It all started with an XLCH Sportster from the model-year 1966, but there’s very little OEM hardware remaining here besides its V-twin powerplant. Our protagonist even ditched the Harley’s factory frame in its entirety, and the only chassis components he’s kept in play up north are the forks, triple clamps, and steering head. With the antique Sportster fully dismantled, the first stage of the customization process saw Togashi fabricate a new frame from scratch.
The skeleton employs a single-downtube design at the front and a hardtail construction at the opposite end, with tasty nickel plating covering the frame tubing from front to back. Once the steel framework had been built, the project’s author switched to aluminum in order to craft various bits for the XLCH’s front end. These included bespoke fork sleeves for a beefier appearance, as well as a headlight housing that resembles a flat-track number plate.
A perforated, mesh-like grill covers the headlamp itself, and the whole front-end setup took more than one attempt to get just right. Hideya hooked up a 21-inch rim to the refurbished Sportster drum brake at twelve o’clock, but he made the original 18-inch wheel at the rear work with his rigid custom frame. The braking equipment in that area has been revamped, as well, while the wheels got wrapped in mismatched dual-purpose rubber on both ends.
It’s mated to a drilled strut built in-house and topped with a groovy handmade saddle featuring studs on the flanks. Peek below the seat, and you’ll notice a stylish oil tank that curves its way around the rear tire in seamless fashion. Close to it on the right-hand side, we encounter a pair of gorgeous stainless-steel exhaust pipes that end in megaphone silencers. Just like the frame, this new exhaust system got nickel-plated for a lustrous look.
Hideya hasn’t changed too much about the Ironhead engine, only getting it refurbished inside out for good measure. The stock carburetion hardware is still present, too, but it now inhales through a bespoke velocity stack. Most of the engine covers feature a matte finish, while a bit of shine matching the framework can be seen on the left.
The chosen color scheme was influenced by that of an old Harley from 1933, combining blue, off-white, and red into a classy livery we can’t get enough of. Various bodywork sections were left unpainted but polished to a mirror finish, including the fuel tank’s central area, most of the oil tank, and all the front-end garments. The paintwork was one hell of a closing chapter to an amazing build, which has all the defining traits we love about Togashi’s work.
As the bike appeared at the Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show in 2018, Hide Motorcycle spared no expense in making it look as neat as possible. He’s applied the nickel plating in just the right places without overdoing it, while also picking a superb colorway to make everything come together. Then there’s all the incredible fabrication work performed here.
We’re particularly keen on the custom-made skeleton that’s part of this one-off Harley’s anatomy, and the striking exhaust system also scores plenty of points in our books. Sure, it may not be the most practical machine out there, but you’ll find it hard to resist the allure of its distinctive Japanese flair. At the end of the day, it’s sometimes alright for form to be prioritized over function if the end result looks this good!