Indian King of the Baggers
Chuckwalla Raceway is my native monitor in California. It’s a little bit of a goat monitor, but it surely’s bought some decently fast bends and elevation modifications that at all times maintain you in your toes.
Conservatively, I’d say I’ve accomplished 3000 laps right here over the past eight years, far more than every other racetrack I’ve ridden. I do know this place just like the again of my hand, however on the Mission Meals/S&S Cycle/Indian Challenger of Tyler O’Hara, I could as nicely be on Mars.
O’Hara’s beastly bagger appears like one half of a NASCAR and goes virtually as quick, however that’s not the scary bit. It’s the best way the chassis strikes beneath me prefer it’s completely bought a teeny tiny spray of oil on the street-spec Dunlop Sportmax This fall rear tyre—you realize, simply sufficient to maintain you in your toes however not sufficient to throw you down the highway—that has me apprehensive.
“It’s just like the bike has a cut up persona,” O’Hara tells me. “You possibly can journey the bike onerous and shift onerous and speed up onerous, however you need to be actual cautious with it. She likes to go quick, however there’s a way to getting her to go quick.”
The key to creating all of it work is to liberally use the thumb-operated rear brake, first to truly assist gradual the 275 kg maroon monster however secondly, and extra importantly, to assist management the rebound of the rear suspension because the throttle is reapplied so you may maintain every thing on its supposed path.
“You completely have to make use of the rear brake,” O’Hara says. “If you happen to don’t, it makes it very troublesome to get the bike to show tight, and also you spend an excessive amount of time between braking and accelerating. Plus, you need to use the rear to damp out the chassis flex, which has been a problem with our bike.”
Reefing the ride-by-wire throttle open on a bagger the likes of O’Hara’s American-as-f**ok 1835cc V-twin racer requires a mix of brute aggression and finesse to get all that torque to the bottom.
The body, modified as a lot because the MotoAmerica King of The Baggers guidelines will permit (which is mainly in no way), flexes with the form of willingness extra akin to a 1983 Honda VF1000R, the entrance, centre and rear of the motorbike squirming and snaking its means round Chuckwalla with me roughly only a passenger.
“By rule, we are able to’t actually modify any of the chassis elements,” says S&S’s Chief Engineer, Jeff Bailey, the person largely answerable for creating, sustaining and bettering O’Hara’s and team-mate Jeremy McWilliams’ racebikes. “We did get an allowance from MotoAmerica to machine a bit off the entrance body spars for floor clearance, however that’s actually the one modification that we do to the body. That is nonetheless primarily a avenue bike. It’s not a race bike at its core.”
In comparison with the stiffness of a contemporary sportsbike, the bagger feels prefer it’s from one other time, however as soon as I bought my head round its oddities, it began to make sense—considerably.
Working Brembo’s billet race caliper, a Galespeed 19 x 19 master-cylinder, a 17 x 6-inch rear and 17 x 3.5-inch entrance wheel, and modified Ducati Multistrada 1260 Pikes Peak 48mm Ohlins forks, the braking capabilities and switch velocity of O’Hara’s bagger are immense.
It’s so lengthy with its lengthened and braced swingarm, and so tall and heavy, that you may completely bury the entrance finish beneath brakes.
It’s like a superbike fashion taken to extremes—you brake ultra-late and onerous, blow previous the place you suppose you need to flip, wait a bit, then slam it on its facet, choose it up at your earliest comfort, maintain the chassis on the rear brake and pull on the noise tube and let that S&S engine roar its brains out in the direction of its 7700 rpm redline on the AiM DL2 sprint and datalogger. It’s like using on a lion chasing its subsequent meal.
The manufacturing facility Mission Meals/S&S Cycle/Indian Challenger workforce of Tyler O’Hara and our favorite globetrotting Northern Irishman, Jeremy McWilliams, will not be a single entity however a collaboration of Polaris’ (Indian Bike’s mum or dad firm) business may and legendary tuning home S&S’s experience.
In contrast to arch-rivals Harley Davidson with former champion Kyle Wyman and brother Travis on board, the H-D program is run completely in home, which is one thing you are able to do when you will have a labour drive (and finances) roughly 4 occasions the scale of Indian’s.
To create O’Hara’s and McWilliams’s racers, S&S begin with a bog-stock Challenger and rip into it. Customized elements from S&S embody adjustable triple clamps, a billet entrance axle, completely revised induction system, billet clutch clover, rearsets, handlebar, rear axle, bellypan and few extra ins and outs just like the Saddlemen-made carbon-fibre seat unit and, after all, sidebags, however the engine, clearly, is the place a lot of the eye is paid.
“We’re actually targeted so much on airflow,” says Bailey. “It’s primarily all top-end work: we create the camshafts, CNC-machined cylinder heads, and the 110 mm huge bore pistons. We machined some rocker arms, too, only for the upper rpm restrict. All 4 rocker arms are completely different and machined out of a stable chunk of metal. The consumption manifold on these bikes is definitely 3D-printed aluminum, which is form of cool, after which the outer runner is plastic, and this joins as much as the huge single 78 mm throttle physique we took from a Chevy V6 automotive motor that replaces the dual throttle physique set-up of the inventory motor.”
Regardless of my pestering and attainable bribing, Neil refused to disclose any efficiency figures from this monster motor. Boo.
A lightened crank of unspecified weight, allowed by the principles in 2022 however which in 2023 has been mandated at solely a ten per cent weight discount over inventory, helps this V-twin motor spin up with the form of velocity many V-twin cruiser house owners would kill for.
However, like several bike with tons of torque, the sport will not be a lot unleashing it as it’s harnessing it. That’s why Jeremy McWilliams was introduced on board initially of 2022 to assist the crew work the UK-designed Max ECU’s throttle maps earlier than Daytona.
“Leaping on the bike, it was an actual wake-up name as a result of it was the very first form of roll-out they’ve had on it with all of this further horsepower and torque in comparison with the 2021 bike,” McWilliams stated. “We didn’t actually have a throttle map. We have been simply operating one-to-one. So, leaping on this with a one-to-one throttle map was fairly an eye-opener, to say the least.
“We labored carefully with the calibration guys. They rapidly bought a deal with on the way to switch all that torque to the rear tyre. Then over the day, we made such huge steps that I form of needed to return again and do some extra.”
Jeremy’s suggestions enabled Indian’s technicians to drag the form of efficiency out of the bike they’d wanted after Kyle Wyman and Harley-Davidson pulled a roundhouse kick on them throughout the 2021 season.
McWilliams was subsequently employed not only for the season opener at Daytona however for the remainder of the 12 months and this 12 months. His tackle using a bagger had me laughing onerous within the media room.
“ what occurs whenever you journey this? You suppose you’ve mastered it,” he says. “You come again from placing it on the rostrum, go dwelling, come again per week later and also you go, “I do know this bike. I understand how I completed on it two weeks in the past, I’m simply going to suit straight again into it.” And also you don’t. You possibly can’t go quick till the bike begins to return to you. You don’t simply get on and go, “All proper, I’m good to go.”
“After a session, then it begins to return to you, however you’re regularly tweaking and messing with it, as an alternative of simply getting on and attempting to journey it. You’re like, “What have I modified? Or what have they modified? What’s happening?” It could mess together with your head.”
It could mess together with your head simply watching these items in motion. I used to be at Daytona for the primary spherical final 12 months and watched McWilliams and Co. head onto the primary banking, the one the place as an alternative of hitting it at full velocity, you’re continuously accelerating and thus placing all these forces by the chassis.
whenever you see a supersport bike doing 200 km/h, it appears prefer it’s going 200 km/h. It appears prefer it’s speculated to go 200 km/h.
If you see a bagger doing 200 km/h, particularly one on a 37-degree banking like Daytona’s, it appears prefer it’s going 400 km/h. It snakes and skims its means across the banking whereas producing a sound that genuinely jogged my memory of being at Bathurst doing the ’90s when Craig Lowndes was barely out of nappies and kicking everybody’s arse. It despatched shivers down my backbone. I’ve been to numerous MotoGP races and seen the gods journey, however that first glimpse of a bagger doing its factor at Daytona will stick with me endlessly.
As will these 5 temporary however memorable laps at my native monitor that I could as nicely have by no means ridden earlier than.
O’Hara’s bagger requires a extra finely tuned using fashion than even a Manx Norton to get essentially the most out of, and to see that he, Wyman, McWilliams and the remaining can pull lap-times inside five-seconds of Jake Gagne on a WorldSBK Yamaha YZF-R1M at Laguna Seca tells you that though they appear goofy, bulbus, and heavy, these are critical racing machines ridden by riders with balls so huge they want wheelbarrows to get round.