Everything You Know Is Wrong

Written by  Story By Johnny Pants Photos By Jack “Except Me” Cofano Friday, 10 November 2017 17:14
Published in Sportsters
  What you see is not always what you get is an old saying that certainly holds true here. On a cursory glance of the .jpg of the right side of this bike I thought it was some cool old crock and decided to check it out. Then I noticed it and felt a bit surprised at myself for not having seen it like some kind of Harley expert would in a half-a-millisecond. The bulbous primary of a Sportster engine from the infamous AMF era was a “Hey!” moment. There was a lot more going on here than some nice old bike. 


   How this whole crazed configuration of Harley bits from two completely different eras ended up together has got to have a great story behind it. But, since we only know the name of the owner and builder, Michael Roberts of Underground Motor Cycles and not much else, that story will never be known unless Mr. Roberts

gets in touch. In the meantime, though, just check it out. The combination of kinda old and really old along with a bit of new make for a modern retro custom that looks like it should have come that way from the factory. 

     I find I stand a pretty good chance of jumping to conclusions as I’m getting old now and don’t want to think about anything too long. So, the-closer-to-vintage-than-modern 1000cc Ironhead engine from the early to mid-‘70s is what I’m going with. It’s a perfect little bit of Old School finishes in natural aluminum with a touch of muy macho black barrels to top it off. Other than chrome pushrod tubes, the only other bits of chrome are the traditional H-D round air cleaner and the relatively short, yet aggressive looking 2-into-1 fishtail exhaust. Me like. 

   Mr. Roberts kept things simple by carefully dumping the engine in a rigid frame that I think is something other than OEM, but perfect for the job at hand. Can’t say the same about that genuine oldie-but-a-goody H-D springer up front, though, as just the patina (or rust as some call it) on the springs gives it a hint of barn find look. Yeah, they would have been nice all cleaned up and painted or chromed, but Mr. Roberts took an interesting chance just leaving them as is and I like his decision. 

  Another interesting choice is the use of a stock drum brake laced wheel up front while out back, there’s one more in a classic wires with a sorta modern disc brake politely hanging underneath the rear triangle so as not to spoil the lines of the frame. Nicely done sir. Black rims give it that vintage vibe, but it does wear a set of Dunlops that look like they could be brand new Harley-Davidson takeoffs. The classic Firestone Deluxe-style repro tires might look nicer, but they’d never handle, brake or rode as well as these 21st Century tires. That makes me think somebody really did intend to use this as a motorcycle of all things. 

    All the other famous Harley-Davidson styling touches of post WWII are beautifully incorporated from the outrageous springer fender to the split tanks to the hinged rear fender plus a few others are all there. Mount that high headlight over the prominent grilled horn and make constructive use of old chain by turning it into a battery box are a few of those touches. A simple paint job of gloss black nicely complimented by slashes of red striping on the fenders and tank with original-style Harley tank graphics looks nicely vintage. 

  Meanwhile, modern stuff like “vintage” floorboards and simple, but effective foot controls along with a nice set of comfy bars and a cushy-looking seat make me want to hop on board and give the old girl a whirl. It’s quite a complete package of parts that really work well together more than you would think it would if somebody told you, “Hey, I’m gonna stick my old Sporty engine in my Uncle Joe’s old rigid Harley. I guess I’d be too busy thinking about what possible shortfalls there would be unlike Michael Roberts who just built the damn thing and made it work really well. 

  For more info on Underground Motor Cycles visit http://www.underground-cycles.com/ or do it socially.

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