Rakish Radical

The industry’s first S&S twin-cam-powered production chopper

Intrepid Cycles appeared on the industry radar only a short time ago when they popped up at the Easyriders V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati in January and debuted a pair of unique new custom motorcycles with names that sounded like British ships of the line: a pro-street model dubbed the Steadfast and a chopper model, the Resolute. It was less than fortuitous timing, all things considered, inasmuch as the production-custom market had been, and continues to be, in the doldrums, and it was already a pretty crowded field to begin with. But you can’t very well call yourself intrepid if you’re going to let a few minor clouds like that deter you, and company principals Mike McGinley and Don Biron charged into the lukewarm waters of the sea of production-custom commerce, all steadfast and resolute.

And why not? They had something nobody else in the industry could offer and that was the recently developed S&S Cycle T-series twin-cam motor, EPA/CARB certified in three displacements. The stock offering on the Intrepid models is the 111-inch version, and the 117- and 124-inchers are offered as upgrades. And they had another thing going for them, too, which could ultimately prove the more important factor in their fortunes, and that’s patience. Intrepid Cycles has essentially hit the ground walking, setting an initial production target of a modest 50 units in the first year, and growing that output to something on the order of 200 units in the next two. Even those numbers may sound ambitious, and maybe they are, and maybe the third model they introduce when they get around to it will be called the Ambition.

In the case of the Resolute reviewed here, Intrepid offers an additional market novelty beyond the twin-cam motor, and that’s the fantastic stretch and yawning 54-degree rake of the front end, and when I first set eyes on this bike back in January my initial impression was: Is this thing even rideable?

The opportunity to answer that question for myself came during the Laughlin River Run when I spent a few hours riding, photographing and examining the Resolute. Here are my observations:

A big surprise in this category. Despite outward outré appearances, the rider seating and operational ergonomics of the Resolute are actually compact; and by that I don’t mean relatively compact, considering, I mean compact. Riders of moderate height and even the more severely vertically challenged will find this bike better suited to their stature than any other production-custom chopper out there. It ain’t half bad for us long-boned types, either, and my posture on the Resolute is pretty much what I experience on contemporary Harley Softail models.

The Resolute has an impressive list of powertrain pedigrees including a Baker RSD 6-speed transmission, Primo Rivera Brute III Extreme primary, and the aforementioned T-series S&S mill. Our test specimen was carbureted with an S&S Super G, and while the S&S VFI is available as an option, the Super G setup lacks for nothing; start-up is quick and sure and throttling manners are responsive and linear. The 111-inch motor is a potent performer, producing in excess of 100 hp and providing a G-force lunge when the wick is twisted. It does, however, also produce a steady buzz of vibration; never enough to shake your feet off the pegs or numb your forearms, but enough to render the bike’s small rearview mirrors blurry at virtually any speed except 80 mph in sixth gear (which is a real prudent time to be watching your back in Nevada).

Handling, ride quality
Another big surprise, here. By rights and rough-and-ready physics, that 54 degrees of rake should make for a front end that’s a real floppy bugger to wield around, particularly at slow speeds and in tight maneuvers. Even considering that six of those degrees are built into the triple trees, the remaining 48 degrees in the steering head are extreme by any conventional standard. So imagine my surprise when I discovered the Resolute to be a capable handler in congested Laughlin traffic, taking turns predictably with no perceptible tendency to flop. Intrepid attributes the bike’s slow-speed stability to the fork brace cinching the fork tubes just aft of the fender, but that’s a tough sell technically. I wonder if there’s something else they’re not telling me. Regardless, the Resolute’s chassis configuration works a hell of a lot better than I would have expected.

The Resolute’s 300mm Avon is the real limiting factor in the bike’s handling, as it is in any such application, which is why it’s so important to have confidence in the front end’s behavior so you can concentrate on the rear. On the open straightaways of the deserts around Laughlin, the big rake, long wheelbase and fat skin translate to rock-steady, look-Ma-no-hands motoring.

Controls and instrumentation
Two areas of dissatisfaction here. The solid billet grips sans rubber inserts are exactly wrong for a bike that takes some serious manual input—as all 300-shod machines do—and a bike that has the persistent buzz of a high-strung, big-inch motor. In the 100-degree heat of Laughlin, the sweaty-palm factor just makes things worse.

Also of concern is the diminutive Dakota Digital gauge mounted between the handlebar stalks. Lovely and svelte and sanitary though it be, it’s also pretty much unreadable, especially in the pervasive solar siege of the desert. On the plus side are a smooth, even pull at the clutch lever, and a well-positioned and short-throw shifter.

The upshot
The Resolute is traditional chopper architecture taken to its radical extreme, and the result is a real eye-popper on the boulevard. Practical ergonomics and a hella-stout motor make for satisfying high-speed scoots across the landscape, especially for moderate-sized riders. Some rubber in the grips and maybe some isolation of the handlebars would be nice, as would a legible speedo and larger mirrors (and Intrepid tells me they’re considering changes in those areas). All told, a truly unique and appealing package. List price on the Resolute is $36,995. Visit their website at www.intrepidcycles.com


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