The Sportster is one of our favorite, most versatile platforms for customization. In production since 1957, the V-twin cruiser has been transformed into scrambler, tracker, cafe racer, and full-out adventure bike. However, few Sportsters seem so capable of blasting across the post-apocalyptic world as the OVRLANDR, built by Michael Bates of Combustion Industries.
Michael, an industrial designer who works as a design manager for such aftermarket brands as MAG motorsports and Kuryakyn, says of the build:
“I really love the idea of building a no-nonsense vehicle for going balls out across any type of terrain…[or wasteland] of the future.”
Starting with a higher performance 1200R as his donor, Michael took his inspiration from 80s science fiction — films like Bladerunner and Star Wars, where futuristic tech meets the challenges of apocalyptic climates and alien terrains. The result is the OVRLANDR, which reminds us of a two-wheeled Mars rover — the motorcycle that might accompany a human space mission to other worlds, at home on the desert wastes of Tattooine or the off-world mining colonies of Calantha…as long as the atmospheres are conducive to internal combustion!
The OVRLANDR: In the Builder’s Words
Built by Michael Bates, an industrial designer who recently started working in the motorcycle aftermarket after a 15 year career designing luxury faucets and plumbing fixtures. I have always had a passion for anything two-wheeled, and working as a design manager in the motorcycle aftermarket (MAG motorsports, Kuryakyn) means I have the ability to design and create my own custom parts, or I can use newly released parts.
I have a fondness for science fiction, so the idea of starting with a Sportster and turning it into a rugged, crazy mashup of brat/70s enduro/hooligan, and café racer sounded tits. I love Sportsters for their versatility, and I really love the idea of building a no-nonsense vehicle for going balls out across any type of terrain…[or wasteland] of the future. This bike combines 80s science fiction design cues (think Bladerunner, Star Wars) and undertones with real world performance in a bike that is a blast to ride.
For the Overlander, I chose the 1200r because it has a taller front end; and a performance cams, higher compression, higher performance engine. All of the fabrication and assembly was done in my “micro” shop; which is the size of a 1 car garage but has the tools to cut, bend, machine and weld damn near anything.
Sheetmetal was built from scratch, with a modified gas tank which the fuel sender was shoehorned into. The sidecovers and rear pulley were borrowed from an XR1200. The top tree was swapped out for a Joker Machine top tree and a lower tree from a 48 Sportster. To top it off, I added a set of ProTaper EVO Adventure handlebars.
All that I needed to get the enduro stance that I wanted was to add taller 16″ shocks in the back.
I didn’t mess with the engine much, and just decided to upgrade with an air cleaner from Kuryakyn and a handmade exhaust.
The mirrors, bashplate, and headlight trim were all built in a MAG motorsports collaboration with Dave Mucci of Moto Mucci.
Admittedly, it is easier to make the proportions work in a single seater setup, but I wanted to make sure this would work for a rider and a passenger. Ya know, because sometimes when you are doing reconnaissance tearing across the wastelands, you might need to pick help out a drifter.
So, I fabricated the rear end to support rider and passenger. The elongated seat gets its inspiration from motocross. I fabricated a seat pan and carved out the foam, and then my friends at Mustang took my sketches and created the seat cover.