Three Steps to Off-Road Harley Heaven
The versatility of the venerable Sportster - now in its 61st year of continuous production - never fails to still impress even after all this time. Indeed, with the changing tastes in riding being championed by a lot of younger riders the platform is in the vanguard of giving Harley a model that can speak the language of the “New Genners.”
The versatility of the venerable Sportster - now in its 61st year of continuous production - never fails to still impress even after all this time. Indeed, with the changing tastes in riding being championed by younger riders, the platform is in the vanguard of giving Harley a model that can speak the language of the “New Genners.”
There are millions of Sportsters on the road, and Harley has done such a good job in renewing the appeal and positioning of the Sportster in the past decade that there is no sign of platform fatigue setting in yet - indeed the five model 2018 line-up has sold well at a time when Harley’s Big Twins have suffered at the hands of a softening market.
A few months ago we featured a Sportster 883 that Biltwell co-founder Bill Bryant and co-riders Mike Deutsch, Erik Westergaard and Chris Moeller conquered the NORRA (National Off-Road Racing Association) Mexican 1000 all-terrain race with, in Ensenada, Mexico. Run for the first time in 1967 and featuring some of the harshest terrain on earth, it is not exactly a V-Twin cruiser-friendly undertaking, but the versatile Sportster ate everything the gruelling 1,300 miles could throw at it. Thanks in large part to the way the Biltwell boys had prepped the machine with bespoke refinements that included, among other initiatives, Hugo Moto’s ‘Dude’ skid plate and peg relocation kit.
With the Scrambler Boom and ADV market moving from fringe to motorcycle riding mainstream, Hugo Moto, formerly of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has taken the Sportster as its start-point for a scrambler build, meeting the challenge of curating all of the right parts head-on and making the conversion process widely available with a range of high-performance bolt-on kits.
“get tangible performance increases - easily and affordably”
However, the Hugo Moto kits are not simply cosmetics and catalog parts, they are the ‘real deal’. “It’s easy to make a Sporty look cool with a few cosmetic accessories and a pair of knobbies, but gaining real off-road performance is another matter,” said Hugo Moto President Jason Smith.
“Our kits may be bolt-on, but they give riders what they need to get tangible performance increases - easily and affordably.”
At the heart of the program is a 3-Stage Scrambler kit series, “The Three Stages of Off-Road Enlightenment” as Smith terms it, for pre-owned 883 or 1200cc Sportsters.
Stage 1 gives the Sportster the “correct ergonomics to tackle the dirt and a much needed high pipe.” A peg relocation kit (with stainless Enduro foot pegs placed in a proper dual-sport position via a cleverly designed peg relocation kit plate) and ‘Dude’ skid plate will “drastically change both the capability and the look of the Sportster, with the option to do a chain conversion and add premium suspension and off-road wheels later.”
Stage 2 adds a suspension upgrade, which is “critical to tackling serious off-road situations while providing a ton more comfort and control on the road.” Wheel travel is extended to 5” with a pair of FOX 14.5” IFP-R shocks, while the front end Traxxion Dynamics fork kit provides “5.5” of smooth travel.”
Stage 3 is what Hugo Moto describes as “The Whole Enchilada” - the “full Scrambling treatment”, adding the chain drive conversion, which will allow the rider to “tackle any off-road condition from mud to sand” as well as a set of spoked wheels in several size options.
There’s also the option to increase the travel with Stage 3 LT (Long Travel) kit. Hugo Moto worked closely with Nitron Racing Systems’ U.S. Distributor, Fast Bike Industries, to develop a 17.5” R1 shock that offers “7” of bump-eating travel mated with a Traxxion Dynamics 7” travel fork kit.”
Hugo Moto says it “really likes the 2004 and up rubber mounted Sportsters” for conversions because of the “4.5 gallon tank for extended range. If you prefer fuel injection, go with 2007 or newer.
“If pure off-road performance is the goal, then the 1990 2003 solid mounts are a great platform. At 50 to 80 lbs lighter than the later bikes, the difference is noticeable for the aggressive rider. Our kits work great for taller riders our peg relocation kit moves the foot pegs back and downward into a very comfortable position, similar to that of a modern adventure bike. All but the very tallest of riders can get comfortable with a taller seat and bar/riser combo.
|“The special edition HD2 Enduro limited-edition kit is based on this bike that won the hill climb at the GS Giants March Moto Madness event earlier this year.”|
“In general, seat heights range from 28” to 36” the low end of the spectrum would be the Scrambler set-up with 14.5” shocks and a 17”/19” wheel combo. The tallest would be the HD2 Enduro with 17.4” shocks and 18”/21” wheels and a seat with thick foam.
“The special edition HD2 Enduro kit trims a solid-mount Sporster down to about 460 lbs. The kit adds premium race-level components including a Rekluse autoclutch, SuperTrapp muffler, enduro seat, and Pro Moto Billet aluminum footpegs. We also include our own CNC-billet hubs paired with Excel rims and expertly built by Woody’s Wheel Works in Denver, CO. This limited-edition kit is based on the bike that won the hill climb at the GS Giants March Moto Madness event earlier this year.”
“streamlines the conversion process”
Hugo Moto started out in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and is the brainchild of Nico Danan, the founder, Jason Smith, the President, Christian Travertson of V-Rex fame, who is co-founder and Director of R&D, Chris Danan, another of the co-founders and an advisor to the business, and Luca Bar, a design consultant.
The company has relocated from Florida to Tennessee “in part because of how good the riding is there,” Nico Danan is quoted as saying, but the two big commercial upsides have been the manufacturing solution it has allowed them to embrace and the proximity to Smokey Mountain Harley-Davidson with whom Hugo Moto are trailing a pilot dealer program.
Its manufacturing partner is a company called TGS Precision Manufacturing and Fabrication at Greenback, TN., a third-generation business started in 2011 that can draw on 50+ years machining and fabrication experience and a “tier-one manufacturer for many big names in the boating industry. The company has a 30,000 sq ft facility at Greenback for all phases of CNC machining and a 70,000 sq ft fabrication plant in Madisonville, TN.
Smokey Mountain founder and President Scott Maddox said: “We’ve been converting Sportsters to Scramblers for years, but have struggled to find a cost-effective turn-key solution that leaves room for us to make a respectable profit.
“Hugo Moto’s kit approach really streamlines the conversion process. We used to have to go to multiple sources to piece the parts together, but now we have a one-stop shop. It makes it much easier for us to scale our builds accordingly with demand.”
Nico Danan said “Scott and the Smokey Mountain team have been pioneers in the Sportster Scrambler conversion movement.
“Their feedback has been invaluable in the development of our kits and we look forward to test marketing our dealer program with them.”
Smokey Mountain has three full dealerships in Maryville, TN., Pigeon Forge, TN. and Wildcat H-D at London, Kentucky. The Kodak, TN., location is an “alternative retail outlet” selling pre-owned inventory, and they also have retail stores in Gettlinburg and Tellico Plains TN., and Tallassee, Alabama.
HUGO MOTO CORP