There’s a new generation of Harley riders among us. Many have matured and crossed over from the world of sport bikes and motocross to American iron. However, their riding habits haven’t changed and neither has their need for speed. The fusion of high-tech components with air-cooled v-twins is becoming more and more prevalent. We’re now seeing a new breed of Harleys with the ability to maneuver, accelerate and brake just as well as some of the best hooligan bikes out there.
Components commonly found on sport bikes, dirt bikes, flat trackers and café racers are now being used to unleash the full potential of v-twin motorcycles. If you don’t have the means to acquire a custom frame and swingarm, FXR’s, Sportsters, and Dynas are nice platforms to begin building upon. They are light and already handle very well straight out of the factory. Equipped with mid-foot controls and a chassis that allows for an aggressive yet comfortable upright riding position makes them perfect candidates to transform into urban assault vehicles.
Performance-wise, as the old saying goes, “there’s no replacement for displacement.” However, bigger isn’t necessarily better. A stock motor with a high-flow air cleaner and 2-into-1 pipe will supply more than enough torque to rip wheelies and blast around town.
Shedding dead weight can be a cheap performance-enhancing modification. If a part doesn’t make the bike go faster, handle better or stop quicker, the consensus is to lose it completely. On the other hand, when you start replacing parts that are needed with lighter versions, things can get expensive.
There’s really no way to push any bike to the limit without beefing up the suspension and brakes. Better handling heavy-duty products are available to upgrade stock shocks and springs. When changing suspension parts, many riders choose longer components for more travel and ground clearance. This allows for more abuse — and abuse equals fun. Some take it to the next level by replacing their entire front end with something like an inverted road-racing unit complete with dual radial-mount calipers and 320mm floating discs for increased stopping power.
Guys like Todd Silicato and Roland Sands use these types of parts on everything from Sportsters to Baggers and are worth checking out for some ideas. Companies like Confederate Motorcycles and Ecosse Moto Works build state-of-the art, ground-up v-twins that most of us would have to sell our homes to afford. However, they are very cool to check out for inspiration. When the time comes and you decide to start such a project, don’t take the easy way out and just strip down a Buell. Open your mind, bust out some tools and transform that cruiser into a shredder.