Installing Heartland's 180 Kit

Wide Tire What?


2. Chris told us the company's kits come with Avon rear tires. He said the engineers at Heartland have found that these tires have a narrower overall width and allow clearance for the belt. Since we were going to be running a new tire out back, we figured we would go ahead and get both tires ourselves. So we contacted Avon, and the company sent out an AM41 90/90-21 front and an AM42 Venom R 180/55-18 rear.

3. Once the tires arrived, we took a trip over to Lifestyle Cycles, where we had them mounted onto the Ride Wright Wheels.

4. When we arrived at the Heartland facility in Marina Del Rey, CA, Chris had everything laid out and ready to go: fender, seat, and struts (not shown is the Ride Wright Fat Daddy 50-spoke wheel). The fenders are made out of heavy-gauge steel and feature reinforced tips for added rigidity. They are also contoured under the seat for a lower look and riding position. The seats are available in either leather or vinyl. Heartland's struts are CNC-machined from billet aluminum and designed for an 11-5/8-inch frame width.

5. Heartland offers several options with just about every component of the kit, such as passenger pegs and chrome, polished or wrinkle-black struts, smooth or slotted struts for its passenger-seat system, three seat styles, a side-mount license frame, bullet taillights, and three rear fender lengths. The rear fenders measure 8-1/2 inches wide and 20-1/2, 24-1/2, and 28 inches long.

6. Without hesitation, Chris secured the bike on the lift and began tearing into the rear fender and electrical system. Within about a half hour he had the fender off, axle pulled, and rear tire ready to be removed.

7. As stated before, since this bike is an Evo, it has a 1-1/2-inch rear belt, which is too wide to provide clearance for the 180mm rear tire. Therefore, we needed to either swap the rear drive to a chain-and-sprocket setup or swap out the stock belt for a narrower 1-1/8-inch Twin Cam belt. Either way, the outer primary cover, primary drive, and inner primary needed to be removed.

8. When we ordered the wheels from Ride Wright, we informed Sam that we would need a 70-tooth Twin Cam pulley to go with our rear wheel. Then we contacted BDL and ordered one of its 1-1/8-inch, 132-tooth belts.

9. Here's a comparison of the BDL (left) and stock belt (right). The BDL belt is 3/8-inch narrower.

10. Once he had the inner primary off, Chris was able to remove the stock belt and replace it with the BDL belt. If we had gone with a chain/sprocket combo, we would have had to pull the transmission pulley and replace it with a sprocket.

11. With the belt swap taken care of, Chris re-assembled the primary using new seals and gaskets.

12. The next major task was to cut off the frame horns. The kit comes with aluminum templates that bolt right into the front fender-strut mounts.

13. Chris then pulled out the Sawzall and began cutting. Here's a tip: Make sure you have a new blade (two would be even better), because these things are a pain to cut through.

14. After both horns were removed, Chris cleaned up the area with a disc grinder. Depending on how well you cut with the Sawzall, you may need to spend some extra time with the grinder to get the fender to fit correctly.

15. Even though they won't be exposed for everyone to see, Chris applied some black paint to prevent the bare frame from rusting.

16. Next, Chris pulled out a set of mockup struts and bolted them to the frame. With this kit, the fender is mounted to the struts.

17. For a slammed, custom stance, Heartland recommends lowering your bike 1-1/2 to 2 inches in conjunction with its kit. Since we didn't have a set of adjustable/lowered shocks installed yet, Chris unbolted the shocks from the swingarm so it would sit all the way down on the bump stops.

18. Lining up the fender was next, but first we had to choose which length looked best. Chris slipped the wheel between the swingarm, and after mocking up all three fenders we preferred the middle fender (24-1/2 inches long). It showed off just the right amount of tire for the look we wanted.

19. Then Chris used a piece of 1/2-inch tubing to space the fender off the tire. Obviously, when we install new shocks they won't allow the swingarm to hit the bump stops, so there will be plenty of travel, but the fender will still sit close to the tire.

20. When we were satisfied with how the fender covered the tire/wheel, Chris checked it for alignment before marking where he would drill the fender.

21. For a clean, custom look, the struts that come with the kit have predrilled and tapped mounting holes on the inside. Chris said the easiest way to align the fender for drilling is to slide the fender between the struts, outline the struts on the fender with a black marker, and then pull the fender. Next, use a piece of paper as a template to mark where the holes are located on the inside of the struts and then transfer those marks to the strut outlines you drew on the fender. The mockup struts Heartland uses have pilot holes for the fender mounts so the process is much easier.

22. Once the holes were drilled, Chris cleaned them up with a grinder, removed the mockup struts, and installed our slotted struts. We chose the slotted struts because they allow us to utilize Heartland's unique, quick-detachable passenger seat and sissy bar. Next, Chris installed the Ride Wright rear pulley and rotor and slid the wheel between the swingarm, then tightened down the axle to make sure everything lined up properly and the wheel spun freely.

23. Satisfied with his work, we then took the fender back off so we could take it over to Buck of Buck Wild Design. Buck is going to be giving the Springer a complete paint makeover, but we have a couple of other changes we need to make first. So he prepped the fender and laid down a couple of coats of gray primer, followed by a quick coat of black primer just to get us by until we're ready for paint.

24. Heartland's unique detachable passenger seat and integrated sissy bar simply latch into the slotted struts and lock in place. For added safety, Heartland has designed the system so that the passenger seat cannot be removed unless both passenger and rider are off the bike. Additionally, the seat rides above the fender, so it won't scratch your paint. When you're not running the passenger seat, you can hide the slots with the four billet inserts that are provided and store them under the seat when you do use the passenger seat.

25. One of the best things about the Heartland passenger-seat setup is the ability to go from solo to two-up in seconds. We were thoroughly happy with the new look of the bike. Aside from giving the bike a stockier rear tire, the Heartland kit drops the seating position down about 2 inches and back 2 inches, which equates to a cool, low-profile look and more leg room. Now all we have to do is lower the bike about an inch or so, and it'll really look awesome.

Opinions are like...well, you've heard the expression, and everyone seems to have an opinion on rear tire size. While a select few may feel it's best to "rock with stock," for the past several years the majority has felt a strong inclination toward "wide pride."

Here in the HOT BIKE office, we seem to have a case of more opinions than...well, you know. So when it came to picking a new set of wheels for our '96 Softail Springer, an argument as to whether we should stick with the stock rear tire or bump up to a 240/250mm or even a 300mm-plus rear tire erupted. In the end (no pun intended), we decided to split the difference, but not exactly down the center. We bumped up in width and diameter to a 180x18-inch.

Making the leap up in tire size wasn't just a matter of slapping a 180mm tire on an 18x5-1/2-inch rim and calling it a day. There were important things to consider, such as clearance issues with the rear beltdrive and the fender. If you read our article on Ride Wright in the Vol. 38, No.11 (November) issue, then you know we were already planning on running a set of the company's Fat Daddy 50-spoke wheels. After talking with Sam Wakim of Ride Wright, he informed us that he supplies the spoke wheels for Heartland's Two-Five-O and 180 kits. Given that piece of information, it just made sense to give Heartland a call about installing one of the company's 180 kits.

After a brief discussion with Chris Backs, Heartland's lead sales director/tech support, he informed us that the stock Evo rear beltdrive and pulley would not provide clearance for the wider tire. Twin Cams, however, have a narrower belt/pulley, eliminating the concern for clearance. Chris offered up two options: We could either run the narrower 70-tooth Twin Cam rear pulley and 1-1/8 inch belt combo, or go with a sprocket-and-chain final drive. Once again the various opinions in the office resurfaced with the chain versus belt debate. We took Chris' advice and went with the cleaner and somewhat easier to install narrower beltdrive setup. Heartland sells the kit (struts, rear wheel/tire with necessary offset, fender, and seat) as a package for $2,500. The basic kit comes with a 40-spoke 18x5-1/2-inch steel rim with steel spokes and will work with your stock spacers. You can also upgrade to any of Ride Wright's spoked wheels for an extra charge. We chose to upgrade to a set of Fat Daddy Wheels. Then all we had to do was pick up the narrower belt and necessary gaskets for the primary.