The Ecosse Heretic - The 12 Bikes Of XXXMAS

Enter The Anti-Chopper

By Tim Carrithers, Photography by Adam Campbell

Old Milwaukee fans will dismiss the Ecosse. One more dizzy, up-market domestic to take on Ducati's Monster. Another heavily festooned, 45-degree, pushrod V-twin crammed into yet another pipe-rack steel frame. Meanwhile, anyone with more discriminating mechanical tastes can see there is more going on here than meets the jaundiced eye. There's a beautifully detailed simplicity that starts with a name on the carbon-fiber fuel tank and runs all the way back to a renaissance gearhead in Colorado who wanted a different sort of American motorcycle.

Different is pretty much what you'd expect from Don Atchison, an ex-Marine Corps officer and mechanical engineer with an MBA from the University of Colorado and a reputable track record on downhill skis as well as the Bimota SB8R currently parked in the Ecosse lobby. In case you were wondering, that's Ecosse as in Ecuire Ecosse, an obscure auto racing team from Edinburgh that won the 1956 and '57 24 Hours of Le Mans with a D-Type Jaguar. And what do you call the first motorcycle from a company named after a pair of overachieving underdogs who put a Scottish thumb in the eye of Scuderia Ferrari, Porsche KG and Lotus Engineering? The Heretic. In case you're still wondering, that's Heretic as in one who doesn't buy into business as usual. A nonconformist. A freethinker. An iconoclast. Call it the anti-chopper: 130-horsepower proof that the high-dollar American custom doesn't have to be a static art form. Anyone who appreciates the functional aesthetic of a Sig Sauer P250 pistol or a 6-liter Jaguar V12 could blow an afternoon ogling the details, but for those with the means to actually end up with one, this is a motorcycle that was built to be ridden.

Fed by a 45mm flat-slide carburetor the size of Pa Teutul's ham fist, the Heretic's big twin is a collaborative effort between Ecosse and Colorado-based Engenuity Motors International. Big? Each 108 x 108mm billet-aluminum cylinder displaces a full liter. After the 10.5:1 pistons have done their best, what's left flows through hand-built stainless-steel headers capped with stubby titanium mufflers. The dynamically balanced crankshaft inside proves a solid-mount, hot-rod 45-degree V-twin doesn't have to vibrate like an old Maytag full of wet tennis shoes. All the engine internals are weighed before they come together, and Atchison does some things with the balance factor that probably shouldn't work, but do. The engine never lets you forget it's down there, but relatively speaking, this one is smooth.

Power flows through a compact, six-speed gearbox comprised of Baker cogs and chain final drive. "We spent about six months working with Baker to come up with a transmission that was small enough to make the cases short enough to put the swingarm pivot where we wanted it and get the right weight distribution," Atchison says. Simple, clean design is not easy. The 4 quarts of Royal Purple oil keeping the 2-liter twin's internals happy live in the frame's 3-inch backbone, flowing in and out via dual downtubes that also keep the slippery stuff cool. "It looked easier when we laid out all my old napkin sketches," Atchison says, "but I think we came up with some nice solutions."

Every detail does something. Grooves machined into the billet-aluminum crankcase let it dissipate heat more efficiently. Wires running through reflective 3M sheathing make the Heretic easier to spot in traffic after dark, despite the fact that you'll probably hear it first. Department of Transportation boilerplate is engraved into the parts upon which it is required to appear. No stickers here, just sticklers. Aluminum is CNC-machined, not cast. Those 4130 chromoly frame tubes are shaped under a computer's control as well. Everything is TIG-welded; slower than MIG welding, but less spatter and deeper penetration add up to cleaner, stronger parts than you can make with a MIG welder. Delve deeper and two things become clear: 1) Inconsequential detail is an oxymoron at Ecosse's Denver plant; and 2) accountants aren't allowed in the engineering department.

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