Now we know why Steven Tyler is in rehab. It's not the addiction to prescription meds. It's not the decades of sex and drugs and rock and roll. It's not even seeing his actress daughter Liv naked on the big screen. It's his association with Dirico Motorcycles.
The plotline is flawed from the beginning. Tyler is an avid motorcyclist, but his two partners in this undertaking are his brother-in-law, Mark Dirico, and his cousin, Stephen F. Talarico, who happens to run Manchester Harley-Davidson in New Hampshire.
The story goes that one day, probably high on oxycontin, the Aerosmith singer stumbled into his cousin's shop with his brother-in-law in tow. The two spied a custom bike in the process of being built, and when Dirico commented that he could probably do that himself, Tyler encouraged him to do so. He agreed to lend his name-and his bank account-to a partnership, and Dirico (pronounced di-Ree-co) Motorcycles was born.
Thus each of the company's three models-the stretched Pro-Street, the retro Flyer and the built retro Speedster shown here-is available with Tyler's autograph on the rear fender at no additional charge. All are built to order using mostly Harley parts, so they can be serviced at authorized dealers.
Now here's the punchline: Never mind that free autograph, the Speedster sells for $39,900. As the girl in Aerosmith's "Love in an Elevator" video said: "Well hello, Mr. Tyler. Going down?"
Never mind what its name suggests, the Speedster isn't some speedy Sportster. To the contrary, it's based on a 110 cubic-inch Screamin' Eagle "crate" motor mated to a six-speed transmission and exhaling through Vance & Hines Side Shot exhausts. The chassis is a Kraft-Tech Softail, which for those who don't speak the lingo means it looks like a hardtail but has twin underslung shocks. A springer front end accentuates the classic look.
But forget the mechanics for a second-because everybody else does-and focus on the looks. The only thing "oranger" than this is a traffic cone. It's everywhere: not just on the gas tank, oil tank and fenders, but on the frame, fork, handlebar, wheel rims, air cleaner, even the primary cover. The gold pinstriping is icing on the cake. I've ridden a lot of motorcycles over the years, and never has a bike attracted as much attention as this. Even in Hollywood.
Admittedly, the Speedster is mixing its metaphors. The main mechanical details look vintage, but the airbrushed logo on the gas tank, the split tank-top gauge and the billet mirrors are a bit too modern. And whose idea was it to use standard Harley turn signals? Yeech.
Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler helps with design, and obviously like his colors like he lik
All that said, the Speedster works very well. The only thing that was really wrong with our testbike was it wouldn't start in gear, even with the clutch lever pulled in. Otherwise, it felt much like any Harley with a 110 cubic-inch engine, churning out a stump-pulling 98.5 lb.-ft. of torque from as low as 3000 rpm.
As on all Softails the engine is solid-mounted, thus it employs the Twin Cam B, counterbalanced for smooth running at a standstill as well as underway-no more shutting off the engine at red lights to save your fillings. Fuel injection is spot-on, the engine running well when cold or hot. Thanks to hydraulic actuation, the clutch pull isn't too heavy, and the six-speed tranny shifts very nicely-although given the bike's floorboards we have to wonder why there's no heel shifter.
Comfort-wise the Speedster feels much like a Cross Bones. Its Harley Bawler seat is firm and supportive and its wide pullback handlebar is an easy reach even for shorter riders, though longer-legged folks will want to watch their knees when making U-turns. Our testbike came with a solo saddle, but the Harley accessory catalog offers a passenger seat that snaps right in place; the bike already has passenger pegs. Likewise there is no windshield, but the necessary mounts are present.
Suspension is a mixed bag. The Softail rear end works as well as those normally do, but the springer fork is harsh over small bumps and mushy over big ones. Same with the brakes: The two-piston rear is almost too strong, but the single-piston front is completely ineffective. Try to stop with the front brake alone and you won't.
Dirico managed to fit a tach where normally only a speedo would go. Though nice looking, t
The biggest problem with the Speedster is its price. It's effectively a $16,999 Cross Bones with prettier paint and a 110 c.i. engine-think of it as a Cross Bones CVO. Except a comparable CVO, like the 2009 CVO Softail Springer, sells for $26,999. Is the Speedster really worth $13 grand more?
If you have to ask, you clearly don't get it. Starve yourself 'til your ribs show. Grow your hair out. Put on some dark sunglasses. Tie a scarf around your neck for dramatic effect. Collagen injections couldn't hurt. Then ride down the Sunset Strip, park in front of the Rainbow and wait for the magic to happen. Not even Nicky Hayden gets the kind of trim that throws itself at Steven Tyler night after night. Probably even in rehab. That alone might make the Dirico worth it.
When the guy with the Cross Bones buys the bar a round with the money he saved, just remind yourself that he doesn't have Steven Tyler's autograph on his rear fender. No one has to know you've never met him.