Yes, Harley is my real name. And no, there’s no relationship. But I do enjoy riding Harley-Davidsons, which comes in handy as the Cruiser & Custom Editor of Motorcycle USA.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
It’s amazing what can result from a great day in the saddle, a few cold beers afterwards and spirited conversation amongst friends. Hell, it might even result in the founding of a motorcycle company.
Such is the case with Dirico Motorcycles USA. What started as a fantastic ride through the mountains of New Hampshire between Steven Tyler, his brother-in-law Mark Dirico, and long-time buddy Stephen Talarico, ended with the idea to build and market their own motorcycle. Of course it didn't hurt that Tyler is the frontman for the popular band Aerosmith, Mark just happens to be a master engineer, and Talarico owns several Harley-Davidson dealerships, a custom shop, and tons of manufacturing equipment.
The company officially launched in January 2008 under the name Red Wing Motorcycles. But it appears that a Japanese manufacturer who flies a red wing under its banner contacted them about use of the name. The Red Wing moniker the new motorcycle company was marketing its bikes under came from Aerosmith’s corporate identity from the ‘60s. Just check out their old album covers (remember ‘Get Your Wings’). But the Japanese manufacturing giant didn’t want to let the name go and the Dirico gang didn’t want a long, ugly court battle, so they switched it over to Mark’s last name in 2009.
Talarico also owns AC Custom Motorcycles in Manchester, NH, a custom shop that has been building a name for itself on the East Coast for over a decade, and was the one who just happened to have an extra frame and engine laying around for Mark to start tinkering on. Not long after, Mark had worked up the first prototype. Two years and countless miles later, the bugs had been worked out of seven or eight more prototypes until they had the motorcycles dialed in.
Dirico Motorcycles USA debuted two motorcycles in 2008, the Red Wing Pro Street and the Retro, and followed up their initial effort with three more models in 2009. One of them, the Speedster, just made its first public appearance at the Cincinnati V-Twin Expo.
Who needed the name Red Wing anyways? Dirico has a certain ring to is and is unique. It doesn't look bad on the side of the 2009 Speedster, either.
Cincinnati V-Twin Expo. The ‘Retro Flyer’ has all the accoutrements of a classic cruiser – a beefy Springer front end, deep-welled fenders, black-spoked wheels, a vintage-looking round air cleaner, and spacious floorboards. It sources a Harley-Davidson Twin Cam 110B engine with a claimed 1450cc of power mated to a 5-speed H-D left-side drive transmission, all packaged neatly within a Kraft-tech frame. Small details like its fat-bottomed black leather seat and the decorative leather strap that runs up the tank-mounted console I’ll wager are Tyler’s styling touches. I do know for a fact that the brilliant orange paint scheme is straight from the creative mind of the singer. Steve Cantos out of Massachusetts is the man responsible for the paint. With a little coaching from Tyler, of course.
“Steven worked directly with Cantos, describing things like a sunset he had seen during a ride while Cantos does the work of capturing Steven’s visions in paint. That’s how we came up with the oranges and reds that we use,” Talarico stated. “There was a blue where Steven was riding with Kid Rock up in Michigan and they had come up to a bar. It was a Blue Martini, and that inspired the blue that we used on the Pro Street. Steven’s got a memory like a steel trap and he can translate that into the art,” he added.
Dirico deliberately decided to go with Harley-Davidson components on its motorcycles in part due to Tyler’s international fame.
“We figured that if we were going to build a motorcycle that we should go with Harley-Davidson components because you can service them just about anywhere all over the world. We hope to avoid servicing problems that have plagued other custom builders. We have a dealer in St. Petersburg, Russia, that can plug in a diagnostic tool and has immediate access to parts and doesn’t have to worry about availability,” Talarico said. “But it’s not just a bunch of components thrown together.”
Dirico’s two other new models are the 2009 Flyer and the 2009 Pro Street. The Flyer has lines that conjure images of an Art Deco 1930s Indian Chief to me, minus the thin pan seat. Similar to the Speedster, the Flyer uses an H-D mill, the 88 cubic-inch Twin Cam B, and the same 5-speed H-D tranny. The Pro Street, on the other hand, is long and low and runs with more power. It utilizes Harley’s larger 103 cubic-inch, 1690cc engine to go along with a Baker 6-Speed Right Side Drive. The front tire is raked out more and sports more aggressive cast wheels and a custom-style forward-facing air filter. It also sports the Blue Martini paint that was inspired by Tyler’s ride with Kid Rock.
While timing for the introduction of the company might not be opportune, Talarico has been focusing on establishing a presence in the international market, setting up a distributor in Japan and a dealer in Russia. He’s also in negotiations
Styling touches like the decorative leather strap down the middle of the dual tanks and the tank-mounted console should be a hit with fans of classic cruiser motorcycles.
with a group from Argentina right now. Low overhead costs also work to their advantage. Talarico already owned all the equipment and tooling necessary to start manufacturing and was familiar with production techniques thanks to running AC Customs for the last dozen years.
Dirico also offers something that no other motorcycle company has - Steven Tyler as a selling point. Who wouldn’t want to own a motorcycle signed by the legendary lead vocalist of the renowned rock-and-rollers, Aerosmith? Dirico plans on showing its motorcycles at future concerts, which means that you can market your bike directly to 50,000 customers at one show, so why not send out a couple of your motorcycles to accompany the tour? Dirico is also building a bike for Sturgis, the official 2009 Black Hills Classic raffle motorcycle, to be presented by the Chamber of Commerce with proceeds benefitting the city of Sturgis. It is a prestigious commission. Talarico also said Aerosmith is going to play at the Buffalo Chip and Tyler will be hanging out at the rig where Dirico will have its wares on display.
“Steven loves it up there,” Talarico said.
Besides Sturgis, Dirico also plans to hit up some of the other big motorcycle events, like Daytona and Laconia. After talking to Talarico, we’re keeping our fingers crossed about a First Ride article in the future, and a chance to rumble over some of his favorite roads through the mountains of New Hampshire.