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Harley Davidson XL 1200 – Hageman Motocycles


Posted on November 13, 2015 by Andrew in Scrambler, Tracker. 26 comments

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There’s something that always intrigues me about taking a Harley off-road. Like the James Bond Lotus that goes under water, or the Space Battleship Yamoto, there’s something unexpected yet just so very cool about the out-of-context-ness of the situation. For a bike that seems so much a part of America’s road culture, it’s off-road history is undeniable and despite the company’s current dirt shyness, it seems that the brand can do nothing to escape the call of the dust. In that spirit, he’s a man who really needs no introduction with a bike that probably does. It’s Hageman’s brand new Harley XL 1200 scrambler.

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Note the elegant yet useful leather bags

“It’s a ‘04 XL 1200,” says Monsignor Hageman. “I wanted to build it so that it would be practical, useful and connect to the roots of the Sportster. Back in their early years, they weren’t just considered a street bike like they are now. Guys bought them and rode them anywhere. You didn’t buy one bike for riding in the woods and one for the pavement; you just had one bike that went everywhere.”

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After doing a lot of research, Greg found a picture of a flat tracked ‘61 XLCH that caught his eye. He loved the look and it’s simplicity. It also had great paint and decal designs, so he chose it as inspiration for the build. “Originally, I had planned on number plates, tiny headlights and the rest, but I realized that’s not really practical for the road; they’d be more of a fashion statement than a useful addition. So I deleted everything I could while keeping the bike fully street-able with horn, turn signals and the like. My goal was to build a sportster that looked like a practical 1961 bike that had been transported forward in time.”

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“The color the old XLCH inspired is a deep red candy flake with a gold base with off white accents similar to early Harley Birch White.”

A ride? Why, I don’t mind if I do…

The bike has Motogadget bar end signals, an LED headlight and taillight strip with some subtle, integrated signals. Then there’s the alloy Sun rims at 17×4.25 for the rear and a 19×2.75 front. After a bit of fussing, Greg chose Continental TKCs for the rubber. “Originally, I had planned on running some Avon Distanzias or Shinko 705s, but after riding with those on gravel, I found them both a little useless; it felt like I was riding on marbles. Great on pavement, scary off. Where as the TKCs work wonderfully both on and off pavement – but they are definitely not the off-road knobbies that many people assume they are. The seat is a throwback design to the aftermarket ones you’d buy in the AMF days; flat with a two-tone black and white colour scheme.”

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For the bouncy bits, Greg has had the front forks resprung, valved and preloaded properly to match the new rear Hagon Nitro shocks. He’s planning to list this bike for sale on eBay this weekend. “As always (and sometimes unfortunately), this is a business. I wish I could keep them all, but it’s probably time to make another rider happy and for me to build another bike while also making a living.”

Burnt dinosaurs are removed from the donk with a two-into-one exhaust and then through a mellow-chambered muffler. Greg reports that it won’t be winning ‘loudest bike’ contests, and he seems pretty OK with that. It also has an alloy skid plate in front and an easily removable bag on the left side. “It’s not a huge deal, but it’s big enough to hold a liter of water, or fuel, or a few tools for fixing your friend’s bike.”

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The bike weighs in about 480Lbs (215 kilos) with an almost perfect front/rear weight distribution that makes it handle pretty bloody well on and off-road. The pegs are in the stock location, but it’s using lowered Knight Design jobbies for a little more room. As you can probably see, it’s also been converted to a chain drive with gearing identical to the 883 model.

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“After reading the keyboard critics comments on my last Sportster scrambler, I took some of their advice to heart. Lower bars, Biltwell trackers, more seat cushion, a longer rear fender and a 4″ rubber extension on the rear to make it period correct. The speedo is up front and off to the left to move it as far away from your leg as possible while still being easily visible. Sure, this bike may not be for you. It won’t out handle or out perform a modern plastic dirt bike or road bike, but it does have what it takes to deliver lots of smiles. I don’t build bikes to ride to the extremes, because that’s not my riding style. I ride for fun and enjoyment. It’s like life – it’s not always a competition.”

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Greg jumps for joy after finishing the build

[Photos by Erick Runyon]








  • SportsterMike

    Yes. love it… great seat and love the paint
    Still wouldn’t want to pick it up though..

  • ToolMan

    Great Job:) The rubber should do very nicely on & off road. It’s lite enough to easily pick up when off roading and enough weight to not get blown around by a semi when heading out there. The only thing I noticed missing to be street legal without messing up the awesome look is –where the heck will you mount the license Plate and (small but required) turn signals. Yes I hate having to have them on a build like this—but to get where your going without getting “Green Stamps”, in todays world, they are needed. I cut my teeth on dirt bikes in the early 60’s and I new even then that the sportsters made an Awesome hill climbing/flat track/bar hoper/ machine with “some” modifications 🙂 Again—Awesome job:) Wish I could afford it to add to my collection of Harleys—But Collecting Harleys is an expensive habit:)

    • Davidabl2

      you could always just collect Hageman bikes 🙂

  • jlgace

    That exposed backbone makes me clutch myself in anticpated agony. Very nice build. On the other hand, can’t wait for this fad to die. Hard, as it were. Knobbies on a Harley? ‘Off-roading’ with 500+ lb. bikes? Bikes got so good I guess we’re feeling the need to regress.

  • Sproing

    Hageman certainly has a knack for taking big V-twins that no one would think could be made to look smart or truly cool (as in different from their beginnings) but his Virago’s were a revelation of what could be done. This is a similar project but with a different style/theme. Good job.

  • roll on the next ice age

    • guvnor67

      You’ve met my ex wife then?!!

  • guvnor67

    Mr Hageman does it again! Nice, very nice!

    • do you people actually understand anything about a bike build other than making money?

      • I don’t recall Hageman ever saying they were operating a non-profit organization. That said, I bet the amount of passion devoted to each build makes operating in the black an elusive task.

    • guvnor67

      Just shy of 22000 Aussie dollars, … Mmmmm, what can I sell, “hey love, can you & the Kidz come here for a minute please ….?” Joking aside, I think It’s a fair price for a quality Hageman build. Really beginning to like custom sporties … Oh, oh dear.

  • Zundap

    Nice ride, 480LBS. ? ..Z

    • BMW 1200GS 544lbs
      KTM 900 Adventure 519lbs
      Yamaha Super Tenere 591lbs
      with full tanks. Just for comparison – I forget how fat dual sport/adventure touring bikes can be.

      • guvnor67

        And usually very tall for us folk with their backsides too close to Terra Firma, whereas this looks manageable.

      • Zundap

        I would have too see it on a scale under 540. Some say the Sportster is a Girly bike. Take it off road and you will see who the Girly is. ..Z

  • TruthBringer

    Hell yeah. Nice ride.

  • Robert Malcolm John Livingston

    awesome 🙂

  • El Apestoso

    I dig it, looks like it wants to be ridden, which is how any good bike should look.

  • bjax

    I don’t see anything very radical about this build, and I think that is great. H-D always keeps an eye on the customizing shops, and what this bike does is show H-D how easy it would be for them to build a beautiful scrambler and keep it mainstream enough to please the bean counters.

  • Grendel Medlord

    I would genuinely like to know how the bike lost all that weight. A stock ’04 sportster is somewhere around 540lbs. If he got it to loose 60 pounds that would be impressive. Spoke wheels are lighter than cast. Chain drive is lighter than belt. But still…

  • disqus_6VJqYjKBBP

    you can’t knock greg – he’s one of the pioneers of this whole scene

  • Rocky

    very cool

  • Davidabl2

    This looks like something that the MoCo should be building in small numbers.
    If only to maintain self-esteem… Since if they build anything cool it never seems to sell for them 🙁

  • Rex Skaker

    Undoubtedly a perfect finishing nice looking bike. Undoubtedly not a scrambler. Not with that fork angle, not with that rear suspension, not with that low clearance… Not for the dirt. But looks great and nice to ride. Chapeau once again, Master Greg