Harley-Davidson customs have changed for good. The raked-out, built-for-TV monstrosities are a dying breed, and the baton has passed to a new wave of crisp, sporty builds that we’d happily ride all day.
Workshops like DP Custom Cycles are leading the charge. Brothers Jarrod and Justin Del Prado build honest, functional rides—and often finish them off with eye-catching motorsport liveries.
‘The Player’ is based on a 1997 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200, and it’s a commission from a previous customer: “We’d already built him a hardtail bike called Hollywood,” explains Jarrod. “This time, he wanted a full suspension bike to squirt around on his local city streets.”
DP Customs have dressed their Sportsters in everything from Gulf Oil to BAR colors before. This time, they opted for the iconic John Player Special scheme—a hat-tip to Mario Andretti and his 1978 F1 Championship-winning Lotus-Ford.
“Mario Andretti is our favorite race car driver of all time,” says Jarrod. “In 1993, we saw him score his last IndyCar win, right here at Phoenix International Raceway. So when our customer mentioned that he loved the classic JPS colors, we decided to go with that.”
“Our goal was to build a bike that’s fun to ride on a daily basis, and looks minimal and sharp.”
The racing theme extends beyond the paint, with DP Customs editing the frame and fabricating new bodywork for a lightweight and angular look.
The fuel tank and tail section are hand-made from steel, along with the oil tank—which masquerades as a spoiler. Note how it flows perfectly into the exhaust, which is DP Customs’ own proprietary Box Pipe.
Cosmetic changes alone weren’t going to cut it. On-road behavior has been enhanced with a set of fully adjustable Progressive Suspension 970 shocks; the forks have been upgraded with Progressive Suspension springs and 39mm preload adjusters from Speed Merchant.
The engine was given a boost with a Dynatek single fire ignition coil, and a rebuilt and re-jetted CV carb. The stock belt drive has been ditched for a chain setup, with a whopping 51-tooth PBR rear sprocket, “for added spunk out of the hole.”
DP Customs designed the 19” front and 18” rear wheels themselves, and had them CNC milled. They’re wrapped in Pirelli Sport Demons, with braking duties handled by Brembo calipers and ISR master cylinders. A small Ballistic battery been installed too, stashed away in the new tail section.
Other top-shelf parts include ISR adjustable hand controls, Chainsikle mid-set foot controls, plus bars, risers and grips from Biltwell. The only dial is a simple rev counter from Stack. The superb paintwork is by Walkers Way.
With angular bodywork and vastly improved dynamics, we reckon this 1200 Sportster is a worthy machine to carry the famous Formula 1 colors.
We’re also betting that Mr Andretti—who started riding motorcycles as a child—would approve.