Riding A 30 Inch Custom Bagger. How Does It Feel?

ricks1Will have the opportunity very soon, but until now I never rode a 30 inch front wheel bagger. But moto journalist and friend of the industry Horst Roesler did it for me. And for this test ride, both in the Blackwood Forest mountain roads next to Baden-Baden and on the German autobahn, he borrowed the new ultra custom bagger of builder Rick’s Motorcycles. So, was riding “Dirty Thirty” a challenge? Below a few of his impressions:

ricks2“Although the saddle is positioned low, when “pumped up” the chassis feels unusually high from the ground, ready to offer greater lean angles and to preserve the bags from scratching during sharp turns. At low speed, a combination of the bike high center of gravity with the immediate response of the front wheel with each small twist of the throttle, gave me an “Enduro” bike feeling. A feeling that is unlike what I have ever experienced on any Harley Big Twin Touring bikes. “Dirty Thirty” felt very light, very nimble. Around 80 km/h (50mph) the gyroscopic effect of the huge 30” front wheel becomes extremely present . The wheel stabilizes the ride quite a lot and Rick’s obviously has the practice to use that effect to ride his 30” bagger bike on very twisted roads where sport bikes have always supremacy..

ricks3On the autobahn, I pushed the bagger to 160 km/h (100 mph.) Even with some cross winds, “Dirty Thirty” felt very stable, offering precise handling but requiring greater and greater steering force at speed increases. I must mention that Rick’s being also an official Harley dealer, he is obsessed with his custom bikes keeping as close as possible to each Harley model handling characteristics. The custom rims he cut specifically for this bagger were trimmed of as much possible of unnecessary aluminum. So, handling of this same bike with heavier wheels could produce very different results. For a 30’’ front wheel bagger, Rick felt necessary to create his own 15-Inch rotors to accept 6-piston calipers.

At all times, I felt extremely safe riding “Dirty Thirty”. This 30” bagger and all its custom components have been developed to achieve TUV homologation for the fastest public roads on the planet, the ones of the German Autobahn.” Rick’s Motorcycles.

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43 Responses to “Riding A 30 Inch Custom Bagger. How Does It Feel?”


  1. 1 Woody's Nov 23rd, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Good read, thanks! It makes complete sense that an open wheel like that would be much less affected by crosswinds than an OEM bagger wheel, but I suspect the “gyroscopic effect of the huge 30” front wheel ” would actually be less than with an OEM front wheel/tire despite it’s larger diameter. Not calling anyone aliar, “butt dynos” are often wrong also even though they feel correct.

  2. 2 RUB Nov 23rd, 2013 at 11:48 am

    bumps ? pot holes ? hello , anybody there ???????????

  3. 3 Homer Nov 23rd, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    100% eye candy, ‘bike jewlery’…. Many times looks pretty cool. Mechanically speaking, 100% sucks…..

    Depends if you want be a pimp, or want to go ride… JMOP

  4. 4 tommy666 Nov 23rd, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Not even DOT approved. Your riding a death wish. You cant even sue someone if your hurt. Buyer Beware!!! Ride at your own risk fashion queens!!!!

  5. 5 bartsky Nov 23rd, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    The fact that the tall wheels give the bike some real lean angles is not to be dismissed….also, a 30 inch rim gets the bike over many a road imperfection that is felt more on smaller dia. wheels. It’s all fun.

  6. 6 James just another crazy Kiwi Nov 24th, 2013 at 2:44 am

    Everything has been done before as has this……

    But with modern materials and machining……..

    Who knows ? if it is a goodun one of the Main stream manufacturers will try to make a buck out of it.

    “Pimps” let them call us pimps it is an honorable title……

    30” front wheel, tassells and painted Cadilac pink…..now thats a Pimp taxi brothers..

    Just got back from Magpie Madness rally so brain is chemicaly clouded…Duh

  7. 7 JackS Nov 24th, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Back in ’07 I thought a 21″ wheel on a bagger looked totally cool (compared to the then stock 16″). But now I am tired of the big wheel craze–they should just put a motor on an antique hiwheel bicycle and be done with it. In my opinion, HD has even gone far enough with the new 19″ low profile tire on the 2014 FLHX. Give me a rider built to handle all road conditions–that won’t damage the rim when I hit a pot hole, and that doesn’t require herculean effort to muscle a counter steer at high speed on a sweeper.

  8. 8 Ax Nov 24th, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Ridiculous, both functionally, and looks-wise. Why not innovate in ways that improve the motorcycle, like a powerful engine that also gets 60mpg? The big, wide wheels and tires thing is so over.

  9. 9 HK Nov 25th, 2013 at 1:10 am

    Hahahaha even with proof from a guy who rides you nutjobs still want to hate .lol

    “Help me understand the unknown with my eyes closed for i hear not and i shall stay ignorant to the truths to the bitter end of my ignorance ” Quote- HK just now with my head in my palm..

    keep complaining about what is popular im sure the 3 things you like will come back around ….bell bottoms and girdles possibly ?

  10. 10 Chad Mathias Nov 25th, 2013 at 6:40 am

    I have logged 26k miles on my 26 inch bagger in two years. A lot of seat time for a pimp….

  11. 11 JackS Nov 25th, 2013 at 7:33 am

    Chad, I would love to hear a subjective account on how your bike handles.

  12. 12 HK Nov 25th, 2013 at 9:18 am

    we have been riding these things for years ,across the country and everyday riders .get on one and have an actual opinion or feel free to keep it to yourself .

    “riding a unicycle is near impossible …ive never tried it but my opinion still matters right ?????”

  13. 13 mike lap.. Nov 25th, 2013 at 9:20 am

    yea they look cool. but peeps dont realize once the frame is raked out that far there is no front suspension. bikes bounce over the bumps not thru em..ever go into a sweeping turn at 100+ and hit a bump with a raked out bike ? done it lots o times with my pro-streeters. it can be a lane changer in seconds so hang the f–k on, especially at speed.

  14. 14 HK Nov 25th, 2013 at 9:46 am

    @mike some of the 30 ” baggers are not as raked at you may think the actual backbone and down tubes are stretched forward and upwards over the wheel to give the same rake as stock . Our knuckledragger bike is 34 degrees on a 30 ” road king that stock harley road king rake .

    not to say these are sportbikes or your first performance option but for some to say they arent rideable and dangerous really dont have any idea how many miles people are logging on these bikes and how its not as radical as some think at all . A radically raked chopper with a 300 fat rear tire is more unrideable and dangerous than a big wheel bagger will be any day

  15. 15 steve Nov 25th, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Big wheel bikes are nothing new and believe me over the past 3-4 years they have been able to work out the bugs. I have a 26 inch and in my opinion it rides just as good as a stock bike. (if the bike is done right it should ride just as good as stock) I’ve ridden my street glide over 1,000 miles in two days (from Georgia, to Missouri) and not had any problems. I can’t say what a pot hole would do to the 26 but I hit one that cracked my old Big Dogs 250 rear. I know for a fact the guys who say they aren’t practical have never even ridden a big wheel bagger.

  16. 16 Enie L Nov 25th, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    I don’t know how it rides……but it looks goofy

  17. 17 Shaz Nov 25th, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Test Ride: All is great, safe, reliable, handles at 100MPH, great lean angles, At all times, I felt extremely safe riding this 30” bagger…

    Dummies: yeah I still don’t like it or understand it, so it therefore it must suck AND be dangerous. Who needs facts,dislike translates nicely into concrete facts.

    more of the same… instead of commenting on subject matter that interest you and you would like to know more about, people are hyper-focused on what they hate and spending tremendous amounts of time and energy to convince others that they too should hate it.

    New subject:
    Blue motorcycles suck and are super dangerous. I hate blue, don’t like any shade, you know how dangerous and stupid you would have to be to ride a blue bagger. I mean when is enough- enough, I am so tired of all the blue bikes out there with their matching other blue parts. They are only for show. You can’t actually ride a blue one. They handle like shit and the blue matched bars are a death wish. Why don’t we just go back to living in black and white. Simpler times when it was safer, y’know.

  18. 18 Terence Tory Nov 25th, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Shaz.Like I always look guys in the eyes and ask Harley riders when they start talking about riding fast:”Have you every ridden a REAL motorcycle?”.The ones who have ridden Z-1s and Ducatis back in the day are all ears and are engaged in learning more.The Harley riding only guys just grunt,shrug their shoulders,look at the ground and walk away grumbling and mumbling like little fairytail trolls that live under a bridge.

    Shaz::”Have you every ridden a REAL motorcycle?”.

    I could design and engineer a 30 inch wheel,tire and front end than would work pretty good for about 60K for a one off.Then a chassis to compliment and justify the expense of the front end for about another 60 or 70K.Then assemble a motor and trans for close to fifty.Then you would have a great bike that is still nowhere as good to ride as a lightly modified late model bagger or an ages old FXRT.The law of diminishing returns kicks back for attention like a dog.

  19. 19 Shaz Nov 25th, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Terence, WTF are you talking about?!?!?!?

    It must be the low light under this bridge of trolls making it difficult to understand the point you are trying so desperately to make as you revert to the “age old” dumb-slow-Harley guy references.

    If by a “REAL motorcycle” you mean the one you ride that has catapulted you to level EXPERT amongst your speed talking leather pant-suit pals, then no. If you mean have I ridden all different kinds of motorcycles over the last 25 years, as in; sport bikes (sorry Z-1s and Duc’s), or Jap cruisers ranging in CC’s (that’s not an email thing), 10ft long 250 rear 145hp suicide shifted choppers, or old school bobbers, dirt bikes, stock Harleys (big and small twins), stock baggers, slammed and stretched baggers then YES I have indeed ridden a REAL motorcycle.

    Do I get a pin, weekly email and patch to your club now?

    WOW, $170k for your perfectly designed prototype that is still not as good as a late model bagger or FXRT… your design and engineer skills must be as good as your ability to interject with educated thoughts.

    What determines “good to ride”? Your riding style, my riding style, his riding style, long distance, short bar hops, secondary surface roads, straight or curved roads, mountain or dessert riding, summer or winter?

    Terrance, you told me alright…. I think you missed the point completely but maybe it’s because your going way too fast on your super bike to see anything other than your blurry tank and the fog from the hot air your blowing out.

    back to my bridge now….

  20. 20 takehikes Nov 25th, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    sounds like it rides fine but it still remains one ugly ass set up. IMHO

  21. 21 Kroeter Nov 25th, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    I second takehikes motion

  22. 22 Stephen Nov 26th, 2013 at 2:41 am

    I think Shaz has a point. There does seem to be a lot of bashing everything on this blog by the commentators. That is why I don’t read this blog much these days.

  23. 23 RUB Nov 26th, 2013 at 8:55 am

    “Pimpin” ain’t easy …………………..this article just proves it .

  24. 24 mdsphoto Nov 27th, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Opinions on this forum are like, well you know this old story. I like all bikes, whether to look at or to ride the hell out of. I am in awe of those that can turn raw metal into a beautiful piece of machinery and yes there are some bikes that are not my personal style but I appreciate them for what they are. Those that hate for hate’s sake have some deep rooted personal issues which no one on a motorcycle forum is going to solve, nor should we try.

    I just finished reading another post where someone said they wouldn’t take the Ness bagger if they gave it to him. Who the hell are you kidding? I don’t know anyone who would not take a free bike of any kind. Even if you didn’t like it you could sell them damn thing and get what you want.

    I constantly read this forum where people say there a lot of posers in the motorcycle world, but it’s pretty evident that there are lot of posers in life and some of them are on this board!

  25. 25 john reed Nov 27th, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Terence,
    as a matter of interest,
    When you beat the Ducatis and Z1′s, was it round bends like a road race or in a straight line
    like a drag strip? and was it on a bike you built?

  26. 26 Woody's Nov 27th, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Shaz is an idiot. Everybody knows its the green bikes that have a problem ;)

  27. 27 Terence Tory Nov 27th, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    John Reed.honestly back in the day the Ducatis or Z-1s where so far behind me on the curvy bits that I never ever saw them much.Like an old pro road racer said to me one day:”TT you might be wobbling all over the road sometimes,but you are going twice as fast”.Like a guy said to me once when he finally arrived at the end of a ride and pulled of his helmet:”Where the hell did you learn to ride like that!”.Yeah most bikes I rode were built by me.

  28. 28 Greg Keller Nov 27th, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    Terence Tory. I bet you are unable, unwilling, to email to Cyril pictures of the bikes you built (???) . If you don’t, it means that you brag and lie. In this case, Cyril should ban you from his website. (see his terms of service on the top menu)

  29. 29 Terence Tory Nov 27th, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    Greg Keller,honestly I don’t have any photos.I’m always too focused busy working on a bike or riding it.Not having photos is in the “unable to” catagory I guess.I never brag and lie in any case.Think what you like,that’s fine buy me.

  30. 30 Greg Keller Nov 27th, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    Terence Tory. Nobody on this website will ever believe that you build bikes and have no pictures of them. You’re the King Of BS. Period.

  31. 31 Terence Tory Nov 27th, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Greg Keller,credit where credit is due.Buy a few old copies of Heavy Duty off ebay.I’m the Clown Prince,not the King.

  32. 32 john reed Nov 28th, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Terence

    I used to know a guy in the UK who was one of the biggest piss taker I ever met,
    He took winding people up to a new level
    You remind me of him.
    Have I ever met you?

  33. 33 Terence Tory Nov 28th, 2013 at 12:57 am

    john reed,no I’ve never met you or vice versa.I’m actually a pretty mellow cat in the flesh:still waters run deep,dark horse,don’t tread on me,etc,etc.I never “taker the piss” as you Brit guys say.Most people wind themselves up,like a junk clock and it only takes one loose screw and then Mickey’s hands turn into fists a’flying.Its a Buddhist thing in action.

  34. 34 Anthony J Nov 28th, 2013 at 5:11 am

    “honestly I don’t have any photos.I’m always too focused busy working on a bike or riding it.Not having photos is in the “unable to” catagory I guess.I never brag and lie in any case.Think what you like,that’s fine buy me.” Terrence you also have no one coming to your defense with one of the great m/c’s you have built. You are fooling nobody but yourself

  35. 35 john reed Nov 28th, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Anthony,
    He has won.
    Everyone is doing what he wants them to do

  36. 36 Anthony J Nov 28th, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    john reed, i also thought that and this is my last comment about him. I will not feed into his false ego anymore

  37. 37 Blackmax Nov 28th, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    i keep reading & hearing from al of these guys saying
    that the big wheel rides “just like a stock bike” .
    if it does and you like that kind of ride why go throught the cost of expense to change it
    so it rides like a stocker ????
    As stated before anything on the front bigger than a 23
    and anything on the rear bigger than a 200is a waste.
    Did the fat tire era teach you guys anything ????

  38. 38 BCinSoCal Nov 29th, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    John, as I have said before, there are some very pretentious twats who post regularly on this blog, and I think we all know who they are. It’s easier to ride an ego than a bike, talk is cheap. BC

  39. 39 Joe Ward Dec 23rd, 2013 at 12:35 am

    The thing is there is a different era of motorcycle riders these days, and the old timers just can’t accept it apparently so they bash it. I am currently purchasing a 30″ street glide, stretched bags and tank, air ride, sick modern candy paint job, slamming system, etc. and when I seen it, honestly it was the sickest bike I ever seen. I felt that 30″ just sets it off like no other. And I know the guys who built it do everything possible to make it as safe as can be. But after reading SOOO much hate, it had me actually doubting my decision for a second. But you know what, you guys stick with your stock bikes with light mods and be merry. Do you see us talking shit about your stock rode glide with your new pipes and cool new chrome pegs and grips? I have come to learn that if you are not being hated on, then you are doing something wrong. So those of you that see me riding clean as hell on my 30″ bagger can hate on my “Pimp Bike” all you want and I’ll still be feeling like a million bucks bumping the new 2 Chains cut that is playing on the iPad mini mounted in my dash. OMG yes I said it, along with the retarded 30″ wheel there will be an iPad mounted to my custom inner fairing. Just thought I would bring up something else the haters can hate on. B-)

  40. 40 Terence Tory Dec 23rd, 2013 at 2:39 am

    Joe Ward,when you have done more than look and maybe listen,get back to us.Like after riding it for a few months.Old timers are sometimes worth listening to because they were once noobs and they survived to become old timers.

    Hate count: 5.

  41. 41 Joe Ward Dec 24th, 2013 at 2:49 am

    I respect that Terence, it’s just all the bashers that don’t respect that we have different tastes and like different things so they have to talk shit. I still have 2 other 250 rear tire bikes (total murdered/tricked out HD night rod special and a completely custom build 124 CI S&S) and my dad has a BD 300 and we still love those as well. And I hear people bashing the 300 tire era too, so this is something else I don’t get, but anyways, I bet my dad logged 5,000 on his 300 chopper in a season and a half and we live in Chicago so you know how short our seasons are. These bikes are not just for show. I mean when an obvious veteran biker, like the man who wrote this article, who I would bet has logged more miles than all of us, talks about how stable and safe he felt with the 30, while riding switchbacks at 100 mph, It gives me piece of mind. Especially since I prefer to keep it under 60. But I will leave it at this until my build is complete, because I personally haven’t ridden the 30 yet, just think it is an awesome mod and am looking forward to it. Ride safe fellas..

  42. 42 mark Mar 29th, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    joe ward, let me know when you are going to ride switchbacks at 100mph, that would be fun, will bring a broom and a mop

  43. 43 Erik Apr 2nd, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    I have ridden a Harley Davidson Switchback at 100 MPH plus…I am still here. HA! I like the look of the 30 inch baggers and I am wanting to get one in the worst way. This article has shown me that it is all about personal preference. I also fall in the old timer category. I have been riding on some kind of bike or another since I was 7 years old. I am now approaching 46. Who wants to let me test ride their bagger so I can make a decision to build one. I admit, I am a little concerned about the safety of the big wheel baggers, but I still love the way they are ever present and unforgettable. I don’t think all you guys should be debating this issue, we should all be learning from each other….old or young. Keep riding!!

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