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Clean Green: A Czech H-D Sportster cafe racer

A Harley-Davidson Sportster cafe racer from the Czech Republic
Even though they require similar skills, the custom motorcycle and car worlds are vastly different. But they do sometimes meet. In the Czech Republic there’s a modest garage where Harley-Davidsons and Chevrolets stand side-by-side.

Rusty Pistons Garage is a small workshop based in Chlumec nad Cidlinou, a town just east of Prague in the Czech Republic with a population of 5,000. It’s run by Martin Solar, who’s also the sole designer and mechanic, and he loves V-twins and V8s in equal measure.

A Harley-Davidson Sportster cafe racer from the Czech Republic
Other than specialist tasks like CNC-milling and airbrush work, Martin handles everything himself, with help from a friend who pops in on weekends and in the evenings.

The workshop supports the primary Rusty Pistons business—an apparel company producing “lifestyle garage wear.” This lean, green 2007-model Harley-Davidson Sportster was built as a marketing tool for the brand, but it’s an unusual style for Martin, who usually leans towards bobbers and choppers.

A Harley-Davidson Sportster cafe racer from the Czech Republic
So why build a cafe racer? Simple: Martin literally had a sweet set of wheels kicking around, and needed a project that would do them justice.

“I had an pair of BST carbon wheels lying idle, and it was a shame not to use them,” he says. “I put the wheels on the assembly table and wondered what to do with them. Since I had never built a cafe racer, I took it as a challenge.”

A Harley-Davidson Sportster cafe racer from the Czech Republic
“I like technology and everything about MotoGP, although I prefer a chopper for riding.”

The 17” wheels were originally meant for a Suzuki GSX-R1000, so it took some wizardry to match them to the Sportster. Martin had to remove each wheel’s carrier, then get them remodeled on a CNC machine, so that he could use the Harley axles, disc mounts and belt drive. He also added custom brake discs (and new pads) from the Czech company GOLDFren.

A Harley-Davidson Sportster cafe racer from the Czech Republic
In both the hotrod and cafe racer scenes, stance is everything—and Martin did a killer job here. The Sporty’s front forks were upgraded with a set of progressive springs from Hyperpro, and the rear was propped up with a set of Hyperpro shocks.

And the notoriously swoopy Sportster bone line has been fixed with an all-new subframe.

A Harley-Davidson Sportster cafe racer from the Czech Republic
Sitting on top is a full complement of pick-n-mix bodywork, with every piece cleverly modified to match up. Martin sourced an Aermacchi front fairing made by Motoforza in the Czech Republic, but it was too big and had no mounts. So he shortened and narrowed it, reshaped it, and built a new mounting frame from 7 mm steel tubing.

Just behind it is a set of Rebuffini triple trees, with custom-made clip-ons and Roland Sands Design grips. The speedo’s a digital unit from Koso, and the switchgear is stock Harley.

A Harley-Davidson Sportster cafe racer from the Czech Republic
For the fuel tank, Martin sourced an aftermarket unit that matched the vibe he was after, then modified it to fit the Harley’s frame. The OEM fuel pump had to be integrated too.

The tailpiece is from C-Racer in Greece, but it’s also been tweaked. Martin and co. extended it at the front so it would meet up with the fuel tank, and ‘sharpened’ the tail end to match the waspish subframe. It’s capped off with a C-Racer seat pad, and a small LED taillight is embedded in the back.

A Harley-Davidson Sportster cafe racer from the Czech Republic
Other custom bits include a new oil tank (just behind the front wheel), and a custom battery box (just in front of the back wheel), housing a Lithium-ion battery. Martin also fabricated new exhaust headers, and grafted on an Akrapovič end can. And he installed Roland Sands rear sets and Kellermann turn signals to finish things off.

Martin didn’t fiddle with the Sportster’s 1200 cc motor, but he didn’t really need to either. With less overall weight, less rotational mass and better suspension, this Sportster will probably surprise you on the road—right after that green metalflake paint job kicks you in the teeth.

Rusty Pistons | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Marek Zachař (studio) and Jan Somerauer (outdoor)

A Harley-Davidson Sportster cafe racer from the Czech Republic

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