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The Harley-Davidson Sportster is one of the most iconic motorcycles in our universe. It the likely what many people envision when someone mentions a motorcycle. In fact, the other bike to have a longer run is the Royal Enfield Bullet. The Sportster recently celebrated its 60th birthday, and while Harley-Davidson didn’t make much fuss about it, Spanish motorcycle builder Efraón Triana did. UFO Garage built this insanely beautiful Custom ‘57-inspired Harley-Davidson Sportster. 

UFO garage 1957 Harley-Davidson Sportster custom
UFO garage 1957 Harley-Davidson Sportster custom | Iron & Air: Kristina Fender

This 1957 Harley-Davidson Sportster is actually a 2016 Sportster

To most people, it may be hard to distinguish one of these two motorcycles from the other. The first bike we see is a beautifully restored, original 1957 Harley-Davidson Sportster. The other is the 2016 model built by Triana as a tribute to the ‘50s bike. The work is stunning. 

On the one hand, the work needed to complete this transformation was astounding. On the other hand, as our friends at Iron & Air said, Harley-Davidson has always worked off the idea that evolution is better than revolution. Because of this ethos, HD has always built off the previous models, making the 2016 Sportster and the 1957 Sportster not all that different, at least in the big picture. 

With that lineage in mind, Efraón’s goal was to build a bike with the charm of a 1950s motorcycle while benefiting from the efficiency and reliability of a modern bike. 

Can you make a modern Harley-Davidson look old? 

Sportster custom front end
UFO garage 1957 Harley-Davidson Sportster custom | Iron & Air: Kristina Fender

It turns out that you can. This bike started life as a 2016 Harley-Davidson XL1200 Sportster. Iron & Air mentions that the brakes and suspension are the same factory hardware. However, few other parts remain from the original bike. 

Starting with the wheels, Efraón had custom recreations made to mirror the period-correct wheels, 19 inches up front and 18 inches out back. Covering the fancy repro wheels are replica XL fenders that had to be hand-widened to fit the beefy Firestone Deluxe tires. 

The bars join the list of handmade parts. The factory 2016 speedometer is still in use on the bike but had to be customized to fit the new aesthetic. The exhaust is also completely custom by GR to follow the lines laid out by Harley. They cleverly used a proper Harley air cover from the ‘50s. The gas tank is the genuine ticket too, but it needed to be modified a touch to fit and work with the modern engine. 

What is the best Harley-Davidson color? 

close up on a custom Harley-Davidson Sportster
UFO garage 1957 Harley-Davidson Sportster custom | Iron & Air: Kristina Fender

I guess this is fairly subjective, but one of the most popular colors to use in restoration is this very handsome gold and white scheme that Efraón also chose for his Sportster tribute. 

Despite making all the correct decisions, which he really did, this bike took an enormous amount of work. But more importantly, Efraón showed serious restraint and taste by keeping this bike so dead on the mark of a 1957 Harley Sportster. Bikes like this make lots of different types of bike people happy. It doesn’t matter if you are into choppers, vintage OEM, cafe racers, or factory bikes; this Sportster has something for everyone. What a beauty.


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