Motorcycles Streamlined: Guillaume Radomski’s 1998 Harley-Davidson XLH120The French designer and his Art Deco approach.
- Words Wesley Reyneke
- Images Erick Saillet Studio, & Bertrand Bremont
There are a million ways to customize a Harley-Davidson Sportster, so it’s tempting to look to those that have gone before for inspiration. But French designer Guillaume Radomski used an entirely different approach for this Art Deco Sportster; his cues came from classic aerodynamic vehicle design concepts, and the results are striking.
With a mood board made up of vintage automobiles, trains, and even land-speed-racing motorcycles, Radomski pondered how that approach to design would translate onto the venerable Sportster — the streamlined Sportster that Harley-Davidson never built if you will. Armed with 2D renders based on a simple pencil sketch, he looked for ways to bring his concept to life.
Based in Lyon, Radomski is an experienced graphic, furniture, and interior designer. Although he’s a total bike nut, he doesn’t have all the skills needed to build a custom motorcycle from scratch, so he assembled a dream team of craftsmen to do the heavy lifting. Starting with a 1998 Harley-Davidson XLH1200 Sportster and a plethora of technical drawings, Radomski started farming out each job.
First up to the plate was master metal-shaper, Cédric Trenquier at Cévennes Rétromotors. Working from Radomski’s designs and cardboard templates that he’d created, Trenquier set about forming the Sporty’s new aluminum bodywork. His most distinctive pieces are the generous fenders; tastefully lined with rivets, which contribute greatly to the Harley’s vintage streamliner vibe. He also shaped the headlight nacelle, a battery cover, an integrated rear housing that holds two vertical taillights, and the bike’s elegantly tapered fuel tank.
Cristophe Decombard from Eight Cycles tackled the rest of the fabrication, starting with a new tubular steel swingarm. He also built the handlebars, which mimic clip-ons but are actually integrated with the fork covers. The fender struts, brake caliper mounts, top yoke, and bracket for the lithium-ion battery are all his work. Decombard also took point on all the mechanical stuff, like rebuilding the motor and overhauling the electrical system. For the exhaust, he modified a set of Supertrapp headers and a repurposed Harley Breakout tailpipe to work together. He also took care of stripping the bike for paint and putting it back together.
In fact, nothing on the project was quick and easy. Radomski actually penciled the first sketch for this idea four years ago, and estimates that 1,400 hours have been spent on realizing it.
For the wheels, Radomski called on Metalsport Wheels to machine up a set of solid aluminum discs. Measuring 19 inches at both ends, they’re wrapped in Avon Roadrider tires. The brake calipers, discs, and master cylinders are all Beringer Aeronal units. Complementing the custom bits is a laundry list of tasty aftermarket parts. The air intake is a Kuryakyn Velociraptor unit that blends effortlessly with the rest of the design. Up top is a small Motogadget speedo, sunk into the top yoke. Other upgrades to the cockpit include new grips, micro switches, and Highsider bar-end mirrors with integrated LED turn signals. The ignition now sits just below the fuel tank on the left, suspended between the cylinder heads by a tidy little handmade bracket.
There are new foot pegs further down, and a pair of rear LED turn signals poking out from under the seat. Finishing touches come from Olivier Habault, who upholstered the seat, and L’Aero, who laid down the paint. It looks like a simple job, but it actually took multiple clear coats and much polishing to achieve the deep piano black effect you see here. In fact, nothing on the project was quick and easy. Radomski actually penciled the first sketch for this idea four years ago, and estimates that 1,400 hours have been spent on realizing it.
What’s really impressive, though, is how cohesive the final product is. It’s a testament not only to Radomski’s vision but also to how well each individual craftsman’s work complements the next.