Iron Head Sporty Build Part 1

Joe and CharlieI figured there were some bored people out there that had nothing better to do than read about a project that me and my buddy Joe are working on.  Joe bought a '73 Ironhead Sporty off of eBay a few years back, and last year while on a ride the motor shit itself, so we decided to have the motor rebuilt and try our hand at custom bike building. I mean they build 'em on TV in an hour....How hard could it be.  By the way the picture to the right is my buddy Joe on the back of Charlie's bike right after his died.....They are gonna kill me for puttin' that pic on the net, but they'll get over it or I will kick them out of my shop.  Anyway I digress on to the rest of the story......

The rolling chasisWell if you have read this far I guess your at least a little interested.  The story started early last summer(08) when Joe's bike started running bad and we realized it was a valve sticking so we pulled the heads and had a valve job done. For a while it ran great, better than it ever had, till it didn't.  That's why you see Joe riding bitch in the picture above. Well apperently the pistons were not in the greatest shape and redoing the valves put too much preasure on them and the front one could not take it any more. When we pulled the heads we saw a hole in the piston so we decided it was time to just have the whole thing rebuilt.  Joe brought the bike to my place and pulled the motor and took it to Jason Ferguson at Texas Bike Works ( Once the motor was out it was time to decide what to do to the rest of the bike.  Just a new paint job and some new accessories, or maybe a little more.  We were not in a big hurry 'cause Jason had told us it was going to be a while on the motor because he was building a custom ironhead sporty for Sturgis.  After a lot of discussion and looking on the internet, and Joe did some looking in his wallet too; it was decided a hard tail and a springer front end. but not much else was setteled.

Off to the internet Joe went. He found a bolt-on hard tail from J & P Cycles ( and a springer front end from somewhere I don't remember and neither does Joe (he says he has the reciept somewhere)  Well lesson one in customizing a bike....Just because the Measuresales guy says it will fit doesn't mean it will.  When the hard tail came in we pulled the swingarm and all the other crap and went to bolt it did not fit.  The fender strut mounting point was too long so out came the torch and off it came. We bolted up the hard tail and called it good for the day.  A while later the springer front end came in and it also would not fit. The bearing races for the neck were too small so we needed to get them machined out just a little. Luckly a friend of ours owns a gun shop that has a mill so we went to him and traded some beer for some machining and we were good to go on the front end.....almost.  The stock brake setup would not work with the springer so back to the net to find a rotor and caliper that would work with the springer.  A few weeks later it came in and we started putting it all together and what do you know the new caliper wont work with the old sportster wheel!!! Once again back to the internet (ebay this time) and we found a late model wheel and tire in good shape for $50 so a few weeks later we finally get the front end on.

CutWell the stock fender was not going to work with the new rear end so we decided on a bobed rear fender.  I told Joe, ""Get on the net and find us a 7 inch fender we can cut up"  Well he finds one.....a front fender for an FLH!  So we cut it up...We almost cut off as much as we kept.  First we cut off the end to get it to fit over the tire, then decided how much to cut off of the sides and how much to cut out for the chain. We used our high tech marking device (see picture) to draw some line then used a cut off wheel to cut everything.  Once we got it cut out the way we wanted then it was time to mount it.  And that meant fender struts. Just a quick side note making two things out of steel and getting them to be exactly the same is a big giant pain in the ass.  Sorry about the rant....anyway I had some old saddle bag standoffs that had been floating around the shop for about 8 years and donated them to the cause.  We cut 'em up and used them to make the fender struts. Once we got everything bolted up we called it good and had another beer.

DoneNext on the list of stuff to fabricate was the rear brake linkage.  The old sporty has a mechanical rear brake with a steel rod linkage. The only problem is that the hard tail rear end moves the back tire back another 4 inches so the linkage is too short and the hard tail tube is in the way so the linkage has to go around it. So we took some rod the same size as the linkage cut the linkage, bent the rod around the hard tail and welded it all back together agian. I will upload a picture of that later.

Last night we took everything apart and painted the frame and will be putting th motor in in the next cople of weeks....check back for part 2.

Random Pictures