BMW Motorrad Spezial

Harley Sportster by Robb Handcrafted Cycles

Harley-Davidson Sportster custom
We rarely feature contemporary Harley customs, but when I saw these images by Australian photographer Michael Drabikowski, I had to make an exception. Because this Harley-Davidson Sportster isn’t your typical V-twin show bike; for starters, it’s an absolute featherweight. It tips the scales at a smidge under 360 lbs (162 kg), thanks to the liberal use of lightweight custom parts and carbon fiber.

Harley-Davidson Sportster custom
The motor is a thoroughly rebuilt 1969 XLCH—blueprinted, balanced and ported, drinking through an S&S Super E carb, and converted to a left-hand gearshift. The chromoly steel frame is a custom one-off, powdercoated in carbon black. It’s fitted with heavily modified Ducati 916 forks, carbon fiber wheels designed by Blackstone Tek, and Brembo calipers.

Harley-Davidson Sportster custom
Builder Dylan Robb is a master craftsman, as the images below show, and pretty much built this Sportster in his garden shed. Is this future of Harley custom building? Or not?

Images copyright Michael Drabikowski. Thanks to Neale Brumby and Ben Schkade.

Harley-Davidson Sportster custom
Harley-Davidson Sportster custom

  • Turgut

    That’s a master craftsmen’s work, indeed.

    The seat suspension system, the rear wheel hub, two part tank with the frame between them..

    Wow, all of those are pretty cool details I must say.



  • factsmachine

    lol @ carbon fiber

    pretty nice build though.

  • I like the ’round the wrong side’ exhaust. Engine looks very nicely worked too!

  • Beautifully done but I don’t understand why someone would go to all that trouble to adapt the Ducati forks on a hardtail frame. I just don’t get the appeal of hardtails.

    • Zionforge

      i think its a visual appeal…form over function..your not gonna race it are you

  • complimenti una moto magnifica .io sono radicato al classic ma vedere realizzare queste con materiali innovativi per queso genere di moto,mi fa impazzire

  • Eskild

    Ho indossato sa fotte tutto l’italiano, ma amo questa bicicletta, questo rideable o non!

  • 4Cammer

    Nice. Saw this in the Heavy Duty issue referenced, even better on my monitor. If only all HD customs looked as good as this.

  • tony hannagan

    Decent. Very high level of craft and skill. I would not have put the shifter on the left,…. but that’s me.

  • Superb indeed!

    Just looking back on a bike I had featured here last year and some of the negative comments … see

    To answer those two chaps who have difficulty using correct English (Gilly and Mike).. the bike was shot prior to the fitment of the fuel lines. Wow, that’s explained then!! The photographic schedule was to fit in with Mr Aynsley who travelled from Sydney to take the shots. And yes, it goes, handles and stops. I am currently modifying it for BEARS Formula racing, the results of which I’m sure pin dicks such as those mentioned above will find further details to criticize.


  • Woody

    I bet it looks pretty silly with a rider on it, judging by the geometry.

  • Josh

    Wow, actually a cool looking Harley. But where is the throttle/clutch?.

  • Jason

    Beautiful build. One of the things I’ve been enjoying the most about the EXIF posts has been the comments section. Comments since I signed up have been well thought out, with a very high level understanding about bikes, and have had positive things to say about people’s (very fine indeed) craftsmanship. I’m getting pretty discouraged by the negative trend. You can’t find anything positive to say about this bike? Really?? Would you say those things to the builder’s face? If not, then please, please…

  • Good point, Jason. The negative comments have become more prevalent as our traffic has increased. I generally let most of them ride, on the principle that you can’t please all the people all the time, but persistent negative commenters are banned.

    If the same names or IP addresses keep showing up for negative comments, that commenter is usually blacklisted. The downside is that negative sentiments tend to fire up the comments section and lead to high numbers of comments, but I’d rather have just a few comments that are thought-out than dozens in what is effectively a flame war.


  • Tom

    Very nice looking custom, but how far will it go on a 500ml tank?

  • In response to a few of the questions… Yes it does go “hard”, it does stop fast, it does turn quick. Tank does hold 10 litres and bike looks better with someone riding it. Bike has a twist left clutch and internal throttle. One thing that has been appreciated, this bike has been ridden hard, my ex 600 super sport racing history would support the fact that i can ride harder than the ‘average joe’. I put out a big thank you to all the encoraging comments, as anyone who has built a bike at this level would only ever understand the dedication and devotion that goes into such a project.

  • Paul

    I love it , it’s got beautiful lines and proportions but is really fresh and original. the detailing is superb love the clean lack of instruments and simple headlight triple tree setup. Bloody nice work !

  • Pete

    Beautiful bike…to have an eye to take a HD and turn it into such a well thought out ride is really awesome.
    I was going to say that I would have gone with black chain, rear sprocket, etc…but truth be told, I would actually still be sitting, looking at a stripped down frame trying to imagine a ride as nice as this!

  • Happy birthday Chris!

  • powermatic

    I’m as opposed to flame wars as anyone, but if one’s skin is so thin that no criticism of their creation will be tolerated, they’d best leave their work locked up in the shop for only themselves to enjoy. Being creative means you follow (or should follow) your own muse, despite those who don’t appreciate your vision. As for detractors, use the opportunity to either learn or educate, but getting pissed off is the absolute wrong tack, and makes you look small and mean in comparison. And when you follow that up by jacking another builder’s moment to shine by complaining about “pin dicks” who dared to call you on the fact that your bike was photographed before it was finished (and whose fault is that) in a year-old thread, I’ve got to wonder who the real problem is, and how long that terrible wound has been festering.

    There’s a difference between ‘negative comments’ and ‘constructive critique’, and often that subjective line is in the eye of the beholder, but I’ll be disappointed if ‘Bike EFIX’, one of my favorite blogs, becomes nothing more than a whitewashed product placement for custom builders. ‘Positive’ does not have to mean ‘saccharine sweet’.

  • powermatic


    Super-nice bike Mr. Robb-one of the nicest HD concepts I’ve seen, and I only wish I could see it in person to appreciate the incredible detail work. Well done.

    Also: I know it’s ‘EXIF’, but this wasn’t the first, and probably won’t be the last time I’ve screwed that up (-:

  • Tom Stewart

    Well said powermatic. Here’s my ‘constructive critique’. This is obviously an exceptional machine but what’s the problem so many custom builders have with rubber handlebar grips? My guess in this case is so that the ‘bars are an aesthetic match the footpegs and kickstart, but to me a bike without ‘bar grips looks unfinished and is little different from a bike without seat padding. Or a bike with aluminium tyres.

  • Troy Cardenas

    I’m personally not a fan of HD. But this build is beautiful in it’s detail. Do I see the taillight hidden in the seat. The internal throttle and clutch add to the bike by taking away the clutter.

  • David Enfield

    A brilliant piece of contemporary custom work at it’s best level .

  • Aaron Burke

    Intelligent, well designed and constructed bike highlighted by excellent photos showing the highlights of the bike.
    Just wondering, are the electrics not fitted for this shoot? Have I missed the dash and indicator locations?
    But this is a top bike highlighted by great photos. (and being Aussie is nice too!)

  • Why does carbon fibre bring out the 12 year old ogler in me? Never mind; beyond weight savings, far and away more attractive a feature than tensile strength and miles beyond the exotic factor, whatever the quality carbon fibre contains to wipe clean my worries and return me to my obsessions as an adolescent boy dreaming and scheming of how to apply the material to my scoot — that quality is the primary benefit of carbon fibre. I just want to write and rewrite the letters, c…a….r….. as though spelling the word were the same as installing aftermarket goodies with that wonderfully black and gray pattern. It makes you go faster too?!!? Aaaaaaaaaagaghhhhhhhh hahahahahah!

  • Fred X1

    Beale Dabbs:: Looks like it’s got seat suspension……

  • Sam

    I guess this is why Harley splits with MV Agusta after a brief marriage.
    Harley had an affair with Ducati and this is their bastard child…

  • christian ilumin

    i lyk d overall design of d bike specially the carbon fiber tank and carbon fiber seat pan

  • merlot75

    carbon for ever..!! nice..

  • amazing motorcycle!!!!!

  • wildan

    Motor hebat!! dengan komposisi dan perpaduan teknik produksi dan usur estetika yang bagus sehingga menghasilkan motor yang hebat, benar – benar the art of riding!! Well Done!

  • yan’s

    owesome bike, with design all detail…
    master piece….

  • Gaz

    What a bike when things like this are created it encourages one to look deeper and ask the questions, where is, how does, & what if. i enjoyed reading the comments about your bike the constructive Qs yep got them. For arts sake keep up the outstanding work.