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Evolution’s ’72 Harley Ironhead Sporty – “No. 22”

Posted on September 20, 2012 by Andrew in Bobber. 43 comments

If John Player Special made Samurai bobbers… Click for a larger image

Ever get the feeling you’ve forgotten something? That horrible, smouldering worry that you’ve left something behind or forgotten to do something. I’ve had one for the past few weeks, and it’s been driving me crazy. I’ve been checking ovens, keys, wallets, and door locks like a mad man – all to no avail. Then, just when I’d almost given up hope of ever finding what it was I was missing, Paul McKinnon from Pipeburn’s local favourites Evolution Motorsports wheeled the bike you see before you into our basement garage for a photoshoot. Suddenly it hit me – I knew what I’d been missing all this time. Good ol’ fashion, hairy-balls-to-the-wall, down and dirty, blowing angry blue flames out of a red-hot exhaust cubic goddamn inches. It’s been light years since we featured some decent capacity, and I’m here to tell you that this oversight has now been corrected like a nuclear weapon corrects fine bone china with exactly one thousand cc’s of Milwaukee’s finest two-wheeled tractor goodness. Meet No.22.

Over to Paul. “Dan came to me about a year ago and asked me if I would build him a hard-tail Sportster. A month or so later, he bought a ’73 (Oops. My bad – Andrew) Iron-Head Sportster and rode it around for a bit until he was ready to chop it up. His brief was fairly straight forward, a stretched out bike with clip-ons, or in other words a samurai chopper – the kind made famous by the likes of Zero and Shinya.”

Black and yellow, black and yellow


“a milk chocolate brown blanket stitched seat
with a maltese cross embossed”


“He dropped it off with a hand full of stuff; an oil bag, hard-tail (we will go into that later), a milk chocolate brown blanket stitched seat with a maltese cross embossed in the middle, re-pop sportster tank, some pretty chunky and roughly made clip-ons, a bunch of bits and pieces and a rolling, half stripped bike.”

“This one time, at band camp…”

“First up, I stripped it right back to a roller with a motor, pulled the forks out and set it up on the frame jig and cut the rear end of the bike off. I set the “bolt on” hard-tail up on the bike and discovered… it was far from bolt on! The hard-tail had been jig welded, which is a waste of time if you don’t control your welds.

The axle plates were 6mm out to each other and they hadn’t bent the top chain stays enough to allow the ends of them to be neatly welded to the top tube of the frame. I went about cutting it at a couple of joints to hopefully get it straight again… and I got lucky, the first joint I cut and the hard-tail made a “twang” sound and was straight. I put it back on the bike and welded it up. I had to make some fill pieces where the top chain stays meet the frame and add then I added dogleg seat stay tube to finish off. I also added a skateboard wheel to stop the chain from rubbing on the cross brace.”


“Now it was time to talk Dan
out of that chocolate seat”


“Next, I cut and shaved the forks, taking 6″ out of the length and removing the fender mounts from the legs and spinning them round in the lathe. Now it was time to talk Dan out of that chocolate seat and the sporty tank. We found a re-pop Wassell and an embossed leather saddle from Rich Phillips. We then found that 7 Metal West had a fender that matched the radius of the rear tyre and went ahead and ordered it.”

“Dan just kept bringing me more stuff, a nice brass LED tail light and a 4″ headlight… I just kept making brackets. The oil bag he originally dropped off didn’t work out, so Dan found one on the web.

We found that sweet Speedster gas cap and got it shipped, I cut the gas tank up to lower the tunnel, one to make it look neater (it had big gaps front and rear) and two, to get an extra litre of fuel inside, mounted the gas cap, then I went about fitting the tank to the bike.”

“We got a set of forward controls and I cut them up and moved them back 120mm and 30mm narrower each side. I ordered a few stainless mandrel bends and went about making ‘the flute’ exhaust. I finished it off with some brass cnc’d grills and I machined a brass piece to plug the end and used it to mount the rear of the pipe.

Once all the hardware was mounted and all the useless brackets cut off the frame and unnecessary holes filled in, I stripped it down and sent it off for blasting and powder coating.”

“We gave the motor a solid day of prep, someone had taken to it with a grinder to try and remove all the loose chrome (I saw it – the person who committed that crime is going straight to Harley hell – Andrew) We did what we could and then threw some matt black on it. I knocked up a set of clean and simple clip-ons up just in time to throw the forks in and do the final assembly of the bike. My good mate Kyle from Smith Concepts gave the tins a coat of black base coat, followed by some gold pin stripes and finished off with a clear flow coat. A couple of switches, a few wires, oil lines and a throttle cable and we were done.”

What happens when gas caps and Swiss Army Knives get it on

“I would like to thank Dan for asking me to build this bike, I am grateful for the opportunity and I am very pleased with the end result.”

  • motog

    That is a high quality build. Don’t matter if you don’t like Harleys, hardtails, gold chains, whatever… that is a high quality build.

    • Spyker May

      motog – you got it bru, the appreciation of the art is for the craft first, the content second…

  • arnold

    Love the innovation and build up of the tail in the last picture. I’ll have to look at this several times over the next couple of days to appreciate all the color and detail work.

  • Brendan Sullivan

    Beautiful. Not a huge fan of hardtails, but this bike is seriously badass.

  • Gribble70

    Some great detail here, love the pipe and the back light is quality! Might have painted those forks black but hey who cares when a bike looks this good!

  • I have to hear how that exhaust sounds.

    • Effen loud!

    • paul@evolution

      a small bit of audio towards the end….

  • manxman

    Very nice hardtail iron head – wht’s not to like!

  • I love that it looks like a machine nuts, bolts, wires. The black paint with the brass accents are mean. Well done!

  • hetman

    Great bike, great paint job. My hollander Batavus Pelikaan wear the same colours.

  • Love everything on this bike from the tank back. It’s a shame about the headlight and the top clamp. They just don’t seem to match up to the quality of the rest of the build. Great build from a fellow Aussie. Will be keeping an eye on Evolution from now on!

    • paul@evolution

      …… it all comes down to the customers budget.

      • Hey Paul, I suspected that might be the case. Regardless of those little personal gripes I’m a huge fan of this bike. I wish I was in Sydney so I could hear it fire up. Do you have any videos we can watch to get a taste?

        • paul@evolution

          Cheers mate. A little taste of noise towards the end of this. Nothing exciting, sound like a harley.

  • ianmallee

    wow, that front fork is cut low, any chance of it bottoming out?

    • paul@evolution

      the spring inside isn’t cut as much as the fork, therefore stiffening up the front. shrt answer…no.

      • Groovy. I was thinking about doing something similar. Now I can see that it’ll work. Did you have any trouble compressing the springs (any special tools or technique?)

  • ffjmoore

    so thats what it takes to finally get a high quality bike to show up on pipeburn, you have to wheel it right into the building? That last cafe was a joke compared to most decent builds i have seen. This bike here… this bike is one deserving to be featured. Nice build.

  • Yup, nice bike. Like the work with the taillight.

  • revdub

    Seriously beautiful work. High skill level stuff going on here. The exhaust is amazing. And, the stance is so low and mean.

  • tmcsp

    Not my personal style of motorbike, but I can certainly appreciate the hell out of the excellent craftsmanship and attention to details. That tail-light is one of the coolest ones I’ve seen in a long while. Same with the double lever gas tank. It’s just too cool. Evolution did a fantastic job on this bike. Really top notch work.

    Only thing that really bugs me is that tiny gas tank, and all the exposed frame. To me it would have looked more integrated with a slightly longer gas tank.

    Still top notch work though. Kudos to the builders. The video posted was awesome too. Too much we just see the final product, not the work that goes into it.

  • Mgmue mgmu

    Love all the little bits (check out that fuel filler!) – and would absolutely love to hear those pipes. Well done. Not usually a HD lover, but damn – that thing is nice.

    • Mgmue mgmu

      Only change I can see that I’d make is to the upper triple. It deserves the same amount of attention as the rest of the ride IMO & looks out of place. Fill & smooth the holes & polish up the upper nut. That’s really nit picking though.

  • That’s cool. A bit of Steampunk feel (here we go again) without being over the top. One of the better bobbers I’ve seen.

  • Jed

    Yeah boy.

  • Robbie

    Best bike I’ve seen on pipeburn. I know everyone bags them, but when a Harley is done well, nothing comes close.

    • Factory Harleys are pretty well blah and bling (isn’t that the case with MOST factory bikes?) But custom Harley’s (and I mean truly custom, not bolt on custom) just feel more visceral than most Euro bikes and ALL Nippon bikes. Just my 2.

      • Sisyphus

        Honestly, I’ve found that the best, most surprising Harley customs have been from “Nippon”

        • Ron

          The more customs I look the more I like the Japanese builders with the HD foundations.

  • MotoTrooper

    Haven’t commented for awhile (as if that mattered) but this build brought me out of the woodwork. Clean, clean, CLEAN! Hardtails rarely speak to me but this just looks ‘proper’. I can’t agree more on the near absence of chrome. The exhaust looks gorgeous, the triple clamp skeletal, the use of brass is motivated and non-blingy. It will only get better as everything ages and patinas emerge. Modern brakes and tires too!

    Hey Paul, what carb is that?

    • MotoTrooper

      Okay, went to the video, and I have to say it exceeded my expectations! High production value, and being able to see the separate parts fabricated with care and intelligence and come together was so worth it. Love the soot on the brass outlets after it was run!

  • I’m surprised this bike didn’t get more comments. It’s one of the coolest rides I’ve seen on Pipeburn and one of the best bobbers.

    • Dudeman

      Agreed. Seems pretty unanimous though, no squabbles to bump the count
      up? Or maybe it got the cogs of creativity turning and everyone’s out in
      the shed haha.

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  • Simon

    Wauw beautiful bike, congrats to you both!! Is the front tire installed incorrectly?

    • simon

      or am i wrong? tell me, im wondering!!

  • Jay

    I made a tribute video to for this bike @ . . . I also contacted the builder, anyone could have one of these for 25-30k. I’m still saving 🙂