Harley Davidson Cafe Racer based on a Sportster 883 - MotoMatter
Harley Davidson Cafe Racer based on a Sportster 883


It’s not often that you see a Harley Davidson Cafe Racer, which a shame if you see this bike.

This custom Harley Davidson is the work of Italian custom workshop Passion 4 Custom. Not only has this bike thrown my “Harleys are bulky” theory out of the water it’s also a really well balanced mix of custom styles.


The clip-ons, Kawasaki tank and wasp tail seat are all unmistakably Cafe Racer influenced. The foot controls and the bikes stance suggest it’s of the Bobber breed and those lovely twin pipes, mounted high on the side are reminiscent of Scrambler styling.


The rear view of the bike is probably the one that impresses the most. Aside from the bars, pipes and rear shocks, the entire bike is about the same width as the rear tire!! Overall length has been (visually) reduced by chopping the rear loop, the seat cowl now functions as a rear fender, cables are minimised by removing gauges (who needs a speedo anyway?) and the rear indicators have been built in to the frame where the rear loop was removed.


The weight reductions on this build would be huge so handling and acceleration improvements and while it’s not going to handle like it’s on rails it could hold it’s own with many of the Japanese based builds we showcase here.



The Sportster is a line of motorcycles produced continuously since 1957 by the Harley-Davidson Motor Company. Sportster models are designated in Harley-Davidson’s product code by beginning with “XL”. In 1952, the predecessors to the Sportster, the Model K Sport and Sport Solo motorcycles, were introduced. These models K, KK, KH, and KHK of 1952 to 1956 had a flat head engine, whereas the later XL Sportster models use an overhead valve engine. The first Sportster in 1957 featured many of the same details of the KH including the frame, fenders, large gas tank and front suspension.

Sportster motorcycles are powered by a four-stroke, 45 degree V-twin engine in which both connecting rods, of the “fork and blade” or “knife & fork” design, share a common crank pin. The original Sportster engine was the Ironhead engine, which was replaced with the Evolution engine in 1986. Sportster engines, the 45″ R, D, G & W Models 1929 side-valve motors, and the ‘Big Twin’ side-valve motors, which were: the flathead 74 cu in (1,213 cc) Models V, VL etc. (1930–1936), Models U and UL (1937–1948), and the 80 cu in (1,311 cc) models VH and VLH (1935–1936), models UH and ULH (1937–1941) have four separate cams, sporting one lobe per cam.

The cam followers used in Sportster engines, K models, big twin side valve models, and the side-valve W model series were a slightly shorter version of the followers used in the larger motors, but with the same 0.731-inch (19 mm) diameter body and 0.855-inch (22 mm) diameter roller follower since 1929. The company used similar cam followers for decades with minor changes, from the 1929 to the Eighties.

Sportster engines retained the K/KH design crankcase design, in which the transmission is contained in the same casting as the engine, and driven by the engine with a triple-row #35 chain primary drive and a multi-plate cable-operated clutch. Models since 1991 have five speeds; 1990 and earlier models had four speeds.

The engine was mounted directly to the frame from 1957 through the 2003 model year. While this system allows the bike to be somewhat lighter with more precise handling, it also transmits engine vibration directly to the rider. Sportsters released in 2004 and later use rubber isolation mounts and tie links to limit engine movement to a single plane, which greatly reduces vibration felt by the rider. Buell motorcycles built with variants of the Sportster engine have used a rubber mount system since 1987.

The Model K, from which the Sportster evolved, was the first civilian motorcycle produced by Harley-Davidson with hydraulic shock absorbers on both wheels. Common usage calls this a K Model.

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