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Richie's Heavy Breathing Turbo FXR


Smooth, linear and unstoppable –this is a fun machine.

Looking at the world through a modern biker’s eyes…. 45dgree.com is an online showcase that presents the newest and best of what interests Bikeriders. We ride our machines and travel, we listen to music, we appreciate great photography, a wonderful meal and a good story –  the finer things in life, like food, family and friends. Check out more awesome pictures and stories back at 45dgree.com. 

Richie Rey’s FXR came to my attention if for only a minute when I was standing at the gate of the Independent Toys for Tots Run in Queens in November 2010. There I was, standing off to the side, stalking riders with my camera and this bike blows through my viewfinder and poof, it was gone. All I had was a blurry image and a burning curiosity about what had just passed me.

Later in the day after we had done our charitable good deeds we decided to stop by an old neighborhood establishment, Fuzzy’s, to meet up for a beverage before hard charging our way through Sunday traffic to get ourselves home before nightfall. As we parked our machines in front of Fuzzy’s, I spyed the FXR that had captivated my attention earlier. Small world that it is, it figures my childhood bud SteveD (whose Pan you’ve seen previously) knows the owner and introduces me to Richie. We swapped cards and made a date to connect at Alley Pond Park, a childhood haunt of ours in the ‘hood to shoot the machine. Small world, ya got to love it.

Richie has 3 very nice bikes in his modest collection, this earth scorching rocket, a 1990 FLHS, bought new that has 130K on the original motor and clutch and a Sportster for knocking around town and quick urban assault runs.[gallery]

This bike, a 1990 FXR, a basket of a Super Glide came to Richie through the previous owners need for cash, plain and simple. The bike, when he picked hit up was literally in boxes, pieces and parts, none of them in particularly fine shape, even in boxes; the machine was a rat. It didn't matter though, he had a plan and this bucket of bolts was the perfect place to start. It would have been a shame (and a hell of a lot more expensive) to buy a functional FXR and do what he planned to do.

Richie always had bikes in his life. Triumphs back in the day and like many, graduated to Harley’s as money allowed. Riding in Queens; his hometown, on the street; totally illegally as a youth was the beginning of Richie’s unrepentant go-fast ways.

Richie had prior to this machine, an EVO engine stuffed into a FX, 4 speed frame – it was a special construction bike that he raced on the street. It was a big EVO, had big compression and as nice a bike as it was (and it was NOT a nice bike, it was really a race bike) Richie wanted something a bit more streetable than the FX. It was an unforgiving machine and beat him to death each time he piloted it.

Nearly all the pieces found on this bike, with some degree of modification, are from that FX donor. The PMFR goodies are beautiful super lightweight bits of machined beauteousness. The swingarm is extended 4 inches to help keep locomotive force focused on the all important contact patch. It’s effect on handling is regrettable, but necessary.

Why the turbo and not just go his usual route of big inches? Heat, short engine life, and the idea that there was a better way that led him to the turbo. With 9 to 1, it’s a low compression motor and the turbo puts less stress on the engine that a supercharger-- which is one of the reasons it sits in that specially reserved spot.

How do you get smart with all of this science when you’ve never dealt with this stuff before? Lots of Internet searching. Lots of patient and pleading phone calls.

Richie honed in on a company that could help: American Turbocharger. They provided the basic pieces and parts--including the Barrett turbocharger. All of the parts supplied needed to be tweaked and refit to mate up to this engine that has benefitted mightily from a ton of headwork and port reshaping courtesy of Mega Flo.

The system came with a Mikuni carb, Richie swapped it for an S&S G, his personal preference. The exhaust came from American Turbocharging. Mike Magaro of Magaro Racing Engines in PA acted as consultant when he came to some of the stickier, mechanically oriented decision making crossroads. Mega Flo worked their magic on the heads, Carillo supplied the rods, add to the mix 5” stroke flywheels, a JIMS crank pin – and you can see that good stuff went into baking this cake. All final assembly of both engine and bike was handled by Richie in his private, very well equipped shop.

The bike is a daily commuter missile, and yes, an all out street racer. The extended swingarm has affected handling when compared to a stock configuration, but then again, this bike is not designed to be a canyon carver, unless of course the canyons are straight urban roadways and the trail made of clean, unbroken pavement.

So what is it like riding this ballistically enhanced FXR? Richie says the power is always on and it is super fun attacking Hayabusa’s on road, as long as he sneaks up on their right. There was a ton of tweaking to set the bike up correctly. Timing was a critical factor and a challenge from the start, but it got sorted. The rev limiter on this machine comes on at 6500rpm. Richie knows the bike runs low 10’s and has time slips to prove it. No need to dyno this machine, it makes “enough” power.

Primo clutch with a lockup plate running through an oil bath keep primary issues well under control. 2004 GTO, Barbados Blue is the color. Super subtle on a machine that is anything but. The build took about a year in his backyard shop –not too bad since half the time he was in uncharted territory.

Standing in the parking lot after we were done trespassing on the NYC Parks Department’s finest ball fields for our photo session, shooting the bull, Richie started the machine and asked if I wanted to give it a go. Of course I said yes and hopped on.

The bike is all business, the stance low, the bars are elbow-lockers, vibration modest for what is in the engine room. Pulling away I immediately felt the altered geometry as compared to a stock FXR, this bike is much more sluggish, it drives like a race bike.  Out of the corner, with the bike straightened out, I run through 1st, 2nd and barely into 3rd before I am already at the end of the big parking, testing the brakes with a big smile on my face.

Smooth, linear and unstoppable –this is a fun machine.

I know it is immature and wrong, but I have the urge to go hunt some Hayabusa’s.

Can I Richie, please?

images & words: Stephen Berner

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