2005 H-D Sportster Project Part 1

March 25, 2005
By Brian Korfhage

Our Sporster recieved an attitude adjustment thanks to a few Genuine Accessory bolt-ons.
Our Sporster recieved an attitude adjustment thanks to a few H-D Genuine Accessory bolt-ons.

One of the allures of owning a Harley-Davidson is taking advantage of the orange and black’s massive Genuine Accessories catalog. Sure, a stocker H-D looks good off the showroom floor, but we’re not merely enhancing aesthetics here; we’re personalizing. At least that’s the excuse you can use on your significant other as you start checking off all the items you want for that Hog of yours.

When we tested the 2005 Harley-Davidson Sportster a few months back we noted how good the stock machine looked. However, we’re no different than the next guy and we know that H-D’s entry-level bike can look as gnarly and mean as any other bike on the road. The best place to start is Harley itself, as there are hundreds of pages of accessories that can be had directly from The Motor Company.

We spent several hours combing through the catalog pages for the right stuff for our project Sportster. Instead of just mindlessly ordering everything that would fit, we selected particular components that would suit a clean yet tastefully accented style. Thanks to our friends at Harley, a couple of calls produced something on the order of seven boxes filled with accessories that would give our tester an added sparkle and gleam that would intimidate the most decorated dresser.

Eventually, the Sporty will get a full makeover, complete with a new engine, but for now we wanted it to look the part with loads of cool bolt-on parts and accessories. The accessories we added took surprisingly little time and can be accomplished by men and women with just moderate mechanical knowledge. The safest route would be to take your bike to your local dealer to ensure the parts are properly fitted; they’re more qualified to tackle any problems that might arise.

We gave our air-cleaner cover a Sportster-themed makeover.
We gave our stock air-cleaner cover a Sportster-themed makeover with the addition of the die-cast aluminum, polished Air Cleaner Insert & Derby Cover kits.

We started our build with the accessories that are easy to bolt on and add an impressive amount of glitz to the stock Sportster, a new Sportster-themed Derby Cover Kit ($34.95 MSRP) and Air Cleaner Insert ($29.95). Both are formed from die-cast aluminum, polished and chrome-plated to a mirror finish. The word “Sportster” is scripted in black and offers a distinctive contrast. Both the Insert and the Derby Cover installed easily and simply replace the stock versions. The swap is as easy as removing a series of Allen screws and adding the new hardware. No muss, no fuss, just pure chrome, baby.

The only thing easier than bolting parts and components on is sticking them on. We added a new Fuel Cap Medallion ($14.95 MSRP) complete with, what else, the word Sportster on it. Attaching the medallion was as simple as peeling off wax paper and affixing the industrial strength self-adhesive medallion to the stock fuel cap. Don’t lose any sleep on the stickiness of the medallion backing, once it’s on, it ain’t going anywhere. We tried several times to remove the medallion and it was clear that short of a miracle the medallion wasn’t parting ways with the fuel cap anytime soon.

We also added Caliper Inserts ($6.95 MSRP), which utilize the same industrial strength self-adhesive sticky tape. They come in a layered design and are chrome-plated to a mirror finish. The word “Sportster” is engraved in contrasting black to catch the eye of the casual observer. Additions such as the caliper medallions are small, but they add personality and are very inexpensive considering how much they improve the aesthetics of the bike.

As good as H-Ds look on the showroom floor, the stock mid-controls are an anomaly, exhibiting more function than form. Since this is a machine whose success is predicated on looks as much as performance we thought it would be a good idea to replace the rubber coated round pegs in lieu of something a little tougher. We added a set of sick chrome and black rubber Skull Footpegs ($49.95 MSRP). Installing the pegs was a snap, but required snap-ring pliers to do the job correctly. Allen screws hold the pegs in place, horizontally, while snap rings keep them from moving vertically on the mounting post. You could struggle for hours to get the snap rings off with traditional tools, but it’s best to spend a few bucks and get the right tool for the job.

We also added a matching Skull Shifter Peg ($14.95) to our Sportster. Easier to install and looking just as good, the lever rounded out the aesthetic appeal of our mid-level controls.

Even the Calipers got touched up with chrome caliper inserts.
It’s all in the small details: Even the calipers got touched up with chrome inserts.

With the mid-controls looking dapper as Reverend Korfhage on a Sunday afternoon, we set our sights on the front end. The first component to go was the stock chrome bars. Not that there is really anything wrong with them, but with a skull theme on the pegs and a red wine paint scheme, we wanted our Sporty to look sinister. We opted for a blunt, Black Handlebar Kit ($53.95 MSRP). Using a TORX wrench, we loosened the throttle assembly and electrical housing on both sides to remove the old bars.

Once we got the new set of bars on we decided to add the crown jewel of our new Sportster, Heated Hand Grips ($249.95 MSRP). During the spring months in Oregon the mornings are still a little chilly and it helps to get all the additional warmth you can.

Surprisingly, the heated grips are easier to install than we first suspected. The self-contained control circuit and control knob mean there are no additional switches or controller boxes to mount, and the grips are switched on/off with the ignition to avoid draining the battery.

While the install was rather easy, it requires electrical knowledge and was definitely the most difficult task in this first stage or our build-up. There is very little margin for error and specifications will change from model to model, so we wouldn’t recommend installing the heated grips on your own. Please see your local dealer if you would like to install this awesome component.

With that caveat issued, the grips installed in a couple of hours. With five different temperature settings, they make riding to work much easier, and much more comfortable.

It used to be that a Sportster owner could add whatever mirrors they wanted because the shake from the engine rendered them virtually useless. However, with its new rubber-mounted engine, views to the rear are available. We went with a set of Script Teardrop Mirrors ($84.95) that looked good but are still large enough to give us backside view. Once again going with the Sportster theme, the teardrop mirrors gave the front end that special touch that separates it from other similar stockers on the road.

The Skull theme looks good and is a vast improvement over the stock versions.
The Skull theme looks good and is a vast improvement over the stock versions.

Those that like to ride on the open road know that the days of riding with just a few bucks in your pocket are over. Now, cell phones, wallets, PDAs and house keys tend to take up more space than is comfortably allowable while traversing country roads. In an effort to maximize our pleasure, we strapped a genuine Harley-Davidson Large Tool Bag ($24.95) to the front of our Sportster. With a secure buckle, our goods are sure to stay put, and if you find a view that you just have to call home about, the cell phone will fit in just fine.

Of course, your significant other might want to see those breath-taking views as well. Why not just bring them along? Our stock Sportster was fitted with a solo seat, but we fixed that by adding Reach Passenger Pillion Seat ($109.95 MSRP). The seat was easy to install and required a couple turns with a screwdriver to secure it to the solo seat and then on to the rear fender.

Your passenger will need a place to rest their feet, and since our stock Sporty didn’t come with any, we quickly bolted on a set of Passenger Footpegs with mounting kit ($89.95). It’s not exactly public transportation, but now more than one can ride our Sportster and my girlfriend is over-joyed with the warmer months approaching.

There you have it, a revitalized and personalized Harley-Davidson Sportster. With a few add-ons, our stocker went from lean to mean. But we’re not done, look for another article in the future where we add a set of hard bags and few extra goodies to ensure our passenger will be as comfortable as we are up front.

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