Street Cred - A custom 2015 Harley-Davidson Street 500

The Speed Merchant Gives H-D’s 500 A Flat-Track Makeover

Say what you will about the V-Rod; it has its place in motorcycling like most any other popular mass-produced make and model. Among other things, Harley-Davidson used that platform as quite a learning lesson in water-cooled V-twin technology. So where has a decade-plus of fooling around with non-air-cooled performance taken it?

The Revolution-X found itself a new home in 2014: the Street 500, an all-new direction for The Motor Company. With high-volume traffic and warmer-climate riding conditions in mind, it appears the Street was designed with the urban H-D enthusiast as its target customer. Whether that’s true or not (at least in the North American market), the new model is enough of a departure from the norm yet still retains that true Harley-Davidson V-twin aura that we’re all fans of—so much so, in fact, that it caught the attention of Born-Free’s Mike Davis and Grant Peterson, who, after some serious thought, decided to not only get their hands on one but to have our pal Brandon Holstein over at The Speed Merchant custom re-tailor it for a very timely BF6 unveil.

Rather than attempt to interpret his interpreted vision, we’ll let Brandon “Brawny Built” Holstein tell his side of the story as to how The Thresher came to be:

“In early March 2014, we [The Speed Merchant] were approached by Mike and Grant. They asked if we'd be interested in doing something cool and unique to this new Harley-Davidson Street 500 model. Having never seen one in person, it was very intriguing. The idea that they had was something similar to an old XR750 flat-track bike.

Then it showed up at my shop with about three months to get the job done.

“I started by removing most of the stock parts from the bike: front end, wheels, bars, rear fender, battery, rear subframe, and exhaust. I replaced the stock wheels with a pair of Sun Aluminum rims with SS spokes laced up to some H-D hubs. The front end was replaced with a set of our SM mid-glide trees made for the H-D Forty-Eight Sportster. Huntington Beach Harley-Davidson was kind enough to donate the front end for the build. I topped off the front end with our SM preload adjusters. To finish up the front, I made an aluminum number plate that incorporates the overflow for the radiator and a LED driving light supplied by Lazer Star Lights. I used our radial mount brake bracket in the front and mounted a Tokico caliper to it. The bars are a custom set made in-house. The controls are off a GSXR 600/750, topped off with some Pazzo levers. Joker Machine shipped me out one of their well-designed quarter-turn throttle setups, used mainly for speedway. Next I decided to mount the tank in a different position. I raised the tank by about 4 inches to provide a more traditional stance.

“To match the line of the tank I started with the tail section next. After cutting off the stock subframe, and pulling the wiring from under the seat, I started laying out the new subframe setup. Part of the new subframe houses all of the stock wiring just under the seat. The new tail section was shaped out of aluminum. Once that was finished, I fabricated a seat pan that was handed off to Bates Leather. They nailed it with this custom tuck-and-roll design.

“To change the stance of the bike, I used some tall rear shocks supplied by Öhlins USA. They were kind enough to support this build. The taller shocks provided extra ground clearance and helped to enhance the stance of the bike. To round off the rear section of the bike, I decided to modify the rear swingarm by adding some extra bracing and hollowing out the square tubing. Then I made a battery box to mount the eight-cell Antigravity battery just above the swingarm.

"Having a brand-new model created some challenges—like trying to find a front sprocket to convert this bike to a chain drive. Luckily, I was able to find one. I used a Super Sprox rear sprocket, with a black EK 530 chain. I made a custom aluminum front sprocket cover. Rounding out the rear end is a radial brake bracket with a Tokico caliper to match the front. The last thing I fabricated was the custom exhaust. Cone Engineering donated their 2-inch core muffler for this build. I used this and recreated the front headers to fit the bike. A full stainless system is what this bike was asking for. The paint was handled by John Edwards of Old Tyme Custom Paint. We wanted to keep it simple but highlight the gold on the bike. Once the color was laid down by John we handed it over to Pacman Line & Letter Company to pinstripe and hand letter the Harley-Davidson. John then laid some pearl over the top of it all before clearing it. In the end, it was a fun project. Even though it wasn't the normal air-cooled bikes I'm used to working on, I still enjoyed building on this fresh platform. Change is a good thing! And I really like that Harley has stepped out of their normal comfort zone and is trying some new things.

“We were very happy to be apart of this year’s Born-Free show. We've seen it grow year after year into what it is now, one of the premier motorcycle shows. I don't know of too many shows where you can be surrounded by Knuckleheads, Flatheads, Twin Cams, Nortons, Triumphs, Sportsters, BSAs, a water-cooled Knuck, a brand-new model from H-D.”

So where does it go from here for Harley’s Street 500? Only time will tell, but if a responsive, lightweight, water-cooled V-twin lane-splitter is what you desire, pay your local H-D dealer a visit. The next step is clearly obvious: Hit up The Speed Merchant to help refresh that fresh-from-the-showroom look, and, more so, give it that additional performance edge it deserves.

Owner Born-Free Show
Shop The Speed Merchant, Long Beach, CA
Fabrication Brandon “Brawny Built” Holstein
Year/Make/Model 2015/H-D/Street 500
Year/Type/Size ’15/Revolution/494cc
Builder H-D
Cases H-D
Cylinders H-D
Heads H-D
Rocker Boxes H-D
Cams H-D
EFI Stock H-D
Air Cleaner Vance & Hines
Exhaust Stainless 2-into-1 by Speed Merchant
Year/Type ’15 H-D
Gears 6-speed
Clutch H-D
Primary Drive H-D
Type H-D swingarm
Rake/Stretch Stock
Frontend Sportster Forty-Eight/SM mid-glide trees & preload adjusters
Swing Arm H-D, modified by SM
Shocks Öhlins
Wheels, Tires, and Brakes
Builder/Size Sun Rims, Buchanan’s/19 in.
Tire/Size 100-19
Caliper Tokico 4-piston
Rotor H-D
Builder/Size Sun Rims, Buchanan’s/17 in.
Tire/Size 160-17
Caliper Tokico 4-piston
Rotor H-D
Sprocket Super Sprox
Color White/Gold
Paint John Edwards, Old Tyme Custom Paint, HB, CA
Plating/Polishing JD Polishing
Powdercoating Specialized Coatings
Graphics Pacman Line & Letter Co.
Rear Fender Custom handmade aluminum rear tail
Gas Tank Stock
Handlebars Custom bend by SM
Hand Controls GSXR w/ Pazzo levers
Foot Controls Stock w/ SM pegs
Headlight Lazer Star LED
Taillight Todd’s Cycle Martini
Seat Custom by Bates Leather