A 202 Horsepower Honda Valkyrie

A 202 horsepower Valkyrie? Pass the laughing gas please.

This article was originally published in the August 2000 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser.

Honda Valkyrie
Gregg Kroman gets his thrills, not from roller coasters or running with the bulls, but from his 202 horsepower Honda Valkyrie.Dean Groover

What does it take to make your heart pound? To make your toes tingle and your belly quake? For our ancestors it was lions, tigers and barbarity. Adrenaline was all about saving your ass. Nowadays a metabolic rush is more commonly a self-induced amusement—a tool used to heighten one’s own sense of existence. It could be a run with the bulls, a ride on a roller coaster or jumping spread eagle from 15,000 feet. Or it could be ripping down the dragstrip on a nitrous-sucking Valkyrie.

Gregg Kroman wasn't exactly hunting the ultimate rush. The process that led him to build an N20-powered motorcycle was a circuitous one. When Kawasaki released the Vulcan 1500 Classic in 1996, Gregg was so enticed he decided to bring one home. He remembers his wife Lea's unhappy reaction, "She said 'How could you do that!' and 'I'm not riding on the back of that thing!' Then she put our three-month-old daughter in my arms, jumped on the bike and took off."

Lea, a mother of three, had ridden dirt bikes as a teenager, but this was her first taste of big-bike euphoria. “She came back with a big smile on her face, then she informed me that if we were going to keep it I had to get her one too,” Gregg added.

And so Gregg's search for a second motorcycle began. He wasn't content with the power offered by the Classic—even after the addition of new pipes and a carburetor (which boosted the bike's horsepower to a whopping 74). His frustration in finding aftermarket performance enhancements for the Japanese cruiser also confounded him, yet he didn't want to give into the Harley-Davidson habit. Honda's Valkyrie had appeal since it offered built-in performance and a defiant visual character.

F6 Convertible
The “F6 Convertible” is a flashy affair and Lea Kroman is a perfect match for its vibrance. This mother of three loves the Valkyrie for its smooth power and unusual look. Except for a Jardine exhaust system, Progressive shocks, a Race Tech fork kit and K & N filters, the mods are aesthetic. Painted powder-coating adds depth to the design and the colorful engine detailing carries the scheme. A custom heat-resistant paint was created by Rick Carroll Restoration, and after three years on the road, the engine color is still perfect.Dean Groover

Valkyries weren’t so easy to find in 1997, and the Kromans were forced to buy one in Wis­consin and have it shipped to their home in Florida. “We decided we wanted to do some­thing unique to the bike,” says Gregg. “One of my best friends has a Harley with powder-coating over the chrome, so my wife and I started plotting a color scheme for the Valkyrie. We came up with bright yellow, green and purple…. Everyone thought we were nuts.”

In the Eagle's Nest

Another of Gregg’s Harley-loyal acquaintances was Chris Sansevere—a designer at Holeshot Cycles, Inc. in Stuart, Florida. Now this isn’t Dale Walker’s Holeshot in California, the aftermarket company dedicated to the Japanese market; This is a hard-core Harley shop that happens to share the name.

But when they enlisted Sansevere to assist in restyling the Valk he only balked a little. “No matter what cruiser Gregg bought, I knew I’d end up working on it,” he chuckles evasively.

“Yeah, he wasn’t thrilled about working on a Valkyrie,” says Gregg, “but he did like the challenge.”

The Kromans sent their crash bars, fork, gas tank flap, stock controls, struts and wheels out for chroming, then had each piece (except for the wheels) powder-coated purple by PPC Coatings. Since the engine couldn't be powder-coated the Kromans had Chuck Stevens at Rick Carroll Restoration brew a paint mixture that could stand the heat. The frame was sandblasted and painted green while Sansevere trimmed the fenders to tidy up the bike's considerable dimension. Mike Visconte at Florida's Competitive Edge digitally designed a logo for the tank. They decided on an "F6 Convertible" designation since the factory windshield and saddlebags are detachable.

202 horsepower.
To create the bank of six Keihin flat-slide carburetors for the Valkyrie, Blais Cycles had to meld two sets of four. The increased fuel delivery, however, was only one mile marker on the way to 202 horsepower.Dean Groover

Beauty and the Bike

Finishing touches on this Valk were Progressive shocks, a Race Tech Gold Valve kit for the front end and a Corbin Gunfighter seat. “Everyone kept stopping us, and at events people were constantly inquiring and asking for pictures. My wife wanted off the 1500 after she’d had a taste of this Valkyrie,” says Gregg. “I figured that was okay…a good excuse to build another bike. So we traded the Classic in on another Valkyrie.”

Back at the drawing board with Sansevere, the two decided they wanted this second Valkyrie to be not only aesthetically beautiful, but also “bad to the bone.” “We wanted horsepower and handling as well as a reduction in bulk.” Gregg had read an article entitled “Bruiser” in the June 1998 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser, which mapped the development of a brick-house Valkyrie. Gregg and was intrigued by the idea of flowing the bike’s heads and using a bank of flat-slide carburetors to feed the already energetic six-cylinder motor. “That’s how we found Blais Cycle in Miami,” he says.

Heavy Breather

Darren Clarke at Blais bored the stock motor to 1607, ported the heads and incorporated 1mm oversize, fly-cut racing pistons to allow for valve clearance. He decided on a 20mm lift for the camshafts (built by Web Cams) but felt the existing rods were adequate. A Pingel high-flow petcock was also in­stalled. “We had the top end solved,” says Gregg, “but I still wasn’t sold on the idea of flat slides for carburetion. We kicked around the idea of fuel injection, but the cost became prohibitive.”

Custom Harley
Not only was the look borrowed from the Harley FXR, many H-D accessories were modified to fit. Surprisingly, one of the most difficult adaptations was this taillight which had so many innate problems Gregg won't mention the company's name. Life Bright had to completely rewire the LED board.Dean Groover

They held off building the flat-slide system and looked at what the motor would turn with more air going through the stock carbs. The first Dyno reading of 110 horsepower at the rear wheel was a disappointment. The rev limiter was a brick wall, and there seemed to be no way around it. No one offered a replacement ignition and building a custom box was too costly a proposition. Motor develop­ment went on a back burner while Sansevere concentrated on a complete makeover for the rest of the bike using Harley’s FXR as the fashion plate.

Honda's entire front end concept, including all of the controls and the handlebar, were dismissed. The fender was cut short and tight, and the burly Carlini T-bar from Custom Chrome was adapted to help balance visual proportion. Gregg wanted Hurst controls and was also set on a Headwind headlight housing. The majority of goodies chosen for the Valkyrie were designed for Harleys, and the adaptation process was arduous. But Sansevere appreciated the Japanese company's workmanship, "Hondas are engineered a hell of a lot better than Harleys so a lot of their stuff was actually easier to work with."

Sheep in Wolf's Clothing

Once the crash bars, fork and triple tree came back powder-coated and painted custom metallic smoke gray, Sansevere ran the wiring through the new handlebar and created a new housing for the stock tach, the new Dakota digital speedometer and the high beam and neutral LEDs. The swingarm, frame, rear housing and struts were sandblasted and painted purple by Rick Carroll Restoration.

Weekend Concepts’ 75-watt driving lights were mounted on the crash bars. A control box to house the fuel pump and electric shifter switches was created and mounted to the side of the bike. “Chris decided the struts were too far away from the rear fender so he brought them in to make them more flush. He then made the side-mount for the license plate and flush-mounted the rear taillight and gas cap,” says Gregg. The tank was finally sprayed to match.

Gregg applied an Avon 200 to the rear, which (to his surprise) fit the factory wheel, and matched it with an Avon 120 on the front. Progressive 11.5-inch FXR series shocks were adapted (after powder-coating the springs to match the bike) along with a Race Tech Gold Valve kit in the fork to make the Valkyrie sit menacingly low. The Kromans loved the sound of the Jardine Slash Cut headers and pipes on Lea’s “Convertible” so they installed a matching set on the new Honda. A Gunfighter seat from Corbin was the finishing touch. All that was left to sort was the motor.

Now, 110 horsepower just wasn’t going to cut it, so after the engine was painted to match the front end, they built and installed a six pack of flat-slide Keihins and sent the pipes back to Jardine so they could open the baffles to 2.5 inches. These new modifications brought a meager eight horsepower increase. “We had torque to pull a house down,” says Gregg. “But the rev limiter was killing our numbers, and still no ignition was available.” In their determined pursuit to control power the Kromans added a Dale Walker electronic power shifter so they could bypass the clutch.

N20 nitrous
Sitting on a bottle of nitrous may sound risky, but N20, on its own is non-­combustible. The danger lies in improper mixture and delivery, which can destroy a whole lot more than your day.Dean Groover

The NOS Knows

About this time the idea of nitrous started to tickle Gregg’s fancy. A little oxygen enhancement could go a long way in the hunt for horsepower. He purchased a used NOS system from Gary Cooke, the Valkyrie owner he’d read about in Motorcycle Cruiser [June ’98] “The challenge was where to put it,” he says. “We decided we wanted the 2.5-pound bottle under the seat so we had to move the battery. Chris made a housing to fit a Panther battery from Custom Chrome as well as the nitrous wiring under the tank. We used Corbin FXR side covers to keep the bike looking narrow and hide the nitrous lines.” With the juice on, the Dyno reading was a grin-producing 184 horsepower before the limiter kicked in. The Kromans knew there were even more horses waiting on the other side.

“We called Dynatek again and begged them for help,” says Gregg. It turned out to be good timing since Honda’s Valkyrie was the next bike on its list for develop­ment of a replacement ignition. The first sample went on Gregg’s bike after Sansevere built a new housing to accommodate the oversized coil. Truth was about to be told. That day on the Dyno the Valkyrie confirmed 125 horsepower and 118 foot-pounds of torque without juice and—get this—202 horsepower and 186 foot-pounds of torque with the nitrous on. Yow. Now all the Kromans had to worry about was whether the drive shaft could keep up.

Life's a Drag

Dragracing may have been the last thing on Gregg’s mind when he brought home the Vulcan Classic in 1996, but now the light tree predominates his daydreams. Sure he rides the stealthy Valkyrie around town, but for safety’s sake, he rarely employs the nitrous. The real intention is to run the bike on a dragstrip. “First runs have proven the bike can handle the power,” he says. “Caution and driver error have stopped us from hitting the 10’s yet, but stay tuned. We’re shooting for the high nines.” The Valkyrie did blow a bearing in the rear housing during an initial run, but a thicker replacement seems to have solved the problem. Sansevere and Gregg are also in the process of mounting a shifter light “because the stock tach is a little hard to read while you’re simultaneously power shifting, holding the nitrous button and trying to keep the front wheel on the ground.”

We have only one question for Gregg. What are you going to build when Lea gets a hold of this one?