Bikes come in all sizes and shapes these days: big ones, small ones, and everything in between. Bike manufacturers are courting every segment of the bike-buying public, trying to entice consumers into purchasing the newest models. The marketplace has become jam-packed with choices to fit every riding style, level of expertise, and budget. A motorcycle that might work well for you may not be suitable for one of your buddies.
This month we tested Bourget's Bike Works' (BBW) Fat Daddy 330 Softail Chopper. Without a doubt, this bike is about as extreme an example of a production bike as we have seen anywhere. Posers and the timid need not apply-this is one big bike designed to be ridden by experienced riders who know just what it is they are looking for in a motorcycle: real big, and real fat.
The Fat Daddy 330 aptly takes its name from the 330/30R/17 Avon tire, which resides in the massive swingarm. Sidewall to sidewall, the inflated tire measures nearly 13 inches wide, the widest rear tire on a production bike today. This particular tire was designed by BBW and built exclusively for the company for a limited time by Avon; it's now available to the rest of us.
For those unfamiliar with bikes from Bourget's Bike Works, you can check them out on the web at www.bourgets.com. What began in Roger Bourget's three-car garage in 1991 has grown into one of the most respected, uniquely styled custom motorcycle manufacturers anywhere. BBW's 76,000-square-foot plant is located in Phoenix, AZ, where Roger and Bridget Bourget, along with some of the Phoenix area's best fabricators and craftsmen, have taken the art of custom motorcycle building to a new level, allowing customers to choose what options they want built into their bikes. In the fast-paced world of mass-produced everything, it's refreshing to come across a company that gives its customers the final say when deciding on items such as frame rake and stretch, engine choice, sheetmetal, transmission, primary drive, exhaust, controls, NOS, wheels, tires, lighting, paint, graphics, seats, and chrome packages.
With the abundance of options available from BBW, there's a good chance that no two bikes will be exactly the same, so bear that in mind as you read on. Our Fat Daddy 330 is comprised of many unique details in addition to the huge piece of rubber anchoring the bike. BBW holds two U.S. patents, both applicable to this bike (not options). The first patent is for Roger's distinctively designed, oil-in-frame/drop-seat chassis. Using steel tubing, he built the frame with the ability to act as a 4-quart oil tank. The oil is filled via a small opening located between the downtubes, while a series of oil lines and welded frame segments allows the fluid to move through the frame. Checking the oil is simple, with a small double O-ringed dipstick located in the seat tube on the primary side of the bike. The second patented item on the bike is a jackshaft situated between the rear tire and the primary. The 2-inch-diameter shaft takes power from the transmission and relays it to the 2-inch-wide pulley on the rear wheel. Roger came up with the jackshaft design to allow the use of wide tires while keeping the drive-line centered in the chassis. Additionally, the jackshaft serves as the pivot point for the BBW ace-style swingarm. The remainder of the chassis is comprised of a Fat Daddy frame sporting measurements of 6 inches up, 6 out, and 47 degrees of rake. Supporting the Stinger 21-inch front wheel is a 14-over Wide-Glide-style BBW frontend. Suspension for the rear of the bike is handled by a set of Progressive shocks. Between the shocks are a pair of limiting straps that act as a failsafe (instead of a bump stop) in the unlikely event the shocks fail.
Propelling the bike down the road is the job of an S&S; 117-inch polished motor, although you can order a variety of S&S; motors up to and including the company's 145-inch beast. Both the cylinders and heads were treated to a healthy dose of Black Cherry powdercoat before being diamond cut. The mill was then assembled by BBW. Power is transferred through a Primo Brute 4 3-inch belt drive that feeds a Primo clutch and JIMS six-speed overdrive transmission.
A BBW six-piston caliper works the front floating rotor, while a six-piston drive-side caliper puts the squeeze on a 2-inch-wide pulley that's attached to the 12-inch-wider Stinger rear wheel. Controls on the bike are an all-BBW affair consisting of polished forward controls below and standard billet pieces up top attached to the 1-1/2-inch-diameter aluminum bars. Also perched on the handlebars is a 2-inch digital speedo.
Sheetmetal on the Fat Daddy 330 consists of only a small front fender, gas tank, and rear fender. Based on the dimensions of the rear tire, both the rear fender and gas tank occupy some serious real estate. Finish on both the frame and sheetmetal is Black Cherry with a graphics package combining a checkerboard pattern and a tribal-style tear graphic look, laid down on the base coat prior to the Black Cherry candy.
So what do you get for your money? Let's start out with the backing of BBW's 40-dealer network (located in 25 states), a one-year/5,000-mile warranty, and the peace of mind that comes with buying a motorcycle from a company that has been around the block a time or two.
As stated before, this bike needs input from an experienced rider. If you are looking to make this bike your first motorcycle purchase, think again. This is a whole lot of motorcycle, and you need to understand that going in. Once that fact is taken into account, it's easy to get out on the road and have a good time on this bike. Even with just the 117-inch motor, this bike goes-and goes fast. Point it in the direction you want to travel, whack the throttle, and hang on. The motor pulls the bike with ease. In no time you will find yourself banging through the gears until the transmission drops the motor's rpm as you hit the overdrive Sixth gear. Once there, you will notice just how smooth the bike is. The Fat Daddy soaks up bumps with ease. The combination of the long frontend, fork brace, unique frame design, huge back tire, and comfortable seat contributes to a very supple ride. Take your hands off the bars, and the bike tracks straight as can be, thanks to Roger's jackshaft design. The Fat Daddy 330 can be intimidating at first when it comes to navigating the big bike through curves. All you need to do is trust the bike and lean. That may be a tall order for some riders, but once you get the hang of it you'll realize just how easy it really is. Although the 330 tire is not flat across, it has a tendency to want to right itself-hence the reason for the "trust and lean" concept.
Slow-speed cornering on this bike can be a bit nerve-wracking, since the frontend is, in a word, heavy. A set of raked trees would go a long way to alleviate this. BBW offers 3-degree trees at the present time, but when this bike was built they were not an option. Brakes on the bike are adequate, but, as with most fat-tire bikes, using the rear brake in conjunction with the front is crucial to safe, predictable stopping.
One item we would like to see changed would be the modification of the kickstand. Its location and size make it the perfect candidate to smack your left ankle as you ride away from a stop. In addition, if you turn the bars all the way to the right and set the bike on the kickstand, it will fall over-not good. We would also like to see a standard petcock for the gas tank, since the current setup with an inline Pingle valve does not allow for a reserve setting.
If you are in the market for the biggest and baddest bike anywhere, it's all just a call away at Bourget's Bike Works.