1996 Harley Sportster Cafe’


Picture 9Recently I spent some time with my friend Erik doing a heart transplant on his Sportster. Erik rides hard, he spends more time on the rev-limiter than most people spend on their bikes. But, Erik takes care of his bikes, well, kind of? After 70,000+ miles of abuse his Sporty decided it was done. A good used motor was found on ebay, shipped to California and without too much drama installed.

Erik has been, little by little, turning his Sportster into a Cafe Racer. Suspension mods,clip-ons, exhaust, seat…it’s all coming together nicely but I know he wants to do more.

Erik is considering new wire spoked wheels, new bodywork and pumping up the motor. It’s going to be a really well put together bike when done. But…I found one on ebay today that is already done and looks to me to a perfect example of how a Sportser should look.

I have to digress here a bit though, I have never been a fan of Harley Davidsons, except one…the XLCR, Harley’s (more exactly Willie G. Davidson’s) first design out of the cruiser/touring market. This has to probably be thee most underloved Harley ever built. It may be powered by a Harley motor but to ‘The Faithful’ it wasn’t a Harley Davidson. The XLCR fit into the same category as the little 2 strokes from Italy…maybe even lower. However, the XLCR has become a cult bike and quite valuable.Picture 8

Today, Sportster based Cafe Racer’s aren’t all that unusual. The first one I ever saw was at one of my semi-regular Sunday stops ‘The Rock Store’ in the Santa Monica Mountains. The license plate on this particular Sporty was ‘DUCHUNTER’ and that was the owners favorite game, chasing down Ducati’s in the canyons. He often won the game.

The ’96 I found today is beautiful. Bodywork is a beautifully shaped 4 gallon tank, a classic Ducati seat and tail section, a sweet looking exhaust, nice clip-ons and classic aluminum spoked wheels. Everything about this bike looks to have been done with a a lot of love and attention to detail. This is how I hope Erik’s turns out but with his own special touches.

For more info and pictures, click on the pics below. And now, I’m going to go out and ride my own Harley powered Buell over to Erik’s and work on his Sporty Cafe Racer.

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Picture 61996 Sportster Cafe Racer

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