2-inch diameter fuel lines that are hidden by a fiberglass cover as they pass by the twin downtubes. BBC designed the tanks' venting system so filling up the main tank immediately fills the lower auxiliary fuel cell; there's no need to wait for the upper tank to empty into the lower tank. A nice touch that shows how well thought-out the package is.
When it came time for the saddlebags, Kevin chose to go with fiberglass instead of injection molded plastic. He thought the 'glass would add value to the bike as years went on, as fiberglass can be easily repaired instead of having to replace the entire bag if the plastic gets damaged. Both bags open outwards at the top (with an outboard hinge) via a lockable pushbutton located on the inboard side of each bag. Capacity is unknown, but they appear to be long, deep, and narrow. Integrated brake and turn signals are frenched into the bottom edge of each bag that provide a nice, wide light stance at night. Softail-style, horizontally mounted shocks are used to keep the bike as narrow as possible so the bags can be mounted tight to the bike.
Over the past decade BBC has had a strong relationship with S&S; Cycle, successfully utilizing different variations of the Evo-style, single cam motor. When it was time to offer the new tri-cam X-Wedge motor BBC was called upon to use the engine in selected '08 models. For detailed information regarding the new X-Wedge, check out William Denish's article in this issue of HOT BIKE. Aside from the fuel-injected, eco-friendly motor package, the engine was designed to produce more power and torque while being smoother at the same time. Although offered in larger displacements, this G.T.X. was outfitted with a 114ci mill. Power to the rear wheel is transmitted through a BBC wet primary, then an Evo-style six-speed transmission filled with Baker Drivetrain gears before exiting the right side drive chain sprocket. A benefit for touring to plug in accessories like heated clothing, or a GPS unit, is the planned use of a high-output 45-50 amp three-phase charging system.
Aside from the saddlebags, the G.T.X. features rider and passenger floorboards for long distance comfort. The cockpit is simply laid out with a single digital gauge placed in between the two-piece, clip-on style handlebars. As this bike in front of you is a pre-production model, some changes are likely to find their way into the final production bikes. For one, the Brembo calipers on this bike will most likely be Performance Machine units come showroom time. Exhaust pipes are in the process of being redesigned both for aesthetics and the ever-watchful EPA. Choice of color will be up to the end user, with pretty much any hue or graphics one can think of. In addition to this "weekend getaway" G.T.X., already in the works is a longer distance touring version that will come complete with front fairing containing a radio and other electronic instruments, windshield, and rear trunk storage.
With the G.T.X., BBC hopes to capitalize on the current popularity of bagger-type bikes as well as expand its extensive model lineup. This bike offers the customer something different and unique with infinite possibilities for factory customization of paint, graphics, and BBC accessories. Log onto their website to find a dealer near you or to get more information on the G.T.X. and BBC's other models.
|SHOP||Big Bear Choppers (BBC)|
|BUILD TIME||Three Months|
|YEAR/TYPE||'07/Baker RSD Six-Speed|
|PRIMARY DRIVE||BBC, Wet|