Beauty in the beast
A three-wheeled muscle car
Fort Worth, Texas, April 16–17—Rucker Performance is noted in the industry for being as subtle as a ball-peen hammer to the kneecap. With a vibrant history in both Mopar hot rods and V-twin innovation, Rucker continues to push the limits of convention by redefining the standards of normalcy. The company’s Assassin Trike is a prime example of tossing conformity to the wind and adopting divergence as a goal. Based around an S&S 124 c.i. two-cam motor, the Assassin Trike has adapted much of its looks from its predecessor, the original Assassin pro-street two-wheeler. That appearance starts with a billet front end manufactured by Goldammer that morphs into the Superform aluminum gas tank that free-flows into a stylized carbon fiber body. But then that graceful elegance is abruptly terminated with a set of in-your-face, over-the-top Mickey Thompson 31″ Sportsman tires. The result is reminiscent of late-night drags on deserted blacktop, a girl waving her scarf at the starting line and racing for pinks. That’s the Rucker way.
The frame is a drop-seat Rucker model with a curved downtube and sports a 36-degree rake (can’t get too crazy with rake on a trike). And although it’s a rigid rear end, the differential is connected to the main frame via a set of heim joints, allowing a certain amount of flex and cushion. The huge rear rubber run only eight pounds of air each, providing an additional level of comfort without adversely affecting handling. The overall ride is similar to that of a softail suspension. The differential is a 30″ Hot Rod Standard manufactured by Frankenstein Trikes. One of the narrowest and lightest trike rear ends on the market, the differential is billet machined from 6061-T6 aluminum. Rucker uses a stock Harley brake rotor along with a four-piston Wilwood caliper that is integrated into the Frankenstein rear end. The tires are mounted on 15″ centerline wheels.
The bike’s front end assembly consists of a Rucker custom 21″ billet wheel mated with a Metzeler ME120. A four-piston Wilwood Perimeter Hidden Braking System supplies ample stopping power. This system utilizes a two-piece brake rotor that is actually a part of the rim bead cross-section and dual calipers attached to the upper part of the fork slider. Supported by a combination fender/caliper bracket, a hidden fork brace has been incorporated into the design for increased stability. This makes for a very clean look to the wheel assembly. The sleek forks are capped with a Rucker custom headlamp and a set of distinctive one-piece, pullback handlebars. There is no separate front brake lever; both rear and front brake action are actuated by the single foot brake pedal and the use of a proportional valving setup. Stopping is solid, with no sense of squirreliness even under hard braking situations.
The 124-inch motor is spec’d and hand built by Rucker’s motor department. It is fed by an S&S Super G carb with a Wimmer Custom Cycles 90-degree vertical velocity stack and pumps out a respectable 121 hp. Exhaust gases are expelled courtesy of Rucker Performance pipes. Ignition is an S&S IST unit with the coil hidden behind a custom Rucker cover—the company’s trademark “Devil’s Head.” The balance of the bike’s electronics are hidden in the carbon fiber nose cone strategically attached to the front of the frame, complete with venting ports to allow maximum cooling. Connecting the engine to the tranny, a highly polished Tauer Machine open belt drive handles the chore without a hitch. The transmission is a Baker 6-speed that utilizes a reversed shift drum coupled to an electronic shifter provided by Pingel. A pair of push buttons located within the clutch housing handles the electric shifting duties. With the reversed shifting drum, neutral is at the low end of the spectrum with the six drive gears all up, making the shift selection a simplistic operation. Final drive to the Frankenstein is by a chrome-plated chain with chain tensioning accessed by the aforementioned adjustable heim joint system. Under the leather seat resides a massive, chromed oil tank linked to the motor via stainless oil lines.
Being a novice to the sport of triking, I was somewhat cautious considering the Assassin’s mega horsepower and mutant rear rubberage. And I’m certain I looked quite foolish on my maiden voyage, leaning into turns, putting my foot down when coming to a stop and generally having a look of concern on my face. But after a few miles I had it licked, I was a master, I was in complete control. Well… not exactly. Too many years of riding on two wheels continued to stir pangs of uneasiness. But the bike does handle flawlessly. In a straight line, I was the captain of this ship, with buttloads of power, positive shifting, snappy acceleration and a solid ride at my command. It was just some of those long 70 mph sweepers that gave me doubts as to my true abilities. Any experienced triker will find the Assassin a fetching mixture of high caliber performance wrapped in a cloak of carbon fiber and billet splendor. This trike garners plenty of attention wherever it puts in an appearance. And with the base model starting at only $32,000, it’s not too hard on the pocketbook either.
Rucker Performance remains at the top of their game providing high-octane relief from the gamut of look-alike products on the market. Founder Bill Rucker established Texas Environmental Technologies, an EPA certification lab that qualifies bike companies such as Sucker Punch Sallys, V-Rex and Viper. As a major sponsor for the AHDRA at the Lonestar Nationals in North Texas, Bill Rucker remains true to his drag racing roots. The company offers a complete car restoration service—from classic to muscle car. Rucker was the first certified manufacturer to qualify to use the closed-loop S&S T-Series 124 VFI. They purchased defunct HallCraft Industries to keep alive a name synonymous with classic motorcycle wire wheels. Working in conjunction with Bruce Rossmeyer, they have produced the Pro-Mod series of revamped Harley police bikes and built all 30 of the nostalgic Elvis series bikes. They have been a major player in the Easyriders Centerfold Tour. And most recently, Rucker Performance received the backing of Caroll Shelby to place his name on an S&S X-Wedge series of high performance street bikes. Quite a list of accomplishments. And in true form, the Rucker Assassin Trike falls right into the company’s dedication to quality blended with performance.