If motorcycles were drugs, the WildCat would be the distillation of everything Keith Richards ever put in his body. It runs on nitromethane, steroids, and gunpowder, and just sitting on the seat will cause you to grow a beard and a tattoo. If you actually ride it, you may turn into a werewolf. The WildCat concept is pretty easy to summarize: it's a 350-hp Ford V-8 with handlebars. If I can ride this and live to tell about it, I can ride anything.
Sabertooth founder Ben Daniels is an interesting guy, as he's not the American Chopper type who you'd expect to dream up a V-8 motorcycle. He's a PhD and an MD who describes the excess of his creation with statements like, "the available power exceeds the tractive capability of the rear tire." Even so, the 350-hp, 302-cubic-inch V-8 is merely the base engine. Tractive capability can be further exceeded by an optional 347-cubic-inch motor.
Daniels is obviously a smart guy, but even so, he agrees to let me ride a Sabertooth. We meet in a parking lot, and I gingerly climb aboard the machine and assume the stance of a cowboy riding an obese Holstein. I fire up the thundering V-8 and let out the clutch before I can think too much about what I'm doing. My life expectancy is now directly correlated to the sensitivity of my throttle wrist.
The WildCat has two gears, which can generally be described as high and higher. As I putter around the parking lot, I begin to realize the implications of a power-to-weight ratio akin to a Kenyan marathoner wearing a jet pack. With the slightest eyedropper of throttle, the Ford V-8 nonchalantly gains a few hundred rpm and I'm beamed instantly to the other side of the parking lot. The mellow sound track is all out of proportion to the actual speed. Daniels doesn't quote quarter-mile times, probably because test riders disappear into alternate dimensions.
After a couple minutes, I venture out onto the road and crack the throttle as far as I dare, which is nowhere near wide open. The next corner leaps toward me, accompanied by Top Fuel cacophony and the sound of my guardian angel signing his resignation papers. I immediately close the throttle and hit the brakes, and by the time I glance down at the speedometer, I see that I've slowed to 60 mph. In first gear.
Over the next few miles, I gradually start widening my pulls on the throttle as I become less intimidated. Which means that it's time to turn around, because the moment you stop being intimidated by a 350-hp motorcycle is the moment before you accidentally ride it into someone's living room at 150 mph.
Although I enjoyed the Can-Am Spyder and the Sabertooth, I can't help thinking that they could both be improved. If I had my druthers, I'd take the Can-Am's platform with the Sabertooth's engine. Then just add one more wheel, and I really think you'd be onto something.