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.
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.