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Harley Sportster Desert Sled

Article by Rick Brown of BikeBound.com.

Most people would not select Milwaukee iron as their first choice to tackle crossing the Sahara, but David Borras of El Solitario (The Lone Wolf) definitely travels to the beat of his own drum.

Harley Sportster Desert Sled

The story begins with three friends and an idea. A ten day road trip across the Sahara, on identical bikes, with bespoke gear, clothes and support vehicle. El Solitario was tasked with preparation of the bikes, as well as the garments and accessories needed to survive the rigors of the desert.

With El Solitario, there is often no middle ground. Love it or hate it. To categorize their bikes as unique would be an understatement. Borras says their mission statement can be reduced to four words: ‘eclectic, one of a kind, bold, and anthropomorphic.’ Further, character is emphasized over metrics.

Harley Sportster Desert Sled

El Solitario has a history of controversial builds, none more so than the ‘Imposter.’ Often derided as appearing to be the result of a high speed collision between a BMW RnineT and a shopping cart, it quickly earned the title of ‘World’s Ugliest Custom.’ On the other hand, this shop in Galicia, Spain, has always turned out well crafted bikes and gear, and when Borras approached Harley with this wild idea, they jumped aboard, as did a number of other high end vendors.

Harley Sportster Desert Sled

The process of converting an iconic 550-pound cruiser into a reliable desert sled is not a simple one. Obviously, the first issues to be addressed were ride height and suspension. El Solitario went directly to the Swedish suspension experts, Ohlins, to craft a solution. While the inverted front forks’ internals could be dealt with through with re-valving and revised springs, the Sportster’s weight and ride height presented rear shock constraints Ohlins Race Division hadn’t faced before. In the end, they modified a set of rear shocks from an off road racing ATV and the problem was solved. A custom skid plate was fabricated for the inevitable impacts.

Harley Sportster Desert Sled

The carbon fiber hand guards were designed by Bark Busters. Clearly, spokes were mandatory. Kineo produced the 19” front and rear rims, which were shod with Dunlop tubeless DT3 flat track tires.

Harley Sportster Desert Sled

The matte black 2 into 1 exhaust was designed and produced by SC projects. The custom brake discs and calipers are by the Swedish manufacturer ISR while the soft luggage is by Kriega.

Harley Sportster Desert Sled

The Desert Wolves accomplished their mission and were recently presented to the public at the 2017 Wheels and Waves in Biarritz, France. Appropriately, they were housed in six foot steel cages.

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About the author: Rick Brown

 

Rick Brown is the senior correspondent at BikeBound, reporting from events around the country. He’s owned one of the fastest street-legal Sportsters in South Georgia, as well as a highly-modified Wide Glide Anniversary Edition, a Suzuki SV650 track bike, a Kawasaki ZZR1200, and his current stable includes a Ninja 1000 and Kawasaki KZ650 cafe/tracker. He’s a graduate of the Kevin Schwantz’s Superbike School and Penguin Racing School, and in 2014 he rode coast-to-coast, circling the country in a journey of more than 9000 miles.

 

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One Comment

  1. Swiss suspension experts? U know Öhlins is swedish, right?

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