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Basem Wasef

Baker Goes Cog Crazy, Builds 7-Speed Transmission

By March 11, 2008

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Baker Gearbox

Remember when motorcycles had more gears than cars? Those days ended when automobiles seemed to sprout gears overnight-- the numbers grew to five, six, seven, and eventually even eight (thanks for that glorious touch of excess, Lexus.)

If you're not familiar with Baker, they're purveyors of fine gearboxes tailor made for Harley-Davidsons-- click the "Metric" link on their website, and you'll get a message that reads, "Metric Cruisers? Sorry...BAKER Drivetrain is not har(d)ley compatible." These guys are serious about Harleys, and they're serious about innovation, too; in what could be a potentially endless game of transmission catch up, they've built a prototype seven-speed 'box which custom bike guru Cyril Huze learned about at Daytona Bike Week. The Baker DD7, according to Mr. Huze, is being developed as a replacement for Harley's factory Cruise Drive 6-speed unit. Before you go pooh-poohing their progress, consider their argument, which includes the following points:

  • Harley's tall 1st gear prevents quick launches, the DD7's shorter gear enables quicker off-the-line acceleration
  • Harley's 1-piece forged mainshaft handles gears 1-4, and its heft produces clunk; the DD7's mainshaft reduces clunk by incorporating only 1st gear
  • The 7-speed's new linear roller ball detent improves shift smoothness
  • The factory unit's straight-cut 1st and 5th gears produce noise, while all of the DD7's gears are helical, allowing them to operate more quietly

It's hard to judge a product-- especially such a newfangled one-- without sampling it, so I'm reserving judgment until I get to shift a DD7 with my own Harley-branded boots... but in the meantime, have you been craving that extra gear (or two, or three)?

Photo of DD6 transmission Baker
Sparkle sold separately
March 12, 2008 at 8:15 am
(1) Pete says:

I dunno…seems to me H-D has their priorities a little off, and with some soul searching could find much bigger fish to fry. Adding another ratio or 2 or 3 won’t solve most of what makes H-D inferior in terms of quality, smoothness and pleasureable rideability.
Maybe it’s time to consider one of the really hi-tech trick innovations – liquid cooling…something ‘metric’ bikes (what a stupid name!) discovered in the 70′s.
Funny how there’s only 1 country on the face of the earth that hasn’t discovered the mteric system yet….

March 12, 2008 at 1:32 pm
(2) Terry Hofslund says:

Hardly’s need something but I don’t think 7 or more speeds is the answer.
The engine in the Buell 1125s is on the right track.
How about leveling the playing field in drag racing Pro Stock and trim back the V twins displacement to that of the other bikes and allow all of them to use F I. No contest again you think?

March 12, 2008 at 1:59 pm
(3) Scottie says:

Just another after market fix to a $20K machine. New pipes, pistons, seat, and transmission and for $30k you almost have the bike you thought you bought for $20k.

Also, not a fan at all of radiators on cruisers. Ugly

I’m a cruiser guy, but this kind of crap makes me think about trying a sport bike. It’s hard to find a production sport bikes as costly as $20K, and for around $10k they have technology and performance that cruisers may never have.

March 12, 2008 at 2:19 pm
(4) Le says:

I agree – the Baker is a good idea, but why doesn’t HD just go ahead an contract with Baker to build trannys for HD’s, which would include a 6 for XL’s, for good measure.

For some reason HD thinks it can do everything better than everybody else, and it can’t.

It has three things to which it can lay claim:

1. A 45 degree V, with a single throw crank, which explains the sound.

2. Styling and paint that is great(but won’t get you home).

3. A “mystique” that people will pay a lot for. Kinda like Ferrari, but without the mechanical excellence and performance.

March 12, 2008 at 4:04 pm
(5) Ernie says:

Harly should throw a giant hurricane fan on their bikes for air cooling. Now that would look sharp…

March 12, 2008 at 4:25 pm
(6) Doc Robinson says:

Ah you Harley haters … get over it. The modern Harley-Davidson is ultra-reliable, looks damn good and still has more mystique than a truckload of metric cruisers or sport (death) bikes!

March 12, 2008 at 4:42 pm
(7) Peter says:

Just put a hydrostatic transmission on the bike and be done with it! Their slowy approaching infinite gears as it is.

March 12, 2008 at 5:37 pm
(8) Pete says:

“Mystique”??? You’re kidding right?
Mystique is defined as “an aura of mystery or mystical power surrounding a particular occupation or pursuit”
The only aura around a Harely is a blue smoke!

March 12, 2008 at 7:51 pm
(9) Scottie says:

Doc Robinson,

Like I said, I’m a cruiser guy, and not a Harley hater. I think they run well and look great, but as a value buyer, I think they should be more competitive.

Not sure why you call sport bikes death bikes? The riders I see on sport bikes, in general, are not the crazy stereotypes. If they are the sane ones they have a helmet, it’s a full-face, and paired with full, padded, racing leathers. Sports bikes go can go fast, but don’t have to. They handle well and have incredible brakes.

March 12, 2008 at 8:05 pm
(10) DJ Brake says:

Doc, you can’t be serious. Okay, for starters, as for your so-called “ultra-reliable” statement:
Case#1: My cousin’s ’05 Sportster had tranny trouble (lost use of 4th gear) after 4200 miles, and the speedo went out at 6000 miles.
Case#2: My co-worker’s ’07 Sportster was leaking oil from the engine casing after only 2000 miles, and then the speedo went out after 3500 miles (a very common thing; check the internet boards)
Case#3: My uncle’s ’04 Electra Glide has an annual problem with the clutch, the engine constantly overheats, the speedo has given out twice, and he goes through about two or three pairs of pants a year due to oil spraying his leg while out touring (the bike’s intended purpose!). Let’s not even get into the electrical gremlins…sheesh.

As for comparison, my uncle’s previous bike, an ’85 Goldwing, had 220,000 miles when he traded it in, and never had a major mechanical failure. Incredible. Same with my brother’s Yamaha Venture: 22,000 miles, no mechanical problems…ever.

As for your comment about sport bikes being “death bikes”, that just shows how much of an ignorant wannabe rider you are. What are you, twelve? I suppose you assume no one’s ever died on a cruiser. A 45 year old rider bites the big one doing 75 mph on his Harley, it might make the obituaries, but a 17 year old on a CBR1000RR eats a guard rail at 30 mph and it makes front page headlines, due to close-minded people like you. I happen to ride a ZX-6R and a 748, and relatives and friends of mine also ride sport bikes, so I take personal objection to your ludicrous over-generalization. Besides, a Ducati has more mystique in its left headlight than a Harley has in it’s whole over-hyped chassis.

Get your facts straight before ripping off into your pro-harley, anti-metric rants.

March 12, 2008 at 9:12 pm
(11) Brooklyn Joe says:

Yeah, i second that, ya bum…!

March 12, 2008 at 10:43 pm
(12) Mike says:

I don’t think the perfect bike has been built yet except for BMWs. I have owned Hondas, Yamahas, and my present bike which is a Harley and have had mechanical problems with them all. Now with that said, it’s almost Spring, so lets ride!

March 12, 2008 at 11:02 pm
(13) Jerome Weaselbaum says:

There are pro Harley riders and pro metric riders and there will always be differences of opinions on wich brand is the “best”. That argument will probably never be settled. So buy what you like, ride it and enjoy the experience.

March 12, 2008 at 11:22 pm
(14) Guido says:

Now … if they only build a descent engine next….
Seriously now… IMHO the only HD I would ever or even consider would be the Porshe designed Revolution engine…

March 13, 2008 at 12:59 pm
(15) Peter says:

It’s funny how all these forums on an article such as a transmission, immediately deteriorate into bike bashing. There’s no perfect bike, car, TV, or any made-made product. We just have to go with what our personalities dictate. It is all subjective and as long as you can get your endorphins happening on the ride of your choice, then amen brother.

March 13, 2008 at 5:10 pm
(16) Mike says:

Peter, I agree with you. Also I have noticed it is always the same people doing the bashing. I guess it is entertaining sometimes reading what they think.

March 13, 2008 at 6:03 pm
(17) Lenny says:

No da! Of course there ain’t no perfect bikes. Most of us know that unfortunatly the half the rides harleys don’t…

March 13, 2008 at 8:40 pm
(18) Peter says:

Lenny, you are being cheeky now. Let’s all get up from our computer chairs, and put on our gear, get on our respective bikes, and get our motors running. Get out on the highway. Looking for adventure. In whatever comes our way. That could be with 3, 4, 5, or more gears too. ;-)

March 14, 2008 at 11:11 pm
(19) Peter says:
August 9, 2008 at 9:44 pm
(20) Jerry says:

The biggest problem with Harleys is finding a person that knows how to fix them as most dealers don’t know how, they have damn kids working on them and can’t even do a simple oil change. Since I do my own service I have never had a break down and it runs great. So learn how to fix your own and you will have a great ride

October 14, 2008 at 9:55 am
(21) chief says:

to all who trash a harley, take a look at the rear of the diff. metric dealers and then take a look at the rear of a harley dealer. you will find a heap of useless bikes piled ten feet high at the metrics and if you see a harley in back of a h.d. dealer , get a quote because it wont’t be there long…enough said

December 7, 2008 at 11:41 pm
(22) coolrydr says:

Ride American. Ride a Harley.

March 5, 2009 at 5:26 pm
(23) Tj says:

I love your comment about Baker trannies and that they’re serious about innovation!
Seriously Basem, a true enthusiast is one that loves to ride two wheels(motorcycles) and not the total rivalry crap! I own both..Harley and Metric and love both for their individual purposes…enough said.
As to the Baker company slapping “Jap” cruisers in the face shield with the “message that reads, “Metric Cruisers? Sorry…BAKER Drivetrain is not har(d)ley compatible…well..I hope that they understand that they are loosing out on 1,000′s of prospective buyers of 6spd trannies due to their arrogants and clinging to a motorcycle company that is slowly imploding do to lack of timely vision…it’s also nice to read your biased opinion on a public stage…spiel your Harley rhetoric to the Harley owners group(hog)they need the support to pay for those over priced antiquated “American Iron” bikes that have yet to compete with the two wheel evolution of other companies.Try writting to all the readers and not the select few that pay your bills!

March 5, 2009 at 5:58 pm
(24) motorcycles says:


Am I “biased” because I used the word “innovative”? I’m enthusiastic about any and all motorcycles, regardless of brand; using an adjective hardly qualifies me as lacking objectivity. And contrary to your insinuation, readers don’t pay my bills, About.com does. But regardless, thanks for your comment.


May 24, 2009 at 11:47 pm
(25) Todd says:

I have owned many “Metric” bikes from off road race bike to the Honda Aspencade… I also have owned a few Harley’s.

I currently ride my 1991 Harley Springer about 20,000 miles a year.

It is not the fastest, doesn’t brake as well as my “metrics” did, doesn’t handle as well either.

But, I love it. I do more maintenance on it, but I have the title, it has over 100,000 miles on the original engine, parts are available and my tranny is external which makes tranny work much easier then any of my “metrics”.

Ride what ya got, I am the guy waving to all riders on the road, reardless of the brand of bike, age of rider or type of bike.

Keep the rubber side down and the shiny side up!!!

June 15, 2009 at 1:11 pm
(26) Zorba says:

To you ‘metric’ folks, a Harley is simply cool. Jap crap is not. Period. Amen.

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