When Warwick Lyon started work on this Sportster 48, he wanted to build a modern interpretation of a café racer with elements of a streetfighter. Lyon runs an Australian workshop called Rampant Motorcycles, and his forte is mechanics. So he called up Ellaspede—another Brisbane-based builder, but with a background in industrial design.
Lyon had already boosted the power of the Sportster 48 with Stage 1 engine modifications. The stock 1200cc V-twin Evolution engine is a reasonably good performer, producing around 67hp and 107Nm of torque. But by fitting a Screaming Eagle air intake, a Vance & Hines exhaust system, and remapping the ECU, Lyon raised output to 75hp and 115Nm of torque—and improved tractability too.
Ellaspede got to work on the bodywork, removing the cruiser-style rear fender and replacing it with a custom fabricated tail section. They also suggested that Lyon raise the rear end 2.5” using new Progressive Suspension shocks, and lower the front slightly. The stock peanut tank was replaced with a more practical Harley-Davidson 3.3 gallon tank, and the forward foot controls were ditched in favor of rearsets and clip-on bars.
The tail section is especially neat. The lockable storage compartment was the most time-consuming element of the build, requiring a Styrofoam mockup, computer modeling and CNC cutting. A custom seat pan was fabricated and then (along with the storage compartment door) covered in tuck-and-roll kangaroo leather. The LED taillight fits flush into the rear cowl and the whole structure is mounted to the frame using custom mounts.
Another CNC item was the number plate mount, cut from aluminum and finished in matte black. (The custom mounting point also allows for a fender to be run if desired.) The top tree and gauge mount were reinterpretations of the original items; the tree was machined to allow the stock Sportster 48 gauge mount to be inverted and fitted underneath—which also allowed the use of the original pilot/dash light strip.
The custom muffler shrouds were fabricated from stainless steel and have been ceramic coated. Custom CNC-milled engine covers were powder coated, then etched to feature the emblems of both builders.
Some of the cleverest work is invisible. The electrics were heavily re-worked for a minimalist result, with much of the loom re-routed and concentrated at the back of the bike. And wisely, the paint uses subdued tones. Many standard items were repainted in the same black color but in different matte, satin or gloss finishes to compliment the overall theme.
It’s a build that dramatically changes the look, stance, and riding position of the Sportster 48. And with a useful boost in power, this is one Harley-Davidson with the go to match the show.
To see more Milwaukee-based customs, check out our Harley-Davidson archives.