2001 Harley-Davidson Sportster Cafe Racer

I am really torn by bikes like this. Converting a Sportster into a cafe racer is kind of a daunting process. There aren’t a lot of sources for true cafe-styled parts for these bike (especially 2004+ rubber-mount bikes), and when you tell the parts guy at your local shop what you are doing, most likely he or she will give you a blank stare.

So if you do manage to find the parts, then you have to do a good job with the conversion. With this particular bike, it is certainly beautiful, and has a number of really nice parts attached to it: Storz rear-sets, nice race-style seat, beautiful H-D themed paint, and a great intake/exhaust combo. But a well-built cafe racer is more than a simple sum of its parts.

In this case, I am concerned that the bike looks lowered front and rear. For my personal Sportster cafe racer, I actually raised the bike 1″ in the front and 2″ in the rear to try for more ground clearance. And I don’t really want to be careening through corners while trying to maintain a grip on the shiny bits at the end of these drag bars. Cafe racers typically have a form-follows-function aesthetic, while this bike is trying to go both ways. Like Storz rear-sets on a lowered bike.

Now, if I could bolt my 15″ shocks to this bike, add my clip-ons, and put some stiff Race-Tech springs in the front end, this would be a great bike…


1 comment so far

  1. Eric on

    Nice bike. I found, through my own experience, that making a cafe racer out of a late model sportster is better done if you don’t try to replicate the vintage 60’s Brit racers. The bike just doesn’t lend itself well to the process. However, you can do darn nice job by following the ‘spirit’ of the old racers. On my 97 I chopped the fender struts down to the first fender mounting hole, then cut out the top section of rear fender (the part with the seat mounting holes), and drilled new holes for mounting the fender. I then used the back part of the fender strut cover (powder coated black) to cover the ends of the chopped struts. I drilled an extra hole in each side of the fender for the rear hole on the strut cover, and for mounting miniature turn signals. This provides a very slick, lean posture for the bike, and by painting the chopped fenders black, the bike really does have the look of a cafe racer.

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