“OK, you can do the Boss Hoss article,” said Editor Tuttle, “but promise me there will be no cliches. No ‘King Kong of Kruisers’ or ‘Bigfoot of Bikes’ will make it past my desk. Just do the ‘standard’ thorough evaluation that Rider readers expect.”
Synonyms of standard include: usual, ordinary, average, customary and typical. None of these words aptly describes the 2007 ZZ4 Super Sport Boss Hoss I am riding across bits of Missouri and Arkansas this chilly October day. Standard also doesn’t describe the grin that breaks out on my face with every blip of the throttle. It’s as wide as the Mississippi River just disappearing below, and emanates from deep down in the 355-horsepower General Motors V-8 that I straddle, thankful for every degree of heat radiating off its chrome and stainless-steel fittings.
A fuel stop at a small truckstop brought the first of many comments about the shiny black steed. “Wow,” said an attendant, “that is one good-looking motorcycle, it’s a big thing, too.” I agreed with him and so must have the fellow driving the big red Freightliner, who made two circles of the pumps while staring at the bike. After all, both vehicles put out about the same horsepower, and the very unrestricted exhaust on the Hoss would give any modern-day big rig a run for the most decibels. Boss Hoss models destined for California and export have catalytic converters and longer pipes to better contain the snarl.
Controls are familiar; key on the left side beneath the fuel tank, safety cutoff and starter button on the right bar, button for turn signal on each bar (auto and manual cancel), front brake lever on the right. No clutch needed on this semi-automatic. The high/low beam switch is on the left bar, which also contains an override button, engaged with reverse. All worked well and meshed with the styling of the bike. Because morning temps were in the high 30s, I was wearing heavy gloves, which proved clumsy in operating the small turn-signal buttons. Slightly above the large and centrally mounted speedometer are gauges for water temperature, oil pressure, volts and engine rpm. The small tachometer was out of my normal scan but it’s a non-issue on this bike.
The handlebar is extremely wide and shiny chrome; a narrower bar is available but the standard seems to work well in pointing the Hoss in the proper direction, and the rider bonds with it quickly. The billet grips with rubber inserts blend with the styling, but I found them slippery when wearing heavy gloves.
Ready for startup? Key on, transmission in neutral, push the button and the motor roars to life instantly. You can start the bike on the sidestand, but it’s better to do so with both feet on the ground to get the full torque effect. Lifting it off the sidestand is surprisingly easy. Click the left-side heel/toe shifter down into drive and hold the hand brake, or you will start putting along at 15 mph. You can leave the Hoss in drive to about 100 mph, if you like, or shift down into overdrive at any time. Recommended procedure is to get the bike to desired cruising speed, then shift. Revs drop around 1,000 rpm when engaging overdrive, great for fuel mileage, and up- and downshifts were smooth. Drive is by a wide Gates belt, with an easy and unique manual tension adjustment.
Some saddle time is necessary to get comfortable with the Hoss’ weight, wide handlebar and turning ability. The Avon Venom motorcycle tires used on the ZZ4 work well, and after a short ride through downtown Dyersburg and turns around a parking lot the machine felt almost natural. I cautiously used the throttle, building up speed from 55 to 60, 65, and then to the 70-mph speed limit. Our test bike had no windscreen (both a quick-release windscreen and an upper fairing are available as touring options) and the combination of a wide handlebar, slippery grips and windblast created a sensation of just hanging on.
The solo, 25-inch-high seat is made for Boss Hoss by Mustang and offers great styling as well as comfort. Over the two days I rode the Hoss, stops were made for gasoline and warmth, but never because of saddle soreness. A small passenger seat pad attaches quickly and served as a mount for my gear. The SS model needs better attachment points for tiedowns if it is to be used for touring, and it has no compartments to stash a wallet, sunglasses or gloves. Thankfully, this Hoss bucked the trend of many cruisers and had footpegs instead of floorboards. Aftermarket trailer hitches are available and the Hoss would make an awesome towing machine.
During my time with the Hoss I rode it in three states over four-lane highways, country two-lanes, urban Memphis streets and interstates. Its average fuel economy was just short of 23 mpg. I jumped railroad tracks (KA-BOOM) and backed it across slippery grass lawns. The grin became a grimace only when traversing rough roads, and expansion joints in concrete highways were felt front and rear, but it’s no harsher than several other big-bore cruisers.
Will it stop? Yes. Previous riders reported the BH being weak in the stopping department, but this seems to have been corrected with the new Brembo brakes on both ends. I whoa’d it down from 50 mph at a changing stoplight using only front brake and it stopped quickly, without complaint, but that’s a lot of inertia and a gentle application of both brakes works just fine.
How fast will it go? Heck, I don’t know! The speedo tops out at 120 mph and the Boss Hoss folks aren’t saying. The 355-horsepower version is so powerful that it’s hard to contemplate the 502-horse option. There is also a high-lift cam kit available as a factory install, and many dealers modify the engines for even more power. I rode two motorcycles prior to the Hoss test, a Yamaha V-Max and a Honda VTX1800, neither slouches in power and torque. My impression was that either bike’s chance against the BH would be about that of a pack mule winning the Kentucky Derby!
Comparisons have been made between the Hoss and muscle cars of the late 1960s. Growing up in that era (’67 GTO), I think they’re right on. If you have a SS 396, GTO or Shelby 350 tattoo, a test ride on a BH should bring back old memories. The factory and 25 Boss Hoss dealers understand that potential owners need to ride before they buy. The company’s major advertising thrust is the Boss Hoss Road Show, a yearly 30-stop tour complete with a trailer of Boss Hoss two-wheelers and trikes. If you are 30 years of age and have a valid motorcycle license, you qualify to ride. The Boss Hoss website (www.bosshoss.com) has a schedule and dealer contact information, and lets you spec out a model online.
Can you afford one? Maybe. Jay Leno can, and is said to love his and ride it frequently. Though expensive compared to mortal bikes, the Hoss seems a bargain compared to many custom- built machines that are much less rider friendly. Most buyers are well heeled and purchase the BH instead of a fancy boat or sports car. The majority of Boss Hosses leave the factory at a semi-finished stage, awaiting further customization by the dealer. The fastest-growing portion of the company’s business is trikes, and those prices are little higher than much less-powerful models sold by competitors. Boss Hoss trikes carry the same one-year unlimited mileage warranty as the two-wheelers.
Equipped with a windshield, this is a motorcycle that I would love to ride cross-country, even with $3 gas prices, though maybe just once. Seventeen years of production have refined the Hoss from a gargantuan traffic stopper into a well-functioning machine that gets thumbs up from those of an age to have muscle-car memories when they see it pass or hear it roar.