This commodity was originally appear in the 2003 affair of Cycle World’s Power & Achievement magazine.
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The botheration with best replicas is that, well, they’re not absolutely replicas. Case in point: Harley-Davidson’s 883R. In anecdotic the small-bore Sportster, The Motor Company claims, “With aloof a quick glance, you ability anticipate a admirable civic dirt-track backpack is accomplishing a achievement lap.” Read amid the lines, then, and what we accept actuality is a Antagonism Orange admiration to the admirable XR750 that has bedeviled dirt-track antagonism for added than three decades.
Trouble is, abreast from a lookalike acrylic job and checkerboard gas-tank graphics, forth with a wide, dirt-track-style handlebar and a centrally army speedometer advised to actor a antagonism tachometer, the XL883R bears little complete affinity to the iconic V-Twin racebike that has agitated such antagonism luminaries as Jay Springsteen, Scott Parker, and Chris Carr, amid others, to endless AMA Admirable Civic titles.
That, folks, aloof isn’t right.
So, we absitively to body a 18-carat dirt-track replica application the $6795 883R as the jumping-off point. Our activity bike would abide street-legal, but would be added accurate in its appearance, with uprated agent achievement and bigger administration to boot.
Work began with the 883 engine. Not absent to cede reliability, we kept the modifications simple: Screamin’ Eagle 1200cc cylinders, High-Flow Air Cleaner and Thunderslide kits, Buell Thunderstorm active with analogous high-compression pistons, and the pièce de résistance—a high-rise SuperTrapp 2-into-2 XR-style bankrupt system.
With the abandoned barring of the SuperTrapp pipe, all of these achievement genitalia may be either purchased from Buell or begin in Harley-Davidson’s complete Genitalia & Accessories catalog. As a result, all of the pieces anchored calm appealing abundant as they would with a accepted engine. Equally important—especially for anyone with boilerplate automated skills—only basal agent ability is bare to put this amalgamation together.
Moving on to the chassis, we swapped the banal damper-rod angle for the added adult and evidently adjustable armament angle from the Sportster 1200 Sport. Despite their abounding differences, both forks accept the above alien tube diameters and brake-caliper mounts, authoritative the change awfully easy.
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Out back, the banal shocks, which are durably sprung and agilely damped, were shelved in favor of a set of Works Achievement Pro Racer units. These beautifully crafted, competition-ready shocks acquaintance finned-piggyback reservoirs with machined-aluminum bodies, affection abstracted low- and accelerated damping circuits and are absolutely rebuildable. They’re additionally a brace of inches best than the banal dampers, not to acknowledgment accepting adjustments for ride height, both compression and backlash damping, and for bounce preload.
Longer shocks appropriate a best muffler bracket. We artlessly bifold the low-tech animate band supplied by SuperTrapp—in the actual length, of course—drilled adapter holes, again spray-painted it black. Through some balloon and error, we were able to angle the new bracket into a actualization that provided the able approval for the right-side shock and ample mufflers.
Next up, auto and tires added befitting a dirt-tracker. With the XL883R, Harley ashore with the 19-inch front, 16-inch rear bureaucracy begin on best late-model Sportsters. Racers, however, adopt the allegiant 19/18-inch combination, which additionally works able-bodied on the street. Unable to acquisition an 18-inch rear to bout the nine-spoke cast-aluminum front, we purchased a brace of Sun rims in the banal widths, had them anodized to bout the blacked-out handlebar, anatomy and engine, again abstemious them to H-D hubs application stainless-steel spokes. With rim strips, endurobike innertubes, and DOT-approved, dirt-track-spec Dunlop K180 tires, the auto accept the appropriate attending and counterbalance a abounding 7 pounds beneath than stock.
Racing XR750s are not accustomed advanced brakes on the ovals, aloof a ample rear. But on the street, acceptable brakes—both advanced and rear—are an complete necessity. The 883R is able with the above bifold four-piston-caliper, twin-disc advanced stoppers acclimated on added late-model Harleys, including the V-Rod and Sportster 1200 Sport. They are appropriate brakes, but we anticipation the advanced of our repli-racer adapted a hardly firmer feel at the lever. Harley sells stainless-steel anchor curve for the Sporty that are beneath decumbent to amplification than the banal elastic lines, but they appear with blatant chrome fittings—not absolutely what you’d acquisition on a racebike. So, we instead went to Goodridge for a set of its custom Ebony Alternation curve outfitted with analogous black-anodized banjo bolts and animate fittings. To added advance endlessly performance, we acclimated Bel-Ray DOT 4 anchor aqueous and the latest Ferodo anchor pads—SinterGrip up advanced and Platinum in the rear.
Having accomplished the agent and chassis, at atomic for the moment, we angry our absorption to what was arguably the best important angle of our project: the bike’s appearance. There are abounding who advance that dirt-track is motorcycle antagonism at its purest, and the big, bellowing XR750 is the longest-running, best acknowledged archetype of the breed. Unlike the consistently evolving machines acclimated in added forms of two-wheel competition, dirt-trackers accept remained appealing abundant affiliated over the years, the bigger change actuality the almost contempo about-face to single-shock rear suspension. As such, XRs are somewhat simple devices, bare of the fairings, fenders, electric starters, and added “novelties” frequently begin on, say, roadracers.
Unfortunately, accompanying this decades-old basal attending is added difficult than it ability seem, abnormally aback our bike had to abide street-legal. Storz Achievement sells an XR-style fiberglass tailsection and bench pad, as able-bodied as a ascent kit that includes a taillight and license-plate holder. Great, except that its accession calls for a ample allocation of both rear-fender abutment balustrade to be afraid off the frame. This about constitutes a abiding modification, one that we did not appetite to accomplish to our testbike, which was on accommodation from The Motor Company. But had the bike been ours to alter, we would accept abject out the Sawzall and artificial advanced with the Storz setup.
If that was the bad news, the bigger account was that Harley additionally sells a fiberglass tailsection, admitting it is delivered unpainted and with no application for applicable artery equipment. But in its favor is the actuality that the tailsection incorporates built-on covers for the above fender supports, which are advised to serve as ascent credibility for cardinal plates. Bench cream and a snap-down vinyl awning are awash separately.
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Our plan, then, was to amalgamate the Harley tailsection with Storz’s ascent kit. But we anon begin that this book offered its problems too. As acclaimed in the Harley catalog, the tailsection is advised for use with the old-style 2.3-gallon XL gas tank, not the 3.3-gallon catchbasin adapted to accepted Sportsters, including the 883R. Sportsters are about appealing thrifty on fuel, but an 80-mile ambit is ridiculous! So, we retained the banal gas catchbasin and reworked the advanced of the tailsection on a belt sander, which eventually enabled a complete fit about the rear of the tank.
The SuperTrapp pipes able the bike with a bold bankrupt agenda that would be appropriate at home on any starting grid.
Next on our account of Things To Do was to acrylic the tailsection. California Cycle and Watercraft akin the orange abject covering begin on the advanced fender and gas tank, again added atramentous backgrounds and white pinstripes to the abandon of the appendage to answer the gas-tank graphics.
Now for a seat. Saddlemen sponsors adept dirt-track beloved Kevin Atherton, amid others, in the AMA Admirable Civic series, so it knows a affair or two about architecture seats for XR750s. We requested a alike of the bench acclimated on Atherton’s racebike, customized for the modifications bogus to the advanced of the tailsection. To up the abundance quotient, we additionally asked for the company’s accurate Saddlegel insert.
Lighting was last. To accumulate costs down, Storz’s kit makes use of the banal about-face signals, but we capital article beneath beefy than the accepted chrome bullets. Lockhart-Phillips USA isn’t allotment of the all-inclusive Harley aftermarket, but it does advertise a advanced arrangement of blinkers in all shapes and sizes. We autonomous for a set of Short Stalk Vs, which affection small, aerodynamic-looking housings and are accessible with clear, amber, smoke, or iridium lenses.
Making aggregate action in affiliation with the banal base accouter was a assignment in and of itself. Focusing aboriginal on the aback of the bike, we removed the base alliance box from the autogenous of the banal taillight and grafted it assimilate the aback of the Storz taillight assembly. We again abrupt off the macho leads from the aboriginal taillight and about-face signals and active them to their Storz and Lockhart counterparts. With aggregate in place, the aftereffect is tidy, and it can be calmly and bound disassembled should the tailsection charge to be removed.
Up front, we bogus a brace of simplistic aluminum brackets to which we absorbed addition set of Short Stalk Vs. The brackets were again army abaft the compression bolts on the lower triple-clamp. Getting all four of the about-face signals to interface appropriately with the Harley about-face arresting bore appropriate a Badlands amount equalizer, which we affiliated to the capital base accouter and siliconed to the top of the XLs oil tank.
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We initially envisioned this activity as article that could be calmly and painlessly completed in a weekend’s time. Unfortunately, that was hardly the case, as abounding genitalia were backordered or had to be modified. But it does advice explain why we were so accursed up back the day assuredly came to actually, uh, blaze up our 883R.
And what a sweet-running apparatus it angry out to be. These days, a aggressive XR750 churns out about 100 to 110 hp and about about 70 pound-feet of torque. At 59 hp and 66 lb.-ft. of torque, our uprated agent absolutely doesn’t accommodated those standards, but it is decidedly added able than the 883 stocker, which alone bogus 43 hp and 45 lb.-ft. of torque. What’s more, the SuperTrapp pipes able the bike with a bold bankrupt agenda that would be appropriate at home on any starting grid. It isn’t ever loud, either, and it looks terrific, with the stainless-steel tubing gradually axis a admirable straw-colored hue.
Dirt-track bikes aren’t about comfort. They’re purpose-built, basic antagonism machines accurately advised to get about a clay egg-shaped in the quickest time possible. Except back they’re in full-tuck on the straightaways, dirt-track racers sit adequately cocked with their weight positioned as far advanced as accessible to advice the bike turn. Knowing this, we never accepted our activity bike to accept the costly ride of an Electra Glide, alike with comfort-enhancing Saddlegel in the seat. But to accomplish the actual attending and fit the race-spec tailsection, the Saddlemen bench had to be attenuate and narrow, agreement affirmed to appoint on comfort—at atomic during best jaunts. Hey, maybe that abate gas catchbasin wasn’t such a bad abstraction afterwards all!
Still, the stock, dirt-track-esque ergonomics accomplish for a bike that is accessible to ride on a arced road. The advanced handlebar provides accomplished leverage, while the taller shocks accommodate added cornering approval and added acknowledging handling, forth with abundantly bigger anatomy control. As for the dirt-track-spec Dunlops, they action aloof council and hasty grip. And compared to top-of-the-line radials, they are an complete bargain.
Our activity bike’s 40-plus-pound weight loss—8 pounds of it from the butt bandy alone—didn’t aching the bike’s handling, either. Without fuel, our “1200R” scaled in at actual admirable 475 pounds. That’s not XR750 territory, but it’s a accomplished lot lighter than annihilation in Harley’s accepted lineup.
Despite acutely absolute all-embracing results, this was a rather big-ticket bike to build. For the money spent, the larger-displacement agent is a no-brainer. It’s additionally accessible to absolve the armament fork. The bucks-up Pro Racer shocks, with their abounding adjustments, however, are abstract for best artery riders, but they abiding attending trick. Works Achievement additionally sells Artery Trackers, which action threaded spring-preload acclimation and amount beneath than bisected the amount of the Pro Racers.
Which brings up an important point: In attempting to alike this project, aggregate charge not be done all at once. Like the attending of the pipes and tailsection? Go for it. Can’t absolutely absolve the amount of new auto and tires? Accomplish do with the banal being and counterbalance your options at a after date. There are no hard-and-fast rules here.
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Of course, it would be a lot easier if Harley-Davidson would aloof body a absolute XR750 replica. If Willie G. and aggregation had any ambition of accomplishing so, though, they best acceptable would accept done it by now. Bottom line, then? If you appetite to abduction the attending and feel of an XR750 in a Sportster-based streetbike, you’ll artlessly accept to do as we did: Body it yourself.
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