“Dyno” Mike Wilson built the first 8-second street-legal Harley-Davidson in history. His passion for fast bikes has inspired him to take his 'very fast' prototype bikes to the next level by starting his own business, Dyno Mike's Dynamic Chassis .
If you want a motorcycle you can ride on the street and take to the track on race day you're in luck! Dyno Mike is currently building a limited number of Dynamic Chassis Street Pro bikes, so if you've got guts to ride one and have a little extra disposable income burning a hole in your pocket, just give him a call!
We recently visited Dyno Mike at his new shop in Belton, Missouri to find out more about the Dynamic Chassis Street Pro Bikes and for more details, check out the specs on these very unique motorcycles.
CC: Mike, please tell us about these bikes.
Mike: The Dynamic Chassis Street Pro bike has a 133-inch Pro Stock Twin-Cam engine. It’s a bike I developed with the help of Kosman Fabrications out in California. They build most of the pro stock chassis that are running in N.H.R.A. today and build a lot of chassis for the All Harley Drag Racing Association (A.H.D.R.A.). I had them build not only my prototype bike, but 25 frames, 25 rear wheels, 25 gas tanks—basically 25 of everything. To race in A.H.D.R.A., you must manufacture at least 25 units. The reason for this is because they don’t want any one-off specialty race frames to come out and dominate the class and have an unfair advantage. So we went by the A.H.D.R.A. rules and fabricated 25 of everything. We built a bike complete from the ground up and began testing it. We took it to the St. Louis All Harley drag races the first weekend in May and when we took it out of the trailer it drew a crowd. It was like our own private bike show. This production motorcycle has 28 degrees of rake and the motor is moved way forward. It is legal to run in several classes, has a lot of swing arm and shocks—everything a street bike needs for going fast. Kendall Johnson saw it and went absolutely crazy over it. He took the bike to the scales and weighed it to get front and rear weight distribution percentages. The idea is to get the weight forward to keep the front end down, but not so far forward that the bike spins the tire instead of hooking up and going. We have about 250 pounds on the rear tire without any rider weight.
CC: In what different classes can these bikes run?
Mike: In Street Pro, the bikes must weigh 5.5 pounds per cubic inch of engine displacement, with a maximum wheelbase of 70 inches. My bikes are also legal for several other classes. One of the classes we are targeting is the 124 Challenge Class, which is a new class in 2006. There have been several frames and rolling chassis sold to some guys who are racing competitively in those classes. It’s also legal in Hot Street.
Most people are running Harley-Davidson frames in a lot of these classes. It’s hard to get a bike based on a Harley frame light enough, so it’s nice to have something like this that’s made out of chrome molly. If you do have to put weight on it, you can put it wherever you want it. There are a lot of guys that weigh 200 pounds like I do who still want to race and have fun. Since the classes are designed to be competitive based on weight per cubic inch or minimum weight for a certain class or whatever, it’s nice that the little guys don’t have the advantage over a guy that’s 200 pounds with his leathers on. The bikes have carbon fiber fenders and chrome molly frames.
CC: What size of engine fits in these bikes?
Mike: The frame was designed to accept various engine sizes. The bigger bore engines have to be taller. Street Pro engines are typically anywhere from an inch and a half to two and a half inches taller than a stock motor. Those engines will also fit in our frames.
CC: Tell us more about your first 8-second bike.
Mike: In 2003, Star Racing, S&S, and I built the first 8-second Harley-Davidson street bike in Street Pro history. Chip Ellis from Star Racing rode that bike 8.90 at 148 miles per hour. Now there are some other guys who are going even faster. Andy Simons is going 8.50s and 8.60s now. He is dominating the class this year, but when Kendall Johnson saw the Dynamic Chassis bike in St. Louis he had me red-label one to their shop where they feverishly put it together with a 120-inch Sportster motor. They have been running some 8.90s at around 152 miles per hour. They have data gathering on the bike and have found they are having clutch slippage and things like that. I talked to Kendall two weeks ago, and he told me this chassis is so good it is causing them to re-think everything they thought they knew about drag racing. No matter how much clutch they put to this thing, it’s still slipping the clutch. So they are now stacking more and more weight on their lock-up, more and more spring pressure, and are getting their 60-foot times down around 1.35 which is in the range of the wheelie bar bikes. The chassis seems to be performing well, and we are planning to see a lot more of them this winter. We just received a delivery of five more from Kosman, so we are building and selling bikes, and the racers love them!
CC: Tell us more about your prototype bike.
Mike: I have taken my own bike to the track. It’s about 50 pounds overweight. I made the prototype kind of fancy. It’s kind of my business card. It has heavy brakes, 1-inch bars instead of 7/8, and a big, heavy front end. Everything about it is a little bit heavy, but even with me weighing 220 pounds with leathers; I’m still running 9.30s at 145 miles per hour. We’re still getting it dialed in. When you get a bike with that much horsepower, you have to re-think your clutch setup and tire pressure. There are all kinds of things you do a little bit differently. Most Harley parts are designed for stock motors that make 60 or 70 horsepower up to big-bore kits that make 110 to 120 horsepower. When you start doubling that, you have to find components that will hold up to that kind of abuse.
CC: Have you ever ridden this bike on the street?
Mike: It’s a fast bike, and we’ve ridden it to a few bike nights, so it is streetable. I don’t think I would want to ride it to Sturgis, but you can go a few miles at a time here and there.
CC: Are you selling different combinations, anything from a bare frame to a complete bike?
Mike: We sell them from the frame up. The frames have M.S.O.s that are legal with the A.H.D.R.A. and are easy to license. I’ve sold them to owners in various states. They are readily available and ready to go. We sell them with different combinations also. I’m getting ready to put one together for myself that has a Pro Stock front end and is really light. It will be more of a full-fledged track bike. It will have to be street legal to run in these classes, but we are going to put it on a serious diet and try to get it below 500 pounds. Weight is your enemy in a quarter-mile drag race.
CC: So people can buy individual parts or the complete bike?
Mike: They can buy the frame. They can buy a complete rolling chassis. They can buy any of the components we sell on the chassis. They can also buy a motorcycle that’s complete and ready to race.
CC: If someone calls you today and says they want a bike, how quickly can you deliver?
Mike: For Kendall Johnson, we delivered the next day. Sometimes you have to stay up all night to make deadlines like that. What I intend to do with the bikes I have in stock is to get them together in kind of a rolling fashion. When someone says they want one, I can e-mail a picture of the actual bike I’m going to send them and give them the VIN number so they can start working on parts from their end. They can come here, and we can fabricate things like pipes, custom handlebars, header assemblies—really anything they want. Even if they live in Florida, they are only a day away. If you are going to invest in a bike you’re going to ride for a few years, it’s worth a couple of days out of your life to come here and do some custom fabrication and stuff like that.
CC: It’s great that different engines will fit.
Mike: Yeah. The Dynamic Chassis is good even for a bracket racer where they are going to use a 100-horse 95-inch Twin-Cam motor, because they are going to have the advantage over most of their competitors because their bike is not going to wheelie and will run a good 60-foot time and deliver consistent e.t.s. The frames hold air, so it would be easy to install an air shifter without having to come up with a place to hang the bottle. They are kind of like a Pro Stock bike, but are street bike based. They have a lot of the things the professional drag bikes have on them.
I kid all of the manufacturers that the only thing their parts bolt to is my lathe and mill. We try to get it to where customers who buy these bikes can bolt different things to them. They can use Twin-Cam or Evolution motors. You can adapt a Sportster motor. You can run street tires or the DOT racing tires like Mickey Thompson’s and different front end packages. If you are going to ride on the street, I’d recommend using a Buell front end because it bolts right on, is the right height and the brakes are good on a Buell. Or they can use a TMFR, Track Dynamics, or Kosman front end. There are lots of choices depending on what you are doing with the motorcycle. The bike I’m building to race will have a Kosman Pro Stock front end with adjustable ride height. It has kind of a miniature jack shaft that allows you to raise or lower the axle.
CC: What’s your production plan? It doesn’t sound like you’re planning to build a lot of complete bikes and have them ready to go.
Mike: We can. The bikes I build for Amanda and me to race will also be for sale. I typically keep my bikes for a year or two. By then I have some different ideas on the direction I want to go for the next couple of bikes, so I’ll build a couple more. The bikes I ride are competitive enough that I don’t have much trouble selling them. The last one I sold to a gentleman in Hancock, Maine. He owns an Indian and Victory dealership and he is just going to do 1/8-mile racing at his local track. He’s not planning to ever compete nationally, but he’ll outclass everything that’s racing up there. This is actually the second bike he has bought from me.
CC: So out of the first 25 bikes, how many have you already assembled and sold?
Mike: One went to Kendall and I've sold several in California. I have one I’m getting ready to go right now. I’m getting ready to build the exhaust for it. This one is a street bike and it’s about done. We just need to weld the brake master cylinder on, and it’s ready to go to powder coat.
CC: Why do you build your own exhaust systems?
Mike: Typically, everything I build has a big engine in it. Most of the manufacturers build pipes to fit an ordinary Harley-Davidson motor, so they are not big enough for these. Or, because my frames will handle a 210 rear tire, the motor may be over a little bit, and a stock exhaust system won’t work. I like to route the pipes so they are away from the carburetor, so I can jet the carb at the track easier. I build all my exhausts out of real thin stainless steel, and I spring-mount them to the engine so you can just flip a couple of springs and the pipes come right off making it easier to work on the bike.
CC: Aside from Cycle Connections, what is your marketing plan to get the word out about your Dynamic Chassis bikes?
Mike: Since I’ve been in business for myself for the past year, I have found that word-of-mouth is the best advertising. I’ve done mail-outs, I’ve done T-shirts and hats, and I’ve done commercials, but word-of-mouth is hard to beat. If you can get one guy to come in and get an engine built, he’ll bring in five buddies to get engines built. If he finds your service is good, he’ll send his friends. Still, we’re trying to get more and more involved with our surrounding area. By going to A.H.D.R.A. and A.M.R.A. races we can show off what we have. It never hurts to get somebody big like Kendall Johnson on board. It takes time to get established. Nobody has 10,000 customers the day they open their doors. I was watching that new show The Driving Force with John Force and his daughters, and it showed clips of him 30 years ago. Now he has a multi-million dollar drag racing operation. It’s unbelievable. I don’t know what’s going to be in store for us down the road, but we’re just going to keep chipping away at it like we always have.
CC: How do you price your bikes?
Mike: It depends. I don’t think there’s a ton of money to be made on custom motorcycles. It’s certainly not my bread and butter, but it’s something I really love to do. I honestly can make more money doing one of my motor kits on a Harley-Davidson than I can putting this whole motorcycle together. The market will only bear so much, and if you were to count all of the hours of labor invested in one of these, you’d have to sell it for $80,000. These bikes will go for between $35,000 and $55,000 depending on the engine, which can be from $2,500 up to $25,000 or $35,000 if you want to go that crazy.
CC: Have you thought of marketing your products through any of the large motorcycle catalogs?
Mike: There are a lot of bikes-in-a-box now. You can call Drag Specialties or Custom Chrome or whoever offers such a product, and you can get a kit bike that comes with all of the components. You provide your own power plant. Something like that might work pretty well, but I want to produce a lot more of them so I know all of the bugs and kinks are worked out of them. Even though there are 25 of these, it’s still kind of a one-off deal. Harley-Davidson makes thousands of motorcycles, and still every once in a while you get a part that just doesn’t fit on the bike and has to be ground or modified in some way so it will work. They are supposed to all be the same, but the bottom line is they are not. That’s why there are tolerances. That’s why there are door shims on cars. They build millions and they are all just a little different. You could go get five identical Dyna Low-Riders off the showroom floor and each one would run a little differently and have a different feel. With that being said, I want to make sure I’ve thoroughly tested them. and have a lot of good racers that have raced them and made sure they are safe.
CC: Why would someone buy one of your bikes instead another drag bike?
Mike: It depends on what you are doing with it. One of the things that really stands out on this chassis is the 28-degree rake. Even with that rake, the motor almost touches the front tire. Everything is as far forward as you are going to get it. That allows you to give it more gas and more clutch when leaving the starting line. Your 60-foot time will be better. I’ve found if you can improve a tenth at the starting line, it’s usually good for a tenth-and-a-half at the finish line. You definitely have a big advantage when you improve your start. A lot of the Harleys that are racing use a frame that won’t hold a big back tire unless you spread the frame. The new ones are a little better, but Harley frames are still heavy.
CC: So there you have it! If you're looking for a Harley-Davidson you can ride on the street and the track, look no farther than Dyno Mike's Dynamic Chassis Street Pro bike and make sure to check out the specs on these very unique motorcycles.
Interview by Stripe, Mike Schweder and Dave Miller.
Bike photos by Michael Blomberg with Main Street Photography (816) 830-6363