The Harley-Davidson Sportster Roadster broke cover just six years before The Motor Co. unceremoniously pulled the plug on the aging Evolution Sportster. Equipped with upside-down forks and an atypical (for Harley) 19F/18R wheel combo, its aesthetic fell somewhere between café racer and street tracker, without leaning either way confidently. Still, it was a handsome enough bike, and one of the bolder Sportster variations available towards the end of the V-twin’s life cycle.
Of course, none of this matters particularly much to Winston Yeh—the man behind the Taiwan powerhouse custom shop, Rough Crafts. That’s because when he and his assortment of trusted collaborators get their grubby paws on a Harley Sportster, most of the stock bike ends up in the bin. Thanks to Taiwanese regulations, Rough Crafts isn’t known for elaborate frame or engine mods—but they still manage to eke ridiculous amounts of style and swagger out of dead-ordinary Harley donors.
Rough Crafts’ latest release echoes this sentiment with confidence. Dubbed ‘Vantage Velocity,’ it’s based on a 2017-model Harley-Davidson Sportster Roadster. But you’d never be able to tell by looking at it, because every part that sets the Roadster apart from its stablemates is gone.
The commission came from a client who was enamored with Rough Crafts’ AMD World Championship-winning ‘Stealth Bullet’ Sportster, but wanted something a little more geared to everyday riding. Winston admits that referencing his older work is almost like cheating—but that’s one of the pitfalls of developing a signature style that’s so desirable.
The brief called for a low-slung café racer with bobber leanings, so Rough Crafts set about swapping out the Harley Roadster’s running gear. A set of blacked-out Öhlins FG621 forks went onto the front, held in place by new Rough Crafts yokes. Öhlins HD757 shocks were installed out back, slamming the bike’s stance to within an inch of reason.
A fresh set of seven-spoke rims went on next, supplied by Rick’s Motorcycles. Winston maintained the 18-inch rear wheel size but bumped the front up to 21 inches. The tires are Metzeler ME888s; a skinny 2.15 up front, with a fatter 4.00 out back.
Sticking with his regular suppliers, Winston specced the Sportster with a set of Beringer brakes. A six-piston caliper does duty up front, with a four-piston unit at the back. Roland Sands Del Mar discs round out the braking package.
Rough Crafts converted the Harley from a belt to a chain drive too, speccing it with SuperSprox sprockets and an RK Takasago chain.
Working with his fabricator of choice, MS Pro, Winston added a petite peanut-esque fuel tank to the Sportster. It features the same deep scallops that have become a Rough Crafts hallmark, and it’s intentionally mounted low and further back, to create space around the steering neck. The tank’s finished off with Rough Crafts’ popular signature gas cap.
A sculpted tail section sits further back, hugging the rear wheel tightly. The crew trimmed the Harley’s frame struts to accommodate it and topped it off with stylish perforated upholstery.
The Sportster’s cockpit is remarkably tidy—even by Winston’s standards. Since they were manufactured from scratch, the clip-on bars and top yoke mount directly to each other, eliminating the need for additional clamps. The OEM speedo is still in play, but it now sits flush with the top yoke, thanks to a Roland Sands Design bracket.
The clip-ons wear Rough Crafts x Arlen Ness Grips, and levers and switches from Rebuffini. (Winston almost always uses Rebuffini switches, because they can interface directly with Harley-Davidson’s modern CAN bus systems.) New rear-set foot controls from Sato Racing sit lower down.
Winston treated the Harley’s iconic V-twin motor to a handful of tasty Rough Crafts dress-up parts. Those include the ribbed air filter, rocker box covers, points cover, and explosive two-into-one exhaust. A typical Rough Crafts headlight lights the way, while the tiny turn signals and three-in-one taillights are Rough Crafts units designed and made by Koso.
As you’d expect from the Taiwanese outfit, Vantage Velocity is wrapped in predominantly black finishes. Simon Fiber Craft added carbon fiber inlays to the bodywork, while Rover Works Custom Paint handled paint and pin-striping. 2 Abnormal Sides whipped up the usual Rough Crafts tank badges and pushrod collars, while CT-Garage lent a hand on assembly.
Is there anything on this Harley-Davidson Sportster Roadster that we haven’t seen before from Rough Crafts? No. But do we particularly care? Again, no.
Hand us a suitable Evo Sporty and a spot in Winston’s build queue, and we’d probably request the exact same thing.
Rough Crafts | Facebook | Instagram | Photos by JL Photography