XR750-Inspired Street Tracker by GC Custom Bikes…
The Harley-Davidson XR750 just might be the greatest racing motorcycle ever made. The fire-breathing V-twin tracker was Evel Knievel’s weapon of choice and a three-time winner of the AMA BOTT (Battle of the Twins) series, but it’s true purpose and calling was flat track. For decades, it dominated dirt tracks around the country, earning 500+ main event victories and 37 Grand National Championships in the hands of legendary riders like Jay Springsteen, Scott Parker, and Chris Carr.
“The XR750 has become widely considered to be the most successful racebike in motorcycle racing history, perhaps the greatest vehicle in motorsports history. Is there even any competition? What other machine boasts a half-century reign spent transforming talents into heroes and heroes into legends?” –Cycle World
What’s more, Jeffrey Carver Jr. won the 2017 Lone Star Half-Mile on an XR750 against a field of modern Indian FTR’s, Harley XG’s, Yamaha MT-07’s, and Ninja 650’s — 47 years after the bike’s introduction! And no less than Scott Parker, among others, still believes the XR750 can win.
For the mere mortals among us, the XR750 remains an unobtainium specimen. Not only have these bikes become prohibitively expensive, but they were never street-legal. The closest road-going kin is the Sportster, something of a legend in its own right and a proper donor for an XR750-inspired build.
That’s where our new friend Gary Carr of GC Custom Bikes comes in. Based in Newcastle, UK, Gary went to school for motor vehicle engineering and worked many other jobs before opening his own shop:
“For the last 10 years I’ve been very fortunate to be involved in the ever-changing custom bike scene and have been able to open and run a successful custom bike building shop and do a ‘job’ that I absolutely love.”
This build started life as a regular 2005 Harley-Davidson XL1200 Sportster — but Gary had other plans for the Milwaukee tractor, stripping it down to build his own version of a street tracker.
“This bike I built for myself and for the shop really, mainly to show what is possible to create with a basic Sportster if you the right skills, parts, time, and of course the money… I wanted to build one my way and pay homage to the old 70s legend, the XR750.”
This street tracker is now running a beefy set of modern inverted forks courtesy of a Buell, matched awith a big Galfer front disc and Buell six-pot caliper. The original hubs have been re-laced with 19-inch chrome rims and double-butted spokes, each wheel wrapped in road-legal flat track rubber, and Gary has a set of Hagon Nitron rear shocks on the way.
Shaun of Mirror Finishes UK laid down the lovely blue metal-flake on the XL tank and custom-reinforced seat unit, while Spyra Moto TIG-welded the dreamy set of high pipes. (Editor’s note: Some of you might moan about potential pipe burn from the high exhaust, but having ridden a high-pipe Sportster for nearly a decade now, I can tell you it’s all about the positioning — and wearing pants like you should.)
With the custom intake and rejetted carb, Gary says the bike goes as well as it shows:
“The bike’s a bit of an animal — these 1200 V-twin engines are very punchy and full of torque. The position is a lot higher than stock and this improves the riding experience tenfold. A lot easier to throw it around the way it is now and the front end and big brake really helps.”
All in all, this is one bad Harley street tracker that pays homage to one of the greatest bikes of all time. Good on you, Gary, for keeping the legend alive, and we look forward to seeing more of your work!
XL1200 Street Tracker: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is Gary Carr and I own GC Custom Bikes, a custom bike building shop in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. Straight out of school I went to college and gained qualifications in motor vehicle engineering. I had many jobs before this, but for the last 10 years I’ve been very fortunate to be involved in the ever-changing custom bike scene and have been able to open and run a successful custom bike building shop and do a “job” that I absolutely love.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
The bike is based on a 2005 Harley Davidson Sportster 1200 XL.
• Why was this bike built?
This bike I built for myself and for the shop really, mainly to show what is possible to create with a basic Sportster if you the right skills, parts, time, and of course the money. I see the bare bones of most motorcycles as a total blank canvas to build from and create a totally different custom style bike from it. Having said that I am a shop after all and the bike will be up for sale.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Main influence is the original iconic Harley Davidson XR750 flat tracker from back in the 1970s. Even though times have changed and we’ll never see another bike like the old XR750 again (and an original will set you back £30k); I really wanted to capture that look with a modern twist. There’s a lot of flat tracker bikes out there and the custom scene has really made this style of bike popular, so I wanted to build one my way and pay homage to the old 70s legend, the XR750.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Bike started life as an already good condition Sportster 1200XL. All the original parts came off and bike was stripped right back down to the frame and engine for a good clean-down and repaint.
I then fitted a full Buell front end, triple tree, and clamps with matching Buell USD racing forks. Galfer front brake disc and a Buell 6-pot caliper with new pads, braided brake line and new fluid. New rear brake pads, new drive belt, and new battery.
Both wheels have been professionally custom made from the original hubs and rebuilt with 19-inch British chrome rims, with double-butted chrome spokes. New flat track road tyres with heavy-duty inner tubes. Custom TIG-welded exhaust from our friend Spyra Moto, custom air intake with Ram Air foam filter, carb stripped and re-jetted to suit, LSL flat track handlebars. Koso digital speedo all wired in displaying speed, mileage, and all necessary lights.
Rear frame arms chopped to fit the custom reinforced flat track seat unit, original XL tank all painted metallic blue with extra metallic fleck by Shaun at Mirror Finishes UK, custom front number board with lights high and low beam, bar end indicators and small 3-in-1 rear / stop / indicator lights at the back. Side-mounted number plate and underside bash plate.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
The bike’s a bit of an animal — these 1200 V-twin engines are very punchy and full of torque. The position is a lot higher than stock and this improves the riding experience tenfold. A lot easier to throw it around the way it is now and the front end and big brake really helps. I do have a set of Hagon Nitro shocks on the way for the rear as well.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I think the front end of this bike really sets it off, gives the whole bike a much chunkier and aggressive look to it. Also the exhausts are a work of art but I can’t take credit for them.
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