A Sportster from the daddy/son founders of BikeBound…
From the editor, Taylor Brown: At this time, I’m excited to function one in every of our own personal bikes: my 1989 Harley-Davidson XLH1200 Sportster — “Blitzen” — which my father and I constructed, working side-by-side in his residence garage throughout holidays and vacation time. Tragically, we misplaced my previous man — Rick Brown — lower than a yr after this construct. On October 16, 2017, a concrete truck pulled in entrance of his motorbike simply north of the Georgia-Florida line. Though we lived in several states, I’d ridden that very same highway, that very same morning, on this very motorbike — throughout a 1000-mile experience from North Carolina to New Orleans by way of the previous coastal highways.
For that cause, Blitzen holds a very special place within the coronary heart of the BikeBound family. It was the last motorbike my father and I worked on together. Just after the memorial — and due to a mother with nerves of steel, who gave her assent — I completed the journey to New Orleans in honor of my previous man, driving the bike we’d built.
Some of you had the pleasure of assembly my father at numerous events: Driving into Historical past, Handbuilt Present, Barber, Mid-Ohio Classic Days, or numerous shop visits. For many who didn’t meet him, I encourage you to read my current eulogy for him, revealed in Garden & Gun journal: “Two for the Road: A Son’s Eulogy for his Father.”
Backyard & Gun: “Sharing a love of motorcycles with his father brings author Taylor Brown a lifetime of lessons along the South’s back roads—including how to say goodbye.”
Under, we thought it solely truthful that I get subjected to the very same interview I’m accustomed to giving our featured builders here on BikeBound 🙂 Thanks to the stunning AJ Grey for the images.
“Blitzen Tracker”: Interview with Taylor Brown
• Please inform us a bit about your self, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
I’m 36 years previous, born and raised on the Georgia coast, and presently reside in Wilmington, North Carolina. I reside one thing of a double life, as I’m the founder/editor-in-chief of BikeBound.com by day and a novelist/writer by night time. I’ve three novels in print: Fallen Land, The River of Kings, and Gods of Howl Mountain — revealed by St. Martin’s Press.
Like many, my historical past with bikes started with my previous man, driving on the back of his numerous bikes. He once owned one of the fastest street-legal Sportsters within the state, in addition to a highly-modified Large Glide 90th Anniversary Version, a Suzuki SV650 monitor bike, a Kawasaki ZZR1200, a Ninja 1000, and a Kawasaki KZ650.
DGR 2016 with the previous man.
He was in the midst of finishing an XS650 road tracker on the time of his demise. He was a graduate of the Kevin Schwantz Superbike Faculty and Penguin Racing Faculty, and in 2014 he rode coast-to-coast, circling the nation in a journey of greater than 9000 miles.
The previous man in New Orleans throughout his cross-country journey…
Once I was a kid, I might go together with him on poker runs, post-work loops around city, and so on. In my teenagers, we obtained a pair of Honda XR200 trail bikes and spent our weekends cruising the back roads with the thumpers in town, on the lookout for places to experience. Hearth roads, borrow pits, abandoned development websites, and off-road parks have been our area. Later, I acquired my first road bike, a Kawasaki KLR250, later adopted by an 883 Sportster, and we made journeys to Daytona, Sturgis, and more. We watched certainly one of our favorites, Nicky Hayden, win the MotoGP race at Laguna Seca in 2006, and dreamed of someday attending the Isle of Man.
I founded BikeBound.com in 2015 and my dad, who’d just retired, shortly turned an in depth associate in the undertaking, appearing as our “senior correspondent” and making store visits and canopy events everywhere in the American South and beyond. My very own workshop consists of the two-car storage in the identical constructing that now serves as BikeBound’s workplace/headquarters, but for this challenge, we worked out of my father’s modest residence garage in Georgia.
• What’s the make, model, and yr of the bike?
1989 Harley-Davidson XLH1200 Sportster.
• Why was this bike built?
Blitzen was a father/son undertaking and in addition to function a type of “flagship” for BikeBound.
• What was the design idea and what influenced the construct?
With BikeBound, from the beginning, we’ve tried to emphasise customized bikes built to be ridden onerous quite than show bikes or trailer queens. In becoming with that theme, we needed a practical scrambler/tracker/bobber that was dependable sufficient to serve as a day by day commuter, snug enough for 300-mile days within the saddle, and modified to deal with some mild off-road journey — all while wanting mean-as-hell.
Before a few of the upgrades.
We’ve all the time been huge followers of muscle automobiles and scorching rods in addition to scramblers and road trackers — all of which influenced this bike. What’s more, we’d both owned and developed a passion for solid-mount, chain-drive Sportsters. The truth is, within the 90s, my previous man used to own something of a Sportster sleeper — a 100+ horsepower street-sweeper that appeared virtually utterly inventory 🙂
We didn’t got down to purchase a Four-speed donor like this one, nevertheless it was a solid-mount Evo on the proper worth. As it turns out, the Four-speed transmission makes the bike some 40+ lighter than the 5-speed fashions — though I’ve wished for the burliness of the newer gearbox at occasions.
• What customized work was carried out to the bike?
Apart from some dress-up, like the black paint on the heads and chrome covers, the engine itself is essentially stock. My previous man had dealt with hot-rodded, temperamental Harley V-twins up to now, and we needed a motorcycle that wouldn’t depart me on the stranded on the aspect of the street tons of of miles from house.
The bike does have a Dynatek ignition, aftermarket breather from the great people at Get Lowered Cycles, and I just put in a coil relocation package with new prime motor mount from Lick’s Cycles. The exhaust is a customized model of Kinetic Bikes’ 540R Laterals — inbuilt 304 chrome steel, TIG-welded, with Apex mufflers. We came up with a rear bracket welded to the frame, but constant warmth cycles and metallic fatigue triggered the bracket to fail a couple occasions. Lastly, I acquired with Joe at Performance Cycles and we came up with the thought to use a easy horn damper to rubber-mount the rear hanger, which seems to have resolved the difficulty.
This exhaust system is designed to make room for rearsets, which we acquired from Shane at Chainsikle and paired with a set of 1-inch lowered foot pegs from Randy and Alicia at Knight Design — fine-tuning the driving place for yours really. The rear shocks are 15-inch Burly Brand Stiletto shocks — the tallest they make for the Sportster. The entrance suspension is stock apart from barely heavier weight fork oil and rubber gaiters to maintain out the dust throughout dirt-road adventuring.
In the rear, we’ve got a raw aluminum Lowbrow Customs Tsunami fender — it’s designed for 2004+ Sportsters, but we modified it to suit the ’89 body, giving it a bit extra of a raked angle in the course of. On prime of that, we mount a Biltwell Banana seat. The saddle may look thin, however I’ve carried out tons of of miles a day on this setup with out concern — actually snug. Stubby fiberglass front fender for preserving the rain and grit out of my face.
We swapped the king tank the earlier owner had installed for a manufacturing unit “peanut tank.” This was meant as a short lived answer. The truth is, I spent hours buffing, sanding, and prepping a uncooked tank for clear-coat. But once we obtained it back from the painters, the stock tank and manufacturing unit colorway had grown on us. It seemed very “of the era” and we determined to maintain it. In addition to, we’re from Georgia, so the colours purple and black are in our blood 🙂
Individuals all the time ask concerning the bars. They’re the Burly Brand Scrambler bar in chrome, and they are simply my favorite handlebars ever. When it comes to driving place and really feel, they make the bike. These days I added a set of stainless handguards from JD Customs Shop — they allow me to wear thinner gloves in winter and I really like the “oversize enduro look” they provide the bike. Grips are from the Oury — the identical ones I have on all of my bicycles.
Last however not least, we just swapped the stock mags for a set of 19/16-inch spoked wheels from TC Bros, wrapped in Bates Baja tires from the superb people at Germany’s W&W Cycles. We hand-painted the sidewall lettering for that old-school muscle look.
With the wheel mounting and lettering, I’ve to thank my girlfriend, AJ Grey, who shouldn’t be only an unimaginable artist, photographer, and all-around lady — however she’s a rattling advantageous assist in the storage, too. Also, I needed to thank Ted at Savannah’s Sport Cycle, who was all the time prepared to lend a listening ear or serving to hand once we ran up towards a problem.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
“Blitzen.” The reindeer identify seemed fitting given the high and vast handlebars, virtually like chrome antlers, and the fact that we did a lot of the work over the Christmas vacation. While the bike isn’t a proper road tracker, I typically name it the “Blitzen Tracker” because it feels like Blitzen Trapper — one among my favorite bands 🙂
• How would you classify this bike?
The bike doesn’t match neatly into one of many ready-made classes. I reckon it’s a scrambler/tracker/bobber hybrid.
• Was there something accomplished throughout this construct that you’re notably pleased with?
While there are many bikes which are rather more custom-made, with tons more talent and fabrication on show, the bike is perfectly what I wanted and needed. What’s more, I’m pleased with the miles, adventures, and downright love that’s part of this bike’s story and history. It’s one I’ll never let go.
I’d like to provide a special because of a number of individuals, outlets, and corporations.