Motorcycle Reviews


A-1 is located in the heart of Gladstone, Missouri where the name says it all. As you walk through the doors you will find a friendly, helpful, and professional staff of seven anxiously awaiting the opportunity to ink or pierce some part of your body.

Brennan O’Rourke, owner/operator, has been a tattoo artist for 16 years. His expertise in artistic design and tattooing comes from a background in art and an invaluable apprenticeship with a biker from the old school, Wild Bill of Columbus, Georgia. Brennan said Wild Bill was unbelievable, an awesome mentor, and he learned so much from him. Brennan has received many awards and has been recognized at numerous conventions for his tattoo artistry. He was named “Best Tribal Design” artist at this year’s Am-Jam. He also was selected as one of two featured artists for a two month OzFest Tour this past summer.

Chris Hughes is A-1’s body piercing specialist and has been in the business for 11 years. He started out as a punk rock kid doing piercing on himself and his friends. Now Chris has a degree in Nursing and was named “Best Body Piercing” specialist in the Midwest by Pitch Magazine. He has traveled to Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia to visit, train and work in other studios. Chris has been riding motorcycles since he was 3 years old and also restores and races vintage British motorcycles. He presently owns four bikes and rides daily, weather permitting.

According to Brennan and Chris, when it comes to tattoos you get what you pay for. If you choose cheap, you will soon be running to a real artist to have it covered up. Their advice is to shop around, not for price, but for quality. This is not something you want to rush in to lightly. Many people decide on impulse or on a whim to get a tattoo, and then usually don’t want to wait. When you decide to get a tattoo, take the time to find the right artist. Look for an excellent artist, view their portfolio and look closely at their work. Look at their lines to see if they are smooth and not jagged. Colors should be bold and completely inked. See if they are friendly and willing to talk with you by asking questions. Ask your friends. If they had a good experience, they will share it with you. If they had a bad experience, they will warn you.

Tattoos and body piercing are safe, as long as you go to a reputable artist that goes by recommended safety pre-cautions. Both Brennan and Chris have 80% of their bodies tattooed. I asked Brennan and Chris a few questions about the tattoo and body piercing industry, their philosophy and the current trends.

CC: Is there a license or certification required to do tattoos? If so, what is the fee?

Brennan: No, there is no certification required, but the State of Missouri, Department of Economical Development does require you to be licensed. For a fee of $100, a person can operate a business anywhere, from a basement home operation to a dumpster behind a fast food restaurant. The business pays an annual $500 fee plus $100 per employee. The State comes out once a year for an inspection of your premises.

CC: How do you sterilize your equipment?

Brennan: The process for sterilization of equipment is done with steam in an autoclave. Using this process eliminates cross contamination. We perform a spore (live bacteria) test weekly, which is then sent to a lab to be analyzed. All of our tools are disposable.

CC: Who is getting tattoos these days?

Chris: Everyone! No certain groups, we have blue collar, white collar, priests, you name it.

CC: What designs are females getting and where on their body are they being tattooed?

Brennan: In the past couple of years, females have gone from small tattoos to larger ones and from single to multiple tattoos. The designs have been hearts, angels and butterflies. If you noticed the girl who just walked outside, I finished her entire back this time.

CC: Yes, I did notice. Wow! Impressive work!

Chris: The lower back and ankles are the most popular areas and we have noticed there are more older women getting tattoos also.

CC: What do you consider older?

Chris: Oh, 50 or so.

That hit up close and personal to me, of course, I have a son their age and he probably thinks his mom is old too!

CC: What designs are the guys getting?

Brennan: Arm bands, tribal, Japanese influence.

CC: What is tribal?

Brennan: Solid black designs, loops, points and lines. Take a look at our books they are filled with tribal designs.

CC: Is there an age requirement?

Brennan: Yes, 18 years old and they must have a state issued ID.

CC: When I hear that someone got a tattoo, invariably someone will ask if they were drunk when they got it. Is that common?

Chris: No, we absolutely will not work on someone who has alcohol content; it’s also against state law. If I found someone with alcohol on their breath, they would be asked to leave.

CC: What is the oldest client you have tattooed or pierced?

Chris: An 86-year-old man who promised his wife he would never get a tattoo. After she passed away he came in and had a poker hand tattooed on the knuckles of one hand and his wife’s name on the other.

CC: How long does a tattoo take?

Brennan: The average is approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Of course that depends on the size and design.

CC: Do you do custom designs?

Brennan: Yes, I usually draw the design on paper first go over it with the customer then make any changes. My portfolios are filled with samples of my work.

CC: Do most people know what design they want when they come in?

Brennan: Sometimes. Whatever a client wants or picks out has its own meaning to the individual and shows how it relates to them. I don’t judge others.

CC: What is the most sensitive part of the body to tattoo?

Brennan: The ribcage is usually the last place someone will get done.

CC: Even if you have excess body fat?

Brennan: Body fat and bone does not make a difference, it’s the nerves and nerves feel pain!

CC: Do you do facial tattoos?

Brennan: No, we choose not to. If done right, it looks good.

CC: What areas are the easiest to pierce?

Chris: Ears, tongue, eyebrow.

CC: What is the most piercing you have seen on one person?

Chris: I saw 100 on a guy.

CC: What is the healing time for a naval piercing?

Chris: Six to ten months to heal, must stay out of the water six to eight weeks and follow proper care instructions.

CC: What is the biggest change you have seen in the industry in the past several years?

Brennan: Technique, more and more people getting into the business are artists.

Chris: Many have art training or are degreed; they are creative, know proper color blending and are experts at custom design.

CC: Where do you get your tattoos?

Chris: Guest artists that come to town or other studios out of state.

Brennan: Or we do each other occasionally.

CC: How difficult is it to remove tattoos?

Brennan: We don’t do removals, only cover-ups. I can’t imagine any of my clients wanting to remove a tattoo I have put on them. We do great tattoos.

A-1 is in business to put on great tattoos that are pieces of art that you wear for life. Brennan does excellent work and is very proud of it.

CC: What happens when a tattoo is put on too deep?

Brennan: It really messes the person up; whoever does this has no clue about the skin.

Dustin and Jessi Wolf shared an example of this experience with me. I met them while on a ride with the Southern Cruisers – KC Chapter. From a recommendation of a friend (not always a good resource), Dustin went to a “basement operator.” The guy needed money to open a business so he was trying to help him out. Dustin looked at custom designs that had the guy’s name on them, but later found out they were not his work. The guy had five years experience; little did Dustin know how bad it would get. Because Dustin works for Ford, is proud to be a union man and an American, he wanted FORD on his upper left arm. The so-called artist went to deep in the skin, and according to Dustin, 'it blew out, so the color blurs out under the skin.' It looked like a big smudge on his arm to me, and FORD was barely visible. Dustin’s next tattoo will be a cover-up over the mistake of an unskilled, inexperienced, basement operator. Jessi also had a tattoo put on too deep and the area raised up and the ink seeped up through the skin. The same guy that did Dustin’s also did Jessi’s. Beware folks!

Dustin and Jessi were given birthday gifts by Dustin's sister, Brande Luna who has several tattoos, and just received her sixth the day before this interview, all from A-1. Because they do not wear wedding bands, they had matching wedding bands tattooed on their left arms two years ago. Jessi has two tattoos so far and is already getting psyched up for her next one, “a wolf of course,” says Jessi. Dustin has three tattoos. They highly recommend the talent and skill of A-1 Tattoo.

As the interview came to a close at the A-1 studio, several customers had come in wanting information on new tattoos, designs, cover-ups and prices. The minimum price is $50. Dustin and Jessi’s wedding bands were $150 each. I browsed through Brennan’s portfolio of tattoos and Chris’s portfolio of body piercing (wide eyed by the end)! The places people decide to get pierced were quite amazing to this “older woman!” I was impressed with the detail, color and designs of the custom work. Both Brennan and Chris are very skilled and talented artists that take their business seriously, and they want their customers to feel welcome and come back. Brennan’s parting words were, “If a tattoo looks good now, it should look good in 20 years. It’s going to age, but they can age gracefully if put on correctly.”

I enjoyed this interview so much that I seriously thought about hanging around and getting a tattoo, but duty calls, on to the next interview!

If you are contemplating getting a tattoo, stop in and visit with A-1. Be sure to tell Brennan and Chris that you read their review in Cycle Connections.

Story and Photos by Goldie Arnold

April 30, 2011

Dawg's Barter Bike

I recently met Mike “Dawg” Bradley via mutual friends at our local hangout. He’s a junk man by pedigree as his father was before him. He described a project that he had been envisioning in his sleep, and that it was going to be a personal challenge for him to complete in “30 days.” Building bikes and cars has been a passion for him his entire life, but given the timeframe and the fact he was starting with “zero;” this was a daunting task. Mike disappeared for nearly a month, and when I started getting photos of his progress, I was amazed. The complete build took him only 27 days of working alone.

Mike’s so called “Barter Bike” was quickly taking shape. He initially traded a 2001 Chevy truck bed for the custom wheels and tires, a jet ski for the frame, a 1993 mustang for the motor, transmission and tins, and sold a rigid bike frame to complete the build. What Mike created in his backyard garage was incredible, as you can see from the photos. He personally designed, built, and painted this beauty himself….no credit cards here. Mike has $1,100 invested in this bike that is conservatively valued at 30k.

I recently talked “Dawg” into allowing me to take a few photos. He’s a very talented, yet humble bike builder, who certainly fits the image that Cycle Connections may like to promote.

Build Sheet:
- 2005 Custom Softail
- S&S 110 motor
- 6-speed transmission
- Custom wheels
- 200 rear tire
- 20” ape hangers w/forward controls

By Chip Wright

This eye-catching new addition to the Ducati superbike family is a true work of art. With its naked design, powerful 185 bhp engine, massive 50mm Marzocchi forks and protruding air intakes, this is a bike to be reckoned with, both on the street and at the track.
On Friday, March 25, 2011, Steve Okenfuss, owner of Reno’s Powersports in Kansas City, Missouri invited Wally and I to his Ducati Diavel Launch Party. Unfortunately, I had a prior commitment, but Wally was able to attend and gather the following specs on this incredible new bike.

Diavel Carbon - Technical Specification

Frame: Tubular steel Trellis frame
Wheelbase: 62.6 inches
Rake: 28 degrees
Front Suspension: Marzocchi DLC coated 50mm fully adjustable usd forks
Front Wheel Travel: 4.7 inches
Front Wheel: Marchesini forged and machined 9-spoke 3.50x17
Front Tire: 120/70 ZR 17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II
Rear Suspension: Progressive linkage with fully adjustable Sachs monoshock. Aluminium single-sided swingarm
Rear Wheel Travel: 4.7 inches
Rear Wheel: Marchesini forged and machined 9-spoke 8.00 x 17
Rear Tire: 240/45 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II
Front Brake: 2 x 320mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Monobloc Brembo calipers, 4-piston with ABS
Rear Brake: 265mm disc, 2-piston floating caliper with ABS
Fuel Tank Capacity: 4.5 US gallons
Dry Weight: 465 pounds
Instruments: Handlebar mounted instrumentation with LCD display: speed, rpm, time, coolant temp. Warning lights for: Neutral, turn signals, high-beam, rev-limit, DTC intervention, ABS status, oil pressure, fuel reserve. Tank mounted instrumentation with TFT color display: gear selected, air temp, battery voltage, trips 1 & 2, fuel reserve trip, average and actual fuel consumption, average speed, trip time, scheduled maintenance. Full status and/or management of Riding Modes, DTC, RbW and ABS
Warranty: 2 years unlimited mileage
Body Color: Red and Matt Carbon (red/black) - Glossy and Matt
Frame/Wheel: Carbon (racing black/black)
Versions: Dual seat
Seat Height: 30.3 inches

Type: Testastretta 11°, L-Twin cylinder, 4 valve per cylinder, Desmodromic, liquid cooled
Displacement: 1198.4cc
Bore x Stroke: 106 x 67.9mm
Compression Ratio: 11.5:1
Power: 162hp @ 9500rpm
Torque: 94lb-ft @ 8000rpm
Fuel Injection: Mitsubishi electronic fuel injection system, Mikuni elliptical throttle bodies with RbW
Exhaust: Lightweight 2-1-2 system with catalytic converter and two lambda probes. Twin aluminum mufflers

Gearbox: 6-Speed
Ratio: 1=37/15 2=30/17 3=27/20 4=24/22 5=23/24 6=22/25
Primary Drive: Straight cut gears, ratio 1.84:1
Final Drive: Front sprocket 15; Rear sprocket 43
Clutch: Light action, wet, multiple clutch with hydraulic control. Self-servo action on drive, slipper action on over-run

Standard: Euro 3

This bike has 59,000 miles and is in excellent condition.

$3,500.00 or best offer

For additional information, contact Wally at 816-679-5235.

Fremont Street Experience Commissions the First Ever Las Vegas-Themed Motorcycle
Las Vegas (June 12, 2009) --Award-winning bike builder James Callahan announced today that Callahan Custom Cycles , has been commissioned by Fremont Street Experience to build the first ever Las Vegas-themed motorcycle as part of Fremont Street Experience’s 'Born To Be Wild' promotion.
“It is an honor to have been chosen for this build,” Callahan said. “I take pride in knowing that the Callahan name will forever be a part of Las Vegas history. We want to thank Fremont Street Experience for putting their confidence in our shop.” .
Fremont Street Experience is a five-block entertainment destination which links 10 downtown Las Vegas hotel-casinos. The featured attraction of Fremont Street Experience is the world’s largest video screen, Viva Vision. The “Pit Boss” custom motorcycle is scheduled to be unveiled during Las Vegas’ BikeFest weekend, Oct. 1-4. .
The privilege of designing the Las Vegas-themed custom bike, deemed “Pit Boss”, went to conceptual artist and designer Bogdan 'Bo' Asciu, owner of Custom Eyes Concepts Co.. The concept design of 'Pit Boss’ can currently be seen nightly in its virtual form in “Born 2B Wild.” The six-minute video plays nightly at midnight on Fremont Street Experience’s world-renowned Viva Vision canopy screen. The world’s largest LED video screen spans 1,500 feet of four blocks, captivating viewers with 12.5 million lights along with a 550,000-watt sound system. .
“We used the concept of 'Pit Boss’ in our new Viva Vision show 'Born 2B Wild’, which we debuted at last year’s Las Vegas BikeFest,” said Jeff Victor, President of Fremont Street Experience. “Now during this year’s Las Vegas BikeFest, we will be unveiling the real thing. Between Bogdan’s unique design and the talent that James brings to the build, we know we have a classic, one-of-a-kind motorcycle in the making.” .
“Fremont Street Experience gave us a well-written theme description which fit well with my love of old school bike and car designs. Conceiving the 'Pit Boss’ proved effortless,” Asciu said regarding his inspiration for the “Pit Boss” design. “I am immensely grateful to Fremont Street Experience for giving the builder and myself this incredible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It's truly an honor to work with them and Callahan Custom Cycles to add to the history of Fremont Street.' .
For additional information on this build, its participants or to become a sponsor, please contact Milton Campis at Over The Limit Productions.

October 31, 2008

2008 Can-Am Spyder

When I was approached by Steve Okenfuss of Reno's Yamaha in Kansas City, Missouri to come and see the 2008 Can-Am Spyder, I jumped at the chance. For those of you who are not familiar with the Spyder, it is a 3-wheeled roadster made by Bombardier Recreational Products that offers the performance of a traditional motorcycle with “much of the peace-of-mind of a convertible sports car.” It is powered by a Rotax) 990 V-Twin engine that produces 106 hp. The Spyder uses an ATV-like chassis with a single rear drive wheel, and two wheels in front for steering (similar in layout to a snowmobile.) In most US states (Washington, Delaware and California are exceptions) the Spyder is licensed as a motorcycle, though some reviewers have stated it is much easier to achieve proficiency and confidence with the Spyder than with a motorcycle.
Steve and I met at one of the local Kansas City lakes to bang this 106 horsepower beast through the corners. (Steve rode; I took pictures.) The Spyder maxes out around 130 mph. The main feature is a stability system or VSS that monitors the vehicle at all times and intervenes in case one of the front wheels lifts off the ground (it cuts the engine and applies the brake on the outer wheel). The Spyder also comes with additional convenience features such as simplified braking (front and rear brakes are both actuated by the same foot pedal), a true reverse gear, power steering and an optional electric shift transmission. It has a 6.6 gallon gas tank gets up to 30-35 miles to the gallon. The Spyder is not only fun, it’s functional. Even the cargo compartment under the “hood” at the front of the vehicle is roomy enough for a 12 pack and at least 1 extra helmet. To help prevent theft, there is the DESS (Digitally Encoded Security System). The vehicle will not start without the correctly coded key.
Billed as a vehicle that offers the performance of a traditional motorcycle with much of the peace-of-mind of a convertible sports car, there is nothing like it on the road. It is in a vehicle category all its own. Marketing efforts are geared toward baby boomers who are seeking the thrill of the ride but with clutchless shifting technology and added safety features.
Though it provides an entirely different sensation than a motorcycle or trike, the Can-Am Spyder is a new alternative for those looking to add a new dimension to their riding experience.

By Dave Miller

Sometimes, things just stand out in a crowd. There seems to always be that one motorcycle at a bike night or motorcycle run that just seems to have “it.” It could be a flashy paint job, a monster engine, flashy wheels, or a combination of any or all of the above. Rarely is it a stock motorcycle though, because that stand-out ride usually is a full-on custom or someone’s dream bike that they have built. Well, when I showed up to Rt. 66 Ridley in Carthage, Missouri for a test ride, I was very surprised at what exactly was waiting for me. Sitting up next to the wall outside, against a blue background, was a gorgeous motorcycle. One that said, “Look at me, I am one of a kind.” The pearl and teal paint shone in the sunlight, the flash of chrome, and the fine lines stood out in my mind right off the bat. I thought to myself, this can’t be a stock bike; its detail is way too high for a stock bike. Boy, was I wrong on that one.

Derek came out and said hi, shook my hand, and in his laid back way, thanked me for coming out. We went over some of the specifications I had questions about, and I looked the bike over. When I say Ridley puts attention to detail into their motorcycles, I am making the understatement of the year. The lines on this bike, the fit and finish, the quality of components…all are standout, and outstanding. First thing you notice about this bike is the level of components that are used. From the braided stainless steel lines for the brakes and throttle to the polished brake rotors, there are all kind of goodies used on this bike. I will go over more of the details of what is used on this bike in the ride details.

We hopped on the bikes, (he has a Classic also), set the choke, pulled in the brake, and fired off the bikes. The motors came to life, with mine being quite a bit more subdued in sound due to the stock 80DB pipes on the bike. Actually, as I have gotten older, I have gotten to where I appreciate the lack of noise constantly berating my eardrums. The exhaust has a great standout feature that you would not normally see on a stock motorcycle--ceramic coating. While not flashy like chrome, its redeeming quality makes it far more desirable to me than the fancy chrome in most cases. Tough, durable, and corrosion resistant, it makes for a lot less time taking care of something that can dull and require a lot of cleaning just because of where it is located. Derek went over some details with me to bring to my attention how different it would feel to ride an “automatic and shiftless” motorcycle, since I was used to riding my big Twin. “You will use your brakes just a bit more, because you won’t downshift. It takes some people a little time to get used to it, but most catch on quick,” Derek said. So after a little warm-up, off we went.

The bikes ergonomics are very good. Reach to the bars and controls were very comfortable. I was torn between wanting the high/low beam and the horn buttons switched out in where they were located, but for safety’s sake, they are actually probably better off where they are. The throttle was effortless, and very smooth. The floorboards had lots of room, but on the left side, the casing does rub your boot. Derek had told me that tall people usually ride with their foot in front of that case, and short people ride with it towards the back. Being six feet tall, I did end up riding with my feet more forward on the bike, and it seemed it wasn’t an issue as much as I thought it would be. The reach to the brake pedal was fine, and you could tell that the ball bearings inside the pedal housing led to a lot smoother feel on the pedal. The amount of rubber to put your feet against also gave more confidence to your braking. Braking is handled by four piston calipers front and rear, made exclusively for Ridley. A little heavier than your standard calipers of the same size, they are made that way because you will tend to slow down your bike with your brakes instead of engine braking. The front brake, as well as the back brake, works well with this bike, slowing the bike down with ease, and hauling you down to a stop with little effort.

At idle at the stop signs, the bike vibrated just enough to give you the feel you expect; a little more noticeable than a Honda, but a lot less noticeable than a Harley. To me, it was just right. When you pulled away and got up to highway speeds, the stock mirrors showed no vibrations and were very easy to see out of, another safety factor I like. The digital dash was easy to read in the sunlight, and had all the things you need to see. I would have liked bigger turn signal indicators, but that is just personal preference. Speaking of safety, this bike is adorned with great lighting, and LED turn signals front and back allow the cars around you to see what you are planning. They also have a self canceling feature, so that gets an A+. A real cool retro styled tombstone taillight out back leaves an uncluttered look to the rear of the bike. The wires for the turn signals are more or less hidden for a clean look.

The stock seat was a little hard on the tailbone, but to give it a break, it had not been broken in. It may give a little after a bit, but I would probably do the upgrade on the seat. I sat on Derek’s, and he had the touring version. Very nice, comfortable, and supportive in all the right spots, it is one that I would spring the small amount of green backs for.
The 40 degree rake in the neck, with a 3 degree offset in the trees gave the bike a wonderful ride. This bike invokes confidence in a lot of riders, from large to small. The adjustable Progressive suspension is top of the line, and handled all that I could give it. I am a big boy, (my wife reminds me of this all the time, too bad I have never met Jenny Craig) and I can test a suspension. The front tracked well, and the rear soaked up everything out there, and was very smooth going over a couple of rough railroad crossings out in the scenic area we rode in. The low seat height made for planting your feet easy, and came in at just over 24 inches. The dry weight on this bike is listed at 450 pounds, but it never felt that heavy. The 66 inch wheelbase led to a lot of the stability the bike had. It came shod with Metzler 880s front and rear, on 60 spoke, 16 inch wheels. Very nice touch if you ask me.

Riding down the road, it didn’t take long to get used to the auto-glide, shiftless transmission. I was a little worried at first when I heard the belt disengage, but got used to it. It wasn’t real loud, but I heard it, and until I figured out that it was one of the noises you hear, I was a little worried. Like I said though, after I knew I was supposed to be hearing it, it didn’t bother me. The bike responded real well to throttle input, and was very comfortable with highway speeds around 55-60 MPH. I can’t give you an interstate feel for this bike, because I didn’t take it for a ride down the super slab. With the proper tweaking on the throttle and finding its sweet spot, it shouldn’t be a problem at all to ride it at interstate speeds. The carb is more than enough for the engine, and leaves room for performance upgrades. A windshield may also help with any buffeting or streamlining, but the bike I test rode was not equipped with one, so I can’t tell you just what it would do. It didn’t take very long to get used to the automatic feature of this bike. I would love to have had one down in Florida with me when I was there in the stop and go traffic a few weeks ago. Not having to hold the clutch in was great at the stop signs, and like I said before, the bike pulled away with authority from a stop. I give the Mikuni 36MM Flatslide carb a lot of credit for that. The 90 degree V-Twin has plenty of power for its 750 CC of size.

When I got back to the shop from my ride, I set another feature of this bike that is safety minded. The parking brake. Easy to use, great piece of mind for parking on a hill. With a little practice, it is easy to engage and disengage. The kickstand on this bike is set a little farther back than I would like, but it is easy to find also.

Talking to Derek, I asked him about maintaining the bike. Maintaince is easy, with a drain plug on the front for changing the oil, a common spin on oil filter that is common on a lot of American made brands, and the K and N oil filter within easy reach. More mind easing features if you ask me. Another cool feature is the standard battery tender, with a plug in already installed right under the seat and easy to get to. I like that. I have never run across a bike with that already on it, and it makes it great for those long winter weeks when you might not get to ride because of the weather.

To summarize my ride, I would have to say I was way more impressed with this bike than a lot of bikes I have ridden. Ridley targets a certain audience, but to be honest, the bike will fit a larger segment of riders than most would know. Getting someone to just try it, may be the key to breaking down that barrier of “old school” thinking. I have to admit, I would not mind having one of these bikes myself. It would fit my wife just perfect, and the shiftless riding is wonderful. The bikes are priced high, and the test bike was outfitted with optional paint and matching frame and white wall tires. Its suggested retail was $19,425. Now that being said, I think the bike’s price is well within reason by looking at what you get exactly. The fit and finish of this bike should be looked at by other manufactures, for it really stands out. The level of components that I have mentioned deserves merit also. And then on top of that, there is the exclusitivity factor of owning one. Ridley really believes in the way they build them, for they back it up with a 2 year warranty. That also says something right there. So all and all a wonderful bike, that reaches its target audience right on the money. I really wish I didn’t have to park it; I could have had more fun and easy riding than I could ever hope for. Thanks again Derek, you showed once again why you are one of the best dealers to deal with in the Midwest.

2008 Ridley Auto-Glide Classic:
Suggested retail price as tested: $19,425
Standard features noted on test bike that stood out:

60 spoke laced wheels front/back with polished brake rotors
4-piston brake calipers, front/back
Metzler 880 tires
Tubular swingarm with adjustable Progressive suspension
K & N filter
Digital dash
Braided SS throttle and brake lines
Screw in gas caps with paint saver features
Chrome switch housings
Ceramic coated dual exhaust

Optional features:

Premium paint and matching frame
Whitewall tires

For a complete list of the factory specifications, log on to

Review by Jim Austin

Photos by Paul 'Luc Chokota with Reflections by Paul Photography

Since the beginning of the year I was eager to see what the motorcycle manufactures were producing in 2007 in order to remain in the top ten. I was also interested in finding out what bike would receive the bragging rights as Cycle World's 2007 Bike of the Year, which was awarded to the 2007 Suzuki Boulevard M109R.

When Bart Shifflett and Chris Thacker of Donnell’s Suzuki in Independence, Missouri called and asked me to stop by the shop and take a look at the latest Limited Edition (LE) model they had just received, I was soon on my way to see what all of the hype was about. While on my way there, I had a strong suspicion it may be time to do a bike review on Suzuki's new flagship M109R.

When I arrived at the dealership the LE was just coming out of the box and I was glowing as soon as I saw that beautiful metallic blue with white stripe. This brought back so many memories to the year 1985 when I was riding a blue and white Suzuki GS 1150E. I guess I have always been partial to that color, and figured if this new LE model was anything like the 2006 Suzuki Boulevard M109R I did a bike review on back in 2006, I may soon have this bike in my garage, which as it turns out, was the case!

The power plant of the Boulevard M109R is an all new 109-cubic-inch, liquid-cooled, 54-degree, V-twin power plant with double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder and seamless Suzuki electronic fuel injection with digital ignition.
This is an engine that was designed to produce high torque from the moment it leaves idle all the way until the rev limiter is engaged. The Boulevard M109R is the most powerful cruiser Suzuki has ever produced according to Suzuki Heavy Industries. The Boulevard M109R starts with a massive 112mm bore and a 90.5mm stroke featuring forged aluminum alloy pistons with short skirts and cut-away sides mated to chrome-molly-steel connecting rods, just like those found on the GSX-R1000. Piston rings are finished with race-proven chrome-nitride plating for reduced friction and optimum cylinder sealing. The massive, 112mm bore makes room for two 42mm intake valves and two 38mm exhaust valves set at an narrow 27-degree included angle in an efficient dual-spark plug, pent-roof combustion chamber design with a 10.5:1 compression ratio.

The M109R utilizes a unique, two-stage chain-driven cam-drive system based on the high-performance gear-driven system used on the TL1000R. This design keeps the cylinder heads more compact, reducing overall engine height and lowering the center of gravity. The cylinders are positioned in a 54-degree V angle to accommodate straighter downdraft intake ports and crankpins are offset to produce the perfect primary balance of a 90-degree V-twin while still maintaining the aggressive look of a narrow-angle V engine.

The motor is also rubber-mounted in six positions for minimal engine vibration.
Feeding the amazing 109-cubic-inch motor is a purpose-built version of the Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve (SDTV) fuel injection system perfected on the high-performance GSX-R line of sport bikes. The SDTV system uses a computer-operated secondary throttle valve in each throttle body to maintain ideal intake velocity and smooth throttle response in any condition. The M109R features a pair of single-injector 56mm throttle bodies with controlled by a powerful 32-bit CPU equipped ECM. The entire SDTV system works in conjunction with a three-piece air box with dual intakes and a massive 9.5 liters of internal volume. So when you twist the throttle I think your mind doesn’t even work that fast to compensate the change.

An innovative dry sump lubrication system called Suzuki Advanced Sump System (SASS) is designed to reduce overall engine height and allow the crankshaft to be positioned lower in the crankcase, lowering the center of gravity and making the motorcycle easier to lift of the side-stand. The dry sump lubrication system also utilizes a scraper plate that pulls oil off the crankshaft, while a jet directs a cooling stream of oil at the underside of each piston for maximum performance. A slick-shifting five-speed transmission directs power smoothly from the engine back through a low-maintenance and reliable shaft-drive system.

Nothing can match the sound of a big V-twin engine under acceleration and Suzuki engineers dedicated a serious amount of time and effort to find the perfect balance of performance and sound. The 2-into-1-into-2 chromed, stainless steel exhaust system features Suzuki’s digitally controlled Suzuki Exhaust Tuning (SET) system, which uses a butterfly valve to adjust the exhaust for optimum performance at all RPM ranges. The M109R also makes use of Suzuki’s proven PAIR system for reduced emissions. This system really sounds good at Idle and sounds even better the higher you rev this big Suzuki.

The Power and torque of this motorcycle is fantastic! However if you can’t get that power to the ground, then you have defeated the purpose of the build. The engineers had thought of that problem as well and built a chassis that would do all of the above and then some when they designed this bike. The M109R chassis is built to comfortably handle all the power and torque of the massive M109R V-twin power plant while also delivering agile handling and a comfortable riding position. Wheelbase measures in at 67.4 inches with 32 degrees of rake and 5.1 inches of trail for superior handling ride and comfort. Seat height is a low 27.6 inches, making it easier for the rider to reach the ground and the forward controls that are stock on this model.

The frame itself is made of high-tensile steel in a double-cradle layout designed for a perfect balance of comfort and handling. The cast-aluminum-alloy swing arm works with a progressive linkage and a preload adjustable single rear shock producing 4.66 inches of travel., inverted front forks with 46mm stanchion tubes and race-proven cartridge internals that deliver 5.12 inches of travel. When this bike is shipped to the dealer the rear mono shock is set at level 4 and it really handles the curves and bumps quite well! The only adjustment that I would make is stiffening up the rear so you can have a passenger on the back and not bottom out the suspension.

The front brake system is based on that of the AMA Super bike Championship-winning GSX-R1000 sport bike including the radial-mounted four-piston brake calipers and 310mm brake rotors for the ultimate in braking performance. Rear brakes consist of a dual-piston caliper and 275mm rear disc that stops the rear wheel quite nicely.

Spiral-spoke cast aluminum alloy wheels feature and aggressive design and measure 3.50 x 18 inches in front with a Dunlop 130/70/18 radial tire, while at the rear is a massively wide 8.50 x 18 inch rear wheel mated to the widest rear tire ever used on a Suzuki motorcycle: a radial Dunlop 240/40R/18 tire.
One look is all it takes to tell that the Boulevard M109R is not your typical cruiser. Its muscular, sleek look of high performance, aggressive styling and long, sleek flowing lines define a new generation of Suzuki cruising machines.

Aggressive, performance-oriented styling smoothly integrated with the sleek lines of a cruiser best defines the look of the M109R. From the GSX-R-inspired front fender to the purposeful front headlight housing all the way back through the long, low fuel tank and stylish rear fender, the M109R just looks cool and race ready, complemented by miles of mirror-like chrome over the entire motorcycle.

A wide, long fuel tank with an enormous 5.2 gallon capacity flows smoothly into a comfortable seat, integrated frame side covers and an incredibly stylish radiator cowl. Up front, a streamlined headlight cover houses a unique trapezoid-shaped multi-reflector H4 halogen headlight and a maintenance-free clear with red LED taillight is built into the tail section. Chrome dual slash-cut mufflers complete the look of the amazing M109R. Dual triangle air cleaner covers are mounted on each side of the engine with traditional, chrome-plated bullet-shaped front and rear turn signals are utilized front and rear.

Gauges consist of a tank-mounted analog checkerboard speedometer, LCD odometer, dual trip meters, fuel gauge and even a clock! Add to that a digital tachometer that is by far the coolest thing that I have seen mounted on a large chrome handlebar that runs horizontally and really impresses the people you are trying to show.

Rider Summary:
When it comes to the cruiser models the manufacturers have introduced in 2007, they all have excellent attributes, with some being fast, low, and sleek and others having bigger fatter tires and small fairings, and some may have a paint scheme you are attracted too! I have ridden almost all cruisers produced in 2007, and when it comes to all of the options this Boulevard comes standard with you may want to consider this line of Suzuki power cruisers. The Limited Edition model is unique in so many ways, and this may be the only item you will need to convince your significant other into letting you bring this beast home. MSRP on this model is only $13,900, and for a 1783cc motorcycle with this kind of cylinder head arrangement with dual spark plugs all of the way down to the shim type valve train, you are getting a lot of cool stuff for your money. This technology will be around for a while in Suzuki’s lineup and the old saying “Why fix it if isn’t broke” stands true when it comes to the VZR1800. The only thing I can say to Suzuki is please don't change a thing when it comes to the reliability of this power cruiser.

So make sure to stop by or call the guys at Donnell’s Suzuki in Independence, Missouri so they can show you their new lineup of Suzuki motorcycles and answer any questions you may have.

Special thanks to Bart, Chris and Tony for making this one of the best experience’s I have ever had test riding a true champion and bike of the year. Once you ride one you'll know what I am talking about.

By Dave Miller

Photos by Stripe

Location: Cycle Connection Harley-Davidson/Buell, Joplin Missouri

Weather: Clear, temps in the mid 80s, mid levels of humidity, winds S 5-10

Rider: Jim Austin
6’0 220 Lbs
30 Years riding experience
Current ride: 2003 HD FLHTCI

Passenger: Karey Austin
5’7 107 lbs
3 years riding experience

Buell: innovative, cutting edge, ahead of it’s time design wise. These are just some of the things people say about Buell motorcycles. I have one other word for them, which I will get to shortly. Stopping in at Cycle Connection Harley-Davidson in Joplin, Missouri one day to buy some “bling” for my scoot, I was approached by Chris, the head of the performance division of the store. “Jim, when are you going to go and buy you another standard? You have been riding these big bikes for a while now, isn’t it about time you got you something you could flick around a little easier on the curves around here? I know you miss some of that spirited riding you used to do,” he stated. I laughed, and told him I hadn’t found the right mount in a few years to be able to just go out and have a great time that would be cost efficient for what I like to do. I have this thing about having to pay a grand premium on insurance to have some fun every now and then. Chris told me he had just the bike for me and to call him and we would set up a day to go out and play. He promised I would like what I saw. So we agreed to meet the next weekend, and he would show me what the new Buells were all about. I was a little skeptical when I read the specifications of the bikes about what I was getting into. But, was I in for a surprise.

On a nice sunny day with my full face Arai helmet and First Gear Textile jacket and gloves in hand, I putted over to the dealership. Chris had two bikes to play on that day. One a 2007 XB12SCG Lightning, the other the XB12 Firebolt. I picked the Lightning for the mount of choice for the day, due to a more upright seating position. And, because my wife was going to be with me part of the ride, I wanted her as comfortable as I could get her for the trips we were about to make. The first thing I noticed about the Buell was the layout. Everything seemed to be well laid out ergonomically. The pegs on the Lightning weren’t too high, although going from floorboards to rear-sets is a big adjustment. I wasn’t very uncomfortable at all and the reach to the bars was just fine. I wasn’t bent over so far that my shoulders were going to ache from the riding, like they had on my last standard, a Suzuki SV650 with lowered bars and high rear-sets. I liked the way everything seemed to flow on the Buell as ergonomically as it was designed. The next thing that caught my attention was the clutch pull. Harley engine-based bikes convey the image of a hard clutch pull in my mind right off the bat. This bike threw that notion right out the door. I liked the easy pull, no arm pump working the gears as the playing got harder I figured. Later I would find out you don’t need to work the gears on this particular bike, but more about that later. The bike started effortlessly and there did not seem to be any type of “hunting” on warm-up. It seemed to fire right off with a push of the button and warmed up quickly. We took off out of the parking lot, going easy so I could get used to the pull. This motorcycle has a short wheelbase, so I didn’t need any wheel stands right out of the parking lot to begin with.

The engine pulled away with almost a linear like feel. The motor seemed like it was designed with the way people would ride this bike in mind. You could make it pull hard, or easy. It rode through all the gears with enough pull you could lug it and still pull hard. I liked the way the bike’s engine was laid out. The gas mileage this bike generates was a big plus. It will get better fuel mileage than a comparable Japanese bike of the same displacement. When you shut the motor off, a fan kicks on to get the motor cooled down. It was a little loud, but after a bit you got used to it. Pulling out of curves when the motor was in gear was a real rush. Not the rush you get on a 150 HP liter bike of Japanese stature, but of one that gives a feeling of control and grace. This bike was built for curvy roads, no doubt.

The frame carries the fuel, the swingarm carries the oil, and the exhaust is hung low under the bike, giving the bike a lower center of gravity. All of which, when combined with a steep steering head design and a short wheel base, will give a rider extreme “flickabilitiy” in the turns. The stock tires worked wonders and in no time I was able to lean the bike to the extremes it was intended for, with confidence in its abilities. I liked the bike and it’s handling right away. I also liked the confidence it gave me when I had not been on a sport type ride in a while. This bike screams hooligan ride. The brakes on it were fantastic, the front one especially. I wish all bikes had that front brake. Stopping never was a worry, and you could brake down speed very efficiently. All in all it is a great package.

My wife really enjoyed the back perch; she said it was fun with the curves. Going out, some great back roads provided a lot of thrills for both of us, and the seat was good for a 'couple of hour’ type outing. Now I wouldn’t recommend this bike for any kind of long distance tour; the small flyscreen is great at lower speeds, but I got a lot of wind buffeting at interstate speeds on the short stretch of superslab we rode. I had no problems with the seat though, it wasn’t too hard or too wide; it worked well in the package. I could slide around on it to shift my weight just fine.

Overall I only had two complaints about the bike, both of which could be handled with some minor modifications. First were the grips and bars. There was a lot of buzz in the grips at moderate speeds. The bend of the bars could have been just a little higher. To get rid of the buzz, though, a good set of bar ends or a barsnake would probably work wonders. I would switch out to the bars on the City-X too, I like the profile better. My other complaint was the mirrors. Chuck 'em and replace 'em if you want to be able to see behind you at all; useless to say the least.

Wrapping this quick ride up, there is one word that describes this bike to the letter. That is fun; pure, unabashed fun. Nothing more could be asked for. This bike was a hoot to ride. I had so much fun I almost traded in my bike for one of them. The only consideration I had was how far I travel on my motorcycle when I travel. Fun generally comes at a price now, however the base MSRP of the bikes is low enough and the insurance payments are seemingly lower than the sport bikes of overseas; all of which make it worth the while. The gas mileage was a big plus too. So to put it all in context, how could you go wrong?

I want to thank Chris at Cycle Connection H-D in Joplin for his hospitality. I can’t tell the public how much this dealership goes out of its way to satisfy its customers. Thanks again Chris. Take a test ride at your local dealership, or give Cycle Connection H-D a call, you won’t be disappointed.

Bike Specs:
Engine Type: Air/Oil-cooled 1203cc Thunderstorm V-Twin

Bore and Stroke: 3.5 in (88.90mm) / 3.812 in (96.82mm)

Displacement: 1203cc (73.4 cu. in)

Compression Ratio: 10.0:1

Fuel Delivery system: 49mm down draft DDFI II Fuel injection

Peak Engine Torque: 84 ft lbs @ 6000 RPM*

Peak Engine HP: 103 HP @ 6800 RPM*

Transmission: 5 Speed, helical cut gears

Primary Drive: Chain, 1.500:1 (57/38)

Secondary Drive: Constant path, 14MM pitch, Aramid reinforced Hibrex belt,
2.407:1 (65/27)

Overall ratios: 1st 2.648 2nd 1.892 3rd 1.407 4th 1.166 5th 1.000

Frame: Aluminum/ with fuel carried within

Swingarm: Cast aluminum/ with oil carried within

Front Suspension: 41MM Showa inverted fork, adjustable compression damping,
rebound damping, and spring pre-load

Rear Suspension: Showa Coil-over monoshock, with adjustable compression
damping, rebound damping, and spring pre-load

Front brakes: Front ZTL type brake, 6 piston, fixed caliper, 375mm single
sided-inside out stainless steel floating rotor

Rear Brakes: Single Piston, floating caliper, 240mm Stainless Steel, fixed

Front Wheel and Tire: 6 Spoke, cast aluminum/ Pirelli Diablo T 120 / 70

Rear Wheel and Tire: 6 Spoke, cast aluminum/ Pirelli Diablo T 180 / 55 ZR-17

Overall Length: 75.7 in (1923mm)

Overall Width: 29.7 in (755mm)

Seat Height: 28.6 in (726mm)

Wheelbase: 51.8 in (1315mm)

Ground clearance: 3.55 in (90mm)

Maximum Lean Angle: 50 Degrees*

Dry Weight: 395 lbs (179kg)*

Fuel Capacity: 3.82 US Gallons (4.9L / 100km)

Estimated MPG: 65 MPG (3.6L / 100km)*

Available colors: Cherry Bomb Red Translucid, Midnight Black, Valencia
Orange Translucid

*Factory-based figures - Not gathered from independent source for this test.

Happy Roads!

By Jim & Karey Austin

When it comes down to sport bike technology, I wanted to take a closer look at the sport bike that keeps winning races and dominating the European race tracks; the Aprilia RSV 1000R.

Steve Okenfuss, owner of Reno's Yamaha Aprilia KC jumped at the chance to bring this bike into the limelight. We set up a time to ride this new monster, and fellow Cycle Connections team member Phil Peeler gladly took the camera, while Marsha Ore drove the truck and attempted to keep up with me.

Two features I first noticed were the clean instruments and digital readout gauges, which give the bike a sophisticated and clean look. The paint schemes are also very attractive. Many high-dollar parts have been used on this model that it's hard to believe the MSRP 'out the door' price is only $10,999.

This motorcycle is for real and is an out of the crate racer that is ready to ride on the street. I really liked the handling and the braking system. The newer bikes are becoming very competitive as far as trying to outdo one another in the handling and braking arena; however when it comes to all of the really good components that are used in the RSV this really drives the cost of the motorcycle up in price and further out of reach for the average consumer. Aprilia has really done their homework on this sport bike. It is a bike that stands out, especially with its v-type motor. I truly think that you must weigh out the options that have been introduced in 2007 and look at and hear the throaty exhaust of the v-twin engine and the exceptionally sharp 2-piece body work style Aprilia has rolled out.

The fuel injection system is all fed into the Intake tract by 57mm throttle bodies and it is crisp and extremely responsive. It tends to really want to get up to redline if you do not pay attention. I was asked to not exceed 20 miles on this unit and when I had made my rounds I felt that I had enough technical information to judge this motorcycle. I left wishing that I could have one of these in the garage as a fun bike to ride.

V60 Magnesium four stroke longitudinal 60 degree V twin. Liquid cooling with three way pressurised circuit. Double overhead camshaft with mixed gear/chain drive; four valves per cylinder. Patented AVDC (Anti Vibration Double Countershaft).
95 RON unleaded petrol.
97 x 67.5 mm.
997.62 cc.
Compression ratio:
Maximum power at the crank:
105.24 kW (143 HP) at 10,000 rpm.
Maximum torque at the crank:
10.3 kgm (101 Nm) at 8,000 rpm.
Fuel system:
Integrated electronic engine management system with indirect multipoint electronic injection, 57 mm throttle bodies, and a 10.3 litre air box with Air Runner air scoop.
Digital electronic ignition, with one spark plug per cylinder, integrated with fuel injection system.
Double silencer with three way catalytic converter and lambda probe oxygen sensor (Euro 3).
12 V - 500 W.
Dry sump with separate oil tank, a double trochoid pump with oil cooler, & a steel oil tank.
Six speed. Transmission ratios:
1st 34/15 (2.27)
2nd 31/19 (1.63)
3rd 26/20 (1.3)
4th 24/22 (1.091)
5th 24/25 (0.96)
6th 23/26 (0.88)
Multi-plate clutch in oil bath with patented PPC power-assisted hydraulic control, metal braided clutch line, & radial master cylinders with 15 mm piston.
Primary drive:
Spur gears. Transmission ratio: 60/31 (1.935).
Final drive:
Chain. Transmission ratio: 40/16 (2.5).
Box section sloping twin-spar frame in aluminium alloy.
Front suspension:
43 mm Ohlin's titanium nitride (TiN) coated upside-down fork, adjustable in compression, rebound and preload, & 120 mm wheel travel. Shortened fork bottoms with radial calliper fittings.
Rear suspension
Aluminium alloy double arched member swing arm, Aprilia Progressive. System (APS) linkages, Sachs monoshock with adjustable compression, rebound, preload and length, & 133 mm wheel travel.
Front: Brembo double stainless steel floating disc, w/320 mm, radial callipers with four 34 mm pistons and four sintered pads, & metal braided brake line.
Aluminium alloy.
Front: 3.50 x 17'
Rear: 6.00 x 17'
Radial tubeless.
Front: 120/70 ZR 17
Rear: 190/50 ZR 17 (alternative: 180/55 ZR 17 or 190/55 ZR 17)
Overall length: 2,035 mm
Overall width: 730 mm (at handlebars)
Overall height: 1,130 mm (at windshield)
Seat height: 810 mm
Handlebar height: 830 mm (at bar ends)
Wheelbase: 1,418 mm
Trail: 101.7 mm
Rake angle: 25 degree
Dry weight:
189 kg, dry.
Capacity 18 litres, 4 litre reserve.
Aprilia Black, Platinum Grey, Replica (limited edition, 200 units).

Hands down, this bike has all of the horsepower and weight ratio I would want in a bike. The frame and suspension work absolutely perfect together, as well of the ignition system, wheels, and tires. If you have only dreamed of owning one of these fine motorcycles, quit dreaming because this is an amazing bike that everyone can afford. When you factor in all of the great components in this build and the MSRP price, you are truly getting the most for your money with Aprilia, plus, a unique looking bike!

I want to personally thank Steve Okenfuss for giving me the opportunity to test ride one of the best European sport bikes on the market today.

B-safe out there!

Dave Miller