Too small, it’s a girls bike, half a Harley, I’ve heard all the slanderous talk about Sportsters from the insecure biker bro’s trying to convince themselves that riding the biggest bike with the biggest wheels will somehow justify their bedazzled Affliction shirt and ornate jeans with all the yarn on the pockets. But no matter how loud your stereo is the Sportster remains undeniable. I could go into the horsepower to weight ratio and handling prowess when compared to a “Big Twin” but nothing highlights the versatility and awesomeness of the XL platform like our recent hooligan build for XGames.
When we got the XGames invite we didn’t have a bike in the stable suitable for hooligan racing so we put out the bat signal and our Midwest homeboy and fellow Sportster enthusiast from Iowa, Brad Gregory, through in a big way offering up one of his bikes. It turns out the bike already had an interesting history in the short time Brad had owned it. Brad bought the bike as a hack job of a hardtail and converted it back to a swingarm bike to ride on Biltwell’s El Diablo Run . And ride it he did, Brad and the bike were fresh off a 4,500 mile round trip to Mexico and back. Needless to say the bike wasn’t exactly a race bike….yet.
We made the trek from Eastern Wisconsin through Iowa and over to the Nebraska border to pick up the long haul machine, just 12 days before it was supposed to be on the track in Minneapolis. Once back in the land of cheese and beer, it got a quick tear down to start the conversion from highway miler to hooligan race bike. The job of turning it into a hooligan bike was more about taking parts off than putting them on but the parts that were going to be put back on had to be purposeful. At this point we had 5 days left to put the bike back together and we needed parts. First off, we needed a set of 19″ wheels and dirt track tires. Fortunately, we had to look no farther than OG hooligan and fabrication ninja Hunter Klee who is just up the road in Lacrosse, WI. In addition to being a rad dude Hunter is also all things exhaust at S&S Cycle and as luck would have it he had one of those for us too. The next day Tim from Gigacycle hit us up and told u about a Leroy Tracker front end he just finished specifically designing for dirt track racing and offered us the chance at having one of the first ones. Needless to say we jumped at the chance and he shipped it out in an hurry. Next we needed to swap the tank and bars. There was a 3.3 gallon tank on the bike for the highway use and we needed the smaller 2.2 version to get us farther forward on the bike. As luck would have it we had what we needed hanging on the garage wall. There was a tank I had been dragging around with me for 17 years that had belonged to the second bike I ever owned, I took it off for the larger tank but was sentimentally attached to the tank even with its iconic Eddie Van Halen paint job the previous owner had adorned it with. For bars, I was eyeballing stealing the Biltwell Tracker High bars on my Dyna but I thought better of it and, grabbed a spare set of random low bars I had in my parts stash. All I had left to address was the rear end of the bike, I stole my Fox RC1 shocks off my Dyna and chopped of a spare fender Brad had sent with me, there was already a Biltwell banana seat on it so I just swapped his bear claw looking pegs out for some PM jobs I also had in my stash so I wouldn’t rip the skin off my body in the event of a get off. The last touch was a classic S&S teardrop air cleaner, the open style that was on there was fine except I was worried about it getting packed with dirt over the course of a race weekend. The bike rolled off the lift and got a few rips up and down the road before we loaded it up just in time to leave for the race in the morning.
In a matter of days the little Sporty had went from capable highway machine to hooligan race bike and in the matter of a few weeks it had gone on a 4,500 mile trip to Mexico to racing on a XGames racetrack. No way around it, the Sportser rules.