Bagger tricks: How the S&S Indian heavyweight racer won at Laguna Seca

The inaugural King of the Baggers took place at Laguna Seca
The inaugural King of the Baggers took place at Laguna Seca

The inaugural King of the Baggers race was run last week at Laguna Seca, with flat-track pro Tyler O’Hara taking top honours.

The close-fought event has spawned from a growing performance bagger scene in the US, which has seen manufacturers and customisers breathe on traditional full-dress tourers. The winning machine started life as a stock Indian Challenger but S&S have done some serious work to turn it from a luxury cruiser into a stripped-down racer.

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The capacity of the Powerplus engine fitted to the Challenger has remained the same at 1769cc but S&S have ported the heads for improved gas flow. They’ve also fitted Stage 2 cams, to help draw more power out of the big twin.

Helping it breathe even more freely are a K&N air filter and a custom-made stainless-steel race exhaust. The final modification to the engine was a switch to a chain final drive instead of the belt fitted to the standard model.

There are no performance or longevity issues with a belt, but switching to chain makes it quicker and easier to play with gear ratios.

Flat-track rider Tyler O’Hara took top honours

Up front, the forks have been swapped out for the fully adjustable units from the FTR1200S, which were resprung and revalved for the weight and riding style of the rider. They sit in custom triple clamps. Brakes have also been swapped out for top-notch Brembo monobloc stoppers, while the wheels were switched out to 17in items.

The next task was redesigning the seating position for the track. The footboards were swapped for a set of custom rearsets, while Klockwerks Klip Hanger handlebars allowed S&S to adjust height and pullback. Lastly, Saddlemen built a new seat to give O’Hara the position he needed for knee-down action.

The plan is for the race to return in 2021 as a series, supporting the MotoAmerica cup. You can watch race highlights for free on the MotoAmerica YouTube channel, below.

Indian Challenger racer explored:

  • Wheely good S&S built the hubs, while the wheels themselves come from Performance Machine, allowing S&S to fit Dunlop slicks
  • Tank you very much Under the ‘tank’ is a smaller custom aluminium fuel cell to help reduce weight and improve airflow to the engine
  • Case the joint S&S even created new engine cases to bring the exhaust in closer for extra clearance in the corners!
  • Bag it up The bagger kit stayed but was replaced by Air Tech carbon fibre bags, fenders and tank cover to reduce weight