The Scrambler We Wish Harley Had Built…
Introduced back in 2007, the Sportster XL1200N Nightster was a blacked-out, lowered version of the regular Sportster — something of a “factory custom.” Though it was mainly an aesthetic exercise, the Nightster garnered strong praise from riders and reviewers. Simon Bradley of Motorbikes Today called it the best Harley he’d ever ridden, going so far as to claim he’d buy one with his own money, while Motorcycle News praised the Nightster’s looks and handling:
“The bike can be flung around a lot easier than a 251kg bike should. Ground clearance isn’t great but it’s still a lot of fun out in the country as well as posing down the high street.” –MCN
Well, our friend Noel Muller of Black Cycles Australia has certainly addressed the ground clearance issue on this Nightster, nicknamed the “Night Scrambler” (Nightster + Scrambler).
The 2011 Nightster 1200 donor comes from a new customer, Daniel — a friend of Zach from Retromotive, who commissioned the Black Cycles KTM 300 and Yamaha XT500 we previously featured. Daniel sounds like a dream client — he gave Noel a few requests, and let his creativity fly.
Noel quickly decided to build this Nightster into a Sportster scrambler that wouldn’t look out of place right on a showroom floor:
“I wanted this bike to almost look like it was a production bike from Harley-Davidson!”
Here at BikeBound, we’re big fans of Sportster scramblers, but we’ve never seen one that looked so much like a factory production model. We’re especially enamored with the saddle / rear fender / oil tank area, which flows so well from the fuel tank. As is so often the case, it took a tremendous amount of work to achieve such a clean look.
Noel gives us a full rundown on the modifications below, which are extensive. The bike is riding on 13″ billet shocks mounted to 30mm raised swingarm shock mounts to give the bike more height. Noel chopped the rear fender struts, leveled the rear rails, and built a custom subframe for the one-piece gripper seat from Carman’s Auto Trimmers. He then cut the tunnel out of the fuel tank so it could be lowered down 70mm at front and 30mm at the rear, achieving the right flow between the tank, saddle, and hand-shaped rear fender.
Other highlights include the 18″ spoked rear wheel, 316 stainless 2-into-1 custom exhaust, 5mm-thick custom aluminum bash plate, chopped / raised front fender, LED lighting, Rollie’s Speed Shop chain conversion, and Popbang Classics wiring and paint, including the SCRAMBLER logo in the H-D Forty-Eight style, accentuating the factory look.
Noel says the finished bike rides great:
“The bike rides beautifully and actually feels nimble and comfortable. Take off with the chain drive now is instant too.”
Believe it or not, the customer, Daniel, didn’t see the bike until Noel delivered it earlier this week — not surprisingly, he was blown away! Below, Noel gives us the full story on “The Night Scrambler.”
Nightster Scrambler: In the Builder’s Words…
New customer Daniel contacted me about doing a scrambler build on a 2011 Nightster 1200 that he’d just bought late in 2022. Daniel actually knows Zach, the owner of the KTM 300 and XT500 previously featured on BikeBound.
He had minimal requests and gave me a lot of freedom on this build.
So firstly the name: Because it’s a “Nightster” model and is now a “scrambler,” naturally it’s called “The Night-Scrambler”!
Firstly an 18″ rear wheel was blacked out and laced up to the original hub (as the original 16″ just wouldn’t look correct and there’s basically no off road tyre choices in 16″ anyway), so we fitted up some Avon dual-sport tyres and a pair of Arlen Ness wave discs were fitted also.
A pair of 13″ black anodized billet shocks were fitted to the rear (as it had lowered shocks beforehand). The swingarm shock mounts were also raised 30mm to add a bit more height.
A 5mm thick aluminum bash plate was built (the reason was to level out the raked frame rails slightly).
A 316 stainless steel 2-into-1 exhaust was built, topped off with a short SC Project muffler.
The original rear fender struts were chopped and the rear was leveled slightly before the custom subframe was built above. The whole idea is to raise the seat height to flow with the lines of the tank.
The tunnel was cut out of the fuel tank so it could be lowered down 70mm at front and 30mm at the rear. And the fuel cap opening was removed and offset to the right (mainly to clear the now higher tunnel). A billet fuel cap was machined up to look similar to a dirt bike style.
An aluminum rear fender was hand-shaped to fit the rear and the original front fender was chopped and raised to the lower tree — it’s actually been curved more harshly towards the rear to get the look right, as a lot of the scrambler builds front fenders seem to head skywards?
Biltwell super low tracker bars were fitted along with motogadget micro switch blocks, an aftermarket throttle, and motogadget mini oval speedo mounted behind the bar clamp. Also the risers were machined shorter by around 25mm.
The levers / perches are original fitment items but heavily smoothed, shaved, and rounded off. Headlight is a Purpose Built Moto “flashpoint” LED. LED indicators all round using Kellerman Atto micro all-in-ones on the rear.
The in-house built seat was covered in a one piece “gripper” moto-x material by Adam at Carman’s Auto Trimmers.
There are too many minor mods done on this bike to mention that will never be noticed! A lot of parts were blacked out in gloss 2k also. Hel brake lines were made to order. And a new shorter clutch cable fitted as this came to me with 8″ ape hangers!
As always Justin at Popbang Classics did an awesome job wiring it all together, and he also did an amazing job laying down the Audi “mocha latte” color and graphics. I decided early on to add the SCRAMBLER font on the tank in THE FORTY EIGHT style, as I hadn’t seen it done before and I wanted this bike to almost look like it was a production bike from Harley-Davidson!
We also converted to chain final drive as the belt just wouldn’t suit this style. Thanks to Rollie’s Speed Shop for supplying the kit for the conversion.
The bike rides beautifully and actually feels nimble and comfortable. Take off with the chain drive now is instant too. Daniel is blown away with the end result and said it was much more than he expected!