Custom Sportster Ironhead. Creativity On A Budget.

Harley XL Sportster Ironhead overhead-valve engine was introduced in 1957 as a 900 cc replaced by a 1000 cc from 1972 to 1984. A cast Iron Heads Sportster engine is still, or is more than ever, a prize possession for many custom builders. So, it didn’t matter to Jesse Bassett from The GasBox Shop that the only thing left of a rusted pile of 1976 XL parts was the engine and a rear drum. He had the motor, the basis he needed for a very cool vintage style custom Sportster project on a budget.

First, the entire engine was rebuilt and is now running 9:1 compression pistons with PB+ cams and is breathing through an S&S carburetor covered with a Benchmark air cleaner. Jesse kept the original neck section of the frame, re-conceived and fabricated the complete frame with a brand new restyled rear section. The gas tank is a narrowed 2004 Triumph America tank from a salvage yard.  The oil tank was hand fabricated at the shop from flat sheets of steel. It was fitted with a very cool filler cap from a vintage British cycle. The fender is a GasBox original with custom struts. A Harley Reproduction VL Style Springer is responsible for front suspension with custom handlebars to match its style.

The stainless steel 19” front wheel is laced to a vintage BSA drum which has been customized to fit into the Springer application. The rear wheel is stainless spokes 18” and laced to a standard XL drum.  The brake has been modified to the location of the shifter which has been switched to the left side by using a later case half. 2 into 1 custom exhaust utilizes a stock AMF muffler. The headlight is standard H-D and the tail light is a Grimes model B off of a classic Cesna airplane.

The GasBox is a very young shop opened in 2009 by Jesse Bassett and specializes in custom fabrication and vintage motorcycles.  Jesse has over twelve years of mechanical and fabrication experience including engine rebuilding, repairing, restoring, customizing and building motorcycle

24 Responses to “Custom Sportster Ironhead. Creativity On A Budget.”

  1. 1 Steve Carr Nov 5th, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Very nice!

    Steve Carr

  2. 2 Dan Moore Nov 5th, 2012 at 10:25 am

    I’m with Steve. Very nice!

  3. 3 Dave Blevins Nov 5th, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Cool bike. Love the old ironheads!

  4. 4 ValueTeck Enterprises LLC Nov 5th, 2012 at 11:06 am

    I like it!

  5. 5 Scot Nov 5th, 2012 at 11:40 am

    I like it a lot! Clean, simple, not over done.

    Now, if we could only talk Bert Baker into doing a new transmission for the Ironhead…

  6. 6 Kevin Boyle Kustoms Nov 5th, 2012 at 11:43 am

    stylin lil’ whip …sanitary

  7. 7 SIGFREED Nov 5th, 2012 at 11:54 am

    The Ironhead is a brilliant donor for a budget job – eg DP Customs have an ‘industry’ out of it.

    The real gain is that there is often enough wherewithal left – after acquiring the donor bike/parts – that the rest of the build can be real quality. With suppliers like Biltwell, Acme Choppers, etc, etc, etc, making real quality “body” parts for real good value, a < $10k killer-custom is a very real prospect.

    As the population of Ironheads will eventually run dry – perhaps already, I suspect the next 'craze' will be early model Softails…

  8. 8 Freddie Nov 5th, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Well done !

  9. 9 burnout Nov 5th, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Sweet Ironhead. You gotta be handy with tools to own one. Peace

  10. 10 Steelchoppin Nov 5th, 2012 at 12:26 pm


  11. 11 LenNY Nov 5th, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Great build brings back lots of memories from the 70’s love the ol Ironheads

  12. 12 Boots Nov 5th, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Looks nice and clean. Great looking bike!

  13. 13 the gasbox Nov 5th, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    The budget was more than 10k on this one. But we know Cyril considers anything under 30k a BUDGET. Thanks for the comments and thanks for featuring another one of our bikes Cyril.

  14. 14 dmj Nov 5th, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Another “very nice” What a great build and something that can actually be ridden too. Why do so many custom builders not understand that this is what the motorcycle public is looking for?

  15. 15 Blackmax Nov 5th, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Ditto, Very. very, nice

  16. 16 Zipper Nov 5th, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Bet it sounds good. ..Z

  17. 17 nicker Nov 5th, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    Iron head……..

    Just don’t forget to roll back the throttle every so-many-miles to oil-up the top-end…… 🙂


  18. 18 Rick Nov 6th, 2012 at 8:16 am

    I have one for sale, ride daily!

  19. 19 Moose Nov 6th, 2012 at 9:51 am

    I have a 69 irohead that I built and ride it more than my other bike because its so much fun. Jess and his guys do some first rate work and if I was ever going to have someone build a bike for me it would be them. It may be a “very young shop” but they have the hart and soul of any grey beard shop thats been around for many years

  20. 20 eBikerLeather Nov 6th, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Very Nice! I want one now 🙂

  21. 21 Johnny Wolf Nov 6th, 2012 at 4:39 pm


  22. 22 dannym Nov 6th, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    i love sportys!!!!!!-always have,always will-mdm323-244-9673

  23. 23 rebel Nov 8th, 2012 at 10:32 am

    NICE again !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. 24 Manxman Nov 8th, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    I love sporties and always will and old iron heads in particular. This build is clean, sweet and very ridable. Kudos to the builder for a minimalistic yet functionable ride.

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Cyril Huze