By now we've all heard of a little company called Boss Hoss. They're the ones that take Chevy small-block V-8s (and big-blocks, and V-10s...) and build bikes around them. There's something wickedly and uniquely American about that kind of raw excess. To have a motorcycle with literally hundreds of horsepower at the twist of the right grip is a dream, but wrestling around a steed that large is not everyone's cup of 20w50.
Doug Earle was one of those guys. He was entranced with the power of the classic American V-8, but was far from impressed with the long, heavy things passing for V-8-powered bikes. Like many other life-consuming habits, this one started in college. His particular quest (that culminated with the bike seen here) started when he was in his last year at the Vehicle Research Institute at Western Washington University. He started with a Ford 351 Cleveland engine block, and using the tools at his disposal built a virtual version of the bike on the school's computers.
He went with a Ford powerplant over the easily obtainable Chevy purely for the huge weight advantage the Ford has...even a Chevy with aluminum heads is heavier than the Ford. The 351's case was cracked, so a 302 was substituted instead. Doug discovered that the engine was best used as a fully stressed member to make the overall machine as compact as possible. In fact, that was the guiding principle behind the whole project. A day was spent finding a place for the fuel pump.
The fuel tank is welded around the oil pan, and its 4-gallon reservoir sits under the bike along with a Volkswagen Jetta Radiator (complete with 10 computer case fans). Milled stainless steel fastens the engine in place. A three-speed Honda CRX tranny rests in a hollow of the hand-welded frame and is connected to the engine with a pair of machined aluminum brackets. While other V-8 bikes typically use only a one or two-speed gearbox, other V-8 bikes might not do block-long 30 mph burnouts! Power is run out of the motor using a huge Gates 85mm belt which has no problem transmitting the engine's 225 stock horsepower to the tranny. However, the 630 chain that runs from the trans to the rear wheel has been known to snap. A new design is in the works involving a second chain. Trial and error is bound to happen in uncharted territory like this. The billet primary was designed by Doug and fabbed by Erik Simmons, and the custom pulleys machined from Marlin gun blanks.
The complete package has a 66.5-inch wheelbase and weighs about 800 pounds- less than a typical bagger. Granted, with no rear suspension, you won't be going on any long trips. That said, unlike most other V-8-engined bikes, this one has its powerplant mounted facing forward like a V-Twin motorcycle would, so there's no pesky torquing of the bike when you get on the gas, or inadvertent lane-changes.
This street-legal bike has been in its current form for almost four years while Doug shakes out all of the bugs. His ultimate dream is to offer the finished piece as a kit for other horsepower junkies. Until that day, if you are in the Pacific Northwest and spot an oddly small rigid custom with a monster engine, it's probably Doug.
|TECH SPECS |
|BIO||Owner ||Douglas Earle |
|Year/Make/Model ||2003/Custom |
|Build Time ||Two Years |
|Assembly ||Douglas Earle |
|Fabrication ||Douglas Earle (and many others) |
|Value ||Make Offer |