Big Dog Choppers
Big Dog had the first production choppers that I ever recall seeing on the streets, and at first I wasn’t impressed. At the time I was big into heavy chrome and all kinds of nonsense on bikes, and really didn’t get what a chopper was. It was a Ridgeback, I believe and at that time I didn’t even know that Big Dog had been making custom cruisers for 10 years. The cruiser certainly were not choppers, in spite of their common street name and the company in my humble opinion didn’t get it right until they introduced the model called the “Chopper” and then of course, the Ridgeback.
Big Dog Motorcycles, as far as I know, never claimed to build choppers until they introduced the model of the same name , but people have been calling all of their bikes that for as long as they’ve been in the public eye. So let’s just talk about the Big Dog choppers then, OK, and not about the other models. Basically as of this writing Big Dog only makes two chopper models: the Ridgeback and the K-9.
These bikes in my mind epitomize what the modern chopper is: stretched up and out as far as you dare go and raked just enough to matter. Real choppers actually look much more raked then they are. While most ProStreet bikes go 45 degrees or more a real chopper may only be raked 38-42 degrees. That long front end mainly comes from being stretched in the downtubes.
Why the K-9 provides a smoother ride through a hidden shock, the Ridgeback looks just a little meaner and appears to have more downtube stretch because of the tire hugging fender, even though that spec on both bikes is the same. These are true American made production choppers, that are as simple as a DOT approved bike could be and if you want an instant custom, at least this company is still in business.
I go to a lot of motorcycle rallies and I notice that Big Dog bikes blend right in with hand built custom choppers that are parked right beside them. If you removed the logo it would be hard to tell a production Big Dog from a one off build and I think that’s a major boost to the company’s street cred. Honda is trying that with their K-9 clone, the Fury, but it just isn’t flying. It still reeks of Honda, while the Big Dog bikes continue to say “one of kind custom” even though we all know they’re not.