H-D Custom Gallery | Sportstermania

8 XL custom bikes we love

My first Harley-Davidson was a Sportster and although that was many years ago, I've always loved the mid-sized hog of the company herd. Judging from the number of custom XL bikes we see all the time, I'm not alone in that sentiment. Take a look at some of the ones we have on this here website (links in captions).

Stile Italiano won the Hot Bike Magazine Award at this year's Motor Bike Expo in Verona, Italy. Amongst a sea of customs that emulated various American styles, the Stile Italiano machine stood out do to it's inherent Italian style. A style that is rarely seen in a custom V-Twin. Stile Italiano customized a 1200 Harley-Davidson Sportster with some fine Italian flair, i.e. fast and sexy. It's apparent by the details that plenty of passion, experience, artistic vision and general background deep in motorcycle culture went into building this amazing machine.

harley icon sportster race bike

Courtesy of Icon

You might be unaware that the same guys who put helmets on your dome, jackets on your back, gloves on your hands, and boots on your piggies also have some of the craziest builds that can be found anywhere. Icon’s bike builds follow no rules, genres, or really make any sense to the typical bike connoisseur. Any given build may have influences from V-twins, sportbikes, dirt bikes, vintage, scooters, and everything in between, and that’s what I love about them. We took a moment to sit down with Joe Gustafson to see what the story was with this build.

The “Salinas Style.” Just what is that? Literally translated, it’s a certain build style, applying to everything from bikes to lowriders, sleds to European sports cars, originating from the agricultural region in Central California just south of San Jose. Many will be quick to credit the original Salinas Boy, Cole Foster, as the creator of the style—a less-is-more, no-nonsense approach that virtually leaves no room for excess bullshit—but he had plenty of local influence in achieving that unique look, and furthermore, he isn’t the only one to carry on that particular torch of sorts, either.

Winston Yeh of Rough Crafts was our " Builder of the Year" for 2014 and this build is another example of why. The fit and finish of Winston's bikes are nothing short of world class resulting in a machine that looks like a ultra high end production bike rather than a one-off custom. The word "artist" is often overly used to talk about motorcycles, but in this case it describes the builder perfectly. Handcrafted parts are used extensively from steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber, taking the builds to a different level of class meets function.

What is about the road less traveled that seems so appealing? Is it the sense of something new, the fear of the unknown, or the thrill of going where no one has gone before? Well Dave Zemla of Burly Brand and Progressive Suspension is not a self-proclaimed bike builder. Through his passion and years of work in the motorcycle industries, he has developed a diverse style of bike knowledge.

As a kid, Alan Beatty worked at one of the most historically well-known dirt racetracks in the world: Ascot Speedway. Now stop for a second and really imagine the thundering exhaust notes of two-wheeled racers blasting by you at breakneck speeds—not to mention seeing these same racers in the pits with their handmade machines made to chase the glorious victory, putting it all on the line.

Minimally summed up, it’s a look into what kind of impression it had on Alan when it came to building his first Sportster. “The whole theme of this bike was dirt-track related, Grand National style. Little bit of old school thrown in too. The first step was a frame.”

The bike originally was a speed trials bike. It was built for El Mirage, but it had a different frame. It had completely different sheet metal and scheme. It was more like a flat-track bike. The previous guys built it and raced El Mirage and actually held a record for a minute in the 1,200 pushrod motor class. Then it went through a transformation when it got put into this ridged frame, but it never really got finished. It was rattle-canned and held together with hose clamps with parts falling off it.

The crew over at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson has been building up these ultra-cool Sportster Scramblers that besides looking the look actually walk the walk.

Peruse our Classifieds for a used Sportster of your own.