Boss Hoss BHC-9 502
Boss Hoss BHC-9 502
Four stroke, V8, cost iron block
8226.8 cc / 502 cu-in
Bore x Stroke
Quadrajet 850cfm Carburettor
502 hp / 374 kW
567 lb-ft / 768 Nm
2 Speed semi auto
60mm Inverted forks preload adjustable.63.5mm
Dual 330mm coilover shocks, preload
2x 320mm discs 4 piston calipers
2x 228mm drum
771 kg / 1700 lbs
32 Litres / 8.5 US gal
Apple pie? Yeah, it's a flavorful dessert. But it crumbles
badly whenever it's waved around as representing what America is all about.
So what icon truly, fully, proudly represents our nation? Did you have to
The V-8 engine.
No pie, no atomic bomb, hotdog, hamburger, airplane, automatic washing
machine, no nothing defines who we are as a nation of imperialist cowboy,
gun-toting, religious refugees as powerfully as the V-8 engine.
Every American car of stature since the late '40s has been powered by a V-8.
A chicken in every pot, a car in every garage, and a V-8 under every hood.
Wasn't that the post-War promise? Straight Sixes, or, God forbid,
four-cylinder engines, are only for the underprivileged. What a horror it
was when the neighboring boys discovered my father's Chevy wagon had an
anemic Six. The shame.
Every class in NHRA professional drag racing uses V-8s exclusively. NASCAR
wouldn't be NASCAR without the V-8. A V-8 put the go in the GTO. It made
Mopar's Bee super. You'd never have caught Steve McQueen in a Mustang
without one. And don't forget the Crown Vic.
Little engines are for all those little foreign countries with their little
cars. Carroll Shelby took the sissy British AC and dropped a V-8 into the
hole where a fruity European four-banger once lived. Sunbeam made its gentle
Alpine into a Tiger with one. The Daimler 250SP was another Brit spyder made
right by American iron. Ford whooped Ferrari by packing a V-8 into a car's
In 1990, Monte Warne started making a motorcycle expressive of the American
dream. He put a V-8 between your legs. Born was the Boss Hoss, today's only
production V-8-powered motorbike.
When telling fellow journalists I was going to ride a Boss Hoss, they were
stumped trying to figure out how to reply. I saw a lot of those pained faces
you find on people wishing, dying, hoping to provide a funny retort, but
having nothing come to mind. Maybe I should have prefaced this by saying my
moto-journalist friends are generally a bunch of loud-mouths who fall all
over each other at the slightest opportunity to toss out an uninvited and
usually insulting opinion. But on this one they were confused. Most
journalists haven't yet ridden one of Warne's Chevy-powered monsters. Most
don't know what to even think of the outlandish things.
The "small" Boss Hoss is powered by a 350 cubic-inch Chevy engine, while the
"bigger" bike has a 502 ci unit. The bikes are basically identical with the
exception of that difference in displacement. The 350 puts out an
approximate 355 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and the other engine has a claimed
502 hp. Torque is at numbers that absolutely dwarf comparison to any
motorcycle on the planet: 405 lb/ft for the 350 and 567 lb/ft for the 502.
Just quoting those figures make me have to go to the bathroom.
The Boss Hoss
brand is all about excess taken to the most excessive excess possible, so
hot cams are available, as well as tons of other high-performance engine
mods. Most Hoss dealers are eager to help every Boss owner with mods, and
many are prepared to install nitrous kits and other equipment designed to
make grown men cry. I've heard of one bike putting out around 1,000 hp. Cry?
That's the kind of power that can make a man sob uncontrollably. That kind
of power can be a religious experience.
Hosses come with pipes that are fairly open so the sound is sweet and
unnecessary to modify. But of course you can. To make the whole package
shorter, the water pump is an electric unit mounted off to the side,
avoiding the added length of a front-mount belt-driven pump. There are heat
shields over the exhaust manifolds - even on the warm day we rode, the heat
coming off the bike wasn't an issue.
Braking is taken care of with dual rotors and four-piston calipers up front
and a single rotor with a four-piston caliper out back, whose rotor is the
same 12.6 inches as the front two. It's an impressive amount of stopping
power for a bike of this weight and it should be noted that the rear brake
is capable of providing serious affect for slowing the bike. I doubt anyone
has yet done a stoppie on one of these things.
As archaic as one might think an iron V-8 is, the Hoss has many modern items
found on sportbikes, such as an inverted fork with adjustable preload. The
dual shocks out back also have preload adjustability. The last 15 years of
Hoss development have been well spent, and the current version of the bike
has carefully engineered geometry that fully meets the needs of the machine.
Since the company encourages modifications to the machine, the engine can be
easily removed by splitting the frame into two at a central seam. Just don't
try to place the powerplant on your workbench by yourself.
I admit, on my maiden voyage on a Boss Hoss I did feel trepid. But that
wasn't because of fears of its power, it was because I'd never before ridden
a bike that requires a call to the AAA if I tip over while waiting for a
traffic light. It gives "I've fallen and I can't get up" new meaning. A Boss
Hoss has dry weight of 1100 lbs. That's close to a Formula Atlantic racecar.
Lifting one is like trying to pick up a downed horse; you don't even know
where to start. The ears? Maybe the tail? I'll just crawl underneath it and
try to stand up.
Boss Hosses (Bosses Hoss? Boss Hossi?) are actually smartly designed so that
if they do tip over they don't go over very far. But even fears of that are
unfounded because the geometry of a Boss Hoss makes them shockingly kind and
mild mannered at low speed. Truth is, I've never ridden any other cruiser
that was so well balanced at low speed. The bike seems to balance by itself
and if there's the slightest hint of the weight biasing to one side, a
slight nudge on the throttle causes the machine to smoothly right itself.
It's basically impossible to be wobbly on a Boss Hoss, even at 2 mph.
All Boss Hosses now have a two-speed automatic transmission that requires
manual shifting. Does that make sense? I think so. There's no clutch lever
on the left handlebar, no matter how often you might try reaching for it.
And to make all ex-racers happy, the Hoss has a race-shift pattern. Down for
first, down again for second. Earlier Hosses had just a one-speed tranny,
but the two-speed provides a smoother, lower revving ride on the open road.
First gear will take the bike all the way to 80 mph, so second can be
ignored if that gets your fancy. The way the transmission is set up it's
possible to stop and start in top gear, but doing so isn't recommended and
the bike will be noticeably sluggish on take-off.
All Boss Hosses now have a reverse, too. It is operated by a button located
on the left hand controls and is locked out before a forward speed can be
engaged, so there's no chance of back shifting.
It's is weird at first to launch a bike simply by turning the throttle. But
take off is smooth and the bike communicates well with the rider showing how
it likes to be treated. When at a stop, revving the engine, there is a
certain amount of torque twist from the engine but it's nothing radical. It
just sort of pulls over a bit slowly, showing it likes to be blipped, just
like every other bike.
A Boss Hoss has the strength of personality to transform the rider. No
matter who you are you automatically ride a Hoss properly. And you don't
mind because it's such a good show letting it be just what it is. The
feeling of motoring along with a V-8 between your legs is cathartic. You
feel special. I've never been much of a poser but the Boss Hoss made me want
to pose even when I was alone. I found myself looking for polished tank
trucks to ride along beside so I could admire how good my ass looked on this
thing. Having a V-8 between your knees just makes the world a better place.
It's better than shock therapy. It makes a guy, or girl, proud. I wanted to
call my father.
Although cruiser riders spend 97% of their time cruising at moderate speeds,
I had to see what the Boss Hoss would do if ridden with anger. Well, if you
hold the throttle wide open and hammer into second gear at 60 mph you can
make this generally very gentle giant slap you silly. All was fine and
predictable until I attempted that full-throttle shift. At low speeds doing
so is without worry, but at 60 or faster the engine is all wound up and
things get critical. Normally, the torque twisting of the bike, caused by
the longitudinally-mounted spinning engine, is dampened out while the
transmission is engaged and driving the bike. Twisting the throttle any
amount at any speed while the bike's in gear is effortless and balls of fun.
when the Hoss
is shifted up
full-throttle run, in
that short moment
while the torque
back up and
the bike is
between gears the
torque of the
engine is no
This causes the
suddenly rotate over
to the right,
rider to quickly
correct and pull
the bike back
up to the
left with a
hard push on
the bars. But
in the middle
that, top gear
comes on full
and the bike
back to the
left, where it's
It was easy
to get the
bike back under
control and this
attributed to any
design flaw of
the cycle. I
mean, the damn
what'd I expect?
This is about
what I expected
and it's about
what I'd hoped
for. I wanted
the Boss Hoss
to show the
its abilities and
it did. So
I tried another
And then a
few more. Oh
since the Boss
Hoss is a
cruiser, means to
roll around town
where there are
lots of other
people to admire
how you look
with a V-8
legs. As luck
had it, I
was riding the
Boss Hoss at
a bike week
where there were
tens of thousands
of those puny
things made by
every other bike
of those things
have 1,800cc. I
realized how small
that is. And
that's where I
full meaning and
value of riding
a Boss Hoss.
While pulling up
into packs of
bikes at traffic
lights, I noticed
how most riders
their throttles to
show off to
and others the
of their open
has a potato-potato.
Well, the Boss
Hoss has a
To let the
boys on their
little bikes know
I was there,
I'd blip the
cubic inches of
between my legs,
showing them the
sweet sound of
Chevy. It always
attention and all
around me the
stop. To sit
on a Boss
Hoss is to
sit on the
top of the
It makes you
king of the
herd, the alpha
bull, leader of
big-daddy Sun, da
man. There is
equals the Boss
proclamation to all
the world - or
at least to
all on the
immediate block -
that you're the
guy with the
Hey kids, go
blip your cute
somewhere else. Get
in line behind
I fully expected
the Boss Hoss
to be unrefined,
cumbersome and an
effort to ride
at every speed,
if not just
to sit on.
I know now
those were biases
I'm still unable
appreciate how easy
the bike is
to ride, yet
I can no
over the pictures
in the company's
a woman piloting
one of them.
I think your
could handle a
Before riding a
Boss Hoss, I
thought they were
option or freakish
lunatics but not
ever be interested
in owning. And
ridden many bikes
that are awesome
I'd equally not
want to own
because they just
don't do that
for me that
we all want
from a bike.
Now that I've
ridden a Boss
Hoss I fully
attraction. It does
do that something
special for me.
I could live
with one of
these things in
my garage. I
could easily see
myself plowing -
with the roar
of American V-8
between my legs
- through the
filing din of
I could be
very happy knowing
and showing that
I am emperor
The Boss Hoss
has evolved into
transforming a crazed
concept into a
performs like a
real bike should.
I'm as surprised
as anyone that
I "get it."
I understand the
the Boss Hoss.
I'd go so
far as to
say I think
I "need" one.