An XR750 “streetclone” built by a Special Forces combat veteran…
Introduced in 1970, the Harley-Davidson XR750 would become the most successful racing motorcycle in history, winning 29 of 37 AMA Grand National Championships in its first four decades of existence. What’s more, the V-twin flat-track weapon was the preferred jump bike of the legendary Evel Knievel.
“What other machine boasts a half-century reign spent transforming talents into heroes and heroes into legends?” —Cycle World
In 2020, to commemorate the XR750’s 50th birthday, Harley commissioned filmmaker Evan Senn of Fast & Left to create XR750: 50 Years of Wins — a film that traces the incredible history of this machine. Truly, you would be hard-pressed to find a more remarkable American racing motorcycle.
This Harley-Davidson XR750 “streetclone” comes to us via our new friend and kindred spirit Larry Morris of New York City Motorcycles. It was originally the work of “Randy,” a US Army Special Forces combat veteran:
“Randy made a promise to himself that if he survived his final combat tour, he would lock himself in his machine shop back home in Phoenix, AZ, and build a replica XR750 like his hero, Evel Knievel, used to jump. Building this motorcycle became his healthy obsession, to fight back against the evils of PTSD.” –Larry Morris, NYC MC
Randy wanted to create an authentic street-legal clone of the legendary XR750 without butchering a real one. Based on a ’93 Evo Sportster 1200, the bike features a high-compression race motor, Ninja forks, custom carbon tank with a factory orange XR750 gel-coat, NOS XR750 decals and grips, and tons of handmade parts: number plate, exhaust, intake, and more.
One of the most interesting parts of the build is the two-into-one braking system, adjustable for front-to-rear bias and actuated by the pedal alone. Obviously, XR750’s don’t normally have a front brake, as they’re not allowed in flat track competition, but Randy wanted one for safety’s sake when street riding — while keeping the clean look of a factory flat tracker.
As with many builders, Randy was more interested in building the bike than riding or owning it once it was complete. Says Larry Morris of New York City Motorcycles:
“He wanted as genuine an enthusiast to own it afterwards; he chose me.”
It would be tough to think of a better owner to ride, maintain, and cherish the machine. Larry, a US Army veteran himself, is a collector, broker, rider, and former AHRMA vintage road racer who opened a Brooklyn showroom in 2015, a California showroom adjacent to Deus Ex Machina in 2017, and relocated to the Shonan coast of Japan in 2019:
“Today, New York City Motorcycles exports vintage motorcycles worldwide from Japan and sells motorcycles as an agent for mainly USA sellers, in Japan.”
While Larry admits that he’s a historic vintage bike guy — not a custom guy — he treasures this XR750 street tracker and the story of its creation — a tribute to two heroes, Evel and Randy. Some bikes become so much more than machines, and this is one. It’s a rolling testament to the man who built it, a thundering display of racing history, and a true monster on the street:
“I’ve owned several real XR750’s and this motor, in this setup, is the most exhilarating, head-turning bike I’ve ever owned.”
Below, we talk to our new friend Larry for the full story of the build.
Harley XR750 Street Replica: Owner Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
55 years old, motorcycle rider for 42 years. AHRMA vintage roadracer (500 and 750 twins) for 8 seasons before moving to Japan in 2019. New York City Motorcycles began in 2012 as a label, initially, for a distinctive life as a New York City bike collector, rider, and eventual racer. Retail showroom in Brooklyn opened in 2015, moved to Venice, CA adjacent to Deus ex Machina in 2017. Relocated to the Shonan coast of Japan in 2019.
Have bought and sold vintage motorcycles full-time for over 10 years. Today, New York City Motorcycles exports vintage motorcycles worldwide from Japan and sells motorcycles as an agent for mainly USA sellers, in Japan.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
1993 Harley Davidson Evo Sportster 1200.
• Why was this bike built?
This motorcycle was built by “Randy” a US Army Special Forces engineer following multiple combat tours in Afghanistan. Randy made a promise to himself that if he survived his final combat tour, he would lock himself in his machine shop back home in Phoenix, AZ and build a replica XR750 like his hero, Evel Knievel, used to jump. Building this motorcycle became his healthy obsession, to fight back against the evils of PTSD. He was less interested in owning and riding the bike once it was complete. He wanted as genuine an enthusiast to own it afterwards; he chose me.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Making the bike as legitimate a clone of the genuine article — without the blasphemy of butchering a real one — in order to make an XR750 street bike.
The motorcycle’s most revolutionary feature are its two-into-one brakes activated via the pedal only. XR750’s do not use front brakes, hence there is no lever beside the throttle on the real thing. Randy decided the bike needed the safety of a front disc brake. But not at the expense of the bike’s appearance. This feature informs his entire approach to building the bike.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
• Two-into-one brakes via the pedal only.
• Offset, staggered pegs — like a real XR750.
• Upside-down adjustable Kawasaki Ninja forks via custom-made triple trees give the bike its stance without any modification of the frame’s rake.
• Swingarm, subframe, wheel hubs are all custom.
• Custom-made carbon fiber tank painted in factory orange XR750 gel-coat; NOS XR750 decals (this was arranged by me after owning the bike for 5 years or so).
• NOS XR750 grips.
• Race motor with lightened crank, big cams and valves, ported head, high compression top end. Wheelie machine in first and second gears!
• Custom front number plate with discreet headlight, side covers, exhaust, exhaust covers – all handmade.
• Many small parts, air filter intake, intake manifold, seat tail skirting and mounts, all handmade.
• The bars have a start button, a horn where a kill switch would normally go, a throttle and a clutch. No switches, wires nor clutter. Like the real thing.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
I’ve owned and raced many, many bikes. H2’s to Laverdas. I’m not a custom guy. I’m a historic vintage bike guy. But I’ve owned several real XR750’s and this motor, in this setup, is the most exhilarating, head turning bike I’ve ever owned. It’s a privilege to own and ride this motorcycle. It’s a tribute to two heroes – Evel Knievel, and Randy.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
Randy. His story is now my story to share. And this opportunity to tell it through Bikebound is very special to me.
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Photo credits — Larry Morris
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