Son Of The Beach, The Making Of A Show Bike With S&S

Published In The July 2014 Issue Of Cycle Source

Article & Photos Courtesy Of S&S Cycles


S&S Cycle generally brings a couple of motorcycles to the rallies to show off their parts, and of course it’s a lot easier to get people excited about your stuff if it’s on a cool looking ride, instead of an old rat. This year, the S&S events department decided to showcase some of our parts for older Twin Cam 88® engines, and it was decided that one of our fleet of lab-rats would get the treatment. These are bikes we have in our stable that are used to test everything from cams to cylinder heads. Needless to say, life isn’t easy for these test bikes and sometimes things go wrong. But when life gives you lemons, you can make lemonade…if you can’t find anything stronger. The bike we chose for the project is a 2001 Fat Boy®. Being part of the Softail® family, it’s one of the first models in the Harley-Davidson® line to have Delphi® fuel injection. It also turned out to have a wonky flywheel assembly, as we found out when we dug into the engine.

From a cosmetic standpoint, the bike was pretty much trashed, but that was no big deal since we have some really talented guys on staff that are more than capable of making it look good. Kevin Boarts is a great painter and fabricator and has done the paint on our show bikes for the last couple of years. Dean Young III is a great all around mechanic and customizer who has also been a key player in making our display bikes turn heads at the shows. This bike was going to be redone in a California beach style, with an appropriately beachy name “Son Of The Beach”. The plan included wide handlebars, really wild paint, white wall tires, and red wheels. That’s all very well, but the bikes we take to the rallies have to run. That’s where it got a little weird.

The original plan was to install an S&S 97” top end, and CNC port the stock heads. The only problem was that when the stock top end came off, it was discovered that the flywheels were going south for the winter. Not such a big deal, because we have some new flywheels that we wanted to showcase anyway. We’d just replace the ailing stock lower end with a set of the new S&S three-piece flywheels. That was plan B. Then someone got to thinking and reasoned thusly: “If we have to replace the flywheels anyway, why not put a set of 4-3/8” stroke wheels in it and make it a 96” engine?” It got better. “Why not make it a 103?” And better. “Let’s put a 106” big bore kit on it!” All valid options, but bigger is better, and biggest is best. So 106 it was. If you’re going to spend your money, why not get all you can for it?

The engine was taken out of the bike in the R&D shop at the S&S facility in Viola and sent up to the S&S Service & Speed Center (S&SC) in La Crosse for the engine build.

At the S&SC, Tom Smith took the engine completely apart and inspected all the bits. In addition to the flywheels, he discovered that the pins that hold the counter balancer plate in place had gotten loose and had wallowed out the plate. So some new stock parts were sourced from the local Harley-Davison® dealer in La Crosse. Once the engine assembly commenced, it was pretty much a piece of cake. Not entirely dissimilar to assembling a stock engine, except that when it was done, we had a butt kicking 106” engine, and of course, one fast Son Of The Beach!


Tom Smith installs the Timken® bearing on the sprocket shaft of the new S&S 3-piece flywheel assembly. Since the flywheels had to be replaced, upgrading to 4-3/8” stroke from the stock 4” stroke allowed us to make the engine larger, but didn’t cost any more. With stock bore cylinders we’d have a 96” engine, but that’s not big enough.


Adding the S&S big bore cylinders to the 4-3/8” stroke flywheels brings this tired old 88 incher up to 106 cubic inches. Topping the engine off with S&S CNC ported stock heads made this one “mother of a mover”.


S&S Easy Start, gear drive cams represent the ultimate in reliability and power. With Easy Start cams, you know the bike will start, and gear drive cams eliminate any possibility of issues with chain tensioner failures. Of course the S&S cam grind makes good use of the increased displacement.


Old habits die hard. We still use these high tech pushrod cover holders to keep the covers out of he way while we adjust the S&S Quickee Pushrods.


To make sure this engine isn’t starving for air, we installed an S&S 58mm throttle body. Big inches and CNC ported heads won’t do you much good if you’re sucking air through a stock throttle body. The fuel system was tuned by loading an S&S calibration file into the stock EFI module with a Dynojet® Power Vision® tuner.


There were some raised eyebrows when the parts and the paint showed up for this build, but when the bike was all together, just about everybody relaxed. The color scheme is pretty wild, but when it’s all put together, it works. Not everybody’s going to be comfortable riding something this flamboyant, but you’ll have to admit that it’s a pretty hot looking unit. Besides, it’s one fast Son Of The Beach.

Resource: S&S Cycle Viola, WI 866-244-2673

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