THE TRANSFORMATION of this ’94 model Harley-Davidson 883 XL began a long time ago in a galaxy far away. Oops, sorry, that was Star Wars…
But first things first. It all started for the previous owner with a 1200 kit to improve the power delivery. Next on the list were the usual handlebars and some small cosmetics like indicators and the odd chrome cover here and there.
This was satisfying for a while, but this guy used to sit at home and dream up changes every few weeks and then come into work and use me as a sounding board. We—that’s Geoff, the parts man, and I—consider ourselves as the ‘style police’. If we agree that the ideas are okay then generally they are carried out. But for the most part and for a long time this customer and his ideas were met with resistance and usually a question like, “What drugs are you on?” or the usual one, which was, “You are kidding, right?”
We did fit a set of struts and bob the rear guard, changed out bars and risers, custom made sweeping curved 2-into-2 exhaust, and cut down and lowered the front guard. Once again, this satisfied for a while but, as I mentioned before, this guy was in Heaven when his bike was in bits and I was working for coffee and beer after hours to recreate his ideas.
We became really good mates over time but only after I managed to convince him that his ideas were crap and that he should listen to me and that if he didn’t his bike would sit in pieces in the corner and I would go home and have a life after work.
Well I soon got my way and the bike was stripped to a bare frame. The arse end was cut off and discarded and we put the engine cradle on the frame jig. First things first, the hardtail was fabbed and we had a roller; the neck was cut and the frame lowered to ride flat at four inches off the deck.
Lots of fabrication and making things fit and work was always going to be the longest part of this build as it was all pretty much in my head. I sometimes draw a few things up but I can’t draw for shit. However I do have a great imagination and can see things looking great and for the most part can recreate stuff from my mind.
I work with nuts and bolts and mechanical things all day so I generally don’t try and cover stuff up. I like seeing good welds and brackets and seeing the connection between components so that what you see is what you get.
This build was pretty much mine except the owner wanted it to be semi legal—i.e., lights and indicators. We retained the switch blocks so most of the original loom remains but is relocated.
The owner took care of the painting as he considers himself a professional at it. I beg to differ as not many professionals dry their handiwork by riding home and then picking the bugs and dirt from the paint when they get there. It’s cool because I am not into Easter egg paint jobs and steamroller tyres for motorcycles, so satin black with a 150 rear tyre flips my lid.
We performed some major changes with this bike’s latest transformation but as usual the owner was bored after a few months and wanted to do something else. I suggested he sell me the Sporty and we begin a fresh project. This worked for me because I got a really good deal and have made some further subtle changes to suit my taste for cool. Such as a different seat and spring set–up, a foot clutch, a handshift, and low risers with my favourite dragbars.
The latest set of pipes were made a couple of weeks ago when I got bored with the semi-conventional ‘point backwards on the right-hand-side’ ones.
I must confess to being a Sporty and Buell fan and have owned three Buells in the past. This bike is a real hoot to ride, turns heads and will continue to be transformed a little from time to time.
A big thanks to Little Ross (the previous owner), Geoff for valuable input and sourcing of stuff, Von Pato and Rob for pinning, Rod for making it look good in the pics, and my daughter Shontay for the modelling (she gets her good looks from her mother obviously). And to all the other Sporty owners having fun and blowing away Big Twins on their so-called ‘girls bikes’! Go hard!
words by Roscoe; pics by Rod; modelling by Shontay