Blood Sweat & Beers Harley-Davidson Sportster

Graham built himself one mean looking drop-seat bobber. “By making it a drop seat… you really sit in the bike and it makes it feel bigger than it actually is.”

THIS BIKE came about because I had always wanted to build an old school bobber that was still a Harley-Davidson. When I found out about all the red tape and money involved in building a ground-up custom, I thought my dream would be just that—until I came across Bitter End Old School Choppers in the States. They are a bike shop that specialises in weld-on hardtails for Sportsters.

After emails and a few phone calls, Big AL, the owner of Bitter End Choppers, said he could build me a hardtail with the dimensions I wanted—three inches of drop in the seat and five inches of stretch and could accommodate a 180 rear tyre. This way I only had to buy a cheap Sporty and I could build a custom bike where the engine numbers matched the frame numbers and was already registered.

Thanks to eBay, I found a blue 883 Sporty and all the other parts I needed. I went with the 883 because I was going to rebuild the motor with a big bore kit anyway. The motor now has 1200 jugs with matching Wiseco reverse-dome pistons and Hastings rings, slightly worked 883 heads, Andrews N2 cams, a Dynatek programmable ignition, and a 40 mm CV carb with Thunderslide kit. All this in a bike that weighs, at a guess, about 160 kg makes it a really quick exciting ride, and being a hardtail, there is never a dull moment.

While I am talking about the motor, I would really like to thank Rick and Joel from Motorcycle Performance and Tyre Centre in Lawrence Drive, Nerang. They are great blokes who can’t do enough to help you.

As soon as I got my hands on the bike, I stripped it down in a couple of hours. All that was left was the front box-section of the frame. I’m lucky a good mate of mine is Shane from Speed Demon Cycles. What he doesn’t know about bikes isn’t worth knowing and he let me pick his brain and use his premises for a lot of the build; thanks brother.

The 21-inch front and 16 x 5.5 rear wheels were bought on eBay as were the rear guard, big bore kit, cams, ignition, air cleaner, chain tensioner, oil tank, side mount number plate, forward controls, solo seat with three inch springs, digital speedo, indicators and battery which kept the price down and my budget achieved. Believe it or not, one of the biggest hurdles of the build was fitting the battery and oil tank in the space I had shrunk. By making it a drop seat, which I’m glad I did, you really sit in the bike and it makes it feel bigger than it actually is.

Being the first bike I have designed and built, I wasn’t really aware of the work involved and the mistakes I would make. But I loved the whole process, and the satisfaction I got when I took it for its first ride was something that will live long in my memory. To get acknowledgement from people who normally laugh at a Sporty is even better.

Thanks again to Joel, Rick, Shane and Bitter End Choppers for your help and encouragement.

Story by Graham; photos by Rod Cole

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