S&S 145 Tribute Bikes

American IronHorse, Bourget's Bike Works, Minneapolis Custom Cycles, and Arlen and Cory Ness were the builders that joined forces in this project.

The first line of the Tribute 145 press kit tells this story best: "They've been a legend for 100 years. We've kicked ass for 45." A bold statement made by a strong company, S&S.;

S&S; has based its growth on the success of H-D, and with simultaneous 100- and 45-year anniversaries at hand, something big needed to be done. The Tribute 145 is bigger than big, in fact, it is the biggest production motor we have ever seen, and S&S; CFO (and grandson of founders George and Marjorie Smith) Brett Smith brought in five big names to show just what could be done with such a monster motor.

American IronHorse, Bourget's Bike Works, Minneapolis Custom Cycles, and Arlen and Cory Ness were the builders that joined forces in this project, and the harmony that abounds between the group is incredible -- you would think they worked together for the last 10 years, instead of being competitors.

The five builders will build nine bikes each (Arlen will be premiering his bike in early summer). The first set of five is going in the S&S; museum, while the other eight sets will be available for purchase, in groups of five. It won't be cheap, but it will be exclusive. In 2004, the builders in this program will have limited numbers of motors available to be sold in rolling chassis or complete bike kits, making 145s available to everyone!

When we had our first opportunity to see the bikes, Publisher Dave Withrow suggested we get them all together for a shoot. So, with a little help and a lot of cell phone usage, we chased the guys down and forced everyone to ride all over Daytona to our super-secret photo location. The rest, as they say, is history.

First, a quick tour of the Fuel-Injected 145 is in order. At 144.7 ci (2376 cc) the motor boasts bore and stroke figures of 4-3/8x4-13/16 inches with a compression ratio of 11:1, but starting is easy, thanks to electronic compression releases. It is hard to identify the biggest news about the motor, but we are pretty sure it's the S&S; VFI Dual 2.062-inch throttle bodies and billet velocity stacks -- yes, fuel-injection is here. The heads and cylinders both feature S&S;'s big fin design, and inside the heads you will find CNC porting with 2.2-inch intake valves and 1.8-inch exhaust valves.

Down below, the lower end has S&S;'s flywheels on its 1.5-inch pressed-in crank pin and 8.25-inch billet steel rods, with lubrication coming from its HVHP oil pump and piston oilers; but here is the important information: The S&S; testing showed 186 hp and 183 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheel. After our photoshoot, we took the MCC bike to Carl's Speed Shop in Daytona with only 300 miles on it and the as-delivered, untuned motor showed 170 hp on its first pull. These motors are worthy of respect.

We will look at the bikes alphabetically, which puts the American IronHorse Sniper first on the list. To those familiar with the AI lineup, the Sniper is a huge departure. In fact, it is nothing like any AI bike that's come before it, and for good reason. It was developed hand-in-hand with racing legend and on-staff design consultant Sandy Kosman, and the styling represents everything for which he stands. The Sniper frame wears 38 degrees of rake, but that's where conventionality ends. There is no top tube, so the motor acts as a stressed member working with incredible gusseting built around the motor and trans mounts.

Fuel is carried in the front frame with a big fuel pump moving it to the 145. The chassis is designed to hold either a 15x28.5x10.5 Mickey Thompson slick or a 280x18 Metzeler in the rear, in contrast to the 21-inch front tire -- both wheels are Kosman race designs that use full floating rotors that look like solid mounts.

The forks are GCB with Kosman mods to adjust ride height based on the track on which you're riding -- yes, this is a street-legal race bike. An air shifter can control the hybrid Dyna-style transmission with Baker gears and Kosman right-side drive, or you can opt for the standard forward controls. The bars carry a signature AI instrument cluster, but that's about all that you might find on another AI bike.

Styling of the lift-off body was drawn up by Kosman, Bill Rucker, and Jeff Long, then handed off to a racing fabricator named Evan for construction. The trio designed the lift-off body for easy servicing and unique looks, and they succeeded.

The Sniper is awesome looking, but don't worry about wanting one. By 2004, there could be up to 150 of these incredible machines available for purchase -- imagine seeing this on the floor of your local IronHorse dealer.

Roger Bourget, owner of Bourget's Bike Works, went with a sporty design as a tribute to the daughter he lost in a motorcycle accident last year. Autumn was a sportbike nut, and Roger designed the Auti-Mo to celebrate her passion, using his new perimeter frame. The neck sits at 45 degrees and the wheelbase is just 69-1/2 inches. A Mean streets inverted fork carries dual-BBW six-piston calipers and an 18-inch wheel, with a 120 series tire. Out back, an 18x9 BBW wheel and 250 tire handle the power fed from the JIMS six-speed with reverse cut gears, Primo 3-1/2-inch primary, and 630 final drive chain.

BBW built the bodywork from carbon fiber, with the exception of the gas tank, and manufactured all the accessories in house. Oil is carried in the frame -- a BBW signature design -- and the shorty exhaust pipes are made from stainless steel, giving them a very cool color after a few miles. A BBW speedometer was mounted to the forkleg to make room for a massive Autometer tach where it needs to be -- in front of the riders face. Innovation abounds on the Auti-Mo and Roger knows he will get calls from people interested in owning one of these bikes, so in 2004, expect to find them in BBW dealers!

Pat Matter and his Minneapolis Custom Cycle crew attacked the project with their own style: pro-street. Pat has a history in drag racing, earning a number of titles, so the 145 was a big deal to him. Pat worked with Daytec to build a special MCC frame to house the big motor. With 3 inches of backbone stretch and just enough lift to get the motor in place, the neck was set at 36 degrees. The swingarm holds a 250 tire on an MCC wheel and the GCB fork carries a matching wheel and a 21-inch Avon. Stopping power is a combination of MCC rotors and P.M. calipers.

The 145 feeds a Primo 3-inch beltdrive and Jims six-speed transmission. As you can see in the photos, the hookup was so good that even with water on the ground and Charlie from S&S; holding the forks, the big motor blasted the bike forward.

Creating the MCC look called for a set of its own in-house designed and built fenders, an Independent Gas Tank one-piece tank with built-in fuel pump mount, and a Daytec MCC oil bag. Airea 5150 applied the wild colors, while Pat and Reno added the MCC bars, P.M. hand and forward controls, Headwinds headlight, and MCC taillight.

The drag racer in Pat compelled him to mount a big tach right in front of the rider's face, but that's the only article you could call an accessory on the MCC machine. It was built to look good and go fast, and, needless to say, when the 2004 supply of motors are released, you can own one similar to this street racer.

Finally we get to Cory Ness and his creation for the 145. Cory let us sneak a peek at the new Y2K Softail chassis a few months ago, only he cunningly left out that it was holding one of the unseen 145s at the time! The frame sports enough clearance for the big motor, plus 5 inches of backbone stretch and a 38-degree neck, as well as a serious resemblance to the incredibly popular rubber-mount Y2K-250 bike we gave away a few months ago.

Ness billet inner and outer primary covers hold a chain drive and Rivera clutch that transfers power to a five-speed transmission, designed with Bert Baker, which allows the use of dual 1-1/8-inch belts and Ness drive-side rear brakes (or just a single belt) to feed the 250 rear tire. The new Y2K swingarm is steel with billet aluminum sideplates to add extra style and definition, while more good looks are found up front, thanks to the use of Ness' hidden caliper 41mm forks.

Both wheels are Ness Hammers, a 21-inch front and massive 18x8.5 rear, with Avon tires for traction. Styling of the bike itself is classic Cory, elegant lines created with a Ness Hangnail front fender and Longshot rear combined with an Independent Gas Tank fuel tank (with fuel pump mount). The smooth lines should fool the average person into thinking this is just another pretty bike, until the Ness Rad II throttle is twisted and Cory's bike disappears in front of them. During the photo shoot, Brett Smith filled in for Cory and we got to see how fast the bike was, all the while looking poised and elegant.

Needless to say, everything on Cory's bike comes out of the Ness catalog and for good reason, he and Arlen designed most of it. That said, it should be really interesting to see what they have available when they receive their shipment of 145s in 2004.

So there you have it, 580 cubic inches in one article. We can't even begin to tell you just how good the four bikes sounded as they rode up to the photo shoot or how much better they sounded as they sped away to play in the Daytona sun (yes, we shot on the one sunny day during Bike Week). By the time you read this, Arlen's bike will up the number to 725 ci.

I had an opportunity to spend some time with Brett Smith after the shoot and he has a lot of plans for the future of S&S.; From what he told me, this is just the beginning of some very cool things to come.