Harley-Davidson’s H-D1 Program Lets You Build Your Own Bike—Sort Of

Roll Your Own!

[Our Sportster 1200 Custom as it appeared online (inset) and after it rolled off the Harley-Davidson assembly line. Start to finish, the process took just four weeks.

Words: Brian Catterson

Photo: Joe Neric

Do you dream of designing and building your own hot-rod custom, but lack the necessary resources? Wouldn’t it be great if you could go online and “build” a bike the way you can on automotive websites? Well, now you can, thanks to Harley-Davidson’s H-D1 Factory Customization Program. The catch is it’s currently only available for the Sportster 1200 Custom.

To see how the program works, we here at Motorcyclist went through the process. We even had a friendly competition, each staffer "building" a bike before we selected one to be made in metal.

To get started, simply visit _www.harley-davidson.com_, click on the "H-D1 Customization" tab and then "Start Building." You'll be directed to a menu with tabs for Style, Fit, Function and Performance, each with its own laundry list of parts to choose from. (If that's too much work, click on the Pre-Configured tab.) Naturally there are numerous paint schemes and metal finishes to choose from, but there are also various wheel styles, seating configurations, handlebars, foot controls, intakes, exhausts, etc. Each item you select is immediately, almost magically applied to the bike depicted on-screen, and you're free to un-do any of them to experiment with other options. Once your dream bike is "built," you can give it a name to save it and even display it as wallpaper on your computer or smart phone.

When we had all turned in our build sheets, we were dismayed to discover that three of us—Aaron Frank, Tim Carrithers and yours truly—had designed the same machine, as close to an XR1200 as possible. (Tellingly, only family-man Frank’s had a solo seat!) This realization sent me back to the drawing board, where I ultimately concocted the “Badass Black” bike shown here.

Meant to be as sporty as possible, our Sporty is outfitted with mid-height handlebars and mid-set controls for a dirt-track-style seating position—no ape-hangers or feet-forward highway pegs for us! A Vivid Black gas tank, fenders, sidecovers and chin spoiler are complemented by a flat-black engine, air cleaner and exhaust for a menacing look. Holed “Buckshot” exhaust shields resemble a machine gun, and that treatment is repeated in the fender struts and belt guard. The only shiny parts we spec’ed are the machined spokes on the otherwise black wheels and the Diamond Ice Collection trim ring on the speedometer, which matches the headlight shell. A side-mount license-plate cleans up the rear end. Unlike Aaron’s ideal, a passenger seat and footpegs ensure that the bitch doesn’t fall off.

A run-of-the-mill Sportster 1200 Custom retails for $10,299. Our customized Custom, with all its bells and whistles, added up to just $12,881.30. Who says only rich guys can afford custom Harleys?