The Powerful One: Animal Motor Company x Amarillo Motorcycles
In 2008, Harley-Davidson released the XR1200, the most performance-tuned Sportster the factory had ever produced. Inspired by the legendary XR750 — “the most successful race bike of all time” — the bike was originally aimed at the European market:
“When the sportiest of Sportster models to ever roll off The Motor Company assembly line debuted three years ago, the titillating street-tracker-style machines were crated and shipped overseas as a European market exclusive.” —Cycle World
Fortunately, the XR1200 was later made available on US shores, as was the mighty XR1200X, which came equipped with fully-adjustable Showa suspension at both ends. In stock trim, the 1202cc high-compression engine made 91 horsepower and 74 foot-pounds of torque. Developed with the aid of nine-time AMA Grand National Champion Scott Parker, these bikes were raced in the AMA / Vance & Hines XR1200 Series and remain some of the most highly tuned factory Harleys ever produced.
“The XR1200X is a no-frills bike, providing just the basics for an exhilarating experience: thumping motor, rock-solid chassis, good binders and dampers and minimalist rider cockpit.” —Rider
“During the morning I work as a schoolteacher, but evenings and nights are for riding and customizing! Designing the first lines to make a bike cooler, lighter, quicker, or harder — it’s my drug.”
In this case, Rubén wanted a do-it-all bike that could handle daily commuting, touring, and off-road riding amid the rugged coast and mountains of Asturias, his home region in northwest Spain. He’d already owned an XR1200 in the past and decided it would be the perfect base for such a build.
“Then I called my friend Jona from Amarillo Motorcycles, who specializes in Harley-Davidsons, and told him I’d love to work together on this project that would look something like an enduro bike, and he loved the idea.”
Suspension was their first order of business. They installed longer rear shocks, tuned for dual-purpose riding, and ditched the track-oriented Showa big piston forks in favor of a set of regular XR1200 forks, which they rebuilt and modified to handle on/off-road riding.
Other mods include 7/8″ Vortex handlebars, Brembo RCS (Ratio Click System) stunt clutch and master cylinder, custom-made exhaust with remapped ECU, front number plate with integrated headlight, scratch-built seat/tail unit, and a steel rear mudguard that holds the license plate and taillights, as the bike remains 100% street-legal. Rubén says the finished bike is quite a hoot to ride:
“Riding this bike, it’s like riding a Hummer with a handlebar — like a tank. It doesn’t matter how brave or strong you are, you need more to ride it properly.”
Appropriately enough, Rubén and Jona have dubbed the bike “La Poderosa” — The Powerful One. Below, we get the full story on this knobby-tired brute straight from Rubén himself, as well as more photos from photographer Javier Calvo (@donjaviercalvo).
Harley XR1200X Scrambler: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
Hello, I’m Rubén Cotarelo, and I live for bikes…. During the morning I work as a schoolteacher, but evenings and nights are for riding and customizing! This passion for customizing and riding hard was what led to Animal Motor Company.
Most of all I love the process of transforming a bike into a cool machine! The first moment, when thinking about the use the motorcycle is going to have, and designing the first lines to make it cooler, lighter, quicker, or harder — it’s my drug.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
In this case, the bike is a Harley-Davidson XR1200X from 2008. I chose this bike because the X version was already one of the most powerful Harleys in stock form.
• Why was this bike built?
I was thinking about a bike for everything: daily use, traveling, off-road and “terrace-use” outside the city…. After thinking a lot, I decided the XR1200 I’d sold three years ago was my favorite bike as a base for this project, so I bought another one.
Then I called my friend Jona from Amarillo Motorcycles, who specializes in Harley-Davidsons, and told him I’d love to work together on this project that would look something like an enduro bike, and he loved the idea. He liked the idea of doing something different with a Harley, so I brought the bike to his garage and we started!
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
As I live in Asturias, a nice mountain region close to the sea, I wanted a bike that would be able to run both on asphalt and on the forest trails. Something with personality and with a cool look to ride daily in the city center…and a Harley big twin seemed the perfect choice.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
The main concern was the suspension. We wanted to go big. So we installed longer rear shocks, increasing the ground clearance and giving it a more rugged look. Then we bought a normal fork from an XR1200 base version and rebuilt the internals, adding some travel and a bit more softness in the first part of the fork travel.
We installed a Motogadget Motoscope Mini behind the bars. Jona is an expert electronics technician, and he made the Harley wiring work with enduro controls and a Motogadget speedo.
As it was for off-road use too, we decided to install 7/8″ controls: Vortex J Murph Special handlebar without cross bar, Brembo RCS19 brake pump, RCS Stunt Clutch, Husqvarna lights switch.
The front was completed with a flat track number plate with integrated light and MX mudguard. We also installed new wider diameter custom-made headers and a small silencer, added a K&N filter, and remapped it.
We did a custom steel rear mudguard. We didn’t want a Harley with a low rear fender like you usually see. So we did the tail to elevate the rear end, aligning it with the tank. This steel mudguard also holds the rear number plate and lights, too, as this bike is 100% street legal.
The seat was built from scratch, starting with a fiberglass base and sufficient foam to match it with the main line of the tank and mudguard…
Pirelli Rally Scorpion tires were chosen for both axles.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
By it’s behaviour, it could be named “La Poderosa” (The Powerful One).
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
Riding this bike, it’s like riding a Hummer with a handlebar — like a tank. It doesn’t matter how brave or strong you are, you would need to be more to ride it properly. It always has enough power and torque, and you have to use all your talent to dominate that power and inertia, but doing it, you feel like you’re running a storm at ground level!
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
We are particularly proud of the riding position, as we machined the top tree to install new handlebar clamps to raise the posture, and the new Vortex handlebar gives you perfect control over this rude dirtbike, which runs super comfortable on asphalt, too!
Follow the Builders
Javier Calvo: @donjaviercalvo