Harley Sportster Undressed For The Trail

SC3-1SC3-2SC3-3The Harley Sportster has never been so popular. More owners mean more bikers discovering its sporty ability not only on the road but off the beaten path. If rightly modified (mainly higher ground clearance, new suspension, chain drive conversion and optionally GPS and adventure gear) it has already demonstrated its adventure abilities in the most remote parts of the world (reference Doug Wothke exploits on a 2003 modified Sportster) The custom Dual Sport SC3 Sportster featured here could have been a standard offering from Harley-Davidson or more precisely from Buell at the time Erik Buell was still working under the control of the Milwaukee manufacturer. But unfortunately it has never been.

SC3-4SC3-4As it often happens, it’s an individual “working his passion” who shows a bike maker the way to expand one of its factory models’ abilities. You are looking at the work of Jim Carducci, an engineer and long time dual sport motorcycle rider, who devoted 2 1/2 years of his life conceiving what is for him the perfect bike for all trails. The conversion on his 2003 Sportster model includes an additional 10″ for front suspension travel combined with an extra 8″ for rear travel, a 6-gallon custom gas tank, a lighter swingarm and controls out of aluminum, rubber mounted risers, a fly windshield, a skid plate, an engine upgrade (NRHS 1250 cc kit with Andrews cams) and a high exhaust system from Supertrapp. From the road to the trail and back. A proposition to attract many current Sportster lovers and youngsters. Carducci SC3 Dual Sport (photography Neil Hanshaw)

28 Responses to “Harley Sportster Undressed For The Trail”

  1. 1 1951vbs Jul 25th, 2013 at 8:38 am

    Harley did let Buell make the Ulysses adventure bike. It was unfortunately introduced just before the Adventure bike segment became popular.

  2. 2 Brother Tiberius Jul 25th, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Love it. I have a long term plan for a dual purpose bike, and this would bring me to HD, as opposed to BMW, Kawasaki, Triumph, and others.

  3. 3 mk Jul 25th, 2013 at 9:37 am

    So what is the wet weight of this pig?

  4. 4 Terence Tory Jul 25th, 2013 at 9:45 am

    I like it,overall it’s a good effort.The bars appear too narrow for any genuine dirt road riding.It needs 7/8 grips and the H-D hand levers are too fat for dirt riding.The bash plate should have way more coverage to be more than a cosmetic item.The bucket seat locks the rider into one position making long ride comfort an issue,and it makes control more difficult by not being able to shift your weight around easily.The mini tanks on the rack are a little chi-chi.Big flywheels make long slow rides on slippery dirt much better than having to rev the neck out of lesser motors all day long.I wish him well with this endeavor.

  5. 5 CafeSportyTC Jul 25th, 2013 at 10:10 am

    yes please!

  6. 6 GuitarSlinger Jul 25th, 2013 at 11:42 am

    This … is a brilliant [ and usable ] custom bike . As well as exposing a missed opportunity on behalf of the Motor Company/ Buell indeed . Yet … its still not too late for H-D to jump on this bandwagon . I mean seriously ….. how hard/expensive could it be for the Factory to develop something like this ? Not to mention if they did it’d sell like gangbusters both here and especially overseas . And yeah …. something like this might even bring my 87 year family history with the company back into the fold

    A Harley dual sport . Yup …. the more I think about it … the more I like the idea . Bet I could scare the pants off my GS owning neighbor with one if they built it 😉

  7. 7 Lyle Landstrom Jul 25th, 2013 at 11:45 am

    It’s been done before when someone in the 80’s raced an evo sprtster at Baja. They welded on extended head finning among other changes. I think those little Chi-Chi bags are probably for tools.
    This looks like a neat bike. It can’t be too heavy considering it’s engine size, elec start, etc.

  8. 8 fuji Jul 25th, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Nice bike but for an off road enthusiast . practicle ?

  9. 9 Excite bike Jul 25th, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    It might do okay on gravel roads, but let’s be honest in the fact that it’s not practical for any true off road or adventure riding. Heavy, high center of gravity, air-cooled, unscheduled exhaust pipes, and most important… a Harley Chassis. I bet I’d break that thing first ride out.

    Is it cool looking bike? I think so.
    Is an avid off-road rider going to consider this as his/her next bike purchase? No

  10. 10 takehikes Jul 25th, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    I’d like one just for the double takes you would get.
    Priceless ….but not a dual purpose bike. Cool as hell looking though, yet where is the beak? lol

  11. 11 Septic the Sceptic Jul 25th, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    The answer to a question that no-one asked.

  12. 12 Loaf LTR Australia Jul 25th, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    Very tidily done there boys. I remember seeing a rough as guts version in an Aussie event the Finke Desert race around 7 or 8 years back. In Oz trail bikes are knows as chook-chasers or chookies but the new adventure bike category are more of a Emu-chaser or an Ostrich-chaser. The old XLV750 Honda out here was called a dodo chaser as it was that heavy it could go back in time to when they were still around ha ha.

  13. 13 Burly Brand Jul 25th, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Saw this machine in person at the Quail motorcycle gathering in Carmel, CA. Detail and craftsmanship are astounding. Is it capable? Take a look at his exploits over at advrider.com to answer that one. Some great build pics there as well. Hats off to a talented guy willing to blaze a path that scares lesser men.

  14. 14 Rodent Jul 25th, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    The guy who built this bike designs machines that make the chips for computers. So when he goes to a machine shop it’s not in some back street low rent area. Same for the welders. This is all high tech very, very, very high priced precision workshops and the results show it.

  15. 15 SIGFREED Jul 26th, 2013 at 5:56 am

    GREAT..!!! Looks promising.

    All said and evidently not done.., mk, you are 100% correct, in this segment it is all about that one four letter word, the one that Harley has struggled the to master for almost all of one century – ie MASS.

    A bona fide off the tarred surface bike, as AN absolute first priority has to be as light as is functionally (viz structurally) possible, then only add as much torque (that translated into power) as you can/like. If you have nothing better to do, watch THE LONG WAY ROUND, the notion speaks for itself.

    Harley’s agricultural powerplants produce a useful torque bias performance (power is more relevant to drag, elevated topspeeds, bla, bla, bla – not relevant here) – eg look at what Harley have achieved in flat track racing – they certainly have a foundation to build on. The challenge is just that everything they produce is too heavy – in modern terms certainly. The main frame and the engine perhaps the most.

    Aluminium is expensive, but selective use can work well to reduce the overall weight considerably – eg look at what Patrick Racing is doing with billet stuff (obviously not the way to go for volume production – but look at the concept of weight reduction); consider as cast- and/or part forged alu main frame, etc, etc. How much does the BMW 1200 Boxer engine/gearbox weigh? If they can do it – it should not be too tough to do it with a V-Twin. More so, look at what Ducati has done their L-Twin.

    The V-Twin could be a master in this segment – it is is narrow like a L-Twin, but does not have one cylinder that is vulnerable to damage; The BMW Boxer is great, but those ‘big-ears’ cylinders are a massive draw back…

    It will be fascinating to see what an Ecosse Heretic, with a pair of chunky Continental Twinduro tires on a reasonable off-road path (reminder – the Heretic’s frame was not intended for such antics and it could be an expensive replacement), just to prve the concept.


  16. 16 fuji Jul 26th, 2013 at 8:03 am

    Loaf LTR Australia . That old XLV 750 may have been good for one thing when Honda made an RS 750 flat track bike that the Harley XR 750 couldn’t beat until they restricted air flow and added a bunch of weight.
    Sure you can go fast for a while then when you are worn out from tossing it around a little 450 – 650 will go by and drop a note /map on how to get back home. The manly thing to do. You may fool some for a short time until the real fool emerges.

  17. 17 Mike Greenwald Jul 26th, 2013 at 8:07 am

    SC3 Adventure Basic Specifications

    Motor & Frame
    ’93-’03 Sportster® motor and frame (w/ minor modifications to frame)

    63.5 inch

    Steering Rake / Trail
    30 degress / 5.6 inch

    Triple Clamp Offset
    0.71 inch (18mm)

    Suspension Travel
    +8 inch Rear, +10 inch Front

    Seat Height
    35.5 inch (neutral), ~33 inch (with rider on bike)

    475 lbs (without gasoline)

  18. 18 calif phil Jul 26th, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Now there is a bike that would draw me back into a Harley dealer.

  19. 19 Lyle Landstrom Jul 26th, 2013 at 9:59 am

    So it’s just a little heavier than a Triumph Tiger and right in the ballpark, or even lighter than a BMW 1200 GS.

  20. 20 Terence Tory Jul 26th, 2013 at 10:39 am

    A reality check on weight guys.Comparing it to BMW GS’s and the modern Triumph lump is a red hearing.They are all way too heavy for any serious dirt riding apart from smooth dirt roads and to and from a Starbucks.Two hundred pounds heavier than a XR 750 and a similar amount regarding Steve McQueens desert Triumphs.Wicked parts are one thing,but physics ends up holding the trump card.Its in the car park,more than in the ballpark.Buy a KLR650 and enjoy yourself.

  21. 21 Lyle Landstrom Jul 26th, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    TT, What 1200 cc currently being manufactured off-road bike do you consider light? I’m pretty sure this is a better riding bike with better suspension than an XR 750 or a mid-60’s Triumph.Compairing this to a KLR (which is a good bike) is another red herring.I guess this is just another option for guys that want an adventure bike.

  22. 22 fuji Jul 26th, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    How did an XR 750 get into the mix as an off road bike.

    An XR 750 engine would not be a practical engine . The price of an XR is out of the ball park maintenance wise plus how are you going to start the engine . No starter. Externally started – race engine.

    In Europe and the USA the Kawasaki KLR 650 is the most popular choice as a dual sport for those that ride seriously .

  23. 23 Terence Tory Jul 26th, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Fooge: Because an XR bike has the same motor configuration and it is at least 200 pounds lighter than a Evo XL bike.

  24. 24 Lyle Landstrom Jul 26th, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    The KLR’s “curb weight” is 432 lbs. Not exactly a lightweight dirt bike either.

  25. 25 fuji Jul 26th, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Terence Tory
    Yes you are right Mr Tory they are the same configuration. You can rest now.

  26. 26 James another crazy Kiwi Jul 26th, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Cool bike,
    BUT there has to be a market for it to be made in numbers big enough to keep the price relivant.
    Remember HD is in the cruiser/Tourer/custom market.

    Unlikely many of those folk will be going off road unless they crash

    Heh Heh

    Hey Loaf are you going to put my flattie in soon. Not sure it suits LTR readership either.

  27. 27 cbarter Jul 27th, 2013 at 6:03 am

    Coolest bike I’ve seen in awhile. Triumph sells a lot of Scramblers, can’t see why H-D doesn’t offer something like this.

  28. 28 Sam Moses Aug 8th, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    Just took pics of my own version today. Watch my facebook page tomorrow. Need this swingarm next!

Comments are currently closed.
Cyril Huze