There’s a new American motorcycle company on the block. Based in New York and preparing to unleash three new models based around a gigantic, 117 cubic inch (1917cc) S&S v-twin motor, Vanguard Motorcycles is unveiling its first bike at this weekend’s New York Motorcycle Show. The Roadster is a massive, frameless nakedbike built around and upon a giant 1917cc v-twin engine. To put it mildly, you’re not going to mistake it for anything else.
If the Vanguard Roadster has a theme to its design, that theme is metal. Metal just about everywhere. You get the sense that if the designers thought they could get away with using aircraft grade aluminum for the tires, they would have. The only more egregious use of aluminum I’ve seen was on the Confederate P120 Fighter Combat back in 2009.
That’s no coincidence. If you look at this thing and get a Confederate kind of vibe, that’d be because Vanguard CTO Edward Jacobs was Director of Design for Confederate between 2005 and 2011. In fact Jacobs’ partner in Vanguard, CEO Francois-Xavier Terny, was a board member at Confederate for many years, as well. These two gentlemen would appear to have a proud fetish for machined metal, and I’m not ashamed to admit I might share it.
There’s a feeling of massive, sturdy overengineering throughout the Roadster, from the giant triple clamps back to the monstrous single-sided swingarm and curved aluminum disc that serves as the 240-section rear wheel.
The motor is a modified S&S X-Wedge, a 56-degree v-twin that has been built around as the central structural unit of the bike. The cylinders themselves form a kind of cradle frame, and that whopping swingarm/shaft drive bolts right on behind the rear cylinder.
The upper half of the bike sits firmly on top of the cylinder heads, with the lower line of the seat and carbon tank forming a flat aluminum platform. And while each part individually looks great, from the tail unit to the slim 21-liter tank, I find the proportions pretty awkward in concert. Mind you, the details are good enough to save it; the closer you look, the more pornographic the machining becomes.
The single-seat tail unit is almost impossibly thin, with minimal seat padding, and from beneath it starts to look like the Starship Enterprise. You can imagine Kirk and Spock peeping out the back, going where no man has gone before. Except you, because you’ve just been there.
The exhaust is fully integrated, exiting from an anonymous slot at the bottom of the bike. Other interesting touches include the dash, which is a tablet-sized color screen that also serves as a mirror thanks to a rear-facing camera integrated in the tail unit.
Then there’s the rear shock – suspension is black Ohlins gear at either end – which is entirely contained within the swingarm/shaft drive assembly, effectively isolated from road grime in a chunky metal box with a viewing window at the top.
The headlights are barely there, six tiny units (perhaps LED based – the spec sheets don’t specify) housed in transparent shards between the front forks. This is the flattest front end I’ve ever seen on a bike that didn’t have a race plate on it.
And like many bikes that use that giant, gorgeous S&S X-Wedge motor, the Roadster uses a clear cover over the cam drive belts so you can watch ’em spinning as you idle at the lights.
The overall target weight for the bike is 550 lb (250 kg), which is about 110 lb (50 kg) overweight compared to most naked bikes, but still surprisingly light given that it looks like it’s built to survive a head-on with an 18-wheeler. And while no horsepower figures are provided, that giant 117 ci v-twin will smash out more than enough torque to make this a true tarmac-ripper.
At US$29,995, with production slated for 2018, the Vanguard Roadster is at the premium end of the market, certainly – but another way to look at it might be that it offers Confederate-level presence at a much cheaper price point. It’s less than half the price of a Keanu motorbike, too.
The company says this first motorcycle will soon be joined by two more models built on the same platform – a cruiser and a sportsbike. It’ll be very interesting to see how this chunky metal machine translates to the sportsbike, in particular.
We look forward to seeing a lot more of Vanguard in the coming years, with the Roadster set to enter production in 2018. You can catch the working prototype in the flesh next weekend, December 9-11 at the Javits Center in Manhattan.