With the release of the Nightster, the decades-old Harley-Davidson Sportster has now fully passed the torch on to the next generation. But even though the ‘old’ Evo Sportster is starting to vanish from showroom floors, it remains iconic, and will stay a popular custom build donor for years to come.
Yesterday we showcased one of the first custom variants of the new Sporty. Today, we’re shifting focus to a scrambler based on one of the outgoing models: the Harley-Davidson XL1200CX Sportster Roadster. Built by Julian von Oheimb at One Way Machine, it’s definitive proof that the classic Sportster’s still got the goods.
Julian’s client actually discovered One Way Machine by chance. He was enamored with an older Sportster scrambler that Julian had built, and had something similar in mind. So he sourced one of the last brand new Sportster Roadsters from a German dealership, and sent it over to the OWM workshop in Staufenberg, north of Frankfurt.
“The goal was a sporty and aggressive bike,” says Julian. “One that can really ‘go’ on the road, but also works off-road. All in all, it had to be a typical OWM build—timeless design, special sheet metal work, sharp details and tasteful finishes.”
The first change was a classic Sportster mod—Julian stripped the bike down, and lopped off the rear fender struts. Then he started sourcing the right parts for the build, including an aftermarket fuel tank that looked like it would work.
In reality, the tank took a lot of fettling before it fitted as it should. The tunnel was too narrow, there was no flange to mount the fuel pump, and the mounting points had to be redesigned. Julian ticked all those boxes, then added a custom fuel cap from Handcrafted Choppers.
For the back half, he fabricated a steel tail piece that loosely blends flat tracker and scrambler aesthetics. It sits on a hidden mounting frame, and is capped off with a vintage leather seat from VP-Autosattlerei. The arrangement is elegant—from the pleated design on the seat, to the way Julian has ‘boxed in’ the back end of the tail.
Rear light and turn signal duties are handled by a pair of combination LEDs from Kellermann, mounted just aft of the upper shock mounts. The passenger pegs are gone, and the license plate’s now mounted lower down, on a bracket attached to the left of the swingarm.
In front, Julian dressed the Sportster with a shorter front fender, and a handmade number board-style headlight nacelle. Sporting a drilled design, it packs a pair of LED projectors behind a polished grill, with a cutout for the OEM speedo higher up.
Behind it you’ll find a set of Biltwell Inc. bars, fitted with new grips from Speed Dealer Customs. Julian also installed a bar-end mirror, and a complete set of levers and switches from Rebuffini. All the wiring runs inside the bars, with a pair of Kellermann turn signals hiding under the levers.
The Roadster comes standard with 19F/18R wheels, but they’re cast alloy numbers, and this project called for spokes. New rims were laced up in the same sizes, then wrapped in Heidenau K67s; trials-style tires that work on the street too. The brakes are stock, save for new front discs from Zodiac, and a new back disc from CCE.
The bike’s original upside-down front forks are still in use, but the rear’s been lifted with a new set of Öhlins shocks.
Julian also converted the Sportster from a belt to a chain drive, with a one-off rear sprocket geared for off-road use. The front sprocket guard, and the foot pegs, are Roland Sands Design parts.
Tasty bolt-on bits are sprinkled all over this build. The low-slung two-into-one exhaust came from MCJ in Italy, and includes a lever-operated valve that alters the amount of noise it makes. And the ribbed air cleaner was supplied by our good friend Winston Yeh, at Rough Crafts in Taiwan.
Julian picked typical OWM finishes for his client’s Sportster scrambler: lots of satin black, with subtle striping. BK Lack handled the former, while Chikos Pinstriping did the latter. Custom OWM badges on the tank add another unique touch.
Extra contrast comes from the ribbed cam and primary covers, and the delightfully retro rocker box covers. Created by EMD in France, they add just a hint of classic style to this 21st century Sportster.
Once the Sportster was buttoned up, Julian put it through over 120 miles of test riding, tuning and adjusting things as it went. That’s because this bike ain’t no show pony, and is already being put through its paces (on both asphalt and dirt) by its happy owner.
“The bike is a perfect daily rider,” says Julian. “It rides well, brakes well and is absolutely reliable.”
So what’s next for OWM? “I actually specialize in ‘big twin’ Harleys,” says Julian, “but every now and then I leave that path. I’m currently working on a Pan America, which will be built in the style of the Paris Dakar rally bikes.”
Here’s to the old school, and the new!