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Brooklyn Brawler: An 883 Sportster with a double life

This Harley 883 Sportster tracker is a daily rider as well as a Brooklyn Invitational show bike.
The mighty Harley-Davidson Sportster turns a whopping 60 this year. Since 1957 it’s been modified in every imaginable way—long before the ‘custom scene’ as we know it even existed.

It’s a tough little bugger too, and easy enough to tear apart. Which is probably why Brooklyn-based Tim Harney picked it as his new do-it-all.

This Harley 883 Sportster tracker is a daily rider as well as a Brooklyn Invitational show bike.
And we really do mean do-it-all; Tim built this Sporty from the ground up for the prestigious Brooklyn Invitational, but it’s also his bread-and-milk-getter, and weekend flat track racer. So although it’s loaded with his hallmark raw hand-shaped parts, it’s also got enough patina to keep it honest.

“I started with a beat up 1989 883 Sportster,” Tim tells us, “then totally tore her down.” The rebuild included a big bore, high compression 1200cc kit, uprated cams, and an S&S Super E carb with a velocity stack.

This Harley 883 Sportster tracker is a daily rider as well as a Brooklyn Invitational show bike.
Tim also poured countless hours into the frame. “I pulled a lot of the factory welds apart,” he says, “and re-did the frame with some nice TIG welds. I also changed the rake in the neck by two degrees so she could turn faster.”

Then it was time to tackle the bodywork. Up top is a one-piece, hand-shaped tank and tail unit, with an LED tail light built into the end. Tim also fabricated a new oil tank, plumbing it with black anodized Earl’s AN fittings.

This Harley 883 Sportster tracker is a daily rider as well as a Brooklyn Invitational show bike.
The fork shrouds and number board-styled headlight shroud are his handiwork too. Lower down, the hand-made belly pan hides a Shorai Lithium-ion battery and the ignition module.

Tim’s paired the chassis with new 19” flat track wheels, laced up by Buchanan’s with Sun rims and stainless steel, double-butted spokes. There’s a Barnes hub out back, kitted with a Yamaha R1 rotor. The front hub’s a KTM unit, set up with a radial mounted Aprilia caliper on a custom mount, and another R1 rotor. Everything’s hooked up to quick-change brake lines.

This Harley 883 Sportster tracker is a daily rider as well as a Brooklyn Invitational show bike.
The suspension has been seriously upgraded at both ends too, and probably makes this one of the best-handling Sportsters in NYC. There’s a pair of Yamaha R6 cartridge forks up front, with a pukka DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating for low friction operation. They’re held by custom triple trees, with a set of polished ProTaper fat bars for steering.

Since it’s going to be hitting the track, Tim has paid extra attention in configuring the 883 Sportster for his riding style and weight, which justifies the cost of custom-made Marzocchi piggy-back shocks with Öhlins valving.

This Harley 883 Sportster tracker is a daily rider as well as a Brooklyn Invitational show bike.
Neat little touches abound, like the one-off finned rocker covers, and the custom-made motocross pegs. Even the seat pad is pretty unique; it’s been upholstered with kangaroo leather.

Then there’s the exhaust; a combination of stainless steel headers and a carbon Arrow can, with a custom-made hanger to finish it off. “She’s quiet, but pulls like a freight train,” Tim quips.

This Harley 883 Sportster tracker is a daily rider as well as a Brooklyn Invitational show bike.
Tim has wrapped his runabout in typical Harney Motorcycles finishes: polished metal with glossy black touches to keep things interesting. It’s a coat that this cracking little Sporty wears well.

And with more stonk from the engine, it’s got the performance to match its looks too. “It’s not for the faint of heart,” says Tim. “Smooth like a Japanese bike, but bites like a Harley.”


It does look like it’d be a total blast to ride. But it’s also proof that, even at 60, the Sportster is still ineffably cool.

Tim Harney Motorcycles | Facebook | Instagram | Photography by Adam Lerner

This Harley 883 Sportster tracker is a daily rider as well as a Brooklyn Invitational show bike.