Monday, February 27, 2012
#114 November 2011
A few issues ago (#109) I wrote about the Sugar Bear springer I was installing on my Triumph chopper, I promised a riding report at the time and so here it is.
For those of you that just picked this magazine up for the first time... welcome, and where the hell have you been? Anyway, when I built this bike, in my ignorance I utilized a DNA springer front end for various reasons, initial cost being paramount at the time. The problem (aside from the usual quality concerns and wideness) was that with the 45º rake, the trail numbers were pretty high. This manifests itself into big time fork ‘flop’ at low speeds, and high stability at high speeds, a little too much so. I mused online about correcting my trail numbers with longer rockers, to move the axle forward and decrease the trail. This prompted Sugar Bear to write to me and mention that this approach was flawed as it would increase the lever action, compress the springs, lower the front end and the DNA was crappy anyway. His answer? One of his famous springers! I immediately thought of his super long front ends with the big curved rockers, and wondered how that would look on the bike, but what I wasn’t really aware at the time, was that Sugar Bear actually has four different types of rockers, the big ones (#4) are usually used for the really long springers, Sugar Bear has made many short springers for bikes and the rocker sizes are reduced to suit.
As a matter of fact, the very issue that I referenced, #109, features a bike made by Baker Drivetrain which has a short Sugar Bear fitted with the #1 rockers.
So what is the secret behind the driveability of Sugar Bear’s front ends? I have no idea, the trail seems short, but the handling is nothing short of incredible. The most repeated phrase from those who first ride a bike with one is; “It’s like suddenly having power steering”.
So how is the Triumph now with the Sugar Bear springer? I can tell you I’ve put MANY more miles on it since the installation than the years before combined. It’s an absolute joy to ride now! Although to be honest, it has brought to light problems inherent with the riding position design. The forward footpegs are WAY too close to the ground now, even though they are the same height as before. With the DNA, it took a 10 acre field to turn this thing around, with the Sugar Bear front end, I’m dragging the heel of my shoe all the time. Had I known it was going to handle this well, I’d have put mids on this bike!
The quality of the piece is flawless and then there is the undeniable coolness added with having a part built specifically for this bike by a living legend.
If you haven’t got the impression yet that I love it, let me be clear: I love it!
The engine is running pretty good, considering I built it. It’s a one kick starter, usually. I’d like to try the Morris add-on retard lever for the ARD magneto as it does like to kick back violently sometimes. The gas tank has just started leaking, toasting the paint job, so this winter I’ll be sealing it up and sending the tank out to Liquid Illusions for a different version of the same paint job. The seat ended up with a hole in it somehow, so it’ll be recovered soon also.
These bikes are never done... if you actually ride them.