Right now, the Harley Sportster is challenging for position on the café racer scene. (Before purists complain, I’m using the term ‘café racer’ very loosely—meaning the opposite of cruiser custom style.)
This sleek and agressive build comes from Casey Johnson, who runs Headcase Kustom Art in Southern California. It’s a 1995 XL, with a hybrid motor running 1200 cylinders and 883 heads. The commission came from the Us Versus Them clothing brand, but it’s no display bike—the shakedown test was the 600-mile El Diablo Run into Mexico.
Casey is best known for his 70s-style vintage artwork and custom helmets, but it looks like he’s got a good eye for motorcycles too. The biggest changes to the Sportster’s looks come from the stretched, narrowed and shortened tank, built with the help of Fabworx. There’s hand-brushed aluminum everywhere, and the fork legs have been shaved for an even smoother look.
The new stance comes from Progressive Suspension, courtesy of 412 Series Shocks and a fork lowering kit. Casey extended the swingarm three inches, and also converted the drivetrain to chain. The Sportster’s engine gets a power boost from an S&S Super E carb and Spitfire air cleaner.
Hand-fabricated parts include the tail section—with a neat in-built LED—and the exhaust, which now terminates with a VW Stinger can. The headlight is from Wargasser Speed Shop and there’s a smattering of sportbike gear throughout, such as GSX-R pegs and Yamaha clutch and Ducati brake components.
Given Casey’s main line of work, you’d expect the paint to be good—and it is. He’s used House of Kolor Silver Mini Flake over Orion Silver, and then finished the mag wheels in black with a subtle red pinstripe, the only splash of primary color on the whole bike.
A great example of how ‘less is more’ transforms the mainstay of the Harley range.