I find getting out of my house in the winter makes living here much easier. So between walking my dog and having to go 20 miles to my brother’s shop to work on a winter project, I’ve got some guaranteed out-of-home time. This year’s project is a 2004 Harley Davidson 883C. This bike was a birthday gift from my lovely bride, which makes her the best wife ever. It also raises the bar a bit in regards to what I get her for her next birthday.
My plan was to purchase a rubber-mounted Sportster after I sold my Ironhead chopper. Unfortunately, selling my chopper has not been easy. The 883 I ended up with was originally offered as a trade but before we could make the deal, the owner was told by his doctor he could no longer ride motorcycles. He then offered to sell me the bike at a price I couldn’t pass up. He said he was giving me a deal because he knew it was going to a good home. It’s been my experience that by being honest and upfront with people on Craig’s List, transactions go smoothly and the people I end up dealing with are great.
When I picked the bike up in Iowa it had ape hangers, forward controls, a cushy touring seat and a back rest. All things I have no interest in. It also had an “overdrive” front pulley that pretty much took away all of the low end power. Fortunately, the previous owner kept the original pulley so I was able to switch it back. Something I learned with my chopper is you don’t get all the money back that you put into a project bike. So with this one I’m trying to be smarter. I got discounted drag bars and a solo seat from an online retailer as well as used mid controls on ebay. Wanting to keep this cheap has changed my grand plans for this bike.
In the beginning I had visions of a super cool street tracker or maybe an uber-hipster cafe bike. What I’ve decided upon is a hot-rodded, semi-ratty, 883 Sportster. Since my nephew will be doing most of the work on this bike I deferred to him for prioritization. “It’s tiny”. “Let’s make it stupid fast”. Those may not be his exact words, but that’s what I heard. As it turns out doubling it’s horsepower is not nearly as expensive as buying all the bolt-on parts that would make it a street tracker, and I have to admit, Harley-fast is fun.
What I mean by “Harley-fast” has nothing to do with ¼ mile times or 0-60 times, it’s about the feeling you have at 100 mph on a Harley compared to 100 mph on a sport bike. It’s the difference between drag racing a ‘69 Chevelle and a Maserati. Both are fun to drive, they’re just a different kind of fun.
I still hope to someday make it into a street tracker. I reviewed a Grand National Replica for the paper a few years ago and I loved it. One of the reasons I chose this bike was because it’s kind of a blank canvas. It could quite possibly be a winter project every year and after this winter it will be a much faster blank canvas. Harley-fast anyway.
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