’79 Ironhead Harley-Davidson Sportster To Go

“Every bit of fabrication on the bike is built by me and is unique to this bike.”

I STARTED riding motorbikes when I was four-years-old. My first bike was a Z50 and I’ve owned well over a 100 bikes since then.

This bike was a 79 XLCH Ironhead Harley-Davidson Sportster. I bought it more than six years ago as a basket-case. The Paughco frame, engine, headlight, rear wheel and fuel tank are the only original things that came with the buy.

I knew the engine had a fair bit of work done to it as it was in parts when I bought it. The heads were flowed with over-sized valves, etc. The only things missing were the cams. The guy who I bought it off spent heaps on the engine and he bought it as a worse basket-case then when I got it from him.

I built the bike up, and not long after I got it on the road, I had engine problems.

This time when I did the rebuild, I virtually did everything to the engine that I could except stroke it. I fitted Manley, over-sized, stainless valves to the heads that were ported and flowed. The pistons are 10:5.1, Keith Black, hypereutectic pistons with Andrews pushrods. The cams are R5 Andrews which are full drag cams; and also the gears in the gearbox are Andrews gears.

I mucked around with different carbies — S&S, CV — and I eventually fitted a Screamin’ Eagle 42 mm Mikuni carby — it really gave the Ironhead a lot more throttle response.

I made the pipes from scratch and wrapped them. They are short but, surprising enough, they perform very well.

 I went with the DNA Springer front-end with the 21-inch wheel to give it a different look.

Every bit of fabrication on the bike is built by me and is unique to this bike. The only work I didn’t do to the bike was finishing off the rear guard, struts and battery box. I would tack everything up and Luke from Living’ Loco Garage would weave his magic with it. Luke did the brake rods too.

I modified a set of forward controls from a late model Softail to fit my bike.

I like the clean look of the late model switch blocks, mirrors and forward controls on a older style bike.

I did the wiring internally through the handlebars and ran the wiring through the frame as well. The only wiring that isn’t internal is where the ignition switch is.

The trick paint was done by a mate of mine, Gavin Hart from Warwick. He does awesome work and this paint is no exception.

My bike won a trophy for Best Old Skool Bobber at Harry’s Old Style Bikeshow and also a trophy for Best Bike in at the Roll the Dice Run.

I would like to thank Gav for the paint work; Luke for finishing off some fabrication work; Macca from Pro Power Motorcycles for lending me a lot of tools for the job; my brother Michael; and last but not least, the three women in my life: my beautiful wife Natalie and my two beautiful daughters, Felicity and Courtney. Most of all I thank them for having to endure listening to me talk about what I’m doing to my bike on weekends.

Photos by Rod Cole; story by Steven Hughes

Click here to see more photos of the Ironhead Sporty and Natalie.

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