The Ecosse Heretic - The 12 Bikes Of XXXMAS

Enter The Anti-Chopper

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.

tech SPEC
Price $80,000
Engine type a-c 45-deg. V-twin
Valve train OHV, 4v
Displacement 2000cc
Transmission 6-speed
Claimed horsepower 135 bhp @ 5800 rpm
Claimed torque 137 lb.-ft. @ 4200 rpm
Frame Steel double-cradle
Front suspension Öhlins/Ecosse inverted fork with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension Öhlins/Ecosse shock with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping, ride height
Front brake Dual ISR six-piston calipers, 320mm discs
Rear brake ISR two-piston caliper, 250mm disc
Front tire 120/70ZR-17 Michelin Pilot Sport
Rear tire 200/55ZR-17 Michelin Pilot Sport
Seat height 27.5-30.5 in.
Wheelbase 60.5 in.
Fuel capacity 4.2 gal.
Claimed dry weight 460 lbs.

Verdict | Naughty
4.5 stars out of 5
An all-American V-twin built for affluent bad boys who ride their toys.

Fasteners are designed and machined in-house, along with oil fittings, banjo bolts, shock mounts, engine mounts and even the countershaft sprocket. They even create the tooling used to mold urethane chain guides, vibration dampers and seals. Fasteners in more critical areas come from Automotive Racing Products. "You can buy a socket-head cap screw for 10 cents," Atchison says. "The cheapest thing we get from ARP is about $3."

But there's a method to all this madness. "We didn't do all that just to be different," Atchinson continues. "We just let the idea evolve from an American V-twin engine, and there were certain things that had to be done to make the thing work."

Before you get to see how the Heretic works, you need to know the starting drill: fuel tap on, ignition switch on, compression releases-one per cylinder-set, choke on, then push that big, red button on the dash that doubles as an oil-pressure light. The engine comes to life like a Kodiak bear with a Yukon Jack hangover. It's loud, and it's not kidding around. Upright ergonomics are comfortably neutral. And with its three-position rear ride-height in the middle slot, the Heretic sits fairly close to the pavement. Steering lock is limited. But with more torque than Triumph's 2.3-liter Rocket III and about half the weight, acceleration is not. The spec sheet says there's enough to go from 0-60 in 2.8 seconds, and that seems just about right. It's like being shot out of a big, billet cannon.

It's loud, long, difficult to Christmas-wrap, too big for your stocking and very, very expensive. Everyone should have something in their life that is as close to perfect as they can afford. Most mortals can't. But for someone with an eye for functional art forms, painstaking execution and the means to end up with an $80,000 motorcycle, this is one of them.

The Ecosse Heretic
The digital speedometer has a stopwatch function that can record quarter-mile times, along with your best runs from 0-60 and 0-100. The display also includes a programmable shift light and lets you change the tach needle color at night.
The front brake lever is adjustable, along with the amount of leverage applied to the master cylinder, making whoa-power easier to manage. Organic pads provide reassuring feel when all 12 pads bite.
Swedish radial-mount ISR front brake calipers push a dozen pads against 320mm floating rotors. Offset pistons on the bottom make room for six on each side.
The right-front downtube carries and cools engine oil that lives in the frame's 3-inch backbone. Holes in the swingarm's lower shock mount provide three ride-height settings.