DP Customs del Rey Sportster

January 23, 2014
Byron Wilson
Byron Wilson
Associate Editor|Articles|Articles RSS

Byron's sure to be hunched over a laptop after the checkers are flown, caught in his own little version of heaven. Whether on dirt, street or a combination of both, MotoUSA's newest addition knows the only thing better than actually riding is telling the story of how things went down.

Justin  left  and Jarrod  right  Del Prado operate their modest shop  DP Customs  out of New River  Arizona.
Justin (left) and Jarrod (right) Del Prado of DP Customs with del Rey, a Tyrrell Elf F1-inspired custom Sportster.

For Jarrod and Justin Del Prado, simplicity is king.

“We like the look of our builds to be as open and clean as possible. We’re fanatical about no clutter,” explains Jarrod.
The brother builders own and operate DP Customs, a modest shop in New River, Arizona that produces elegantly-styled, minimalistic two-wheeled works of art. Each bike is, for the most part, a reflection of the vision of the Del Prado brothers, and customers flock to the shop ready to hand over the creative reigns, confident of an impressive result.

DP Customs first started with Jarrod and Justin building bikes completely of their own design, and then putting the finished machines up for sale. After a year or so in this way, customers began to offer payment for bikes-in-progress they’d never seen.

“They didn’t care,” says Del Prado of customers putting up payment for bikes, sight unseen. “From that day forward we’ve been building bikes for customers, but we still wanted to keep, let’s say, 80% of the creative freedom we had when Justin and I started.”

They maintain their high degree of creative license by consistently producing attention-grabbing results, though that 20% of customer input is essential in ensuring the buyer will be pleased with the build at the end. Typically, the first step in a customer’s DP Customs build is for the Del Prado brothers to find out whether there’s anything that absolutely cannot be included in the bike. Some people just flat-out hate spoke wheels, for example, and want nothing to do with them.

“Ergonomically we talk about height, weight,” continues Del Prado. “We also ask how they are going to ride the bike, where they’re going to ride. If they’re going to carve up twisties we do more of a café style with really good shocks. If they’re just going to take it out for fun weekend rides we’ll go a different route. All that stuff is part of working with the customer, but the real look of it still comes from Justin and me.”

One bike that embodies much of what characterizes a DP Customs build is the del Rey, a 1970’s F1-inspired hardtail Sportster that takes its styling-cues from the Tyrrell Elf F1 racer. The Del Prado brothers are motorheads through and through, regardless of whether the engine is strapped to two wheels or four, and they often draw aesthetic inspiration from the race machines of bygone eras.

With a few motorsports-inspired builds already in the books, DP Customs often attracts other motorsports enthusiasts for builds of a similar stripe, as was the case with del Rey. The customer wanted a ’70’s F1-inspired build, the Del Prados suggested the Elf livery and from there it was a done deal. Beyond that, the customer had just a few requests.

“His only specific requirements for the bike were that it have a rocker shifter, so we built him a special rocker shifter, which we don’t normally do,” explains Del Prado. “And he definitely wanted pipe wrap on it to give it an old school look.”


Prior to meeting these requests, however, the Del Prados had to secure a donor bike. It’s standard practice at DP Customs for Jarrod and Justin to source the donor bike themselves, and they rarely accept projects that would require them to fab-up a bike already in the customer’s possession. The mount of choice is typically a Sportster.

“We’re really lucky out here in Arizona,” says Del Prado. “We love Sportsters and are passionate about them and there’s lots of them out here for sale with low miles, rust free and in good condition. The del Rey (a 1995 1200cc Evo Sportster) had like 3800 original miles on it and was owned by a woman that took meticulous care of it. It was amazing.”

The donor bike  a 1995 1200cc Evo Sportster  was in such good shape that necessary engine work was minimal. DP Customs replaced the seals  primary cover  cam cover and rocker box assembly and did some chrome delete work.
DP Customs makes every custom exhaust on its builds.
(Above) The donor bike (a 1995 1200cc Evo Sportster) was in such good shape that necessary engine work was minimal. DP Customs replaced the seals, primary cover, cam cover and rocker box assembly and did some chrome delete work.

With a base in such good condition, necessary engine work was minimal. The del Rey did, however, get new gaskets and seals, a new primary cover, cam cover and rocker box assembly. This treatment goes hand-in-hand with DP Customs’ chrome-delete work, since they also reduced the prevalence of chrome to a minimum on the del Rey. To ensure optimum performance, they also had the mill jetted and tuned at Trask Performance.

They swapped out the Harley ignition for a Crane Single Fire and tacked on a new Big Sucker intake and custom exhaust built by Justin and finished in white.

“We make every exhaust custom,” says Del Prado. “My brother (Justin) is the welder of the two of us and it’s probably his favorite thing to do on every bike. We normally end up doing it towards the end of the build and it’s how he likes to finish the motorcycle off.”

The del Rey’s tank and fender were also painted white, in-house, contrasting with the bright blue motor mount and stretched Led Sled hardtail, paying homage to an iconic scheme used by the Tyrrell Elf F1. The primary cover, cam cover and rocker boxes are powdercoated in matte black, as are the 19-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels. The solid rear wheel is another touch that hearkens back to the Tyrrell Elf F1, although in a bit more subjective manner.

“We wanted to have something that looked like the ‘70’s F1 cars, they had these really cool five-spoke style wheels,” explains Del Prado. “When you’re looking at so many photos of them going 120 mph or whatever it is, you often don’t see much to the wheel. They kind of end up looking solid and that’s how we came up with a solid wheel. We didn’t want to do it to the front to save handling, but it definitely came out looking great and it still rides awesome.”

Making sure the final product is rideable is paramount to DP Customs. They’re not out to build show bikes, but thorough customs that are capable of daily use.

“For a hardtail, its’ a good ride,” says Del Prado of del Rey. “The real truth is that even though it’s a hardtail bike we still put riding the motorcycle as top priority. It’s all that counts. That bike’s got good Brembo rotors and calipers, front and rear, and really good tires (Pirelli Night Dragons). We wanted to make it ride as best as it can.”

DP Customs also strives to make sure their builds are affordable after purchase as well.

“Even though it’s a massively custom motorcycle, it’s still a Harley Sportster and we still handed over a regular Arizona clean title. It’s not special construction and it’s easier for the customer to register and insure that way.”

The del Rey retains the stock Sportster fork, powdercoated and painted blue to match the frame. They were rebuilt and given a set of Progressive lowering springs that brought the front end down about two inches. The oil tank is a piece from Chassis Design Company that was tweaked to fit the configuration of the del Rey. It’s also got a Biltwell aluminum throttle, Tracker handlebars and Mushman footpegs.

If you’re wondering about the name, del Rey is a moniker that the Del Prados used early on because the customer is from Marina del Rey in California. It was initially just a place-holder, but in the end the name stuck.

The del Rey is one of many Justin and Jarrod wish were still in the shop, but such is life for the customizer.

If you have a cool custom, know a builder or are a builder yourself with great work to share, let us know. Send us a line at info@motorcycle-usa.com.


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