Harley-Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster

Iron Lung Sportster Cafe Icon 1000 does it differently with this Harley-Davidson custom.

Has everything been done to the Harley-Davidson Sportster? We thought so, but Icon in Portland, Oregon, likes to keep itself amused with more than just its line of motorcycle gear. And Kurt Walter, the man in charge of Icon’s many builds, managed to make “Iron Lung” one of the more original efforts while using the prolific Sporty platform.

Icon says the 1997 model lay in its garage for years waiting for inspiration and resurrection, and with Icon’s Spring apparel launch drawing near, the time became now to roll it out. “The design brief was to replicate the bikes that Harley-Davidson dared to build in the 1970s—world-beating endurance and circuit racers,” says Icon. “We have big plans for the ICON 1000 line of apparel, so her bombastic approach was deemed necessary.”

Starting with the “bomb” part, a megaton of magnitude was added to the old 883cc twin with the installation of a Wiseco 1200cc big-bore kit. The engine now breathes through a pair of Supertrapp exhausts.

The front end was lowered and widened via a Wide Glide fork suspended in one-off billet triple clamps. A custom subframe was fabricated at the rear, and Progressive 970 shocks were pressed into suspension duty. The fairing was then bisected and widened.

The end result, Icon says, is “an exceedingly wide, ridiculously low bike built for the smoothest, fastest road you can find.” There are two weirdly cool riffs with the bodywork. One is the oil bag at the back half of the fuel tank, with exposed lines that run back between the rider’s legs.

At least you’ll know when the engine’s warmed up.

The other is the Ballistic battery mounted in the tailsection with top and terminals exposed. That’s not weird at all, countered Icon: “Exposing the battery in the tailsection was common practice during ’70s-80s endurance racing. The charging system on the early endurance bikes, running 100-watt lights, couldn’t adequately charge the battery. Exposed batteries allowed the teams to quickly swap the depleted batteries with fresh ones during pit stops.

Harley-Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster

In our case, we suffer from a similar problem during our photo and video shoots. We need to start and stop the motor repeated times to set up shots, while leaving the headlights on, which quickly drains the battery. We find the endurance racing solution of tail mounted batteries to be quite a nice solution for this scenario.”

Fat Boy wheels with a finish treatment to replicate vintage magnesium racing hoops carry very large Avons. The hand-painted details by Garage 31 on a gold base and a custom seat by Portland’s New Church Moto finish it off. Or maybe the lightning bolts on the fork legs finish it off.

The shakedown run at a Portland-area asphalt oval (!) was truly trial by fire, as Iron Lung burst into flames (but was quickly extinguished). “Her handling was as questionable as the grandstand snacks, but she bore the brunt of torture with aplomb.”

The ride video is a bit overdone yet pretty irresistible.

Is this a case of too much being too much or too much being just enough?

Harley-Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster
Harley-Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster
Harley-Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster

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