My latest project is finally finished, it took just over three years,
wedged in between customer bikes and everything else life throws
at you. So why call it Project X? Because I already used Project
XL for some other file names on this site. So why build it at all?
I was bored and wanted to do a project wherein I tried to make
as many of the parts as possible.
The bike started life as an 81 XLH. The list of modifications is long,
so I'll just start at the front of the bike and work through to
The front wheel is a 21" Borrani rim laced to a NOS Kosman hub with
stainless steel spokes. The Kosman hub has metric bearings so of
course the HD axle wouldn't fit. The axle was machined down
to fit the metric bearings and the wheel spacers had
to be made. The front wheel has double discs mated to an old HD
double disc lower legs. As expected the HD caliper mounts
were in the wrong place to work with the Grimeca calipers, so the
HD mounts were turned off the legs and the Grimeca calipers mounted
to where HD used to bolt the fender on. The caliper mounting plates
were fabricated. Moving on up I also made the triple clamps and
center post, lets face it the stock XL clamps are just plane ugly.
I also made the little pillow blocks for securing the brake lines
and throttle cables. The handle bars were widened and made taller.
Moving back a little, all the ugly humps and fork lock provisions were
ground off the area below the neck, Them extra holes on the neck
casting where people usually bolt on an oil cooler had to be welded
in and ground down.
I had an old gas tank laying around, unfortunately the petcock hit the
carb ( a Mikuni round slide I planned to use), so I cut the bung
out and moved it over to the left side, welded the subsequent
hole shut and relocated the mounting tangs to line up with
the holes in the frame. Then I pressure tested it for leaks, the
test was successful, in that it disclosed several leaks along the
bottom in an area I had not welded. Turns out there were pinholes
in the rust down in the bottom of the seam. Crap, I got tired
of messing with it so I bought a new gas tank with the left side
petcock. I did have to cut the rear tank mount off the new tank
and relocate it to line up with the hole in the frame. I also made
special bushings to rubber mount the tank.
Moving down, the 81 frame had no provisions for mounting foot pegs, they
were mounted to the engine. The early style engine I was using
had no provisions for foot pegs, or left side rear disc brake,
hence the heavy aluminum brackets on either side of the engine for mounting
the pegs and brake pedal. I made the brake pedal and linkage as well as
the gear shift lever.
I also made the oil tank and its mounting system. I wanted it vertically
mounted just to be different. There is an oil filter integral to
the oil tank. The tank has internal passages to direct the oil
through the filter. The oil out of the filter flows up through a vertical
stand pipe inside the tank so as to keep the oil in the tank from
gravity feeding back into the engine through the return section
of the pump. The mounting plates were trickier to make than they
look because the rear frame tubes are not parallel, they converge,
so the holes for mounting the plates had to bored at just exactly
the right angle to match the frame tubes. The mounting plates also
have a couple of holes drilled in them to keep the vent hose and
brake light switch wire routing nice and neat.
The seat is a LePera seat pan that was cut in two and lengthened about
two inches, it was also reshaped and re-contoured to match the eight
inch wide fender. The bare pan was powder coated (as was everything
else on the bike that is black) and shipped back to LePera to be
covered. They did a great job, I really like it. The fender had
to be slightly narrowed to fit the frame and the front of it was
further tapered and narrowed to fit and fill the area behind the
oil tank. The seat is held down with a big ole' knob I milled out
of billet, the seat has to be easy on - easy off because the fill
cap for the oil tank is under the seat.
The battery holder is a milled and welded assembly, rubber mounted to brackets
welded to the frame. The battery hold down bolt is drilled for
a safety pin, also for easy on - easy off. My old lady, I mean
sweet snd loving wife, gave me a little dream catcher for good
luck, it is hanging off the safety pin in the bolt. Some guys might not
like the battery hanging exposed on the side of the frame, but,
fuck 'em, I like all the bits and pieces being easily accessible.
And, guess what, its my bike.
The swingarm has been cut in two and lengthened two inches, mostly just
because I wanted to see how big a pain in the ass doing something
like that would be. It was a pain in the ass.
All those weird lumps where Harley mounted the stock rear fender brackets
were cut off and the frame tubes were extended as they had to be
to keep the fender centered over the rear wheel which is now sitting
two inches farther aft than it used to be cause of the lengthened
swingarm. Oh yeah the shocks are two inches shorter than stock.
The chain guard has a bunch of reinforcement weld on the back side
because every one of them sum bitches I've every seen is cracked.
The rear wheel is also a NOS Kosman hub with stainless steel spokes laced
to an 18" Akront alloy wheel. And of course these metric bearings didn't
match up with the 3/4" HD axle either so I had to make spacers
and adapters to make the hub fit the axle. This wheel is also fitted
with a Grimeca disc brake.
Bringing up the ass end, the license plate/brake light was milled out of
a chunk aluminum.
The engine is basically stock, intended to be easy starting and
easy to take care of; no hot cams, no high compression and regular
point ignition. My hypo motor is in Fear No Evo
and it fills my need for speed. I did mill the cam cover down and
fabricate an anchor point for the clutch cable.
This bike has a Mikuni round slide I got from a friend, I think it is a
VM38. Any way it works great, it was 40 degrees F down yonder here
in Texas the other day and the bike started easily on a couple
of kicks. So far I see no need to rejet. All I had to do was set
the idle speed and mixture. I couldn't find an air cleaner that
I liked, so I made my own, also milled from a chunk of billet.
There really is too much to list as far as mods and home made parts. I
can honestly state that there are no "bolt on" parts, every thing
was either made by me or modified. Every part that I did buy ended
up being somehow modified before I would or could use it. Stainless
steel fasteners are used throughout, the larger bolts had the heads
turned down on a lathe to make them smaller and remove head markings.
You may notice a fair amount of billet aluminum on this bike. As
it happens I live about 15 miles up the road from the former
American Iron Horse factory. I went to their going out of business
sale, and there was tons of really nice stuff for sale, but all
my meager budget could afford was a pile of their billet aluminum
raw stock. So in a way, this bike may truly be the last American
So, call this one done. The next project is sitting on the bench, it will
be a bone stock, restored 79 XLH, it will be for sale when its
done. I'll take your order now. For a 50% deposit you can
order your options such as color, tires and custom details.
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