Based in Wichita, Kansas, Big Dog Motorcycles began going after Harley-Davidson’s high-end market in 1994, making customized bikes on a production line and developing an admiring fan base with its generally well-made and always handsome bikes. It introduced its Pitbull rigid custom cruiser in 1998 and substantially revised in it 2008. The 2009 Big Dog Pitbull was a carryover.
Like its other ProStreet cruisers, the Pitbull has a 1917.3cc, air-cooled, V-twin, four-stroke engine made by S&S, a pushrod valve setup, and an S&S Super G carburetor. The proprietary drivetrain, mounted on the right side for improved balance and handling, and the Baker six-speed transmission work with a clutch that was completely redesigned in 2008—one that might take less effort than in previous years but will still build plenty of hand strength. A telescopic fork, at a modest 33-degree angle, provides the front suspension; the rear is rigid—however, the ride is softened by a spring seat set 25.5 inches off the ground. Hydraulic discs with four-piston Performance Machine calipers in front and back furnish the stopping power. The standard instrument display has a speedometer, an odometer, and a tachometer. An oil temperature gauge is optional.
Weighing in at less than 700 pounds dry, the Pitbull has a 73-inch wheelbase, which makes it easier to handle than some of the company’s nine-foot-long choppers. The rear tire size was reduced in 2008 from 300mm to a still hefty 280mm, which adds to the bike’s stability. Billet wheels, an elongated 4.7-gallon fuel tank, and a chromed two-into-two exhaust system—street legal throughout the United States—contribute to the bike’s good looks. Since Big Dog took a custom order for each bike it made, the options list is a long one. A buyer chose the color from a palette of seven base paints and then selected one of the 70 graphic packages. A raft of accessories was also available: an assortment of pegs, tail bags, tools, and tinted or clear windscreens in two different sizes were just a few of the choices.
The company closed its doors early in 2011, just one of many specialty motorcycle builders that could not survive the recession. A successor company sells accessories, clothing, and parts, not just for Big Dog bikes but for other machines as well, so parts remain available.