Racing bikes that were never meant to race but are racing anyway because race bike.
Guys. Guys! Drop everything you're doing right now and go check this out. Yes, we've already told you about the King of the Baggers race, where Harleys and Indians built by the top cruiser tuners hit the track at Laguna Seca for eight laps of wheel-to-wheel glory. You have to see this for yourself, though. The footage that came out of Friday's practice is unreal.
Baggers are made for easy cruising on America's highways and byways. They have the typical laid-back cruiser riding position, plus hard saddlebags and usually some wind protection. We don't need anything fancy, though, like the cavernous top trunk or a full fairing of an Electra Glide. We're just out bombing around for a day or two, and we'd like to take a few things with us. Nothing crazy. And certainly not putting down hot laps on a race track.
Yet that's exactly what these bikes are doing. I knew that, especially in the hands of a capable rider (and they all are), they weren't going to careen off the track at the first turn and crash spectacularly. I've got a few hundred miles on a Harley Street Glide as well as an Indian Springfield. They're no sportbikes, but once you get used to the weight they will negotiate turns just fine. The Indian, in particular, surprised me with how well it handled the twisties of Iron Mountain Road, South Dakota.
At the non-sportbike track days I attend, the slowest run group consists mainly of cruisers. "Slow" is a relative term, though. They move right along. I'd be hard-pressed to keep up with them on my KLR 650 that weighs half as much. All that chrome looks downright majestic, lapping the track like a fleet of fast chrome-covered cruise ships.
That's an event of amateurs, of students learning how to ride better. King of the Baggers features highly experienced racers on highly modified motorcycles. They'll never stop being baggers. In fact, the rules require them to keep their luggage on. They do allow for a great deal of go-fast goodies, though. Miles of bodywork get replaced with lightweight carbon fiber. Engines get tuned, brakes get upgraded, and suspension gets improved. Most of these parts are for sale for your own bagger, by the way, which is likely a big reason why Drag Specialties is the title sponsor.
I'm not sure what's more laughable—the fact that this is a race for terrible racing bikes like baggers, or that these baggers aren't such terrible racing bikes after all. Suddenly, King of the Baggers is my second favorite form of racing behind the slightly more ridiculous Stadium Super Trucks. In both cases, you take a vehicle built for one thing, place it in a racing situation it is completely unsuitable for, and let 'er rip. I love that.
We don't cover much racing here, because we know it doesn't interest you much. I get that. I would still encourage you to check out King of the Baggers tonight (Saturday, October 24) at 4:45 p.m. Pacific on MotoAmerica Live+ or Harley-Davidson TV. I'm sure clips will appear all over the internet after the race, too. The internet is for wild ridiculous things, and King of the Baggers certainly qualifies.