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Photo by David Snow

SHORT FORK: Catalyst for great handling.

Animal Mother reigns!

Oh. My. Freaking. Lord. Rode her today for the first time with her new fork and it felt like I was riding an extreme sportbike! Holy Mother of Asphalt, what have I been missing? This is what "XLCH" means! I actually have a front brake! She carves curves like a combination of Toshiro Mifune and Julia Child. Well, I absolutely cannot wait to ride! I didn't want to bring her to work 'til I really got to know her again, and figured out the kill button problem. It's gonna be a great riding season! In the next month or so, her new tank and fender should be painted....yum. My goal between now and next year will be to find a genuine short XLCH frame for Animal Mother and swap everything over. I'll probably keep her electric frame and start putting an electric leg Ironhead together on the side (for my old age).

I just rode Anumal Mother 30 miles to the nearest Starbucks, where I'm typing this. This is the third time I've ridden her since saturday (sunday and half of monday were cold and rainy) and I continue to be astonished at the difference a competent front end makes, and I am further astounded at the capabilities of a 44 year old Ironhead. I feel like I have a brand new bike. The change in personality is startling to say the least. Her vast potential is just now beginning to be tapped. I feel that I should apologize to her for riding her handicapped for the last year and a half with that springer, but the experience seems to highlight the drastic difference in ride quality and response.

For one thing, even with solid mount risers (I hate mushy rubber mounts), my fingers don't go numb, unlike with the 7/8 inch bars on the springer which would vibrate 'em to sleep within 20 miles. And, unlike the flimsy, wobbly nature of the springer, Animal Mother with the new fork doesn't seem to vibrate much overall. We sliced my favorite 25 mph curves at 50 and she felt as soild, stable and on track as a locomotive. At speed and in between 70 and 80, she's absolutely steady and doesn't exhibit any of that about-to-explode flighty weirdness that made my heart go pitty pat. In short, I have developed instant and supreme confidence in her competence, which I knew was always there, waiting to be realized. The way she pulls and accelerates is sensual. I know she makes at most 55 hp, but it seems that all of those 55 horses are available anywhere in the powerband and in any gear. I've never had a bike that encouraged aggressive riding like Animal Mother.

I finally got the kill button sorted out. I cut 1 1/2 inches off each end of the Flanders drag bars, to further narrow her profile and installed her bar-end mirror. So, aside from a steel braided brake line, the front end's done. A new PM master cylinder will be the Xmas list. I just looked up and checked her aggro stance in the parking lot. She reigns.