James is famous for his clean, stripped-back bobbers, but that might change soon. “Last year, I got a rather sheepish email asking if I would ever build a café racer,” he tells us.
“It’s sometimes a little monotonous building just bobbers and choppers, so I quickly said yes. I’ve always loved the late 70s XLCR 1000 too, and that became my inspiration—even in the way the bike has been photographed.”
James decided not to go the obvious route with a Sportster, but with a shovelhead: an FX Super-Glide. “I found a stock-ish FX, but it had an 80ci S&S motor and a five-speed transmission—very nice.”
James is being far too modest about his abilities: He’s turned out one of the best-looking shovelheads we’ve ever seen.
He started by fabricating a new seat pan and cowl from scratch, which houses a Triumph taillight. The inspiration here was the high tails of superbikes: “I was think they look very tough, and wish I could have got it even higher.”
Even more surprising is the origin of the fairing. No, it’s not an expensive item from one of the major aftermarket suppliers: It’s a cheap eBay find, and made in China.
The front and rear shocks are from Progressive Suspension, and James has altered the stance by raising the back and lowering the front a little.
The exhaust system is inspired by Italian sportbikes. “I love Ducati exhausts that wind though the bike and then shoot out the tail.” That’s not strictly possible on a Harley V-Twin, but James has managed to fabricate a system with a similar aesthetic.
“I know it looks like you would burn your ass on it, but you do not—and it sounds awesome.”
The S&S ‘V80’ engine has a Super Stock ignition system, and pumps out around 40% more horsepower than the average Shovel motor. So James has left it alone. “It’s got power—so it needs good brakes. The originals, to put it bluntly, are terrible.” The shovel now sports dual discs at the front, with Performance Machine calipers both front and back.
The controls are basically original with some modifications, but the pegs are custom fabricated.
It’s subtle yet sporty, and just ‘right.’
Well, this one right here loves it.