Greg Hageman’s known as the guy that convinced us that Yamaha Viragos can look good. But we’ve never seen a Harley-Davidson custom from the American builder.
Which is strange; the Sportster is arguably a better (and more popular) platform than the Virago. And Greg sure knows his way around them—he’s a qualified, master-level Harley technician.
“I started in ’99,” he tells us, “and took every single tech class the factory offered until 2011. So I was fully aware of the capabilities of what I think is a wonderful ‘jack of all trades’ bike.”
So, after a long run of mostly Yamaha builds, Greg Hageman decided to go back to his roots.
“This is a bike I’ve had in my mind for the past fifteen years, way before the big scrambler trend of the present. I bought my first Sportster in ’99, and thought it was so agile and well handling, that I could see no reason why it couldn’t do some light off-road duty.”
Weight was a major concern for Greg when sourcing a suitable donor, so he was originally after an older, lighter ‘solid mount’ donor. But he eventually settled on a 2006 XL1200C.
“I know the newer ‘rubber mounts’ are heavier,” he explains. “But they are so much smoother in the long run, plus used ones on the market are the same price.”
Still, he’s managed to get the Sportster down from the stock weight of 565lb to 485lb wet. And he’s improved its suspension—by fitting a pair of 390mm Hagon Nitro shocks at the rear, and Progressive Suspension fork springs with Burly Brand adjustable preload caps up front.
Most of the fat’s been trimmed off the bodywork: there’s an all-new subframe and seat, and the custom-made fenders are undoubtedly lighter than stock. Greg’s adapted two different sized Harley tanks to fit, that can be swapped out depending on the day’s riding (the smaller one’s pictured here).
The Sporty’s ergonomics have been brought in line with a set of high scrambler bars (capped with Biltwell Inc. Thruster grips), and lowered, serrated foot-pegs. The speedo’s been relocated to the left of the bike, to help de-clutter the cockpit, and all the Sportster’s running lights—except for the headlight—have been ditched. Their replacements are hard to spot: the tail light’s an LED in the frame’s rear hoop, and the turn signals are a pair of Motogadget bar-end LED units.
Greg’s fitted a sprinkling of tasteful parts to drive the bike’s intentions home. There’s a neat headlight grill and a skid plate, as well as a period correct air filter and a modded, high-ridin’ Vances & Hines exhaust system. Buchanans supplied a set of Sun rims (19F/17R) and heavy duty stainless spokes, laced to the stock Harley hubs. And the final drive’s been converted from belt to chain.
Greg says he wanted to keep the bike “as simple and useful as possible—but still elegant.” His color choice echoes this: it’s similar to the original Harley-Davidson ‘birch white,’ but with a little flake on top “for that 70s vibe.”
It’s a good choice, and the overall aesthetic is delightfully throwback. “I based the looks of this bike off the 1971 model,” he says. “It’s got a little Evel Knievel taste to it that I love.”
As for the tires, they’re Continental TKC80s—a selection that some would consider fashionable rather than functional. But Greg’s not that kind of builder.
“If you see me out on the trails, you’ll understand.”