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2001 Sportster Fix

From Banged-Up to Hot Rod with S&S, Pingel and Suspension Technologies

By Bandit, photo by Zack and Wrench

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This story started in the ‘60s when Zack tried to buy his first Harley, a Knucklehead with his dad. Zack, still a teenager was already roaming the streets looking for action. He knew a chopper had to be a major portion of the picture.

He found a guy, who said he had a basket case for cheap. Zack was pumped, but his dad went along for morale support. They entered this old biker’s garage on the east side of Detroit, and his dad immediately spotted piles of junk parts. The garage was scattered with parts and pieces. It was a mess, when the old coot led them to a dark area under a stairwell, where a bunch of parts and pieces were stacked under an oil-soaked canvas tarp.

His dad immediately recognized a partial motorcycle made up of busted and mis-matched components. He pinched Zacks tricep to get his attention, thanked the guy for his time and lead his son out of the dark garage.

Later, that same cold winter month his dad took him to one of his uncle’s homes. He owned a Panhead since he was in the service and once he started a family the Pan ended up relegated to a corner of the garage under a blanket. It took them almost a day to dig the bike out, but a short charge and some fresh gas and the Harley came back to life.

His dad saved him from a negative first experience, which would have tainted his motorcycle experience from the gate. With a little patience and the help of a brother and his dad, he rode his first Panhead home, where he chopped the shit outta it, immediately.

Six decades later and Zack still loves motorcycles and gets excited when a new one enters his life. He scored this puppy a few years ago. Someone had a fender bender and twisted the bars. The previous owner cut all the wires and shit-canned the bars. He bought a new set of bars but was immediately intimidated by the wiring notion. Zack bought it for a song, almost 5 years ago and started to tinker with it.

Zack has a couple of other bikes including another Sportster, a chopper and a late-model bagger. The busted Sportster intrigued him with its Screamin’ Eagle heads, SE Mikuni carb and thunder header exhaust. He wanted it to be fast and low for jetting around town. He discovered, while searching the supplied manual, a note from Bennett’s Performance. He got more pumped. He knows their reputation for performance scooters.

He’s a swap-meet nut and constantly inspecting boxes of crap at the Drive-in theater, 3rd-world country crap-shoot. He found a set of classic black TT bars, a new seat, a shorty sissybar and a pristine, metallic blue Sporty tank next to a Chinese brass Buddha and a pile of rusting pipe wrenches.

He replaced the front fender, and we changed the brake line to fit the new bars, but the wires haunted him also. Then Bikernet entered the picture. We replaced the ignition switch by splicing the three 10-guage wires.

We decided to give the sporty some cool new style with a new 15 percent smaller, blacked out S&S Mini teardrop air cleaner.

And he worked on installing a lowering kit to use his stock 13.5-inch shocks. Neither one of us liked this operation and I spoke to the team at Suspension Technologies about their blacked out 12-inch shocks.

Crazy Bag mounts and 13.5 inch shocks.
Crazy Bag mounts and 13.5 inch shocks.

The previous owner found a set of black, fiberglass bags but never installed them. Zack handled the bags, but then removed them so we could deal with the shocks, but I needed to wire the bars.

I added a cool Joker machine billet mirror.
I added a cool Joker machine billet mirror.

Wiring is like Zen. It’s easy, but it takes planning and concentration. The shop must be quiet and the tools arranged just so. I dug through my wire stash. The previous owner kept some pieces and wires, but he also cut wires very short on one side of the bars. This wasn’t going to be plug and play.

I bought some shrink tubing and so did Zack. I cleaned my soldering gun, grabbed solder, flux and a heat gun. Once the tools were in place, I laid out the manual turned to the wiring circuit pages and started to study.

Study turned to careful planning before any wires were cut, soldered, shrink tubing protected and stuffed in a loom. One wrong move and I was fucked.
 I tried to handle the simplest pieces first and take a break for meditation and working out. It’s always good to walk away once in awhile, and let the dust settle, before I do something I might regret.

It took a couple of days, but the wiring was handled, the new sissybar installed and the new battery in place. At the installation of the new swap meet gas tank I got stuck. I also installed the Pingel petcock from the damages original tank. It caused wiring clearance issues.

It was going to be a fight to get the wiring crammed under the tank, and I decided to make brackets to lift the front of the tank 1.25 inches.

That also was a challenge, but I like the line of the tank better and it worked. The bike fired right to life and Zack rode it home, but discovered a problem.

The Thunderheader brackets were damaged and he removed the pipe system and brought it over. I added weld carefully to the Thunderheader brackets and made some new, stronger fasteners. They had to be cut and ground into pieces of a puzzle. This is where I tore the shit out of my belt sander, the most violent piece of equipment in my shop. On anyday, at anytime, I can turn it on, and the belt will dissenergrate and try to kick my ass. So far, so good. I’m still around.

With the repaired Thunderheader in place Zack rode the Sporty back to the Bikernet Headquarters for some final installations, including the S&S Mini air cleaner installation and some stock shorty shocks, which Zack bought on Ebay for next to nothing. We are still working with Suspension Technologies and may test some of their shocks in the near future.

This S&S mini was a little bit of a trick. The gang at S&S told me they don’t make an air cleaner for a Mikuni Carb. I kept pointing out that this bike had been modified with a Screamin’ Eagle 1200 kit that included a
Screamin’ Eagle carb, which was a Mikuni. I just ordered the part and prayed for the best.

I knew it could work. The bike had an S&S standard teardrop air cleaner on it already. I rolled the dice.

I use a coat of grease on the gasket to hold it in place and help the seal.
I use a coat of grease on the gasket to hold it in place and help the seal.

The carb had an adapter attached that did the trick. We basically took off the standard and installed the Mini without a problem.

Before installing your new S&S part it is your responsibility to read and follow
the installation and maintenance procedures in these instructions and
follow the basic rules below for your personal safety.
• Gasoline is extremely flammable and explosive under certain conditions
and toxic when breathed. Do not smoke. Perform installation in a well
ventilated area away from open flames or sparks.
• If motorcycle has been running, wait until engine and exhaust pipes
have cooled down to avoid getting burned before performing any
installation steps.
• Before performing any installation steps disconnect battery to eliminate
potential sparks and inadvertent engagement of starter while working
on electrical components.
• Read instructions thoroughly and carefully so all procedures are
completely understood before performing any installation steps.
Contact S&S with any questions you may have if any steps are unclear or
any abnormalities occur during installation or operation of motorcycle
with a S&S part on it.
• Consult an appropriate service manual for your motorcycle for correct
disassembly and reassembly procedures for any parts that need to be
removed to facilitate installation.
• Use good judgment when performing installation and operating
motorcycle. Good judgment begins with a clear head. Don’t let
alcohol, drugs or fatigue impair your judgment. Start installation when
you are fresh.
• Be sure all federal, state and local laws are obeyed with the installation.
• For optimum performance and safety and to minimize potential
damage to carb or other components, use all mounting hardware that is
provided and follow all installation instructions.
• Motorcycle exhaust fumes are toxic and poisonous and must not be
breathed. Run motorcycle in a well ventilated area where fumes can dissipate

Stock Air Cleaner Removal

1. Disconnect the negative battery cable from the motorcycle and
route it away from any metal parts in the area.

2. Remove the stock air cleaner cover and backplate assembly
following your service manual for the specific year and model bike
you are working on.

3. Remove the throttle body support bracket from the throttle body.

1. Locate the S&S backplate and the three back plate screws.

2. Install the three ¼" X 20 screws.

NOTE: The backplate has interference threads tapped into it so the
screws will thread in with some force.

3. Slide the supplied gasket over the screws.

I use a coat of grease on the gasket to hold it in place and help the seal.
I use a coat of grease on the gasket to hold it in place and help the seal.

4. Locate the two ½” X 13 breather bolts and the eight, rubber coated
washers. Put one washer on each breather bolt and pass through
the backplate mounting holes. Install another rubber coated
washer onto each breather bolt.

5. Apply a drop of 243 blue Loctite® to the threads of each screw and
breather bolt.

6. Fit the backplate to the carburetor or throttle body and the
cylinder heads. Start the threads of all the screws and tighten
evenly until the backplate is snug. Keep in mind the air cleaner holds the carb in place.

7. Now that the backplate is positioned, torque the ¼” X 20 fasteners
to 72 in.-lbs.

8. Check between the cylinder head and the backplate for air gaps.

NOTE: A feeler gauge works well for determining the amount of gap,
if any, between the head and the backplate.

9. If a gap less than the thickness of a rubber coated washer is
present, torque the breather bolts down 10 -12 ft.-lbs. If a gap of
more than the thickness of a rubber coated washer is present,
determine how much and select the appropriate number of
rubber coated washers needed to take up the gap.

10. If more than one rubber coated washer is needed between the
head and backplate, back out the breather bolts and install the
correct number of rubber coated washers.

11. Thread the breather bolts in and finish torque breather bolts to
10-12 ft.-lbs.

12. Locate the filter and the two ¼" X 20 flanged
Mini cover fasteners

13. Apply a drop of 243 blue Loctite® to the threads of each ¼" X 20
flanged head screw and set aside.

14. Hold the filter on the backplate and put the filter top plate on top
of the filter making sure that the word “Down” is facing down and
sitting flat on the filter and locked into the groove.

15. Pass the ¼" X 20 flanged head screws through Mini filter
plate, thread in and tighten down evenly until snug and then finish
torque to 72 in.-lbs.

16. Attach an S&S® air cleaner.
Loctite applied to the threads and torque to 10 ft.-lbs.




Click for action.
Click for action.

Suspension Technologies

This is our light breathable ballistic Nylon vest with leather trim. Click and check it out and all our cool leathers.
This is our light breathable ballistic Nylon vest with leather trim. Click and check it out and all our cool leathers.

Joker Machine
Click for quality components.
Click for quality components.

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Reader Comments

I LOVE SPORTYS and love seeing guys fixing them up. I just watched a video on Laidlaw's YouTube channel of his shop tech riding a punched out Sporty that made me grin from ear to ear. Check it out, man!

Humble, TX
Thursday, June 18, 2020
Editor Response I will.

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