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Big Dog Motorcycle’s 2009 Wolf—sneak preview

By Terry Roorda

Enter the Wolf

The new Big Dog’s name is familiar… but that’s about all

With little fanfare and absolutely no prerelease publicity, Big Dog Motorcycles used the occasion of the V-Twin Expo to debut their highly anticipated new X-Wedge-powered model, and what they’ve created came as a surprise even to inveterate Big Dog watchers. We knew it was coming, but for a year now we’ve been led to expect the return of the company’s top-of-the-line Bull Dog, which had been missing from the lineup in 2007 while ostensibly undergoing a makeover and X-Wedge transplant. When the model didn’t rematerialize for the 2008 model rollout, we were led to believe that an extended testing regime on S&S Cycle’s groundbreaking but unproven-in-production X-Wedge was the reason for the delay. We bought that excuse at face value. These guys are from Wichita. They’re supposed to be straight shooters.

As it’s turned out, hah hah, Big Dog have big joke on simple motojournalist. They let that deception dwell in my trusting mind while the Bull Dog was, in fact, being quietly retired; superseded by this, the new 2009 Wolf.

Longtime Dog fanciers will recognize the Wolf name since it was once the lean, aggressive flagship model of the line before being retired in 2002—a victim of the company’s nascent rear rubber expansion campaign. It’s fitting, then, that this stunning new machine should sport the Wolf moniker; fitting not only because it’s long, lean, and aggressive, but because it rides on the skinniest rubber the company’s employed in years—a 220mm.

Which is not to say that this is a throwback, since it’s a 220/50-20 tire, putting it out on the cutting edge of custom couture. Besides that obvious styling coup—and it is a knockout—the fact of a relatively svelte rear end enables the Wolf to reasonably mount a set of hard panniers, and put Big Dog in the vibrant custom bagger market. Fiberglass bags and associated hardware are already in the works to take that plunge.

The bike’s power is provided by a proprietary 121-inch version of the X-Wedge—developed over the last couple of years in close cooperation with the S&S engineers. An S&S EFI system and the elegant Baker/Big Dog Balanced Drive primary setup complete the package, and like all Big Dogs, the transmission is Baker’s DD6 RSD box.

The Wolf’s homegrown chassis features a single swept downtube—the first single downtube frame in the company’s history—and a stretched swingarm to achieve that wolfish stance. Extended risers and handlebars provide roadworthy ergos, and a Perse front fork has been affixed and raked out to 45 degrees. Yet another first for the company is the use of a six-piston Performance Machine caliper on the front disc.

Production of the Wolf is slated to commence in September, and while the sticker price has yet to be finalized, we’re told it will be in the low to mid $30K range. We’ll see. I think I’m having trust issues.

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