Climbing off the Fury, it’s time to get behind the handlebars of the 2009 Big Dog Coyote. The rider’s triangle is slightly different, as the Coyote’s bars are a little higher and at 24.5 inches, the seat is lower. The reach to the forward-mounted foot controls is a tad longer and arm position is higher, leaving me stretched out aggressively but still comfortably upright and leaning slightly back. The black leather seat is wider than the Fury’s and is plenty cush, but after long stints in the saddle, the spot where the seat raises up over the back fender begins to press against the small of my back.
Give the Big Dog’s notoriously stiff clutch lever a firm pull, twist the Coyote’s throttle and hold on tight. The prodigious low-end torque, which spikes between 2200 – 2400 rpm, will try to separate man from bike on hard launches. With its cylinders stroking at 4.375-inches in the big 4.125-inch bore, the 117 cubic-inch S&S engine puts out a whopping 1917cc, which is plenty to catapult this laden 695-lb beast off the line. The motorcycle pulls hard throughout the powerband until a little past 5K, with a Baker 6-speed transmission reliably putting the power to the back wheel. The Baker 6 is the standard amongst most factory-custom shops because of its industrial design, and each gear on the Coyote engages with a familiar clunk. Fuel spitting into the heads from the S&S Super G Carb is compressed at a 9.6:1 ratio, but fuel delivery sputtered and backfired at times. And while the Fury’s single-pin crankshaft attempts to give riders that V-Twin lumping sensation, the vibey Coyote already has that feeling dialed in. Even at idle the bike pulses with power waiting to be unleashed.
Crack the throttle and watch cars around you turn their heads to find out where that booming exhaust note is coming from. In the enclosed parking lot of the Excalibur Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, the sound was almost overwhelming. Granted, the Big Radius is not a stock pipe, but oh, what a sound they put out. The stock 2-into-1 double-barrel exhaust is still heartier than the Fury’s pipes, though. The one point of contention with the Big Radius pipes is that they hang low and scrape easily on right hand turns, sacrificing some of the motorcycle’s lean angle.
Between the Coyote’s 21-inch tall front tire and its 250mm black chunk of Avon rubber is a 77.5-inch wheelbase. The 8.5-foot long motorcycle sports a rigid look but has hidden rear shocks connected to an A-frame swingarm and offers a well-balanced ride, thanks in part to Big Dog’s proprietary balance drive technology that places the final drive on the bike’s right side. A 41mm telescopic fork set out at 42-degrees assists the rear to soften things up a bit, but big bumps will challenge the full length of the front end’s travel. The Coyote replaces last year’s Mutt, and BDM claims the suspension has been softened up a bit, but it’s still a stiff ride. It does require more effort at the bars to tip into turns and needs a couple more feet of clearance than the Fury to execute a U-turn, but its low seat height and low center of gravity make it the best-handling Big Dog in the 2009 lineup that I’ve ridden.
Being a big bike with a heavy rake, you’d better have reliable brakes. The Coyote’s arrangement didn’t disappoint. The front and rear wheels have two-piece, full floating rotors, with Performance Machine four-piston stoppers on the front and a PM two-piston caliper on the rear. Braided steel brake lines not only look sharp but respond fast with a moderate squeeze. Stopping distance between the two bikes is about even, but the Fury did lock up easier than the Coyote.
The view from the bike’s cockpit is mostly unobstructed. A small, dial speedo is just big enough to let you know how fast you’re going, the tach lights up well, but the small low fuel symbol could be a little more noticeable. The chrome control housings add a touch of class to the bars, but the turn signals can be temperamental and don’t always engage on the first click.
One of the final criteria in choosing a winner is the small intangible we like to call the ‘Wow’ factor. The Fury grabbed the attention of Honda owners we encountered and industry peeps like the Vance & Hines guys, but the Big Dog grabbed everyone’s attention, and isn’t ego what these bikes are all about?
“The Big Dog offered more sex appeal – period. Louder, faster, very beautiful and everything was either chrome or billet,” said Lavine.
The Fury is a valiant first attempt at building a chopper by Honda. It’s got clean lines, a refined engine, smooth handling, and a fantastic price point at $13K. But to bring the Fury up to the Coyote’s standards, you’d have to swap out the wheels, pipes, engine, the fenders, and have some custom paint thrown on. All of a sudden the Coyote’s $24K asking price doesn’t look so bad. Plus the Coyote has the chopper character and attitude the Fury wants. And this is a chopper comparo, and there’s one bike that better represents this genre of bikes. The 2009 Big Dog Coyote continues to set the standard.