“Stormbringer” Harley-Davidson Sportster Café Racer

Harley Sportster Cafe Racer

In 1972, English illustrator Paul Sample created Ogri for Bike magazine, a cartoon whose leather-clad star — Ogri himself — wears a set of Thor-like wings on his helmet and rides a self-built 1000cc Norvin — a Vincent engine in a Norton featherbed frame.

“Bearing a stubbly, unshaven lantern jaw that would not disgrace Desperate Dan, and a nose that appears to have sustained an impact with a solid object at some time in its history, Ogri’s rough and unhandsome face belies its essentially good-natured owner.”

Ogri is gifted both as a rider and tinkerer, having shoehorned a 750cc Kawasaki H2 two-stroke triple engine into a scooter, outfitted bikes with WWII aviation superchargers, gifted his mother a bike-powered lawnmower, and built a turbojet motorcycle. He’s joined by his bumbling but well-meaning assistant, Malcolm, and his hyper-intelligent mongrel terrier, Kickstart, and the bane of his existence:  the traffic police.

Sportster Cafe Racer

The cartoon lasted until 2009 in Bike, then was picked up by Back Street Heroes.  It wouldn’t too much of a stretch to say that Ogri was the hero of a whole generation of young boy racers, many of whom are now old enough to build their dream machines.

Enter David “Giles” Morgan, who was born in Yorkshire, emigrated to the States with his parents had a very young age, lived in West Virginia for several years, and then returned to the UK in 1969 for school, where he’s stayed till today. Like many a young boy racer, Ogri was one of his heroes, and a Vincent twin in a featherbed frame was his dream bike. With Vincent prices near astronomical, Giles opted for another V-twin engine…

“The current prices for a Vinny are break-the-bank numbers, so as I wanted to build a café racer, I chose to do it with a motor that is similar and to some people’s minds better looking.”

Sportster Cafe Racer

He bought a wrecked ’06 Sportster, junked the frame, and asked one of the old Norton featherbed maestros to build him a frame around the engine. The tank, meanwhile, is an aluminum piece built by another wizard who builds bespoke tanks for Isle of Man racers. Giles married up a set of Yamaha R6 forks to the frame, an 18-inch rear wheel, rear sets, clip ons, and much more…

“The idea was to keep the weight down to the least possible and still have a road-legal bike that would not be out of place on a track day, and I think I have achieved this.”

Sportster Cafe Racer

Below, we get the full story on this Ogri-inspired Sporster cafe racer, nicknamed “Stormbringer.”

Harley Sporster Café Racer: In the Owner’s Words

Sportster Cafe Racer

About me, born in the UK 64 years ago and was taken to the States when my parents emigrated to Baltimore in 1958, later moved to West Virginia. I returned to the UK in 1969 to go to school and stayed here While in the States got into bikes, which carried on when I was in the UK. Harleys were like rocking horse manure over here at the time and I was brought up on Brit bikes of which café racers were the dogs swingy bits.

Sportster Cafe Racer

I then got into the Jap scene as the 750’s were by far faster than most of the Brits and the Italians were too expensive. After a trip to the South of France on a Yam, I came home and swapped it for a Sportster. It was an old Ironhead 1000cc and it rekindled my feeling for the Harley brand. I swapped it in after a couple of years for one of the first EVO’s which I had for 10 years and eventually sold it to a Frenchman. I then got another one — FXR — which I still have but that is now a chop. Over the last 10 years I have had various HD’s including a CVO Road King, Heritage, and others, but I have gone back to the ones I like the best — in this case a Dyna which is my everyday ride.

Sportster Cafe Racer

In my younger days there was a magazine in the UK called Bike, and one of the cartoons and every boy racer’s favourite was OGRI — he was based on a bloke having a Vincent in a featherbed frame as a café racer — it was the bike everyone wanted but even in those days they were rare and far from affordable to the common biker. The current prices for a Vinny are break-the-bank numbers, so as I wanted to build a café racer, I chose to do it with a motor that is similar and to some people’s minds better looking. So I got a Sporty with a bent frame, binned the frame, took a dry engine down to a gent who used to make featherbed frames for Norton and asked him to make a frame that fits around the Sporty with the mounts being incorporated into the geometry of the frame, giving a good frame even more intrinsic strength and rigidity.

Sportster Cafe Racer

The tank was made and designed by a wizard with ALI who makes tanks for the people who race at the Isle of Man, matched up to the frame and held on by rubber mounts and one strap. To get the correct ride height and performance a R6 front end was used married up to bespoke yokes using 2 inch thick ALI to brace the forks better. The idea was to keep the weight down to the least possible and still have a road-legal bike that would not be out of place on a track day, and I think I have achieved this.

Sportster Cafe Racer

The assembly of the bike was done in a shed at the back of my house where I have a basic workshop — like a lot of builds you bring together other people’s skills to hopefully form a product that your imagination has perceived — the help of those people is greatly appreciated by me and I feel the finished product speaks for it self.

More about the Bike…

The bike has a bespoke featherbed frame made around a dry engine that has allowed the mounts on the frame to be incorporated within the integrity of the frame increasing the performance and solidity of the chassis. The engine was rebuilt removing the crank sensor and converting back to a set of points to allow for the advance and retard to be set for the condition the bike is to be used in. It has Krammer cams and is running an S&S shorty carb.

The tank, oil tank and seat base are handmade from aluminium to reduce the weight and to ensure the best fit to the frame. The front end is from a Yam R6 to get the best ride height with good braking and damping, the rear is a 18 inch rear wheel with 4 pot brakes. As a proper cafe racer it is running clip ons with rear sets. The bike was designed to be light and maneuverable and it has lived up to expectations.


  1. Nice scoot Gwyn.

  2. Beautiful. True minimalist. I would love to see some leather. A slightly cracking, but genuine leather belt on the tank, and repeated on the seat. I love leather & polished aluminum. I remember Ogri. This is a great tribute!

  3. HD and cafe racer should never be combined.

    • Frank Falcon

      Shawn, stop trying to put other people into your little box. Freedom of the great Mororcycledom is anybody can do whatever their imagination, skills and budget allows them to do. Don’t stiffel others in their quest of expression within motorcycledom.

  4. Hi,
    Great bike! Love it!
    Would you have the contact details for the frame builder?
    What rear wheel did you use?
    Seriously considering building something similar.

  5. David "Giles" Morgan

    David where are you?

  6. David "Giles" Morgan

    Sorry David that is in Wales uk

  7. Thanks Giles,
    Much appreciated.
    Very impressed with your vision, bike and build.
    All the best

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