Harley Davidson has a rich motorsport history, mainly within the USA. Their engine design’s inherent torque has made them hard to beat in drag racing and hill climb events. Harley are also the kings of flat track racing. These sporting championships are very big in America. Harley Davidson has built its success on its large cruisers. Occasionally they have tried to capitalise on their racing success by producing a more racy sports oriented model. No matter how good or capable these race replicas for the road are, they have never been successful sellers. The Harley market seems perfectly content with the feet forward riding position of the traditional Harleys.
The latest model to fall victim to this lack of market support for Harley sports motorcycles is the XR1200. This raceable Harley was launched into Europe in 2008 and the US market in 2009. Even the fact that this was the best handling, braking and performing Harley model ever manufactured could still not prevent the XR1200 from being killed off in 2012 due to lack of interest.
It is interesting to
note how much of Harley’s racing success, even on the drag strip, has been
achieved with motorcycles based on the smaller capacity Sportster models. It is
thus appropriate that our featured Harley cafe racer be Sportster based. This
black beauty was built by Pro Bike, a well established Suzuki dealership in
Welkom which is producing some mighty fine and diverse cafe racers. Boerkie
Prinsloo of Pro Bike is especially proud that almost all aspects of their
builds are executed by themselves. They do all the machining,
fabrication, welding, moulding and painting inhouse. This is one of the best
looking and handling Harley based cafe racers that we have seen locally and
internationally. Yamaha FZR 1000 EXUP front and rear suspension, brakes and
wheels have been installed. The longer Yamaha swingarm required the
installation of a chain drive instead of the Harley belt drive.The original
Harley tank has a larger Pro Bike moulded cover installed. The original tank
just looked too small. A Hayabusa front fender was used to create the mould for
the tail section.
With the exhausts winding through the frame where the oil tank used to be, the belly pan under the motor now contains all the oil. This cafe racer is good looking from all angles.
The view from the saddle is not typically Harley. Clip-on handlebars put the rider in the “ready to race” position. The Acewell digital speedo contains the rev counter and all the idiot lights in one gauge. Note the finish and detail. The aluminium cover on the brake fluid reservoir was machined to match the cover on the rear shock gas cannister.
The typical Sportster headlight is about the only original Harley element that has been retained on the front end of this cafe racer.
Even the air cleaner is a Pro Bike creation. The 59 is the owner’s year of birth.
The Yamaha monoshock suspension is one of the best. Note the machined aluminium gas cannister cover.
Perhaps it is a good thing that Harley have failed in their quest to produce a sports model which truly captures the hearts of the market. This provides individuals and professional builders with the opportunity to also take up the challenge and create their own interpretation of what a Harley street legal racer should be. This café racer comes close.