The siren song of the V8 motor is virtually irresistible. Long associated with American automobiles—the first mass-produced car with a V8 was the 1914 Cadillac L-head—the configuration is something of a unicorn in the motorcycle world. There have been attempts to consolidate eight cylinders between two wheels, from the American-made Curtiss in the earliest 1900s to a limited-production Morbidelli 90 years later in Italy, but none of them met with lasting success.
Oddly enough, Boss Hoss Motorcycles has been the most successful builder of V8 motorcycles. They have created thousands of examples around Chevrolet V8s since 1990 in Dyersburg, Tennessee. Basem Wasef tested a Boss Hoss for Ultimate Motorcycling in 2006. “All factors considered,” Wasef concluded, “the Boss Hoss proved far more approachable than one would imagine.”
The Boss Hoss, with its V8 allure, did not escape the attention of Janne Uskali in Helsinki.
Uskali started his motorcycling career as the passenger on the tank of a Suzuki at four years of age. By the time he was eight, his mother had bought him a Suzuki PV 50 minibike, and he hasn’t stopped riding since.
It wasn’t until he was 17, however, that Uskali bought what he considered to be his “first real motorcycle.” It was an unlikely choice—a six-cylinder Kawasaki Z1300. Even stranger, he sold the motorcycle, and then unknowingly repurchased the exact same motorcycle five years later. “So that was my first big bike, and what’s cool is that I still have it,” he says.
Uskali is something of a folk hero among Finnish gearheads. He’s a founder of the Bomber scene, going by the nom de plume Bomber # 1. His activities range from stunt riding to documentary maker to festival organizer to publisher of Bomber Magazine. The Finnish Hot Rod Association named him 2010 Journalist of the Year.
Oh, and he has one other passion—building custom motorcycles based on the Boss Hoss. Bee-One Cycles takes the American V8 and gives it the Bomber treatment.
Finnish government restrictions on custom-built motorcycles motivated Uskali to start with the Big Boss platform. Although he couldn’t change the 350ci Chevy motor or the Big Boss frame without running afoul of bureaucrats, that still left plenty of room for upgrades, both functional and aesthetic. However, the Bee-One Cycles Bomb Boss had to be capable of the aggressive riding that Uskali loves.
While Uskali stuck with the massive 63mm inverted fork, they are now attached to the frame with triple clamps with dimensions rarely seen. Helsinki machinist Anssi Juoven of Ape’s Metalshop Oy fabricated the triple clamps from scratch. Jari Arvonen powdercoated the triple clamps black, along with the frame, drag bar, cases, and fuel tank. When was the last time you saw four bolts on the top triple-clamp and a staggering eight fasteners on the bottom clamp?
That triple clamp allows for the installation of one of the fattest front tires you will ever run across. While we are all used to seeing 240 rears, the Bomb Boss has a Metzeler ME880 Marathon 240/40 x 18 front tire. In the back, there’s a Vee Rubber 360/30 x 18 tire dubbed The Monster.
Both tires are mounted to TaylorMade Performance Engineering three-spoke drag wheels from England. You’re looking at an 8 x 18 wheel in the front and 13 x 18 in the rear—staggering. TaylorMade also provided the massive twin-tube Shotgun swingarm, with an additional wraparound tube for reinforcement, to deliver the rigidity necessary for so much rubber and power. Braking comes from twin 320mm discs with ISR six-piston calipers in the front, plus a Harrison Billet six-piston caliper for the rear disc.
Uskali went with the gargantuan suspension assemblies as a visual balance to the enormous V8 motor, with its power enhanced by NASCAR side exhausts. Of course, he also enjoys drifting the Bomb Boss, as well as doing 100 mph burnouts. Another modification to harness the power is the move to a 2.5-inch belt drive. For comparison, the widest stock Harley-Davidson belt is 1.5 inches.
New bodywork was needed to further transform the mega-cruiser into a hyper-streetfighter. Uskali went to school, literally, hiring a student at Xamk (aka South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences) in Mikkeli. Bomb Boss became part of Sami Helin’s senior thesis, and Helin wrote and photographed the project for Bomber Magazine. Helin went on to become a Visiting Lecturer at Xamk after earning a degree in Industrial and Product Design.
“The biggest obstacle was to get everything looking like on factory bike and get every part well-proportioned. That’s difficult when you have a big V8 car engine on your bike,” Uskali explains. “I think we succeeded because no one understands how big this bike is in person. In the photos, it looks like a normal size motorcycle. I’m 182cm (6-foot) tall and 85 kg (187-pound) guy, who’s looking like a small boy on the bike when I ride it.”
The visual proportions and portions of power are part of Uskali’s enjoyment of Bomb boss. “Well, the torque is hilarious, and when you come to traffic lights and on your side comes a big Harley,” he observes, “alongside the Bomb Boss, the Harley looks like 125cc moped. Plus, when you leave on that light burning your rear tire like ‘bye-bye wishes,’ it makes me happy somehow—I think maybe because it is overkill when you have the biggest and baddest motorcycle in town. Also, that 600 Nm (443 ft-lbs) of torque makes you laugh every time you open throttle.”
“The bad thing,” Uskali continues, “is that I never get anywhere on-time with this bike because every time I stop at a gas station or stoplights, someone wants to ask everything about this bike or want to take some photos. So, I’m always late for meetings when I take Bomb Boss out of my garage.”
Predictably, Uskali would like to build Bee-One Cycles Bomb Boss motorcycles for customers. “We are thinking that if there are people like me who like to ride and get this kind of overdose motorcycle, we could do it for them as customers,” he says. “Big bike owners like Rocket 3 and Harley guys have been very interested in this bike. How many of those guys have seen a motorcycle two-times bigger than them?”
Uskali is as fervent about the story of Bomber Magazine as he is the creation of Bomb Boss: “I was working for a print house and always thinking that we need a magazine like Bomber Magazine in Finland. It would be some cool custom bikes—not just Harleys—nice babes, and some cool stunt ride photos. It was a long way, but I’m that kind of guy who doesn’t want to give it up. When people said that I should, that will just mean more fuel on my campfire. Bomber Magazine will have its 20 years birthday next January.”
Uskali is undoubtedly a master of many trades, with an endless fascination for motorcycles. “For some reason, I like the early ’80s Suzuki GSX, Katana, and Kawasaki Z—old school superbike looks—but I have also seen some nice Harleys and sportbikes like new Ducati. So, you can say that I’m very open-minded about bikes.”
It’s clear that Uskali marches to his own thunderous drummer, with the Bee-One Cycles Bomb Boss as the drum major leading the parade. “I have always had something going on in my life. I have always wanted to separate from boring people,” he says. “It goes to my bikes, cars, and life.”