I am glad I was able to save this late 80’s EVO Sportster. A few months ago I started this project after receiving a message from Jon, a SportsterProject.com reader. Jon had this 1988 Sportster with a Swedish Style frame which he was going to scrap, he asked me if I wanted it. I was working on a couple other projects at the time so initially I told him I was interested but I did not have the time to come pick it up. Things freed up and I reached back out to him to see if he still had it, he did and we worked out a time for me to come pick it up. Getting this Sportster back on the road was a little challenging and a whole lot of fun.
Sandy and I hooked up the trailer and took a road trip up the Eastern Shore to Annapolis Maryland to pick her up. This is where we started back in mid-April 2021 with the 1988 Sportster “Swedish Style Chopper” just off the trailer after getting home from picking her up in Maryland.
Crusty, rusty, and dirty. She didn’t run. Definitely in need of a bath and a lot of TLC.
After getting the bike off the trailer and in the garage I started tearing her down. Worked on cleaning off over a decade of dirt and crust (though there is still a bit of crusty left on there). The motor would not turn over and I found that this was due to the rear piston being rusted into the rear cylinder. Both cylinders and pistons were replace with a set from a 2000 1200 Sportster I found on eBay. Valve job and new gaskets all around.
While I was working on the project I sent Jon texts from time to time to update him what I was doing to the bike and on how things were progressing. One evening while texting back and forth he sent me this picture which was taken of the bike in Hawaii back in 2004 before all the rust and crust.
As far as Jon could remember the last time she had life in her was back in 2006. She has been sitting since then.
When I removed the crusty chrome cover from the oil tank a rad hand painted Aerosmith logo was revealed underneath which I decided to save. I repaired the broken battery tray mounts on the oil tank, cleaned off mostly all the adhesive left from removing the chrome cover, and she got plumbed up with new oil lines.
Set her up with a Dyna S ignition and coil. Rewired the bike and made an aluminum “dash” for the key switch, oil light, and neutral light. I had a set of generic drag pipes that I did not use on an earlier project, so they went on her, may change these out in the future but they are in decent shape and will work for now.
Borrowed the intake manifold and CV carburetor off my 1990 Sportster (still need to find an intake and a carb to replace it). After a bit of tinkering, and a generous dose of starter fluid, the bike started for the first time in 15 years or so on May 7, 2021.
Getting her running was great and a huge win but there was still a lot of work to do to get her back on the road.
The old fork tubes were rusted and pitted beyond repair so she got some new 8″ over fork tubes. Replaced the front wheel with a 21″ spoke wheel I had and replaced the rear wheel with a solid 16″ rim. Both wheels are from a box of parts I got when I bought the last 88 Sportster frame. She got new Shinko tires front and rear.
The gas tank on the bike was in really bad shape, I wanted to try to save it but there was so much rust inside (along with gasoline from 2006) and it had a ton of body filler on the outside. Decided it was just to far gone and was going to take more effort than what it was worth, so she got a new Mustang narrow tank. I sealed the tank with a KBS Tank Sealing kit.
Belts are for pants (and open primaries), so I converted her final belt drive to a chain drive. Rebuilt the front and rear brake calipers and put a new set of brake pads on both the front and rear.
She got a break from being on the lift so my buddy Cory and I could get an intake leak on his bike sorted out. She got to soak in a little sunshine.
At this point she was almost there just a few more things to take care of before I could take her out for a ride.
For the air cleaner I found this Maltese cross velocity stack. Matches the Maltese cross cut in the top motor mount. Got the petcock, fuel line, and fuel filter plumbed in and the air cleaner installed.
Cleaned up the rear fender, a lot of sanding, a little repair, and a bit of body filler. The new tank and the rear fender got the rattle can paint treatment (and it’s not black this time). Decided not to run a front fender, at least for now.
Ended up using an aftermarket Honda Shadow front brake lever and master cylinder which I picked up on eBay. Not exactly what I wanted but it was inexpensive. The new brake lever and master cylinder are installed along with a new front brake line, bled it. She will stop. Picked up an inexpensive set of Jackhammer grips from Lowbrow Customs and found a NOS throttle cable on eBay.
Wired up the headlight and the front and rear brake light switches.
I cleaned up the license plate mount and repaired the cat eye tail light that came with the bike. Wired up the tail light and brake light switches. I made a side cover out of some scrap 1/8″ aluminum sheet and etched a Maltese cross in it to match the frame cutout and the air cleaner.
A lot of tinkering and right around $1000 to get her to this point (well $1000 in new money, I used a bunch of parts and pieces I already had). This is what she looks like today.
Took her for the first ride around the neighborhood on July 14, 2021. First time back on the road in 15 years. She was fun to ride and she definitely looks a bit different than when we picked her up. Still a little bit of crusty here and there, but I think it suits her… and she runs great! She goes, she stops, she is crusty, she is a little sketchy, she is bad ass.
There are still a couple of minor, mostly cosmetic, things I need/want to do, but nothing that is keeping her off the road. There is not as much front brake as I think she should have, I think I just need to re-bleed them. I also need to get tags for her. I have an appointment at DMV on August 10 to get her registered. So until then I’ll get the front brakes fixed, finish up a few minor things, and just ride her around the neighborhood roads.
Had a lot fun with this 1988 “Swedish Style” Sportster project. Really appreciate Jon reaching out and giving me the opportunity to save this bike. I am pretty proud of how it turned out.
Quick video Sandy took of me returning home after the first ride around the neighborhood.
I am thinking about doing a vlog to talk through some of the things I did with this project in the near future, so stay tuned for that.
As with all the project bikes I have tinkered with, I learned a lot brining this bike back to life. Now to ride her a bit and figure out what to mess with next. Need to replace the parts I pillaged from the 1990 Sportster for this project to get her back on the road.
Got a junk motorcycle you are looking to get rid of, let me know I might be interested.