If you were given the opportunity to customise a brand new bike with the support of a major motorcycle manufacturer what would you do? This was exactly what happened to myself and the team at the Kustom Kommune back in April of this year when Harley-Davidson offered our communal workshop a brand new Harley-Davidson Forty Eight Sportster and the freedom to do with it whatever we wanted. What we decided to do was to completely transform the Sportster and turn it into a bike that could be maintained and serviced using the modest facilities at the Kommune workshop. The result is the Kommune 'K1', a Cafe Racer styled, sleek and unique Sportster that showcases the skills of a talented team of "backyard builders".
The build of the K1 was undertaken by a talented group of individuals who donated their time and skills to help make this build a reality. A dream team was formed. It consisted of Robby Ante a skilled welder, Glenn Aitken a Harley-Davidson guru, Matt McLeod an engineer, Karl Stehn a custom painter, Kenny Gohl an automotive electrician, Aaron Sinclair an upholsterer, myself and Jimmy Goode the founders of the Kustom Kommune and a handful of our members. Over 4 months we tore down and rebuilt the Forty-eight using our combined skills and plenty of man hours. With so many people involved opinions sometimes varied and timeframes were hard to stick to with most people working after hours, but looking back now it all came together relatively smoothly.
The original plan was to put an XR750 TT style fairing on the bike, but with time working against us the idea was shelved and we instead stuck to an XR inspired colour palette. Karl Stehn at KDS Designs put together a slick paint design using the classic XR black, white and orange and added plenty of flake to really make it pop. We mimicked old school Café Racer techniques by using 2 Cole Foster fuel tanks, chopping one in half to function as the tail end. Since we’d removed the oil tank from the frame we also modified the tail to double as the Sporsters oil tank. Robby and Glenn devised the internal plumbing system before welding it all up to a custom fabricated seat pan. To support the weight of the tail/oil tank Glenn fabricated rear struts that blend with the original lines of the frame. Braided stainless steel lines and race fittings from VPW transport the oil to and from the engine, snaking around the frame and engine.
To transform the bike into a Kommune friendly machine we had to remove all of the fancy electrical sensors and thing-a-ma-jigs that we couldn't tune using hand tools and old school mechanical know how. The ABS, alarm system, EFI, factory ignition and accessory wiring systems were all removed. Motogadget provided an M-Unit to manage the new electrics along with bar end indicators, mini-switches and a keyless ignition. Matt from Krank Engineering machined new spacers to replace the ABS sensors on each axle and even milled a sweet Kommune emblem points cover. An S&S Super E carb now manages the fuel delivery and because we love old school looks we swapped the belt drive with a chain set up.
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