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. The company introduced three new models in 2009, despite the faltering economy, including the Wolf—its top-of-the-line ProStreet cruiser.
Big Dog worked with S7S in developing a proprietary 121-inch X-Wedge engine for the Wolf. It was the most powerful engine in its lineup, a 1982.9cc, air-cooled, tri-cam V-twin angled at 56 degrees, which was designed to reduce vibration. The Wolf was also the first of Big Dog’s bikes to get fuel injectors, an S&S EFI system that met 2010 emissions standards. A Baker six-speed manual transmission, with overdrive and a standard heel-toe shifter, works with a chain primary drive and a belt final drive—and a newly reworked clutch. Big Dog boasted that the bike could go from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than four seconds.
Hydraulic discs, with four-piston Performance Machine calipers in front and back, furnish the Wolf’s stopping power, just as they do for other Big Dog models. The standard instrument display has a speedometer, an odometer, and a tachometer. An oil temperature gauge was offered as an option.
The company also designed a new frame for the nine-foot-long cruiser, one with a single down tube featuring a 40-degree rake and a rigid seven-inch-stretched backbone. A telescopic front fork and a twin-sided swing arm make up the bike’s suspension system, which does a decent job of handling road bumps. However, the seat—a moderately low 25.5 inches off the ground—did not win admirers; most reviewers recommended replacing it or installing the optional air-suspension kit as soon as possible.
Big Dog custom-outfitted each machine according to the customer’s desires, offering a rainbow of color options and graphic packages. Despite the ambitious 2009 lineup, as the economy slid further into recession, Big Dog’s fortunes slid with it. 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.