What’s A Boss Hoss? 1 Fast Bike – Orlando Sentinel

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What’s A Boss Hoss? 1 Fast Bike

The 1,100-pound Motorcycle Has A Corvette Engine. It Goes From 0 To 50 Mph In 1.5 Seconds.

March 4, 1997 | By Blake Fontenay of The Sentinel Staff

DAYTONA BEACH — NASCAR driver Mark Martin describes his recently purchased motorcycle as a machine that ”makes a Harley look like a mo-ped.”

And the bike is so powerful that Martin, a 23-year veteran of auto racing, is afraid to find out its top speed.

”It’s really bad,” Martin said during one of the many conversations he had about the bike with crew members and other drivers during the recent Speedweeks. ”It’s outrageous.”

Martin was talking about the Boss Hoss, a custom brand of motorcycle fitted with an eight-cylinder Chevrolet Corvette engine as standard equipment.

Tom Shaffer, one of about a dozen Boss Hoss distributors displaying wares in the Daytona area during Bike Week, isn’t surprised that Martin doesn’t want to test the bike’s limits.

”They scare everybody,” said Shaffer, who has several models on exhibit daily behind the Harley-Davidson dealership on Beach Street. ”It’s just the feeling of riding something with that much horsepower.”

How much horsepower?

Shaffer said the 350-cubic-inch engine he sells in base Boss Hoss models churns out about 345 horses. That’s enough to get the Boss Hoss from zero to 50 mph in 1.5 seconds – and to 100 mph in 4 seconds.

Still, Shaffer realizes that won’t satisfy everybody’s need for speed. So he also sells souped-up models fitted with superchargers or 406-cubic-inch engines.

Shaffer’s models sell for $31,000 to $35,000. Depending on the options included, some distributors will let one go for somewhere in the low-20s.

Shaffer runs Mountain Boss Hoss Cycles, a distributorship based in Somerset, Pa. He’s also the franchisee for the Daytona Beach area. He hopes to open a year-round local dealership by early April – and Martin has expressed interest in investing in the enterprise.

A Boss Hoss dealership has been open in Orlando for about two years.

So how does anyone ever think of shoehorning an oversized sports car engine into a motorcycle, anyway?

The idea apparently originated with Monte Warne, a former airplane mechanic and crop-dusterfrom Dyersburg, Tenn.

Shaffer thinks he understands why.

”Monte was an aerial sprayer,” Shaffer mused. ”I think he sucked up too much spray.”

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Actually, Warne said his inspiration came while he was in high school. He spent 10 years perfecting his design while working other jobs, then went into the Boss Hoss business full time in 1991.

”They’re pretty well accepted with the Harley groups because they’re all American-made and they’ve got good sound,” said Warne, who has his display set up outside Billy Bob’s Saloon on U.S. Highway 1 in South Daytona.

Boss Hoss currently has 27 domestic and eight foreign distributorships, which are responsible for assembly of the cycles from kits manufactured at a plant in Dyersburg.

Warne said about 800 of the bikes have been sold so far.

So to help out one of Boss Hoss’ more famous customers, how fast can one of these bikes go?

Stock models top out around 140 mph while the hot rod versions are capable of 160 to 180 mph, Warne said.

Shaffer, the local distributor, said it’s not easy to prove those claims, though.

”You get going 130 or 140 mph and it’s hard to hang on,” Shaffer said. ”It’s like trying to hold onto a clothesline during Hurricane Andrew.”

Al Mason, a visitor from Canada who was studying one of Shaffer’s cycles during Bike Week, shared Martin’s belief that such a beast should best be handled with caution.

”The speedometer goes up to 120 mph,” Mason noted. ”I think that would be enough to get you in trouble.”

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