King of the Baggers Race Preview
MJK’s Dale Yamata has an analogy for what his Harley-Davidson Road Glide will become. Clearly it is a love child.
“It is like a MotoGP bike had a one-night stand with a bagger!” he says. “Of course, the MotoGP bike had a lot to drink before entertaining a night with a bagger.”
For the last three years, Canada’s MJK has been producing high-end performance bagger parts and his build is pushing the envelope, with Yamata crafting nearly every part of the bike.
“We took Öhlins tubes and made everything else. We have carbon fiber fork tubes. Made our own lower oil delivery legs for the forks, so it looks like a MotoGP front end. We made our own lightweight wheels. We also have full telemetry on the bike. We don’t need it, but I thought why not,” Yamata said. “When I was road racing I never had any of this trick stuff. Now that I’m older I have the capabilities to manufacture all these things.”
When Yamata retired from road racing in the early 2000s and took up riding Harleys, he knew immediately what he wanted to do to make the bikes sportier and thrilling.
“What I want is a bike that can go from New York to L.A. at wide-open throttle,” he said. “We need an engine that will last but that is not too high-strung that it will blow up. In reality, the real value of a V-Twin air-cooled engine is its longevity. And a 20-minute practice session will be like putting on 20,000 miles.”
MJK is still working on their engine, after first purchasing a 131 cubic-inch engine from an unspecified builder, taking it apart and realizing “it was no good,” he said, adding that it was back to the drawing board.
The key to winning, Yamata said, comes down to the tried and true approach to road racing bikes.
“It really comes down suspension,” he said. “That is all people do when they go to the track. Dial in the chassis, dial in the chassis. Make adjustments, and when you do those right it is like a miraculous discovery, but when you are off, it is like hell…”
MJK is not just bolting on parts to make it look race worthy, but making parts that create actual gains. And Yamata is well aware of the risk that entails, as he will be piloting the bike.
“In the end, if I don’t do well I am going to look like an idiot. It is not the bike, it is me,” he said with a laugh. “But at least I will have a bike that people will look at.”