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Sportster d’eleganza: A slick 70s Harley ironhead bobber

1976 Harley ironhead Sportster bobber
Copper Chopper wowed us earlier this month with an impossibly elegant SR400 bobber, built from scratch and laden with tasty handcrafted bits. It was Alexey and Igor’s first commissioned build since taking their shop from sideline gig to full-time business. Before that, they’d simply build a bike according to their own taste, sell it and move on to the next one.

That’s how this spunky Harley ironhead bobber came to be. Copper Chopper started with a beat-up donor bike, transformed it with a selection of salvaged and custom parts, and put it up for sale. And, unsurprisingly, it’s already found its new home.

1976 Harley ironhead Sportster bobber
The shiny machine you’re looking at here truly is a far cry from the original 1976-model Harley-Davidson XLCH1000 Sportster that Alexey sourced for the project.

“When I bought it it was in a very poor condition,” he tells us. “Most of the parts were rusty, the heads were leaking oil and the front end was damaged.”

1976 Harley ironhead Sportster bobber
The guys started by pillaging Alexey’s 2013-model Sportster for parts—specifically its forks and rear shocks. They shaved the brake mounts off the fork lowers, polished them up, and mounted a 21” front wheel with a tiny drum brake hub, bought from Lowbrow Customs.

There’s a brand new reproduction 16” wheel out back, also equipped with a drum brake. The tires are vintage-style Firestones.

1976 Harley ironhead Sportster bobber
The old ironhead mill looks clean enough to eat off—but it didn’t start out that way. It underwent a full rebuild inside and out, and an intensive bout of polishing and painting. It’s also sporting an S&S Cycle carb, a choke from Lowbrow Customs and an electronic ignition.

Every last nut and bolt was replaced with new parts, as well as bits like the kickstart pedal, shifter nub and foot pegs. Adorning the outside of the motor are new polished covers, a Copper Chopper ignition cover, and a pair of stubby custom-made exhaust headers.

1976 Harley ironhead Sportster bobber
Sitting up top are a custom-made fuel tank, seat and rear cowl. Everything is remarkably well-proportioned—like how the curve of the tail section subtly mimics the curve of the tank. A lick of blue and white paint adds even more chicness to this svelte bobber, without going over the top.

“I didn’t want this motorcycle to look too custom,” explains Alexey, “but rather as if Harley-Davidson themselves made it back in the day. That’s why I made the tank, fender and exhaust design more traditional and classy.”

1976 Harley ironhead Sportster bobber
That sensibility is echoed in the Sportster’s cockpit. Alexey fabricated a set of narrow, direct-mount handlebars out of stainless steel, equipping them with new grips and custom levers. With an internal throttle and a well-hidden kill switch, the whole setup is as minimalist as it gets.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, Alexey really loves the look of polished stainless steel. “There wasn’t enough stainless porn up front for me,” he admits, “so I made a full stainless polished mirror, since I’d had this idea in mind for a long time. I can only see silhouettes behind me, but that’s enough.”

1976 Harley ironhead Sportster bobber
The front end also wears a classic chromed headlight, with a salvaged taillight attached to a side-mounted license plate bracket out back. The full package is flawless; a timeless ride that would look equally good outside a café as it would in a living room.

But Copper Chopper haven’t built it just to look at. Thanks to the suspension and engine upgrades, Alexey reports that this vintage ironhead is a joy to ride. We’re ever so slightly jealous of its new owner.

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1976 Harley ironhead Sportster bobber

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