Now if Mattel had ventured off into the real world knocking out 1:1 scale bikes like this rather charming Hot Wheels Sportster our photographer, Cap’n Jack Cofano, captured at the Smoke Out 17, I think they might have gotten my attention. Some bikes just do that to you instantly and this mystery build Hot Wheels Harley-Davidson Sportster certainly does that for me. Like a toy to a kid, this bike looks 100% pure fun to me. And, it looks like it should be a Hot Wheels model as there’s just that bit of a frivolous styling like that looks like it could have come from the skilled hands of legendary Hot Wheels designer (and car customizer and designer) Harry Bentley Bradley.
One thing I like especially about this build is that it could be professionally done or built in a garage by somebody with talent and taste and maybe a few helpful friends. It’s built with riding, hard riding, in mind yet it could still attract a crowd if you wanted to. There’s just enough modifications done like the gorgeous 23-inch spool hub front wheel to take it out of the “Live to Ride” or Maltese Cross collection of home-built bikes yet it’s not a marriage-breaker or anything like that. It’s done on a budget with a lot of cool design choices made to take it right out of the “done on a budget” look. I doubt the owner would have done anything different even if he or she had a bigger budget ─ this is exactly the bike they wanted.
I do appreciate the builder didn’t take the expected hard tail route and stayed with the stock swingarm. I also appreciate they chucked the OEM shocks in the bin and replaced them with a nice pair of Burly Brand suspenders that have got to improve the ride, handling, and ass comfort level. Plus it keeps things simple and that’s important when you don’t want to spend years building something in your garage. And remember, not everyone has a fleet of bikes.
Although there’s a dynamite roller coaster of a 2-into-1 exhaust taking up the right side, I don’t think the engine’s been messed with too much. It looks pretty stock, but looks can be deceptive. If for any reason this engine has all the speed parts from the suppliers like CP pistons, Carrillo rods and many more whose decals are stuck on the stock oil tank, this would be a total hooligan on the street. But, I think the small carb rules that out. Hopefully I’m wrong. The one thing that makes me wonder, though, is the bevy of oil lines running to the side-mount oil cooler on the right downtube. All the visual action of the Russell braided stainless oil lines with blue and red anodized fittings adds a nice bit of serious hot-rod style with real world practicality. It’s cool to stay cool.
The choice of tire sizes was a damn fine one with Dunlop providing a pair of modern day sneakers from their snazzy American Elite line that would enhance any back road ride while still looking good parked. The front make be brakeless, but it wasn’t because the builder was just looking for the easy and cheapest way out. He paid a nice chunk of change for the complete Wildwood four-piston rear brake and master cylinder setup. If you’re only going to have one brake, it better be a good one and this one is.
Things were kept neat and clean using a set of cleaned-up stock Sporty forks and reusing the stock headlight and eyebrow. It’s a good look and throwing a ton of money at this end would have looked extravagantly silly. With a little work, some things look just right as is and so it is with this bike. Same goes for the iconic Sporty tank which has been mounted with an eye to a bit of chopper aggression on the top tube. Everything’s now on a straight flow aft albeit at an angle and allows the engine to publicly air itself out while looking more big-block Harley than Sporty. Kinda cool stuff going on here and all it took was a good eye.
Speaking of the builder having a good eye for style, check out the kicked-up and severely shortened ducktail rear fender. It’s pretty damn cool cause the ducktail which has its fans and detractors has been turned into something else entirely. It’s now more spoiler than ducktail although why you’d need a real spoiler on a motorcycle is a mystery to me. Here’s it’s all a neat bit of metal whimsy that adds just the right amount of Hot Wheels custom nuttiness to the mix. Like the late-great Phil Hartman said, “It’s sassy!”
The solo seat pad sits a comfortable reach away to the almost bicycle-like mini apes wearing not much more than sparkly white grips and down to the stock mid-controls. I don’t know about you, but when I see a bike like this with mid-controls I know it was built for street beating more than cruising although it can do both. Forward controls don’t make me immediately think hooligan like these do and maybe I’m just projecting my own standards, but I’m sticking with it.
One thing I really like is the paintjob done on this bike. It’s a styling dream with the Hot Wheels logo sitting on the tank with its snazzy asymmetrical design providing backup. The colors and scheme are Goldilocks perfect including the design on the rear fender. It’s just enough of everything in the right colors and looks like a Hot Wheels paintjob done on a full size motorcycle. Combine that with the plethora of performance decals and you got just the right amount of busy. I’m not usually a decal guy, but here it looks just great.
So maybe I totally missed the Hot Wheels era, but when I see the logo on a full size motorcycle especially a Sporty like this one, I don’t feel like I missed out on a thing. This would still be one pair of Hot Wheels even if the originals had never been invented and pushed out into the world by the bazillions like Mattel has done. I don’t have any interest in playing with tiny cars on a plastic race track, but I do like riding real Hot Wheels on the road. This is a perfectly done rendition that I’d be proud to call my own.