Boss Hoss is a motorcycle company, founded by Monte Warne in 1990 and based in Dyersburg, Tennessee. The company manufactures motorcycles and trikes equipped with V8 engines, produced by General Motors, and semi-automatic transmissions. By the mid-1990s, Boss Hoss was selling 300 vehicles per year. As of 2006, Boss Hoss has sold over 4,000 vehicles.
Boss Hoss bikes and trikes are noted not only for their power and size, but for their low vibration, especially when compared to that of V-twin or single-cylinder motorcycles. The damping effect of the unusually great mass and relatively high number of engine cylinders combines with the very tall gears of the semi-automatic transmission to provide what is often described as "vibration free acceleration". This has led some dealers and riders to affectionately describe the Boss Hoss as a "big scooter".
Boss Hoss offered motorcycles and trikes equipped with either a small block or big block V8 engine up to 2007. In 2007 the last big block V8 motorcycle and trike was built. Both were equipped with a semi-automatic transmission with reverse. They also offer a number of accessories for their bikes and trikes.
Despite a car-sized 8.5-US-gallon (32 l; 7.1 imp gal) fuel tank, the bikes only get motorcycle-like distance on a single tank, due to 25 mpg-US (9.4 L/100 km; 30 mpg-imp) maximum fuel economy for the small block and 18 mpg-US (13 L/100 km; 22 mpg-imp) maximum fuel economy for the big block. The trikes have an additional 3.5 US gallons (13 l; 2.9 imp gal) of reserve.
From the creation in 1990, the Boss Hoss bikes were all "kit" bikes meaning a frame and other equipment were shipped to the consumer from Boss Hoss. The consumer was then responsible for adding their own engine and additional touches that allowed them to customize the bike. In 1996 Boss Hoss started to manufacture the bikes from their own factory and headquarters located in Dyersburg, TN. From that point no more "kit" bikes were sold. The "kit bikes" were titled as BHC-2 bikes while the factory built bikes were titled as BHC-3 bikes. The titling difference made a large difference with insurance companies due to liability concerns.
In 1996, the Chevrolet ZZ4 350-cubic-inch (5,700 cc) block was the standard issue engine in the bikes. The ZZ4 block is a crate motor designed and built by Chevrolet that creates 355 hp (265 kW) standard power to the crank at approximately 6,000 rpm. The standard block is primarily made of cast iron while the heads are aluminum. A factory option for the bike also includes a GM "hot cam" which replaces the camshaft, pushrods, rocker arms, and springs in the heads for a new total power of 385 hp (287 kW). In 2000, Boss Hoss added the "Stud Hoss" to their line-up which was a 502-cubic-inch (8,230 cc) Chevrolet big block with 502 hp (374 kW) standard power. The "Stud Hoss" 502 was removed from the Boss Hoss line-up in 2007.
In 1997 and 1998 models years, Boss Hoss offered a 4.0 L Chevrolet V6 engine in the bikes. They narrowed and shortened the frame for the conversion but sold very few bikes due to the popularity of the larger power engines.
The engines have always been mounted longitudinally, with the crank pointed to the back of the bike.
The first Boss Hosses offered included a one-speed manual transmission with a standard motorcycle hand clutch. The bikes used a standard 10 spline 12-inch (300 mm) disc ceramic clutch plate all hooked to a worm gear drive box that had an attached sprocket. The first bikes were chain driven but changed to 1.5 inches (38 mm) wide Dayton belts in the early 1990s. The ratio of the gear box used was 1:1.5. In 1999 a one-speed semi-automatic transmission was available for the motorcycles that utilized a torque converter. In 2001, a one-speed semi-automatic transmission with overdrive became standard with a heel-toe shifter and a reverse gear. Boss Hoss trikes have always offered a three-speed semi-automatic transmission with a real reverse gear.
Early Boss Hoss releases were considered cumbersome and unfinished. The bikes were difficult to ride, and were largely considered an expensive novelty. Since they were fitting a high-end automotive motor onto a motorcycle frame, they found themselves stuck between using parts from the Harley Davidson aftermarket and the muscle car aftermarket. They were stuck somewhere between Küryakyn and Edelbrock and this left the bikes with an unbalanced appearance as well as unbalanced hardware capabilities.
Early models were almost as notable for their jury rigged appearance as they were for their impressive girth and conspicuous V8 engine. They often had substantial amounts of thermal tape around the manifold and upper exhaust as well as ad hoc heat shields that appeared to be reused from other applications. The distributor was cumbersomely situated directly in front of the seat and there were numerous other finish flaws. Also, the large radiator was conspicuous for its boxiness and lack of ornamentation on such an otherwise curvy and stylish machine.
In the late 1990s, a new custom 4130 chromoly frame helped address a lot of the visual balance issues and accommodated solutions to a lot of the mechanical balance issues. The heat shielding issues were solved and the large radiator was dressed up with chrome screens and frames. The radiator is still the Boss Hoss's weakest aesthetic feature, but there has been vast improvement. The 2006 models dress up the enormous radiator as well as or better than the much smaller radiators of other high-volume manufacturers.
Current models have all the details of high end custom bikes, like braided lines, hidden wiring, and a chrome swingarm. They also have custom appearance parts that only Boss Hoss bikes use, like chrome heat shields for V8 manifolds, as well as Boss Hoss labeled gauges.
They have also lengthened the bike over the years, going up to a 78 inches (2,000 mm) wheelbase in the late 1990s to an 82 inches (2,100 mm) wheelbase for the 502 model in the mid-2000s. This allows for a lower seat height, since the seat is more forward of the rear wheel. The lower seat height helps stabilize the bike for smaller riders.
At 1,300 lb (590 kg) they are easily the heaviest bikes in production, fully three times the weight of nearly all sport bikes, and almost four times the weight of the 341 lb (155 kg) 2007 Honda CBR600RR. However, they are also about four times as powerful, and unlikely to wheelie under hard acceleration.
From fairly early in their history, Boss Hoss has sold trikes with rear ends designed to look like smaller facsimiles of Chevrolet Corvettes, 57 Chevys, 32 Low-boy hot rods, or other distinctive cars. At some point, the Corvette rear end was discontinued and replaced with a 2000 Sierra truck rear end. As of 2006, the trikes have a new three-speed transmission that takes advantage of the extra stability and rear axle of a trike configuration.
For many years, Boss Hoss sold their bikes with a motorcycle front tire and an automotive rear tire. This is one area where the motorcycle aftermarket has come closer to the muscle car market, and Boss Hoss is now able to offer properly rounded, and still sufficiently large, motorcycle tires for the rear end. The only tire that has been certified to be used on a Boss Hoss is the Avon 230.