Technology moves at a relentless place—and the motorcycle industry can’t escape it. Just the other day I was riding an electric motorcycle with a sophisticated electronics package that even integrates with smartphones.
But future tech isn’t for everyone, and we need the occasional lo-fi hit to keep us grounded. And it doesn’t get much better this tidy Harley-Davidson Sportster bobber, built by Nick Acosta in Ontario, Canada.
You might remember Nick from his first build—an impossibly clean Honda CB750K cafe racer. He’s since taken on more projects under the banner of Augment Collective, slaving away in his home garage after hours and on weekends, and pushing himself harder on every build.
This 1993 XL883 was Nick’s daily runner last year. Then winter hit, and he decided to put it under the knife with help from his friend Victor.
“I wanted to challenge myself and build not another cafe racer, but something completely different,” he tells us.
“I went with a modern/retro styled chopper, using all new tech while making it look similar to classic 60s choppers.” A closer look shows that Nick’s done extensive work to the powertrain, and to ensure that his Harley can handle the aggressive riding that comes with a light and fast setup.
The Sportster is supremely minimal, but it’s also sporting some nicely subtle features. The engine’s been bored out to 1,200 cc, with a Screamin’ Eagle kit that the previous owner had, but never got around to installing. And the rocker box covers have been swapped out for a set of Panhead-looking ones from Led Sled Customs in Ohio.
The motor’s also running Andrews cams, and an Accel Supercoil and ignition module. Nick rebuilt the carb with CV Performance and S&S Cycle parts, then added a custom intake with a velocity stack hiding behind a mesh filter.
You’ll also notice a kickstart lever on the right side of the bike. “The kickstart conversion was a little bit tricky,” says Nick. “I ended up ordering a kit from eBay that was supposed to be an easy installation—but it was probably the hardest part of the build. And of course there were absolutely no instructions with the kit.”
Once Nick had stripped the gearbox, installed the kickstart and rebuilt everything, he took the bike out for a test ride…and blew up his transmission. After scrambling to find a new one, he ended up replacing it with the five-speed tranny from a 1996 Sportster, and installed it along with a Barnett heavy duty clutch.
There’s a belt-to-chain conversion too, and a pair of custom shorty exhausts with billet aluminum tips.
For the frame, Nick and Victor welded on a TC Bros hardtail kit, then had it all powder-coated black with a little microflake. The front forks were upgraded with Progressive Suspension springs and heavier oil, and 3” springs were added under the solo seat.
“It’s a surprisingly comfortable ride…until a pothole comes my way,” Nick jokes. “But I love the feel of riding a hardtail, especially a fast one. Nothing but me, a frame, a big motor, and the road beneath. No bells and whistles at all.”
He opted to keep the OEM wheels, because they suit the bike, and new wheels would have blown the budget. They’ve been powder-coated to match the frame, and now wear Avon AV72 Cobra rubber.
The brakes have been upgraded with stainless lines, sintered pads, a rebuilt rear master cylinder and a new Drag Specialties front master cylinder (and clutch lever).
The handlebars are OEM too (“once again, if it works and is in great shape—just keep it!”), but the risers are from Drag Specialties. There’s an Aris-style headlight up front, and a classic tombstone tail light out back.
The guys also fabricated a new oil tank with a billet aluminum cap, a rear fender and sissy bar, a new side stand and all the accompanying mount tabs. Then they turned out new grips and pegs, and a few necessary spacers, on Nick’s trusty old lathe.
Finishing it off is a Wassel gas tank, expertly painted by Black Widow Custom Paint. It’s the only hit of color on the build, and shows off Nick’s tasteful restraint and sharp eye.
Nick’s dubbed his hardtail ‘The Panster’ (since it has Panhead covers on a Sportster), and it’s still his daily runner.
“Riding the motorcycle now is completely different,” he says, “and a lot more enjoyable. And the whole build process definitely has made me appreciate the workmanship that goes into chopper building.”
Published at Fri, 26 Jul 2019 17:01:43 +0000