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
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