Chrome Sportster Cafe Build

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2006 Harley-Davidson Sportster Cafe Racer

Built to haul hipsters and look great doing it, this is our kind of Sportster.

Artisinal. Curated. Organic. These words are part of the modern urban hipster’s lexicon and used in a way that’s so ubiquitous as to invite parody and ridicule. However, when we use these words to describe this custom 2006 Harley-Davidson Sportster, we’re dead serious.

We found this bike for sale on Craigslist in the southwestern hipster haven of Austin, Texas. The builder isn’t the first person to build a cafe-style Sportster, but they have certainly elevated the practice into an art form with this build.

The minimal, polished bodywork encourages the viewer to see the bike as a pure representation of the Sportster shape, with everything tucked in as close to the engine and frame as possible. There is simply nothing, visually, to distract the viewer from the workmanship on display.

2006 Harley-Davidson Sportster Cafe Racer

The integrated fuel gauge is a trick we’ve seen on Sportsters a few times, but we’ve never seen it executed quite so artfully as on this build. It reminds us a bit of the classic landau top frame shape that’s been a staple of luxury car (and hearse) styling for almost a century.

2006 Harley-Davidson Sportster Cafe Racer

We also really dig the screened-off accessories — the air cleaner cover, timing cover, and belt cover. They add a purposeful, hill-climber look to an already serious-looking cafe racer. When you’re building a custom motorcycle, it’s all about the details, and it’s clear that this builder agonized over all of them.

2006 Harley-Davidson Sportster Cafe Racer

Another important consideration when building a custom bike is to avoid the temptation to go over the top — you really can have too much of a good thing. Thankfully, this build was spared from such vulgarity, having just the right amount of, well, everything. If we had the space in our fleet, it’d be ours already.


Cam Vanderhorst is a contributor to Harley-Davidson Forums, Ford Truck Enthusiasts, Corvette Forum, and MB World. He is also a co-host of the Cammed & Tubbed podcast.

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