Tropical Reunion Harley
By Anthony van Someren - 01 Aug 13
We see a lot of Harley cafe customs, but to be honest most of them aren't quite our cup of tea. It can take a lot of work to de-bling all but the most recent HD offerings, like the 48, etc. The tank shape doesn't naturally make for a good cafe racer either, and while there have been a few interesting HD scramblers recently the weight of the engine alone raises more than a few eyebrows when people see a hog wearing knobblies. This bike is very different. Inspired by the likes of Deus Ex Machina & the Wrenchmonkees, this build by Sylvain is spot on, and I'd love to have a bike like this parked in my metaphorical driveway. Sylvain Barel is 40 years old and has been living in Reunion Island for the last ten years. It's a small island around 120 miles south of Mauritius in the lower part of the Indian Ocean. This is only Sylvain's third motorcycle after a Yamaha TDM and an 883R Sportster, which he loved. Sylvain's custom cafe racer is another HD Sportster from 1990 and was put together with help from Pascal Tourini from a workshop called Mobile. Pascal was one of the first people Sylvain met on the Island and he looked after his previous Harley. Sylvain's inspiration for the build was the simplicity and rawness of the WM and Deus builds, which he wanted to combine with what Harleys can offer; lots of bare metal and simple mechanics, ...and I think he's hit the nail on the head. There's nothing extraneous on the bike, with shortie fender, tucked-in lamps and instruments, and wherever possible raw metal finish is the order of the day. Firestone tyres on wire spoked wheels work perfectly on a machine like this, where it's not all about how fast you get there - especially on a tropical island. The drop clip-on bars with brown gummy bear style grips sit at a perfect angle beside the headlight and cowl with lines that could have been drawn up by Ogri Cartoonist, Paul Sample. Mini indies preserve the ethos of subtle simplicity, and a side mounted rear plate and lights keep the rear Deus style seat clear of ugly extrusions and provides a good view of the fat rear Firestone. The raw metal tank is also the perfect size, shape and position on this build, with subtle painted shading on the knee indents that add a touch of subtle class and giveaway Sylvain's superb attention to detail. Triple discs suggest decent stopping power, and the high level, straight-thru, reverse cone exhaust is bang-on trend for the latest crop of modern retro cafe racers being built in Europe at the moment, plus it gives the bike some much need ground clearance. We'll stop gushing now. Thanks for sharing Sylvain and thanks to Veronique Tournier for the photos.