There are many evolutions of the modern motorcycle, as you know. Many of these evolutions are modern takes on classic styles of bikes. One such homage is the Street Tracker. These ultra-sleek machines are reminiscent to the glory days of flat track racing, featuring the pared down look of a dirt track racer, but offering everything you need to be street legal. Whether it’s your own build or bought from a custom shop, a street tracker will turn heads anywhere.
The First Street Trackers
Modern street trackers can trace their ancestry to the AMA Grand National Championship racing series. During the 1960s and 70s the series was the premier motorcycle racing championship, and many of the events took place on dirt ovals of varying lengths: The Mile, The Half, and Short Track. It was a time when legends like Dick Mann and Kenny Roberts were tearing up tracks everywhere. These racing giants loved their bikes and wanted to ride them on the streets as well, so modified the racers by adding lights, mirrors, a horn, front brakes, and eliminating the need to ‘bump-start the bikes. As you can imagine, it didn’t take long for race fans to develop a desire for their street trackers.
Factory Street Trackers
Manufacturers have not jumped on the street tracker bandwagon. Well, Harley Davidson has tried. The maker produced the XR1000, paying homage to its racing XR750. The bike was prohibitively expensive and sold poorly. Harley gave it another go with the XR1200, but production only ran from 2009 to 2013.
Triumph, it’s been rumored, filed a 2012 trademark application for the name “Street Tracker,” so a factor tracker from the Brits could be on the way. This does seem like just another effort by manufacturers to capitalize on a trend in the custom bike-building world, naming a bike after a whole genre of customs. We’re reminded of the Ducati Streetfighter and Scrambler, other genres of custom bikes subjected to the same process.
Custom Street Trackers
Street trackers typically have a set of wide bars to match the ones needed for additional leverage on a flat track. From the handlebars, you move back to the gas tank. A street tracker typically looks best with a small tank. The best example for the look of the tank can be seen by looking at the immortal Harley-Davidson XR750. The tank should move easily into a narrow seat. The rear fender is minimal, just enough to cover the taillight, and often made of fiberglass from a retailer like Omars Fiberglass or Hot Wing Glass. Typically you run 19 inch wheels, equally sized front and rear. Traditionalists use wire spokes to reduce weight, but you can use cast wheels just as well.
Once those mods have been completed, some builders add a number plate and fork guards, though these can be a bit much, overdoing the illusion that you’ve been sliding on a dirt track all day. The most common tracker platforms are the Yamaha XS650, various Triumphs like the T100, and the Harley-Davidson Sportster.
Mule: King of the Street Trackers
Richard Pollock of Mule Motorcycles is the undisputed king of the custom street tracker. His father was an electrical engineer at Cape Canaveral, and Pollock has said that he’d like an aerospace inspector to be able to look his bikes over and give them the thumbs up. Truly, his builds look like the engine bays of Indy racers. Operating out of his shop in San Diego, California, he has almost singlehandedly defined the street tracker aesthetic, hand-building bikes that are highly functional in every way, unadorned machines that earn their beauty instead of dressing up for it.
Sideburn, Dirt Quake, and the Resurgence of Flat Track
Sideburn, based out of the UK, is THE magazine when it comes to flat track racing and the culture surrounding it. As they say themselves:
The world’s finest, most glamorous, most colourful, most informative, global-reaching go fast, turn left magazine. All right, the world’s only go fast, turn left magazine. The place where every weekend is a dirty weekend.
Sideburn created an event called Dirt Quake, where everyday riders can take their bikes out on a flat track for real bar to bar racing. The events include classes for what they call Inappropriate Road Bike (IRB), Street Trackers, Choppers, Ladies, Harleys, and even a Snowmobile class. The events have been a huge success, and are now international, having migrated to the US of A. You can find out more on Sideburn‘s website.
The resurgent interest in dirt track can also be seen in the inclusion of AMA Pro Flat Track in the 2015 X Games in Austin, Texas. Without a doubt, flat track is on the way UP.
Street Trackers on BikeBound.com
Below is a sampling of the street trackers we have featured here!
For a full list, go here.