Bulldog Road Test
The day started out just like most-got up, hit the shower and the coffee pot, then headed to the most important room on the property, the garage. As I was gearing up to head to work for the day it all seemed the same as every other day to ride. The sun was out, kids were at school, and traffic still sucked. Once I got through the gauntlet we call "L.A.'s suicide ride" (the morning commute) I was able to fire up the computer and check a few e-mails. As I opened the one with the subject line that read "your Bulldog is here," two thoughts crossed my mind. Had someone found a lost dog and they think it is mine? Or did the big bosses at Big Dog finally send us the Bulldog Bagger?
As I opened the email a smile opened as well; it was the Big Dog Bagger we had been waiting way too long for. I called Horn Cycle Works in Pomona, California, the shop where the bike was delivered to, and talked with the owner, Curtis. I was told the Bulldog was sitting on the showroom floor, detailed and ready to go. If I didn't get it soon, he was going to take it for a ride and I may not get it back. As Curtis was telling me about how good the bike looked and sounded, I was growing excited and looking forward to riding the bike. I had a small overnighter planned for that weekend so a bike with bags would work just right. Besides, what better way to test the bike than to take a road trip.
The next day I picked the bike up and headed back to the house to grab my gear. The first concern was saddlebag space; there was not a lot of it. The bags are deep but kind of thin for a touring bike. The good thing was I did not need to take much on this trip-a small camera bag, a change of clothes and a toothbrush. I was going to be wearing my gear so no need to pack any, and there was no sign of rain.
My first stop was the gas station to top off the tank. At first I worried the shape of the stretched steel one-piece fuel tank was not going to yield much fuel but was glad to see over 4.5 gallons of gas go into the tank. I started heading west on the 210 Freeway to connect with Interstate 5 where I met up with my brother, who was delivering a bike to a customer in Concord, California, and picking up one from Vallejo. So this would turn out to be a cool little road trip and a great way to break in the Bulldog. And, no, he didn't ride on the back of the Bulldog; his customer gave him a ride.
We headed out to Highway 126 to connect with Route 101 and rumbled north for about 300 miles. Here is where all the power from the closed-loop electronic fuel-injected 111ci V-twin motor came into play. When needed, a quick twist on the throttle was all it took to pass all the slow cars and big-rigs. The bike was very smooth and comfortable throughout the full range of power but seemed to find its sweet spot at around 80mph (don't tell anyone). With the motor rubber mounted this gives the Bulldog superior vibration isolation at all speeds. As far as the exhaust system goes the bike has a real nice deep, throaty sound that was loud enough to be heard and noticed.
The motor is attached to the Baker six-speed tranny with BDM's Balance Drive primary. The right-side drive pulley allows for better balance, cornering, and maneuverability. The Baker 6-speed transmission and clutch are designed with the extra gear to smooth out highway driving. The final belt drive is a narrow 28mm carbon fiber belt, the ideal size for the wide 250mm rear tire.