First Ride: (Almost) All-American Samco V1 Warbird
If you have a hankering for a fast sport bike that’s primarily built (95-percent, as of this time) from American made components, then the new Samco V-1 Warbird may be for you. Builder Maurice Brisebois — from Manitoba, Canada — showed this machine at the Long Beach edition of the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows this past week, and it is an impressive first attempt.
Brisebois’ Samco V-1 Warbird is just about ready for primetime and he states that he is filling in the gaps so that soon all components will be American made. This is his vision and commitment, as he likes nothing better than domestic suppliers who he can call and whom he can rely upon.
I happened to arrive on a new Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR, a motorcycle that one might associate closely in mission with the Warbird. That is, a tightly sprung chassis enclosing a powerful engine, with excellent suspension and brakes that work wonders.
After a short break from the Tuono and conversation with Maurice, I jumped on the Warbird, acclimated myself to the cockpit and controls and flipped the loud switch. The V-twin sprang to life immediately and a couple of blips of the throttle confirmed that I was no longer on the Aprilia.
This new steed produces plenty of low-resonant vibration and, I reckon, it’s what one would expect from this air-cooled 1200cc pushrod Harley-Davidson (by way of Buell) built motor. In fact, the type of vibration it produced was actually more exciting than annoying.
Engage first gear, of five, and the bike flies off the line like few high-revving sport bikes can. The Tuono doesn’t even start to breathe until 6000 rpm but the V-1 is on the cam practically from idle. A large grin emanated from my helmet as I bang up a couple of gears, just chowing down on that prodigious torque band from 3000-4500 rpm. As the revs rise to over 5000 the motor is still pulling, but not like when in the meat of the curve. Not knowing the redline on this baby, I shift up but I feel that this machine does provide plenty of thrust.
Speed builds quickly and it’s time to try the binders. The rear brake is worse than wooden. Brisebois assured me the Brembo out back would be one of the next things he will replace in his quest for 100-percent American made. He has found an aftermarket unit that was destined for a Buell.
For as poorly as the rear brake operated, the front brake was the opposite. It was almost too powerful in this fitment, but after a few squeezes to become acquainted with the feel, it yielded excellent performance both on initial bite as well as linear feel throughout the stroke.
As befits riding someone else’s custom one-of-a-kind bike, I ease through the first turns along the canyon. The Samco V-1 Warbird quickly lets me know that it was game for more aggressive action. Wicking up that torque-monster the whole package acquitted itself well during several trips up and down our famous Snake. There was no jacking or shimmying in any of the turns riding as fast as I dared.
The chassis, aspects of which are reminiscent of both Ducati trellis and Benelli lug designs, was taut and the bike steered where pointed. I think it could use a steering damper to add a bit more subtlety to the action, but that lacking certainly was not a negative aspect.
At 6 feet tall and 190 pounds, this bike was comfortable and the setup was just right for my weight. We zipped through the turns and, let’s say, there were no chicken strips to be seen upon my return, nor were there any ground clearance issues.
The Warbird’s motor and transmission is sourced from a Buell XB, cradled in a custom bi-metal trellis frame and suspended by Race Tech components, with those nearly-too-powerful Performance Machine front binders. Brisebois is also about to replace the two Nissin brake master cylinders for US-made.
Fit and finish is top drawer, and the instrumentation is all electronic and impressive. The Samco V-1 Warbird is quick and a hoot to ride. It handles beautifully, even when pushed near the limit, although we did not press it too terribly hard, given it is a one-off prototype.
We found that the Samco V-1 Warbird is a remarkably agile and refined motorcycle for a first-generation build. We look forward to more from Samco and you can look forward to a full review in an upcoming issue of Ultimate MotorCycling magazine.
- Helmet: Schuberth S2
- Jacket: Vanson Mark2 Cobra
- Gloves: Joe Rocket Jet Black
- Pants: Levi’s 501
- Boots: Chippewa Rally
Photography by Don Williams
Samco V-1 Warbird Specs:
- Engine type: Pushrod V-twin
- Displacement: 1203 cc
- Valves per cylinder: 2
- Maximum power: 103 hp @ 6800 rpm
- Torque: 84 ft/lb @ 6000 rpm
- Compression: 10.0:1
- Fuel system: EFI
- Lubrication system: Dry-sump
- Cooling system: Oil & air
- Gearbox: 5-speed
- Final drive: Belt
- Exhaust system: 2-into-1 header; carbon fiber Jardine muffler
- Frame type: Handmade bi-metal trellis racing frame with bi-metal tubular swingarm
- Front suspension: Fully adjustable Race Tech inverted forks; 5.0 inches of travel
- Front wheel travel: 5.0 inches
- Rear suspension: Fully adjustable Race Tech shock; 5.5 inches of travel
- Front tire: 120/70 ZR 17 Dunlop Sportmax RoadSmart III
- Rear tire: 180/55 ZR 17 Dunlop Sportmax RoadSmart III
- Front brake: Dual 320mm Brake Tech discs with Performance Machine calipers
- Rear brake: Brake Tech disc with Brembo caliper
- Overall length: 85.0 inches
- Overall width: 35.1 inches
- Wheelbase: 54.1 inches
- Rake: 24.0°
- Trail: 3.75 inches
- Ground clearance: 6.8 inches
- Fuel capacity: 5.0 gallons
- Dry weight: 450 pounds
- Color: Blue/black/aluminum with red accents
- Contact: Samco website