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Lowbrow Spotlight: Zach HO's 2011 Harley-Davidson Sportster

The progression from a Honda to a Harley-Davidson Sportster.

For me, it all started with a 1975 Honda MR50 Elsinore. My parents gave it to me Christmas morning along with a black full-face helmet that sported one yellow lightning bolt sticker half flaked off. The setup was used, it was abused, but it was mine and I rode the hell out of it for years on the rural Oregon farm I grew up on.

Zach Ho's 2011 Harley-Davidson Sportster 48

Fast forward to 2014 when I decided after years of not owning a bike that it was time to get back into it. I knew I wanted to build something that I could ride every day without any reliability issues but something that still paid homage to what motorcycles used to be. I wanted an agile urban bike that I could bar hop around Portland on but also something I could run all over the western US with when I felt the itch to explore. I ended up buying a 2011 Harley Davidson Sportster 48 and it was all downhill from there.

Zach's Sportster features our Lowbrow Customs Fork Shrouds in black. Zach's Sportster features our Lowbrow Customs Fork Shrouds in black.

The Build

I began researching and hoarding parts, modifying the bike whenever I could stay out of the seat long enough. The contrast cut Roland Sands Design parts piled up, and I shaved the forks to allow the use of some Lowbrow Customs fork shrouds. I ground, filed and chopped a yellow lensed headlight to fit the stock Harley bucket and stuffed it with an LED bulb from DK Customs to match their rear 3-in-1 Stealth LED light. To remedy the skinny rear tire look, I adapted an OEM FXDB wheel and stuffed a 180 rear tire under the shaved fender and fender strut covers. A sissybar from Slims Fab Farm gives me all the storage I need for long trips, and some shocks from Progressive along with a Biltwell seat give me a little more comfort. I also added a skidplate from The Speed Merchant, some handbuilt Chopper Zeez handlebars from Zombie Performance, a local Oregon company, and some mini floorboards from San Diego Customs to keep me planted. A gorgeous raw stainless 2-into-1 exhaust from Thrashin Supply and an Arlen Ness air cleaner give the bike a bit more performance and a lot more style.

Zach's Sportster - Biltwell Sporty-8 Seat - Black Diamond Biltwell Sporty-8 Seat - Black Diamond

Everyone that rides a Sportster knows the woes of an awful fuel range via the small gas tank. You either sacrifice the aesthetic for a big tank or you get to know the local gas station attendants all too well. I picked up a bobbed gas tank from Lowbrow Customs to up my capacity and also bought an old Honda CT90 auxiliary tank that I mounted on the swingarm for when things get too desolate out there on the road. I’ve only had to use it once but I was damn glad I had it.

Zach's Sportster features Cycle Standard - Bobbed Gas Tank Zach's Sportster features Cycle Standard - Bobbed Gas Tank

Slowly my vision began to take shape and many thousands of dollars later I had built what I consider to be the perfect EFI rubbermount Sporty. It’s sanitary and stylish, simple and reliable. I keep telling myself this is the bikes final form and I’m sure that’s a lie. But for now, all this bike is getting from me is more miles on the odometer.

Zach's Sportster - Biltwell Bonanza Helmet Flat Black Zach prefers to wear a Biltwell Bonanza helmet when riding in his home of Portland, Oregon.

Words and build by - Zach Ho

Photos by: Nate Meeds



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