Think of a scrambler motorcycle, and most folks will picture a modern Triumph or a vintage BSA. But David Zemla, who runs Burly Brand, decided to take a different tack. Could a Harley-Davidson Sportster be reconfigured for bombing down fire roads? After a lot of trial and error, not to mention a few wrong turns and dead ends in the build process, the answer is a definite ‘yes.’
Zemla’s 2006-model Harley XL883 had previously enjoyed a sedate life, transporting a retired teacher to and from the tennis courts. It now throws up muddy rooster tails in the backwoods near Zemla’s Southern California home. To get there, Zemla had to rework the suspension big time, dropping the front end two inches with a Burly higher-rate fork spring kit, and raising the rear by four inches using 15” Burly Stiletto shocks.
The engine gets a power boost from a V&H air intake and an RSD Slant 2-into-1 Carbon Ops exhaust system. Zemla ground the chassis down at the back, and welded on a pre-bent hoop from Dime City Cycles. A ‘six pack rack’ originally designed for an ATV has also been grafted on. Ribbed Monster Craftsman fenders and a custom-fabricated skidplate complete the look.
The scrambler’s maiden voyage was in Cleveland National Forest, where Zemla hooked up with a group of KTM dual-sport guys. “They dragged me through a few dirt roads and a bit of single track, and the bike handled it really well,” says Zemla. “It’s definitely not a dirt bike and I’ll never air it out over a double—but it’ll rip up a fire road and take far off the beaten path. All the while knowing that my ride home is sorted.”
Head over to the mighty Chop Cult for full details of the Harley and more images.