GunBaby 883 Sportster

First, let me begin this feature by mentioning that the finish you see on this bike comes by way of acid etching followed by flame treating all steel parts (except tear fender and gas tank kept in raw steel). Result is this iridescent-type “color” that ranges from golds and straw-yellows to deep purples, reds and even blues. Is there a camera – and a photographer – that could accurately capture this finish? Something to judge and appreciate with your own eyes. Of course, this chemical and thermal technique explains the name GunBaby given to this custom Sportster, work of Joe Cooper at Cooper Smithing Co .

A Buell gave several of its parts to this project. Joe loves to use XL 883 engines because his preference is to low geared powerplants  with plenty of torque.providing quick throttle response. He told me “it’s more enjoyable for me to take an engine where the power to weight is such that you can pin the throttle wide out more often, rather than being over-powered and overly cautious. I have always liked getting to 30mph in a snap more than I’ve liked riding at 50mph,..”

Engine modifications include a Dyna-Tech single-fire ignition, a bulletproof solid-state mechanism. Power to the plugs is supplied via an ultra light-weight lithium iron battery secured between the front frame rails. For the practice of frequent and fast accelerations Joe  did a chain conversion, went to a much bigger rear sprocket,  updated suspension to a Progressive Suspension mono shock, carried by a custom swingarm which has been beefed up to handle the extra torque from that huge sprocket. To increase tlow end torque, custom 2-into-1 headers were added and as a nice bonus, the bike keeps a super low exhaust note.

GunBany weighs considerably less than the donor Buell from which the brakes and front end were taken, resulting in an abundance of stopping power. To battle this, the master cylinder’s bore was increased and mounted to the front fork opposite the massive 6-piston caliper. The cylinder is cable-actuated feeding up to the front lever, and Joe tells me that it has created a greater sense of feel to the entire braking system, along with adding loads of adjustability. Overlooked,by most (and not noticeable on these pictures, is the seat finished by a master craftsman in high-end furniture design in a subtle almost metallic leather.

To conclude, Joe Cooper said that “The GunBaby is easily one of the most enjoyable bikes I’ve ever ridden. It’s low seat height, tight suspension and comfortable control positions coupled with low-gearing and torque gives it such a solid feeling. It’s incredibly difficult to ride without a big smile.

GunBaby already won 1st place at the International Motorcycle Show in Seattle, which has earned entry into the 2012 Sturgis AMD World Championship. It is for sale and you can bid for it here on eBay from today to Sunday May 20. Cooper Smithing Co.

26 Responses to “GunBaby 883 Sportster”

  1. 1 Hark May 14th, 2012 at 7:52 am

    Wow…this guy does great work. I am too big for an 883, but this bike could really sell big for Harley. There sure is a lot of tallented people out and about that Harley could learn some great stuff from. Great Post Cyril. I look forward to your weekly updates. I am so tired of all the daily bad news that goes on in our country…your information gets my Mondays kicked off in the right direction.

  2. 2 Dave Blevins May 14th, 2012 at 7:56 am

    I like this thing a lot.

  3. 3 Kevin Boyle Kustoms May 14th, 2012 at 8:04 am


  4. 4 Jester May 14th, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Great find, Cyril. In love with this exhaust.

  5. 5 Ryan May 14th, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Like it but price on eBay is very stiff.

  6. 6 Nick May 14th, 2012 at 8:47 am


  7. 7 Pat Savage May 14th, 2012 at 9:00 am

    What an amazing effect he has rendered with this interesting technique. Good morning Cyril. I’m in agreement with Hark about having great stuff to read instead of the rest of it! Sent 2 copies of “Wind & Fire” Cd one for both you & your brother. Hope you enjoy it it’s a one year labour of love. Goin to own a CH machine someday!


  8. 8 BrotherTiberius May 14th, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Simply beatutiful.

  9. 9 Tropical Willie May 14th, 2012 at 9:43 am

    looks like fun to ride this one. COOL BIKE

  10. 10 Fritz May 14th, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Stunning! Absolutely beautiful!

  11. 11 Austin Weiss May 14th, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Amazing work. We had to flame treat all the parts of hitlers limo. Exactly as they were originally. Lost art not many people know how to do it. it’s fun to see it turn colors..
    Instagram @streamlinedesigns

  12. 12 a 1 cycles May 14th, 2012 at 1:19 pm


  13. 13 Alan K May 14th, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Beautiful flowing lines and masterful execution.

  14. 14 hk May 14th, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    the exhaust is seriously cool ,the bike is incredible

  15. 15 Romano May 14th, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Like the bike. Doesn’t like the price! I pass.

  16. 16 Greeko May 14th, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Great Sportster piece.

  17. 17 Chicago Buzz May 14th, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    This exhaust is going to be copied over and over if manufacturers find a way to produce it at a reasonable price. Joe Cooper, did you get a design patent?

  18. 18 BankRobber May 14th, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Joe Cooper is a Master Blacksmith and machinist. English wheel. Old school.

    I owned his last amazing creation, The Jefferson, possibly the best looking 1200cc Sportster bobber on the planet.
    It was the cover bike and feature story from American Iron magazine last November, 2011:

    The GunBaby will come in top 3 at Sturgis, mark my words. Joe’s attention to detail is best appreciated up close – his welds are artful, he machines everything himself.

    I think it’s worth every bit of $25k, if not more…

    I’ve also had the pleasure of owning, and riding a Joe Cooper, Cooper Smithing Company motorcycle, and not many people have had that honor – he is a true gentleman, a master of his craft, and the nicest guy you might ever meet in your life.. Humble and talented beyond belief..

    Somebody who has the $$$ – Buy this bike. It is a handmade work of art in metal that goes like hell and you can get it serviced at your local Harley dealer.

    Joe’s bike’s also tend to appreciate in value after they hit magazine covers and blogs like this, so…., I’m just saying…

    The Jefferson was in one of 50-Cent’s company’s videos…

    Congrats to Joe on the build and to Cyril Huze for covering it. Joe Cooper deserves to be considered amongst the most talented of the new generation of builders doing really creative, but subtle work. Not overblown.. Just right.. And when you start looking up close, that’s when you start seeing the custom machined bits and pieces, and guards, and bungs and you realize this bike really deserves this recognition and the accolades of everyone seeing Joe’s work for the first time.

    Keep watching Joe Cooper.. I put my money where my mouth was and bought his first build. Loved it.. Rode it all over Brooklyn and Manhattan for a year. It came in 2nd Place, Modified Harley at Sturgis 2010, then 2nd Place, AMD Unlimited Division in NYC, Jan 2011. Get’s the cover of American Iron, then I sold it on eBay and made a couple bucks on the bike.. How is that anything but awesome?

  19. 19 ray c wheeler May 15th, 2012 at 12:15 am

    Very talented….

    Great job……

  20. 20 Linda Amondson-Muller May 15th, 2012 at 12:18 am

    Great Loooing Bike !! Beautiful Finished Product!!!

  21. 21 Sportster Mike May 15th, 2012 at 4:37 am

    Can I add my tuppence worth from over the pond?

    Really great looking RIDEABLE bike. and love that finish

    The exhaust does look nice – Akrapovic do a very similar looking one here in England in black or chrome – with baffles in its loud and with baffles out even louder….

  22. 22 Jason Hallman (Steelchoppin) May 15th, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    What a great bike! Damn…there sure are a lot of Sportys out there lately.

  23. 23 james May 15th, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    The guys bitchin’ about pricing don’t realize that if he built that bike for them it would probably cost another ten grand. Quality costs.

  24. 24 Iron Horse May 15th, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    I love the alternative metal treatment. It lends a very different and unique approach to the basic black paint favored by so many. I’m on the fence with the exhaust…I kinda like it, but it has a bit of import flavor in my eyes. Just my humble opinion though. Very cool bike none-the-less!

  25. 25 MDSPHOTO May 15th, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Mass produce that exhaust and you will be a millionaire.

  26. 26 live2rideaglide May 16th, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Nice work , unique and innovative. Do mine next.

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Cyril Huze