Discover the ICON Airflite Jewel helmet with MIPS

Glamster: Lucky Cat’s Sportster drips with Japanese style

1994 Harley-Davidson Sportster custom by Lucky Cat Garage
Remember the Sultans of Sprint drag race series in Europe? The man behind this brilliant idea was Séb Lorentz, who runs the Lucky Cat Garage with his partner, the artist and restoration specialist Laurence Chatokhine.

The drag racing is on hold for the moment, for obvious reasons, but Séb has a solid background as a talented custom builder. So he and Laurence have kept themselves busy spinning wrenches and spraying paint.

1994 Harley-Davidson Sportster custom by Lucky Cat Garage
The latest build to roll out of their workshop in Chartres, 90 km southwest of Paris, is this very classy 1994 Sportster called ‘Glamster.’ And yes, that’s a reference to the retro-styled Shoei lid: the top-flight Japanese helmet manufacturer helped to make this build happen.

At first glance, Lucky Cat’s Sportster is a street bike with custom bodywork and a slightly tuned engine, but there’s a lot more going on under the hood.

1994 Harley-Davidson Sportster custom by Lucky Cat Garage
The iconic V-twin has been completely refurbished inside and out. There’s a special graphite grey paint for the cases and polished covers, but the real work is inside. And the goal was to create the most torque possible: “For street bikes, that’s where the fun is—in our opinion!” says Séb.

He’s used a 1250 kit from Hammer Performance, with iron-lined, aluminum-finned cylinders and forged pistons. These are combined with ported heads and Buell M2 cams, with an S&S Super E carb sucking air from a classic and rare S&S ‘Two Throat’ air filter. (“It’s genuine new- old-stock, mounted via a one-off Gasbox bracket.”) A Motogadget Speedster speedometer is hidden behind the air filter to keep it discreet.

1994 Harley-Davidson Sportster custom by Lucky Cat Garage
Séb has also replaced all the fuel and oil lines with racing-spec Vibrant Performance black braided hoses, hooked up with black AN fittings. Ancillary updates include a Dynatek 2000i single-fire ignition system and a Daytona oil pump (with reworked engine venting) to keep the engine running cool.

The exhaust is a raw stainless steel 2-into-1 from the Californian company Bassani, with stepped headers and a reverse-cone megaphone muffler. “It’s loud, but not too much for a street bike nowadays,” says Séb unconvincingly.

1994 Harley-Davidson Sportster custom by Lucky Cat Garage
He’s ditched the belt drive and used a traditional 530 chain setup, via a conversion kit from Lowbrow. There’s also a Speed Merchant billet sprocket cover, with a custom chain protector, and the engine bolts have been upgraded to polished stainless items from Diamond Engineering.

The hardest part of your typical Harley build is getting the top line low enough, because the engines are so tall. Séb has nailed it by using a Harley KR750 flat track racer tank; it’s around 60 years old, and resembles a typical Trackmaster tank. Capacity is not the strong point, so there’s also a Mooneyes emergency tank holding just over a quart, nestled by the right-hand rear strut.

1994 Harley-Davidson Sportster custom by Lucky Cat Garage

Other mods include a shorty front fender from Lowbrow Customs and a modified ‘Cutlass’ café seat from Airtech Streamlining.

On the left side is an unusual fiberglass saddlebag originally made by Buco for Cushman scooters; it’s finished off with a painted race number, but also carries a Motone polished taillight and the license plate.

1994 Harley-Davidson Sportster custom by Lucky Cat Garage
Lucky Cat have chosen the wheel sizes to ramp up the chopper vibe without losing the ‘traditional custom’ flavor. The flanged alloy rims are 21 inches at the front and 18 at the back, fitted with an Avon Speedmaster MK2 [F] and a chunky Coker Diamond 4.50 [R].

There’s Brembo braking all round, with a four-pot caliper and floating rotor leading up front, and the Showa fork has been shortened a little to level out the stance.

1994 Harley-Davidson Sportster custom by Lucky Cat Garage
Séb knows where to find the good stuff, and he’s finished off the build with narrow stainless bars and risers supplied by Fork Co in Japan.

Look closer and you’ll spot other trad custom details like a Biltwell Whiskey throttle, a Bates headlight, polished KustomTech hand controls, Motone mini switches and a heart-shaped Lowbrow mirror. There’s even a custom printed (and gilded) ‘Glamster’ points cover from La Fabrique 3D.

1994 Harley-Davidson Sportster custom by Lucky Cat Garage
The most unusual aspect of the bike is the paint finish, which is a modification of the ‘aventurine’ lacquer technique—known as Nashiji in Japan. “Using a traditional gilding technique for a modern classic helmet was our first creative idea,” Laurence reveals. “Then we thought adding a matching custom bike would be a nice accessory.” And so the partnership with Shoei was born.

Laurence applied the gilding technique to a Glamster helmet, using a classic Urushi red lacquer base. It’s topped with 24-carat gold flakes and powder—mixed using a traditional method involving honey. The flakes and powder are then blown through lengths of bamboo. “A long process, but the best to create the desired effect,” she says.

1994 Harley-Davidson Sportster custom by Lucky Cat Garage
While Laurence was gilding the Glamster helmet, Séb was finishing off the bike assembly. They decided that the color should be different. “As with your clothes, we don’t think your helmet should be the same color as your bike!” The paintwork is inspired by the ‘Magicar,’ a legendary top fuel dragster from the sixties. It took a combination of 15 different gold flake types to get a close color match.

Unlike most brand collaborations, this Sportster is not destined to spend the rest of its life in a showroom. It’s Laurence’s personal ride (when she’s not piloting her nitrous-injected dragbike).

1994 Harley-Davidson Sportster custom by Lucky Cat Garage
“It’s small, rather fast, low, narrow, quite nervous and quite uncomfortable,” Séb freely admits. “But it’s also kinda sexy to watch and fun to ride… and that’s just what she wanted!”

The Lucky Cat Garage | Facebook | Instagram | Shoei Europe | Images by Cyril Casagrande

1994 Harley-Davidson Sportster custom by Lucky Cat Garage

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