Sportster Project: She Rides!


With the wife away for the Fourth of July, I headed over to the garage, sleeping bag in tow (my garage is an hour away from my house, but close to work) determined to get the bike on the road by the end of the weekend. Well, 38 hours of wrenching, wiring, painting and sanding later I can say - mission accomplished. It wasn’t a long ride - 1/4 mile down the road to get some petrol only to realize I forgot to put the nuts on the tailight bolts (doh!) and my kickstand was scraping - but it felt damn good to actually be on the road.

There is still a lot to do before she’ll be ready for some good long riding - shorter spring for the kickstand, re-route the fuel line (little too close to the cylinders), wiring still needs some cleaning up, turn signals need to be painted, loctite, loctite, loctite, gotta put the correct grip on the throttle side… couple other things I’m forgetting - all little stuff that I can do while shaking her down. There are some bigger projects that I’ll finish over the winter - like the paint (it’s about 50% done at this point), the cam cover chop, making my own tail light and pipes (although I really dig the set I’m using now that I got from hatch)… I could go on with other winter projects, but right now, it’s just time to ride. Shake her down real good and crank up some miles - gotta make sure she runs perfect for the Gypsy Run in August.

(Click on read more for pics)

Before I get to the first round of photos, there are a lot of people I need to thank who helped out big time - not only in the hustle to get her done that weekend, but during the whole project.

Chris Nardi has been my go-to guy anytime I’ve had something go haywire or when I couldn’t figure things out. From start to finish he’s been there lending a hand, and giving out advice. I can’t tell you how many times I called him about electrical and wiring issues - I’m surprised he still takes my phone calls.

Jon B. has also been in the lab a number of weekends - lending a hand, turning wrenches and doling out the expertise. His help saved me countless hours of work with everything from bleeding the brakes to wheel alignment and a ton of stuff in-between.

Steve at Troy Fab not only for the Frisco job on the gas tank, but also being a great teacher. Making things like mounting bungs might seam insignificant, but being able to say “I made those” is (as we all know) one of the coolest things ever. Same thing goes for cutting up my pully cover. Steve led the way on both those things, but at the same time taught me how to do it myself - which is incredibly cool.

Jay Roche (aka Special ‘79) - not only for the killer set of handlebars, but also for coming out to the shop to weld in the tank mounts and the great idea on how to mount my switches control box.

Tony at Hidecore Leather - what can I say, the seat Tony made is un-fucking-believable. I would have never guessed the KB skull design would work that well on a tooled seat, but Tony is a wizard and makes magic happen. In my eyes, the shape & style of the seat really make the lines of the bike work - Tony nailed it.

Gazza, Samuel and all the QCB’rs who helped with everything from electrical instructions to general how-to’s to visual inspiration.

Jay & Truth at Choppahead for handling the wheel powder coating, tire mounting & balancing and all the little extra parts I needed - plus the help getting out that broken bolt extractor (long story).

Hatch for the great deal on the pipes and Vishous for the great deal on the lower leg shave.

Tim at Grip Ace for the amazing customer service.

Nate, Bob, Chris, Bob, & Brian who all came out during the Fourth of July weekend to help turn wrenches, deal with wiring, come up with ideas and be part of the mad dash to get her finished. A special thanks to Dave K. who helped me figure out my electrical issues via the phone. You guys are rulers - no way I would have finished her that weekend without your help.

Massive thanks to everyone. I’m so stoked to finally be able to ride, but even more stoked to have amazing friends who put aside their busy lives to help me out.

I’ll do a full build write up / tech sheet soon, but here are some quick snap shots for now.

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10 Responses to “Sportster Project: She Rides!”

  1. BadMonkeyMW says:

    Congrats Grail! My first bike was a 1994 Sportster and I still miss it sometimes. I’ll have my new Sporty project ready by next year’s Smokeout so you’ll have to bring yours down and we’ll bask in Sportster Glory together.

  2. mike says:

    Badass! One of these days I’ll talk my dad into letting me work on his (my) 89 Sportster…

  3. boogieman says:

    Looking good Grail! That seat is awesome!

  4. dog says:

    that’s sick, i’ve been waiting to see how this would turn out and it looks great. those bars are killer. nice work!

  5. german says:

    Congratulations Grail!!!you deserve that bike,U support a lot of people showing their rides and you need the kind of bike that you really like,BTW Fuck the forward controls!!!

  6. elementdependent says:

    Way to go Grail! Great Work.

  7. coachy says:

    that’s a wicked job, man. been following the buildup with mucho interest, as I’m doing a similar ‘makeover’ on my 1989 XL.

    lovin’ the bars, seat, cutdown fender w sparto look…i’m still tryin’ to get my head round ridin in the rain w/o front fender tho…

    as to yor exhaust and air cleaner combo, IMHO it rocks and you need no more.

    great bike, great finish, good luck with finishing touches. keep the shineysideup!

  8. stevecannae says:

    Looks killer….slowly working on my ‘76…maybe get to ride by the end of the summer…maybe…

  9. Jon B. says:

    Yo Grail i finally got a moment to sit back and check out these photos and read up. That thing is bad ass i am chomping at the bit to hear those killer pipes. we will have to get together sometime for a ratbike ride. take care

  10. micah s. says:

    what type of seat pan did they use, or was it custom molded?

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