The Boss Hoss V8 bike has been around for 15 years now, with a series of tweaks and improvements carried out to make this monster of a motorcycle that bit easier to ride. But underneath it all, the Boss Hoss remains a truly unique blend of American muscle car hotrod and laidback cruiser machine – if you can call 355bhp a suitable power output for a cruiser!
Insidebikes.com editor Alastair Walker took a ride on the wild side aboard the 2006 Boss Hoss 350 model, cruising the roads around Daytona Beach, USA.
You twist the throttle a little bit and the ground shakes. The whole motorcycle rocks from side to side, alive with solid, rumbling power, as the engine fires up eight cylinders of old school Chevrolet metal.
In front of you, five dials and a gear selector indicator sit on something that looks bigger than a 1950s coal shed, but is in fact a twin section, eight and a half gallon gas tank – or about 38 litres to us metric motorbikers here in the UK. That´s the amount of fuel this bike will guzzle in about 140 miles if you choose to smoke the tyres away from stoplights, or make it twitch sideways coming out of corners. The Boss Hoss is to commuting what George Bush is to international diplomacy; a complete liability.
But I´ll tell you what else this gargantuan motorcycle is. It´s a great big ol´ pussycat. That´s right, it´s actually easy to ride a motorcycle which weighs 1100lbs dry, or about the same as a small hatchback.
OK, I admit that doing three point turns in a Bradford back alley, or passing your CBT around some cones in a college car park may well prove impossible on this bike, but on the wide open highways of Daytona Beach, the Boss Hoss makes some kind of sense. True, a tired Daschund has more ground clearance, but as Florida has about 18 corners in its entire road network, this wasn´t an issue on test.
So once I got the beast moving, feet up on the Lay-Z-Boy recliner type footpegs, and clicked the Boss Hoss into overdrive on its two speed auto gearbox, I was happy as a gun lover in Texas on this machine. It makes steady, even pulses of power, handles corners with reasonable ability up to about 80mph and has a wonderful rear brake.
The whole ethos of the Boss Hoss is one of unashamed nostalgia, for a time when gas was cheap, women wore pointy bras, Elvis was still skinny and `troubled youths´ would gather around drive-thru burger stands on Friday nights to race their hot-rods for `pinks.´
No that isn´t gay slang by the way, `pinks´ in the US means the V5 registration document to the vehicle.
That whole slice of 50s American Pie has long since vanished, but the idea of riding around on a V8 powered monster motorcycle has a certain appeal for well heeled, middle-aged blokes who have made a pile of cash.
Let´s face it, if fuel here in the UK was about £1.70 per gallon, as it currently is in the USA, I dare say a few Harley Ultra Glide, or Honda Valkyrie riders might well trade in their modestly sized Winnebago bikes for something more 70s style, Burt Reynolds, yee-hah. I would, if only to annoy any passing green party members who overtook me in town on their sweaty saddled bicycles.
You see, I believe biking has a place for outrageous engineering, candy metalflake paintwork and a noise under acceleration like a B29 bomber. It isn´t practical, it won´t win any races, but it´s still fun “big fun” and that´s what motorcycling should be. Those who want to see biking turned back into some dour, hair-shirt utilitarian mode of transport suitable for poor people who cannot afford car taxation, can go whistle.
That said, I would pay $35,000 for a Boss Hoss. Firstly because that´s a huge sum of money for a bike that you can only really use about ten times a year in the UK, unless you´re Chris Eubank.
Also, it still lacks a decent front brake, at least in terms of feel at the lever. The bike stops OK, but it is odd that the rear seems to work much better than the front or maybe it´s because American riders – cruiser riders anyway, seem to prefer to use the back brake.
Finally, $35K buys you a base model. No windscreen, no luggage, touring seat, backrest – hell, if you live in California you have to stump up another $2250 bucks to meet the local emissions laws. Isn´t that what manufacturers are supposed to do to get their vehicle approved for California?
If you feel like going completely mental then buy the 502 cubic inch bigger Boss Hoss, then buy extras like an unpainted fairing for $1500 on top. Personally, I would rather have my own custom chop or lowrider built to a unique spec for £40,000-$50,000, and enjoy the luxury of a 35mpg fuel consumption and the kudos of riding something which was a pure one-off.
In the end, this kind of motorcycle is all about making an over-the-top statement, which it undeniably does. It´s great that the Boss Hoss exists at all, in a sanitised an over-regulated world where political correctness is grinding the last speck of individuality out of most developed economies. But I´d rather wow the crowd on a bizarre Valkyrie cafe racer, or a Hayabusa Quad, if I won the lottery, than the Boss Hoss.
Maybe the final test is trying to imagine if the The Fonz would ride a Boss Hoss. The answer is no, he´d ride a Triumph.
Get Boss Hoss motorbike insurance for the 350 2006.
|Engine||5700cc V8, water cooled, four stroke|
|Power||355bhp @ 5250rpm|
|Torque||405 ft/lbs @ 3500rpm|
|Gear||2 speed automatic, plus reverse|
|Frame||Steel tubular cradle|
|Forks||63mm inverted, adjustable preload|
|Rear suspension||Twin 13 in shocks, adjustable for preload|
|Brakes||Twin front 12.6 in discs, 4 piston callipers, single rear 12.6 disc, 4 piston calliper|
|Wheels/Tyres||130/90 16 in front, 230/60 15 in rear|
|Fuel capacity||8.5 gallons|
|Extras||Fairing, paint schemes, pillion backrest, touring seat, gas cap covers, dash inserts, Highway pegs, V8 tail light emblem, pull back bars etc|
|Estimated top speed||135mph|