by Douglas Chasar
Walking into the Titan factory warehouse, I ogle the row of machines waiting to be shipped. While final preparations are made, I trace the line of bikes, my mind echoing a single thought over and over. Which one to I get to ride?

The answer comes as the Sidewinder Softail Chopper sporting inverted 34mm forks raked at 35 degrees, a 250mm rear tire and decorated with tribal flames over an iridescent, metalflake base coat. A digital display functions as a combination speedo, tach, trip meter, oil pressure, neutral, turn signal, high-beam indicator, reducing the instrument cluster to a single unit accentuating clean lines. Braided hoses, serpentine pipes and plenty of chrome polish off the look.

Throwing a leg over and easing into the saddle, I familiarize myself with the location and operation of controls before hitting the start button. The 107 cubic inch S&S motor cracks to life and settles to a low and heavy rumble. Taking a few laps in the parking lot, I test the lean and balance of the Sidewinder. I'm surprised when the modest angle of my turn drags the kickstand along the asphalt then continue steering with the handlebars as opposed to leaning.

With the bikes fired up and ready to go we hit the road. The Sidewinder's 105 horsepower engine has no trouble accelerating into traffic and keeping up with the crowd. The stiff clutch makes shifting through the 5-speed transmission more work than a quick flick of the ankle, but the transition from gear to gear is relatively smooth. Finding neutral is a chore, but with a little practice I begin to learn the idiosyncrasies of the bike.

Just as I feel I've gotten the hang of Titan's softail chopper, Don Proudfoot, owner of Titan Motorcycles and one of my riding partners for the day, offers to swap bikes allowing me to experience the Sidewinder Hardtail. With the same forward controls as the chopper, the hardtail feels roomy and uncramped despite my six-foot-six frame, however, my legs are far from fully extended.

The throttle response is just as good as the chopper, though not as sharp as I am used to, and once again the Sidewinder's engine packs enough power put the bike where I want, when I want. I find the ride on the hardtail is a little more comfortable than the chopper, likely due to additional padding in the seat. Otherwise, I feel little difference in acceleration and maneuverability.

Just about halfway home, Proudfoot suggests I swap bikes again with another of our riding partners, this time giving me a taste of the Sidewinder Softail Standard. So far, every Titan I have ridden remains very well balanced and I have no trouble keeping my feet off the ground at a near standstill. I do notice, however, the standard feels rather stiff while cornering, where neither leaning nor manipulating the handlebars will turn the bike sharp enough. Aside from having less padding in the seat, the softail is very similar to the hardtail though there is one major difference.

The Sidewinder Softail I'm riding carries a 112 cubic inch S&S with performance upgrades to match. Feeling like a racehorse waiting to brake out of the gate, this bike screams for the open road. Every twitch of the throttle propels the Sidewinder forward as if I am already there only it takes my mind a moment to catch up. Unfortunately, we're in urban traffic, and I have to restrain myself from accelerating at full speed.

As we roll back into Titan's parking lot I regret not having the opportunity to test my endurance on either Sidewinder taking a longer ride. I'd also like to ride a Sidewinder on a route with a little more character, such as a highway featuring inclines, curves and twists. With their latest offering in the custom motorcycle market, I'm sure Titan will be around for a while. Perhaps I'll have my chance when the next model is introduced.

Ride safe, ride often...hell, just ride! - dpc

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