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Brass Balls Model 1 Road Test

The Editor of American Iron Burned Through 400 miles

by Chris Maida, photos by Bob Feather and the BBB gang
6/11/2010 3:10:41 PM

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This is the tight Brass Balls Bobber Chris Maida, the editor of American Iron, test rode during the 2009 Sturgis rally. Here's his report:

What a sweet little bobber. As for Dar, the owner of Brass Balls Bobbers, I think he’s nuts. Seriously, how he can sell this Model-1 Softail version for only $16,995 and still make a profit, but then, that wasn't my, or your, problem, so on with the review!

Chris Maida, Editor of American Iron, without a beard. What gives?

Let’s start with my favorite part of any bike, the power-train. My test machine was powered by a cast stone-stock, Harley-Davidson 80-inch Evo mill, which put out a good level of power for this light bike. This model was equipped with an S&S Super E carb and air cleaner. The 80-incher started easily every time and ran like you would expect a Motor Company-built Evo to run: without a glitch. The D&D Performance 2-into-1 header system handled the exhaust and pulsed a terrific sound, not too loud and not too quiet. The Baker 5-speed transmission shifted just like you would expect a high quality, American made transmission to function: super smooth with no problem finding neutral. Primary drive was handled with the 3-inch wide Tauer Machine belt primary system and clutch setup. Everything was good to go there, too. The clutch released as it should, never slipped, and was easy to actuate. After all, there was no need for a stiff spring kit with a mild 80-inch mill. A standard 530 chain connected tranny to rear wheel and resulted in a final gear ratio that was a perfect fit. The Model-1-S (Softail) model cruised comfortably on the highway in fifth. Brass Balls builds a straight Model-1 rigid, also. Though, no tach, I guessed the motor spun at about 3500-3700 rpm at 85 mph when the engine caught a buzz, which was perfectly normal for a solid-mount V-twin.


As for the chassis, this bike was extremely light, and easy to handle and maneuver. That’s due to its low weight and the frame geometry being dead nuts on (36 degrees of rake with no stretch). The DNA 2-inch under springer front end felt just right at all speeds and the bike was a pleasure at slow speeds. The suspension worked well with no wobble in the twisties, at least at the speeds I hit in the Black Hills during the Sturgis Rally. This bike offered the original bobber mantra from the '40s. A striped down, light agile motorcycle, but with all the benefits of late model state-of-the-art components.

Out on the open highway the bike handled just fine. The seat was a tad bouncy on the rough South Dakota, 40-year-old concrete interstate, but that’s normal with a sprung seat. Everything electrical functioned tight, all switches were easy to hit, and lighting afforded me good coverage on dark open roads at night. As for the billet components, the hand and forward controls were Excel, while the 21-inch front and 16-inch rear 40-spoke wheels came from DNA and were wrapped with Metzeler tires for no-slip, comfortable wet road handling.


In the easy-to-maintain department, there was no paint on this Brass Balls Bobber. That was a major factor in price reduction. Anything that contained a color, was pure, tough-as-nails flat black powder-coated. Coupled with its Spartan design, this was one low-dollar, rough-and-tumble machine. Just ride the snot out of it, blast it with a hose, fill the gas tank, and have at it again.

Ready for the glitches? Only thing that loosened up after over 400 Badlands miles was a lower rear fender strut bolt. That’s damn good, since I ran the bike hard and so did another magazine editor before me. In fact, the bike was so dirty Dar delayed handing it over to me for a day, just to detail it for the initial photo shoot. The other minor glitch was the analog speedo read 5 mph high at true 40 and about 10 high at 80 mph.

There are 2 version of the model 1, Model 1 and Model 1-S. The S is a Softail. It looks exactly like the 1, same dimensions, engine, drivetrain, paint, same sprung seat but with the cans on the bottom of the frame. With the spring seat it has a nice cushy ride. the 1-S is $1,000 more.

The only real problem was with the brakes. Both the front and rear brake pad material was not conducive to the rotors. The Wilwood Performance four-piston calipers worked fine mechanically, but the pads did not offer the proper bite to the rotor material to be effective as four-piston calipers. I had to grab a big handful of brake lever or stomp on the rear-brake pedal to slow down. Dar immediately switched the pads, so the brakes were up to snuff.


So, what’s the bottom line? I’m impressed with the model-1-S. It’s a good-looking machine. It received numerous compliments on the streets of Deadwood and rightly so. The Brass Balls Bobber is a well-designed, bare-bones bike that’s easy to maintain and definitely a bargain at this price.

Did I mention that Dar is nuts?

No this isn't Geneivieve, but a Brass model.

Riding Impression

By Genevieve Schmitt

I’m glad this motorcycle is considered a barhopper because there’s no way I could spend a long time in its saddle. The riding position was uncomfortable for my taste. It puts way too much pressure on my wrists; I’d need at least a 1" riser on those handlebars so I don’t feel like I’m falling into the tank.

Funky ergonomics aside, the motorcycle rides solidly and feels well built; not a hodgepodge of parts thrown together. There’s an art to taking all the different components and bolting, welding, and fastening them together to make a motorcycle feel like it’s one solid machine. If you’re into getting looks, and don’t need this bike to ride to Sturgis or Daytona, this showstopper may be for you.

Brass Balls Banner

Darwin Motorcycles
401 S. Blackwelder Ave.
Dept. AIM
Oklahoma City, OK 73108

BBB54 Extreme Model 1 Tech Chart

Regular Stuff

Owner: Dar Holdsworth
Bike Name: Model 1


Builder: Brass Balls Bobbers
City/state: Oklahoma, OK
Company Info:
Address: 401 S. Blackwelder Ave. Oklahoma City, OK 73108
Phone: 405-270-0995
Web site:



Year: 2011
Make: Harley-Davidson EVO
Model: Model 1
Displacement: 80 ci
Builder or Rebuilder: Harley-Davidson Crate Motor
Cases: H-D
Case finish: H-D Natural
Barrels: H-D
Bore: H-D Factory
Pistons: H-D Factory
Barrel finish: Natural
Lower end: H-D Factory
Stroke: H-D Factory
Rods: H-D Factory
Heads: H-D Factory
Head finish: Natural
Valves and springs: H-D Factory
Pushrods: H-D Factory
Cams: H-D Factory
Lifters: H-D Factory
Carburetion: S&S E
Air cleaner: S&S Teardrop
Exhaust: Brass Balls designed D&D Performance Slash Cut pipe
Mufflers: Brass Balls designed D&D Performance Slash Cut pipe



Year: 2010
Make: Baker 5 Speed
Gear configuration: Standard
Final drive: Chain, Diamond XLO
Primary: Tauer Machine Warlord belt drive
Clutch: Tauer Machine
Kicker: N/A



Year: 2011
Make: Darwin Motorcycles
Style or Model: BBB Digger frame
Stretch: 36 degrees
Rake: 0" up, 0" out
Modifications: N/A

Front End

Make: Springer
Year: 2010
Length: 2" under Standard


Sheet metal

Tanks: Brass Balls
Fenders: Brass Balls
Oil tank: Brass Balls

Sorry, no paint.


Sheet metal: Brass Balls’ Wrinkle Black
Molding: N/A
Graphics: Brass – Oil Tank Insignia
Frame: Powder-coated
Molding: N/A



Make: Chrome 40 spoke
Size: 21" x 2.15"
Brake calipers: Wilwood 4 piston
Brake rotor(s): Darwin Motorcycles/BBB
Tire: Metzler ME 880 Marathon 21" x 90MM

Make: Chrome 40 spoke
Size: 16" x 3.5"
Brake calipers: Wilwood 4 piston
Brake rotor: Darwin Motorcycles/BBB
Pulley: Sprocket
Tire: Metzler ME 880 Marathon 16" x 150MM



Foot controls: Darwin Motorcycles/BBB
Finish: Chrome/Polished
Brake lines: Darwin Motorcycles/BBB
Handlebar controls: Excel
Finish: Chrome/Polished
Clutch Cable: Motion Pro
Brake Lines: Darwin Motorcycles/BBB
Shifting: Darwin Motorcycles/BBB
Kickstand: Darwin Motorcycles/BBB



Ignition: Wire-plus
Ignition switch: Wire-plus
Coils: Darwin Motorcycles/BBB
Regulator: Darwin Motorcycles/BBB
Charging: Cycle Electric
Wiring: Wire-plus
Harness: Wire-Plus
Headlight: Bobber style
Taillight: Dual - 2 Inch Rocket Lights
Accessory lights: Signals
Electrical accessories: Horn
Switches: Yes
Battery: Darwin Motorcycles/BBB


What’s Left

Seat: Custom leather Darwin Motorcycles/BBB stamped logo
Mirror(s): Radius arm retro chrome
Gas caps: Darwin Motorcycles/BBB
Handlebars: Darwin Motorcycles/BBB
Grips: Old school black rubber
Pegs: Darwin Motorcycles/BBB
Oil filter: Darwin Motorcycles/BBB
Oil cooler: Darwin Motorcycles/BBB
Oil lines: Darwin Motorcycles/BBB
Fuel filter: Darwin Motorcycles/BBB
Fuel Lines: Darwin Motorcycles/BBB
Throttle: Darwin Motorcycles/BBB
Throttle cables: Darwin Motorcycles/BBB
Fasteners: Darwin Motorcycles/BBB

Specialty items:

The cast brass Model 1 emblem on the oil tank.


The riding community and the press have embraced the Model 1 motorcycle. It has the right look and the performance numbers are truly outstanding. It really is a no-fuss custom bike… just soap and water and the wrinkle black finish is clean and ready to rumble. It is ultra cool and a conversation piece wherever you go.

Portions of this article published courtesy of American Iron Magazine.

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