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One-Off Harley Sportster Was Built to Handle the Toughest Tasmanian Roads

Released in 2021, Wide of the Mark is a documentary following six motorcycle riders on their off-roading adventure through Tasmania. The bikes they’re on aren’t just regular ADVs or dual-sports, though; every single one of them is a fully-fledged custom built to take on anything from rugged terrain to long-distance journeys.
Custom Harley-Davidson Sportster 13 photos
Photo: Purpose Built Moto
Custom Harley-Davidson Sportster and Tom GilroyCustom Harley-Davidson Sportster and Tom GilroyCustom Harley-Davidson SportsterCustom Harley-Davidson SportsterCustom Harley-Davidson SportsterCustom Harley-Davidson SportsterCustom Harley-Davidson SportsterCustom Harley-Davidson SportsterCustom Harley-Davidson SportsterCustom Harley-Davidson SportsterCustom Harley-Davidson SportsterCustom Harley-Davidson Sportster
Tom Gilroy from Purpose Built Moto (PBM) was part of the film’s cast, and what you see above had been his trusty mechanical companion throughout the trip. In its previous incarnation, this mean machine used to be a stock Harley-Davidson XL1200C Sportster from the model-year 2006. Naturally, Tom handled the transformation process in-house, and it goes without saying that turning a fat cruiser into the nimble dual-sport shown in these photos was no easy feat. Not only did the Harley gain some solid off-roading prowess, but it also looks seriously rad!

To get the ball rolling, PBM’s frontman took the donor apart and proceeded to ditch a good chunk of its factory hardware. Then, his attention moved to the front end, where you will now find the retrofitted upside-down forks and braking system of a 2015 Triumph Tiger. Those drilled brake rotors were supplied by Free Spirits, and a 19-inch aluminum rim replaces the standard 21-inch unit.

A high-mounted front fender has been attached to the bottom triple clamp, but there’s also a second module fitted low down on a handmade bracket. In the same area, Tom added a pair of custom fork guards with built-in auxiliary lighting, which ought to simultaneously give the Tiger forks some much-needed protection while keeping the way ahead nice and lit. Looking upward, you’ll spot a number plate-style fairing with tracker vibes, encasing a yellow-tinted LED headlamp from Stedi’s catalog.

Custom Harley\-Davidson Sportster
Photo: Purpose Built Moto
New turn signals flank the rectangular headlight, and they’re as bright as they are tiny. The Sportster’s cockpit received a ProTaper handlebar that features underslung mirrors and discreet switches from PBM’s very own aftermarket inventory. With all these goodies in place, the front end was pretty much done, so Tom moved on to the southernmost portion.

Continuing the tracker aesthetic is a pointy tail section topped with a skeletal luggage rack and nubuck leather upholstery on the seat. Its underside houses a full suite of LED lighting components, and all this equipment is supported by a premium set of progressive shocks from K-Tech. Measuring 14.5 inches (or about 370 mm) in length, these bad boys do a fantastic job at mending the XL1200C’s slouched cruiser posture.

Additionally, a sissy bar can be attached to that tubular exoskeleton when needed, offering plenty of room for Tom to strap his luggage and camping gear. He got rid of the factory swingarm to make way for a lighter substitute, while also converting the standard belt drive to a chain. The Harley’s rear wheel hub has been retained, but it is now laced to a 17-inch hoop and outfitted with a billet brake caliper assembly. Dual-purpose E-10 rubber from Mitas provides ample grip on and off the tarmac.

PBM’s rear-end mods are finished off by a swingarm-mounted license plate holder, which doubles up as the mounting hardware for an unobtrusive fender. As far as the ergonomics are concerned, the motorcycle bears a four-inch (100 mm) handlebar riser and bespoke brackets for the foot pegs, sitting just ahead of the swingarm pivot. A neat little touch can be seen on the right-hand side, in the form of a tiny green bag that houses an onboard air compressor.

Custom Harley\-Davidson Sportster
Photo: Purpose Built Moto
As the Sportster had a mere 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) on the clock when the project started, there wasn’t much to be done in the powertrain department. Sir Gilroy did perform some custom sorcery on the intake and exhaust, though, fabricating all the necessary items from scratch. A high-mounted two-into-one exhaust system replaces the OEM plumbing, with its pipes getting bead-blasted and heat-treated once they were welded together.

The changes on the intake side of things are equally alluring, because Tom went the extra mile to prevent debris from going where it shouldn’t. After swapping the original carburetor with a higher-spec Lectron unit, he fabricated a bespoke intake manifold that runs into an all-new airbox. The latter is stashed nice and high behind steering head, sporting DNA filtration technology.

Last but not least, the finishing touch added to this overlanding warrior was an aluminum skid plate that keeps its V-twin powerhouse out of harm’s way. With a wet weight of 496 pounds (225 kg), the hog is a little on the heavy side to put it mildly, but it’s still 66 pounds (30 kg) lighter than an unmodified XL1200C. Furthermore, 65 hp on the dyno and 7.1 inches (180 mm) of front wheel travel are nothing to sneeze at, and Tom’s Sportster is said to have handled its Tasmanian trip like a marvel! In case this article made you curious about Wide of the Mark, feel free to check out the film’s trailer below.

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About the author: Silvian Secara
Silvian Secara profile photo

A bit of an artist himself, Silvian sees two- and four-wheeled machines as a form of art, especially restomods and custom rides. Oh, and if you come across a cafe racer article on our website, it’s most likely his doing.
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