300 size tires for the Softail
– thanks to an intermediate shaft the Harley-Davidson Cross Bones rides as neutrally as a stock bike. Nice thing to have a 300 tire in a Softail frame, but what a lot of work! Gearbox and primary have to be relocated sideways to the engine, so the belt can run straight along the tire, but often the frame has to be welded and then painted. Nevertheless the primary drive sticks out and makes the bike heavy on the left side, which you notice when riding. Heavy strain on the frame can hardly be avoided, spring forces are having an effect on the belt. The solution is a right side drive gearbox with secondary drive on the right, which eliminates most disadvantages of a wide tire conversion. A further elegant solution is offered by Rick’s Motorcycles in Baden-Baden: Rick’s 300 Fat Ass kit for Twin Cam Softail models. For this Rick’s use an intermediate shaft for power transmission, which sits in the centre of the swingarm so that engine and gearbox can stay as one unit, and less strain is created. Changes to the frame are also not necessary. “Since the primary stays in the original location, the foot controls don’t have to be relocated, and ground clearance and incline in bends stay the same as with the stock bike”, promises the custom bike expert and official Harley dealer. Special Rick’s wheels with precisely fitted hubs ensure the rear tire runs in the centre and straight. This and the balanced weight distribution give the bike an unusually harmonious ride performance.
More than just wide
The matt grey 2011 Cross Bones has the same intermediate shaft conversion with a 300/35-18 Metzeler ME880 on a 10,5 rim at the rear. Even when the bike is stationery, the balance of the 300 kilo heavy bike can be noticed. During riding, the 300 size tire has its peculiarities, in bends the Cross Bones steers somewhat slower than with a narrow original tire and always demands a steeply inclined riding position, but nothing pulls to one side, no strange power pulls at the handlebars. No matter whether to the left or to the right, the Cross Bones with the wide tires always performs the same.
The ride performance is close to the stock bike, which is for a change positive in this case. It’s nice that the Fat Ass kit is relatively easy to mount – every set consists of swingarm, intermediate shaft, two 1” wide carbon reinforced Gates belt as well as all necessary small parts and installation instructions.
In addition, the team from Baden-Baden changed a few other things. The front Rodder rim is attached to a Jorn Warrior fork and brakes with a Rick’s 6-piston calliper. A Rick’s drive side brake keeps the rear wheel clean. Other parts include a Vance & Hines exhaust system, a V-Team handlebar, V-Rod headlamp and an elongated stock tank. The matt paint was executed by Rick’s in cooperation with “Wild Air” Hoerby, and while attention was paid to keep the original transmission to the rear wheel, the Cross Bones gives the impression of a stock bike, even after the conversion. Of course this perfection has its price…an interested buyer has to part with about Euro 55,000 if he wants to have a modified Twin Cam like this – with wide tires, but no technical provisions.
Custombike März 2012
Text Dirk Mangartz, Fotos Carsten Heil