David was passing through El Paso on his way to Phoenix and kept his word about stopping by for a trike test ride totally unlike what’s available on an average Harley dealership’s floor. The Dart 434” V8 has a way of taking things to a whole new level and then some. Approximately ten times the power (off the bottle) of a Tri Glide Ultra Classic with only a 300-pound increase in total weight quickly puts things into perspective and quick is the operative word. I better get on this bike quick before my legs regain their use and I run like the little girl I am.
Firing right up cold at the slightest touch of the starter button, David lets it warm up while he explains the correct operation procedures. He shows me little things like how easily the trans brake works, but I’m laughing inside my head thinking he’s crazy if he thinks I’m going to engage that. Or how there’s no foot controls, just a place to rest your feet so they can wrap around the headers, but that both front and rear brakes each have their own hand-lever controls. Or, how the shifter for the two-speed Hughes Racing Powerglide tranny perched right next to my left thigh works. I try and take it all in over the somewhat deafening din of the 434” Dart’s not-exactly-neighbor-friendly exhaust which frankly, sounds simply fabulous to me. Everything sounds as simple as driving an automatic ’59 Chevy and it is except it’s missing a wheel and has a hell of a lot more beans.
Other than having to wrap your legs around a V8, the riding position is pretty custom-bike familiar and actually quite comfortable. I don’t think I’d be ready for a cross-country trip, but for a weekend ride it would be no worse than any custom bike I’ve been on and a hell of a lot more comfortable than most. The bars are wide with a decent reach and provide a nice bit of leverage to corner a trike. Remember, you gotta steer this thing, not lean around corners. The Alligator Bob alligator seat is surprisingly comfy and made to hold you in place under extreme power.
Enough of the trivialities, it’s time to hit the road. A quick and firm click into gear after the obligatory blips of the throttle just to hear and feel the power, the trike pulls smartly away into traffic and towards a traffic light where the brakes easily pull the 1500-pound to a halt. Waiting for the light to go green, I can feel the stares of all those around me checking out this beast. When the light turns, I just nail it and traffic is a distant memory on the way to the first exit ramp on I-10 where I can start to really experience the Dart motor. Unfortunately there were cops everywhere along the interstate that day so I had to drive a good 20 miles before things opened up and I could open it up. It did give me time to just sit and contemplate riding this bike under normal conditions and it really was quite likeable. The engine was smooth as silk and you’d never know this thing was breathing through a huge 850cfm Edelbrock carb and not some modern EFI. It just pulls like a freight train being pulled by another, even more powerful freight train. Nice.
When I finally got to a section of highway that wasn’t all busted up, I got to twist the throttle hard and man, you find yourself holding onto those grips hard as the acceleration is physics-defying for such a large machine. Triple digits register on the digital speedo at the blink of an eye, but it’s surprisingly easy to ride all things considered. Finding the only really curvy, deserted road I knew of, I pulled off I-10 and meandered down it for five or so miles before heading back to the highway. Not too shabby, but obviously no Ducati. Everything just worked like David said it would.
Before getting back on I-10, I had to use a deserted service road with a great surface and straight as an arrow. Channeling the inner David in me, I repeatedly stopped and let’s just say, I had a hell of a lot of fun seeing how hard this can pull out of a hole so to speak. Sweet Jesus, this thing can light ‘em up. I never used the trans brake, but a little lever pressure was all that was needed to spin up those big 315mm rear tires. Oh what silly fun.
If you’re looking for a trip and you’re not interested in going back to the ‘60s version of one, a V8 Choppers trike is the next best thing. Just ask David as he has that look in his eyes whenever he fires his trike up. I can’t wait until he stops by with his new lightweight version and take another ride to the wild side.
For more info on getting your own V8 Choppers’ trike in Sport, Touring, or Hot Rod versions with a wide range of engines from mild to wild, visit www.v8choppers.com.