Purpose-built trike designed to reach mass market
Sabertooth’s WildCat motorcycles are sights — and sounds — to behold. The chopper-style bikes powered by Ford racing V-8s are eye- and ear-catching, but they’re not on every rider’s wish list. With that in mind, Sabertooth is looking to expand its reach to the mass market by building a new vehicle with a smaller power plant, and an extra wheel.
The WildCat trike will be Sabertooth’s first venture into the trike segment and the mass market. The company has been building its V-8 motorcycle models for a decade, but with two new patents to its name, the company is looking to develop one of the first purpose-built trikes.
“There’s an opening for someone — us — to make a very well designed consumer trike, the same way the Spyder was designed to be what it is,” Sabertooth owner Ben Daniels told Powersports Business. “You want to really design something from the ground up to be designed for what it is, and there’s certainly a market for that.”
Sabertooth’s cruiser-style trike is different from others on the market in that it will be built from scratch as a trike, rather than converted from a two-wheel motorcycle using a kit.
“The next generation is a purpose-built trike that has a frame that’s built for a trike and rakes that are built for a trike,” Daniels said.
The trike will also carry new technology, as Sabertooth was awarded patents for its DynaGrip active suspension system and SureTrac rear-wheel steering system. The DynaGrip active suspension offers independent rear suspension for a smooth ride while also stiffening the suspension during turns, preventing the trike from leaning or squatting. SureTrac provides added stability and ease of turning from the rear.
“Basically what you’re doing is you’re just steering from the back, so it makes it handle a lot better,” Daniels explained.
Those technologies, plus other features such as the 850cc, 104-hp Weber engine and an automatic transmission, make the trike suitable for any rider, including beginners.
“It’s basically a twist and go and hit the brakes,” Daniels said.
He expects that, coupled with pricing that will start around $15,000 for a basic model and top off in the high $20,000s for touring models, will draw customers and dealers alike. Sabertooth plans to build a dealer network for its trike line, and dealers who have seen the prototype model so far have positive about its prospects, Daniels said.
“If you’re not a Harley dealer, you’re not going to be selling any Tri Glides, so the multi-line dealers, [trikes are] just not an option for them,” he added. “The other option is the Can-Am Spyder, but that appeals to a different group of people.”
While Sabertooth is still working on a production structure and seeking possible partners to help the company move to mass production, Daniels says the WildCat trike will be available in the 2015 calendar year.
V-8 bike sales continue
Though much of Sabertooth’s efforts have been focused on the WildCat trike as of late, production continues on the company’s signature V-8 WildCat and TurboCat models. The bikes, equipped with 302- or 427-cubic-inch Ford racing engines, compete against Boss Hoss for the small V-8 motorcycle market.
“The market for V-8 motorcycles is never going to be like Harley or Yamaha or anything like that, but it’s definitely in the hundreds a year if it’s a good one,” Daniels said.
Though only a few hundred V-8 motorcycles are sold in the U.S. annually, according to Daniels, the worldwide market for the unique bikes is growing. Sabertooth has made bikes for customers in the Middle East and Europe, and a unit for a customer in South Africa is nearing completion. Sabertooth has also had inquiries from Chinese customers.
“V-8 motorcycles have a very unique customer base, and the people that like them are very passionate about them. But they’re not for everyone,” Daniels said.
With interest still building both domestically and internationally, Sabertooth hopes to ramp up production of its V-8 bikes.
Hear the V-8 roar
PSB managing editor Liz Keener recently stopped by the Ham Lake, Minn., facility where Sabertooth’s V-8 motorcycles are assembled. She recorded video of this WildCat 427X, soon bound for South Africa, running. To watch the video, see the digital edition of this issue, or visit http://bit.ly/Tt5XGD.