Monster by Steve Kelly Photography

V8 powered motorcycles are nowhere near as uncommon as they used to be, there have been many mild to wild rides built by speed demon bikers over recent years.  British bike builder, Nick Argyle’s Rapom V8 is unquestionably the most powerful I’ve ever come across, with its massive 8.2 litre supercharged, 1,000bhp engine that was taken straight out of a monster truck. 

Although the Rapom is technically road legal, it has a wallet busting thirst for fuel (as just like Lemmy, it runs on pure alcohol) that precludes such activity, which is a shame, as Rapom has the same power to weight ratio as a Bugatti Veyron.  Milder, but more road friendly V8s have been turned out in increasingly large production runs by companies such as Boss Hoss in the States who have an extensive line of Chevy powered rides, as do, Australian builders Barbarian.  There are others too, Big Brute, Sabertooth and Vanquish spring instantly to mind.  I’ve seen one or two death traps along the way as well, built by keen, but inadequately inexperienced custom bike builders.

Dog House Dave’s ‘Monster’ V8 straddles the line somewhere between road usable and insane, it is unquestionably not as bonkers as Nick Argyle’s Rapom, but it is still out there!  Costing a whopping  $120,000 to build, there is no way you could call this a cheap motorcycle, however, Dave has got an awful lot of bang for his buck!  Having Monster drinks come onboard, (who use the bike as a promotional tool) has taken some of the sting out of the build cost.

That said, the bike was built by Dave to ride, and ride hard, the fact that he has scored some sponsorship money was just a bonus.  Dave stumbled upon this bike by accident when visiting Todd Lunderman at Boss Hoss in Virginia.  While the bike had originally been built by Todd as a concept creation that was never intended to be ridden, Dave wanted it the second he set eyes upon the beast, envisioning the bike’s greater potential.  After handing over a large bag of cash, Dave took the concept Boss Hoss V8 to Mike Kelly at Vanquish, telling him flatly that he wanted it rebuilt for street use regardless of cost.

Dave was born in Southbend Indiana, and started riding at just four years old.  By the time he was six, he had already begun racing.  His father was a complete gear-head, just about everything he owned was big and fast, so I guess this had an effect on Dave.  No shit!  You could say, Dave grew up with a paint gun in one hand, and a wrench in the other, while shadowing his fathers every move.  Aged 17, Dave left home, and wondered around for a time.

He raced super bikes in Canada, before returning to the US where he got immersed in the stunt bike industry.  He has worked for Warner Brothers, MGM, and Universal, doing everything from the Batman stunt show to running his own convention centre shows, combining FMX freestyle motocross with street bike stunt teams.  At the age of 35, Dave opened a bar in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where the Dog House brand was born.  Dave hosted large biker events at his bar, and introduced Harley riders to the stunt world.  This proved to be such a success, that he was bought out in 2004.

Thirty days later, he was hired back to run all of the events, bringing back his much needed expertise and all his crazy stunt shows.  There are now 16 Dog House bars across the east coast, ranging from topless bars to college bars to biker bars.  The newest edition to the pack, is the Dog House bar in Daytona, and that is where I met Dave.  Dog House Daytona, located right on Main Street, is a ‘must see’ fantastic city block full of dancing girls and partying bikers; but sadly, there is no room for Dave to host a stunt show!

Boss Hoss had built the concept V8 in 30-days, but it took Vanquish a further six months to complete the ‘ready for the road’ project.  Fortunately, they encountered little in the way of problems during the build, that however, was all about to change once the bike hit the road!  Vanquish had rebuilt the already powerful ZZ502 big block engine with aluminium heads, solid one-piece custom ground cams and Crane roller rockers.  It put out 600bhp on the dyno with 567ft/lbs of torque.  Which is all well and good harnessed tightly into a high-end production car chassis, but in a motorcycle frame, when the throttle is cracked open it has a tendency to eat the swing arm, bending it like it was made of rubber.

It has so far, done this on three occasions, and each time ‘Monster’ is rebuilt with a stronger, beefier swing arm in the hope that it won’t happen again.  This is quite incredible considering the frame and swing arm are made from 4130 low carbon chromium-molybdenum alloy steel.  The sort of steel that is used in the manufacture of high-performance aircraft.  The 30 in 4130 represents the carbon content of the steel, and this is at the uppermost cut off point for superior welding.  4130 also has an impressive tensile strength of 90-95 ksi, yet the V8’s awesome power has twisted and bent all manner of parts on the bike since Dave took delivery.  Just days before the photo shoot for example; it devoured the starter motor when Dave fired the bike up so that I could hear its incredible and deafening roar through the custom headers.

It seems that the Monster drinks company have an apt slogan, ‘Unleash the Beast,’ and in the case of this oversized motorcycle, the beast causes havoc with the paint.  On the day of the shoot, only the rocker box covers had the official Monster logo painted livery, all of the recent replacement parts such as the petrol tank, dummy petrol tank and swing arm had to settle for Monster stickers.

There have been other teething problems too, upon arrival in Daytona, Dave discovered that Monster’s 3-inches of ground clearance was not going to be enough, so at midnight, the night before Bike Week started, he completely stripped the front end, and started to machine the 3.5-inch billet trees and 76mm fork tubes to reengineer the ground clearance to 4.5-inches.

Most of the one off engineering Monster required, has proved to been sound.  The MSD, mini alternator has worked out fine, as has the custom made, two-core, three-pass radiator and Meziere water pump that was robbed straight out of a NASCAR.  Dave has played around with the gear ratios to get the bike to ride the way he wants, finally settling for a 38-tooth front sprocket, and a mammoth 80-tooth rear sprocket.  I think that I’m correct in saying, that the only parts bought for this bike that have not undergone modification are the Vortex foot pegs and the dual headlights.  So, perhaps now, you can see where some of the money went?

Right out of the box, the General Motors ZZ502 performance engine is pure madness.  It comes with 4.47″ bores and 4″ stroke, a four-barrel 850-cfm Holley carburettor, a CNC machined dual plane intake manifold that has been painstakingly matched to the oval port heads.  It has big valves, a forged steel crank, forged rods and forged aluminium pistons.  In short, it is the perfect foundation for building a drag race car, that is why, when Dave finally gets to ride his hopped up version, he is the first to admit that Monster is a real challenge.

For a start, turning is not easy; it has something akin to the turning circle of an aircraft carrier.  Backing up is another obstacle to overcome, even though the 2-speed Nesco transmission comes with reversing gear.  Monster is somewhat hard on rear tyres too, but the most difficult thing to do is stop!  To put it mildly, Monster has some braking issues!!!  So let me get this right, Monster goes like stink, but stops several kilometres (miles) later than you intended.  Nice!  Dog House Dave is up for this level of, well, he calls it fun, while I call it insanity. As if the afore mentioned problems were not enough to contend with, Dave elected to fit a suicide shifter and nitrous oxide.  The man is an out and out nutter, and Monster truly lives up to its name!


Specification sheet

Owner                                     Dog House Dave

Builder            /Make                          Boss Hoss/Vanquish

Model                                      Monster

Time                                        7-months

Motor                                      ZZ502 big block

Builder                                                GM/Vanquish

Pistons                                                Forged aluminium

Crankshaft                               Forged steel

Connecting rods                      Forged steel

Cases                                       GM

Cylinders                                 GM

Heads                                      Vanquish aluminium

Valves                                      BIG

Lifters                                      Crane

Camshaft                                 Vanquish

Carburettor                              Holley

Airfilter                                    Holley

Exhaust                                   Boss Hoss/Vanquish

Transmission                           2-speed Nesco

Clutch                                      Frequently replaced

Final drive                               Chain

Frame                                      Boss Hoss/Vanquish 4130 chrom-moly

Rear fender                              Vanquish

Petrol tank                               Boss Hoss/Vanquish

Foot controls                           Boss Hoss

Handlebars                              Vanquish

Hand controls                          Boss Hoss

Front end                                 Beefy

Triple trees                              Epic

Headlight                                 Dual

Front wheel                             Boss Hoss 5 spoke aluminium

Front tyre                                18-inch Venom R 250-40

Front brake                              360° built into hub

Rear wheel                               Boss Hoss solid

Rear tyre                                  17-inch Venom R 330-35

Rear brake                               Sadly ineffective Brembo disc and calliper

Saddle                                     Ass (American Sport Seat) alligator and ostrich hide

Finish/colour                           Black and green with Monster drinks logos

Painter                                     Vanquish

Polisher                                   Vanquish

By Steve Kelly Photography
Written November 2008

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