Depending on your perspective, this story starts with either a cream puff or a turd. It ends, however, with a really cool hardtail bobber, no matter who you are. We’ll talk more about the cream puff/turd controversy in a moment. For now, what you really need to know is that this bike was created by Adam Karns from a ’96 Harley Sportster. He’d wanted to cut a Sportster in half and make it a hardtail bobber for years. Adam just never had the opportunity to do so with the other Sportsters that have passed through Karns Kustoms over the years. He finally bought this one just for that reason.
Like a good Russian bride, the bike was purchased on eBay sight unseen. It only had 3,500 miles on it at the time and the guy told Adam it was a cream puff. And he was right. That is, if your definition of a cream puff is a steaming dung nugget. When Adam showed up to claim his purchase, the bike looked like it had sat out in salty air for at least a year. The gas tank was leaking due to a rusty hole in it, the engine covers were all stained, the front forks and wheels were pitted, and the fenders and seat were in terrible shape. Needless to say, the two guys had a rather vigorous talk about what is and is not a cream puff. However, on closer inspection the bike seemed to run well and shift well and the internals seemed great. Since the frame, engine, and transmission were all that Adam really would be taking from this bike, he eventually agreed to purchase it after their heated argument.
Now, anyone with a working colon and a sweet tooth can turn a cream puff into a turd. Doing the opposite is what takes real skill. Adam has that in abundance, as you can see. The hardest part of the build was getting the gas tank to look right on the frame and make sure it wasn’t too big or too small and would hold enough gas to actually make the bike ridable. Adam and his crew also had to keep thinking ahead to the next step since they hid so much stuff behind other stuff to give the finished Sporty that super-clean look. He says, “We accomplished what we set out to do with this bike—make it a great-looking, light, fast new-school bobber that is truly a ‘LiL’ Hot Rod and a blast to ride!”
Every part of the bike has been modified except for the transmission and tires. The ’96 Sportster frame was cut in half and its rear section was replaced with a Led Sled rigid unit that Karns Kustoms modified by adding a pan under the seat with speed holes, custom battery box, seat tabs, and fender tabs. And just for the hell of it, the kickstand was welded on to the right side of the bike. “Hey, it’s a custom,” Adam said. “Why not put it on the right side?” All of the frame welding was done in house, as was the molding of those welds.
Mounted to the front of the frame is a DNA springer in matte black that’s 4 inches under stock length. Karns Kustoms tore the springer apart and powdercoated the springs matte black to match the rest of the matte black on the springer as the chrome springs just didn’t flow with what Adam was looking for. He modified an internal stop from a Softail to fit the Sportster frame to allow the forks to stop from side to side without hitting the frame. The forks are set up to accept a front brake if he ever decides to add one in the future.
Adam matched the suspension with a set of DNA Specialty front and rear matte black rims and hubs with stainless spokes that he had Jason Wharton add a green pinstripe to on the rims. Adam wanted that 23-inch front wheel look without the headaches of running a wheel that big, so he ran a 21x3.5-inch wheel, which makes the front wheel look huge on this little bike. He also ran the rear brake lines through special tubes in the frame to give the bike a super-clean look.