BMW Motorrad Spezial

Harley Night Train custom

Harley Night Train
Harley hasn’t attempted to create a modern-looking bike since the 2002 VRSCA V-Rod. And you can’t mine the past forever, even if parts of that past—the XR-750, for example—are very evocative.

So I got to wondering, what should a cool, contemporary Harley muscle bike look like? I think the answer has got to be pretty close to this one, built by photographer Richard Krall. The bike is a 2007 FXSTB Softail Night Train with relatively subtle but very effective mods that transform the look of the machine.

Harley Night Train
The biggest change that Krall made is at the front end, which now comes from a Suzuki 750 and will probably improve handling. The front wheel is a Harley Fat Bob slotted aluminum wheel, with an inch of hub material shaved off so it would fit between the Suzuki forks. The front fender and headlamp cowl are from a V-Rod, and Krall designed the fuel tank himself—using a hinged V-Rod airbox cover to allow refueling.

The internals of the Harley Night Train’s 96ci engine are stock, but a Screamin’ Eagle Heavy Breather air intake and 2-into-1 D&D performance pipes boost breathing and horsepower. Krall had the wheels powdercoated black before adding a red pinstripe, and built the seat frame himself, using a local upholsterer for the finish. A chopped, lowered and re-contoured rear fender completes the look.

To my eyes, it’s the best-looking contemporary Harley custom I’ve seen for a long time. What do you think?

  • Jeff Henshaw

    WOW – what a beautiful machine. And this comes from someone who has never cared for the VRSC line. But this bike has been tweaked in such impressive ways. Great find!

  • Undercover Soul Brother

    Now THAT’S a harley I’d ride! And I hate harleys!

  • JSyes

    I look at this bike with the foot controls about 18 inches below the hand controls: What will it look like when it’s being ridden?

    The poor rider will be sitting with his legs straight out in front of him, folded over at the waist to reach out to the bars, with his knees banging on his elbows. Not only is that going to look ridiculous, but it is gonna hurt if you ride more than about 10 feet.

    Is this something invented by women so that men can suffer the same pain and misery that women suffer when they wear high heels?

    All of these ridiculous “choppers” should come with a warning label: “This bike is a piece of art and is not designed for actual use on public roads. It is designed to look cool when parked and not while being ridden. Please remember that when you are riding this bike you will look like an IDIOT and traveling more than one mile in any single trip is likely to cause permanent back problems and painful muscle spasms due to the contorted, unnatural riding position.”

  • David Enfield

    A very nice dark picture , can’t see much , hang on though ………..Night Train ……….ah , got it now .

  • that is exactly just one big ” WOW! “

  • Beldar

    @JSyes: Harsh words, dude/dudette. Harsh yet wise. The debates on “form v function”, “rideability v showmanship”, “conformity to engineering/safety standards v personal expression” are still fun to have and the ‘rolling sculptures” of varying practicality are still fun to look at. But you’re right, I wouldnt want to ride this one.

  • Undercover Soul Brother

    @JSyes: Excellent point! I didn’t notice the position of the foot controls… I guess we can add this to the pile of “no rides.”

  • It’s not easy, but it should be possible to use mid-controls on a Softail with a bit of fab work. This thread on a Harley forum explains the details:

    The forum poster is thinking of getting a Night Train and asks about mid controls; note some of the hilarious replies from the Harley riders:

    “Why the hell would you want mid controls? Inquiring minds want to know.”

    “Yes, we want to know! I just moved mine forward 3 inches.”

    Now I know what a knucklehead is …

  • Backhome77

    Looks a lot like a Yamaha Warrior. The “midnight” version even came with red striped wheels.

  • Pamberjack

    You CAN mine the past forever. Just look at Fender!

  • Hiwatt Scott

    I agree with JSyes. The rider is part of the aesthetic, in truth the most important part. If the rider doesn’t look right on the bike…FAIL.

  • dixter

    Greetings. First, I would like to say thanks so much to Chris at for the feature!

    Thanks to all for the wows and compliments but, I would like to respond to JSyes and Beldar… can’t blame you guys a bit for your comments. I get it all the time from onlookers. It’s something I worried about from the git-go, thinking this could be completely unridable BUT, it is (and I say this with complete honesty and sincerity) a comfortable ride in the sub 3-hour range. Not a long-range cruiser by any stretch but, I put a couple of hours in on it weekly and an occasional ride to my mom’s about 150 miles away culminates without major discomfort… of which, most is in my wrists from the forward weight of my body. Something I would imagine cafe-style or sport riders experience from time to time.

    The pics are dark and it’s hard to tell but, I did leave the rear passenger pegs in place for this very reason. Granted, not the best place for your feet in traffic but, on a long stretch of country road, a nice change-up.

    Thanks everybody for looking (and writing)!

    BTW, the controls are 24 inches apart. ;)

  • Mike J

    “you can’t mine the past forever” Just you watch them try..!

    As for this one, that awful, hard tail mimicking, soft-tail frame isn’t going to be improved much by bolting on a set of Ohlins… and that retarded riding position..?!

    A pig in a dress is still a pig.

  • Danny B

    Beautiful bike, if it made it into production I would buy it.
    Tried a V Rod, didn’t fit

  • Hele Vetica

    I have to agree with alot of comments. Looks Fab! Much better then the Vrod. However, it shares some of the same problems. Mainly those stupid forward controls

    I’d like to see this bike with mid controls, dual-shock swing arm, tracker bars and neatly handled exhaust. (and it wouldn’t have hurt it to base on a sporty engine either)

  • Beldar

    @dixter: you rock, dude. I’m sure it isnt fun for builders to read negative comments but you took it in a stride with an informative, low-key, cordial response. Raises the good vibes level of an already pretty civil comment board. Thanks for building and sharing. Practicality aside, I sure as hell couldn’t produce what you’ve done here and I should have tempered my own remarks with that in mind.

  • Mike J

    My earlier post has been bugging me all day. Basically what I said came across as rude and insulting to dixter and the work he put into this bike. That was un-called for, so I’d like to apologise to him for any offence.

  • @ Hele Vetica:

    So, you like this bike, but you’d like it better if it were a completely different style of bike based an a completely different platform?

  • Carbon-arc

    Don’t like Harleys, but I would spend my hard earned on this one

  • dixter

    Hey Beldar and Mike J,
    No worries. I love hearing comments and opinions whatever they may be. It’s about passion and that makes things better. And at 56, I don’t get too rattled about these kinds of things. :)
    Thanks again to all you guys!
    Happy Trails,
    rk (dixter)

  • Beldar

    @dixter, hey, who ISN’T 56?? (did you ever think “60” would sound ‘not THAT old’? no, me either….) The ‘nets can be an unnecessarily ugly place but you demonstrated a classier alternative to angry flame wars, chest thumping and trash talk. (it’s actually bikeexif’s official comment policy) And you inspired some of us to rethink the tone of our comments. Happy trails, indeed!

  • Thanks guys for the comments about comments. I’m hoping that discussion here can be a little more civil than found on most motorcycling websites, and I’m really glad to see it’s heading that way.

    Chris | Editor

  • Darqhorse


    What you’ve done there is create a hot looking machine. It may not be the most “comfortable” sled in the garage, but I bet it sure is fun to ride. I am sure Carmen Electra would hurt my back after awhile too. But I sure as hell would not pass up an opportunity to ride. . If you want slow and comfortable, grab a road king or gold wing, or for that matter Rosie O’Donnell.

    Your bike makes my heart go pitter patter, which is sort of why I ride to begin with.


  • Dingo

    Darqhorse, congratulations on the awesome comment of the day. I’m still laughing.


  • dixter

    Darqhorse you made me laugh! That is funny. I agree with Dingo. Comment of the Week Award.
    Thanks for the words,

    Beldar, are you 56, too?

    And, Carbon-arc, I could probably build one for you.

  • Carbon-arc


    It’s the cahnce of a lifetime, I’m sure…………….time to put my money where my mouth is.


  • Beldar

    Dixter, I may *BE* 56 but that doesnt mean I have to *FEEL* 56! (on second thought, dammit, I do feel 56….) Looks like your bike is getting all the love it deserves. Which is cool. Who says there’s no such thing as karma?

    I’m heading sorta in your – I think – direction Friday so if for any reason you’re EB I40 around Amarillo on thru OKC and some crazy old dude in a 1977 pea green/primer brown Ford station wagon pulls alongside your bike and starts honking at you, it is definitely NOT me. Seriously, not me. Wouldnt be caught dead in a car like that. But I will be on I40. aka Tornado Alley. Damn.

  • David Enfield

    Darqhorse for Twitter Hall of Fame & BikeExif Oscar .

  • Ala


    I don’t get so emotioned for a bike since the movie with Rourke/Johnson in ’90..

  • Jone Haakonseth

    Stunnigly beautifull, fantastic, most awesome Harley I have ever seen.
    If I had 1 million bucks I`d put inn an offer :-)

  • Michael

    I like it a lot, but if it were mine, the intake would have to go. I’m not a fan of that particular unit. I prefer something more low key, especially with a bike like this one that looks cool without trying too hard.

  • I hate to be a party pooper, the bike looks great but in fact it is a Night Rod Special. They came standard in matt or gloss black with either silver or red dual striping on the tank and rear guard. Still looks great though!

  • Vic Ingram

    All it needs is a set of mini apes.