The Harley Davidson Sportster has been around in various shapes and sizes since 1957, and with its unit construction engine, compact dimensions and distinctive shape gas tank, the bike was virtually a Bobber straight out of the box.
‘I’ve had race bikes and I’ve had stupidly long 300 tyre Chops,’ says Jason Allen, owner of this bobbed Sportster, ‘but I decided that what I really wanted was a full-on individually designed and built Harley Davidson Sportster Bobber. I really wanted something low, small and old school.’
With that in mind, Jason started scouring the UK for a builder, fully expecting to have to travel to find the right one. Eventually he found Sledhead Customs, who solely focused on Sportster Bobbers and promptly picked up the phone. ‘For some reason, I just assumed they’d be in London or even further afield,’ says Jason. ‘You could have knocked me over with a sledgehammer when I saw the address, it was just down the road from my house.’
Sledhead boss Andy Jones was a landscape gardener until the Bobber bug bit deep and he decided to swap his Shovel for a Shovelhead. Ok, slight bending of the truth by yours truly, the first Bobber he built was a metric Cruiser, but sometimes you just have to go with poetic license.
‘When Jason first came to the shop he had a really good idea of what he wanted so it made things a lot easier,’ says Andy. And what he wanted apparently, was something along the lines of a Zero Engineering look to the bike. With this in mind, Jason located a ‘92 883 Sportster to act as a donor and a hardtail goosenecked frame, to Sledhead’s exact specifications, with matching oil tank made by Fenland Choppers.
Keeping the bike low and mean and the stance just right, custom made fork top clip-ons were added to the matt black 2’’ under DNA springers. At the rear end, the stock Sportster wheel was used with a matching 16’’ rim laced to the front hub. Avon Speed Masters front and back completed the tough as nails look.
With a rigid frame, tiny sprung saddle and low springer forks, this was never going to be some slick handling, mile munching tourer, but when you have such a specific look for a bike in mind, form just has to give way to function.
‘I must admit,’ says Jason, ‘the first time I took off down the road on it I thought oh jeez, what have I done,’ he laughs, ‘it was tiny and cramped and every pot hole felt like I’d been hit in the back with a baseball bat, but the end result was just exactly what I wanted and when you like something that much you just work around things.’
Photos By: Mal Lee