Cycle World Cover Bike – ESMC’s “Desert Wolf” Harley Roadster

In America, Custom, Dual-Sport, Spain by Tim HuberLeave a Comment

The Desert Wolf was one of three identical bikes constructed for an ambitious 2017 project which was the brainchild of El Solitario’s head honcho, David Borras. While you can read all about Borras’ and the El Sol crew’s Saharan adventure on said bikes in a full-length Cycleworld writeup — the issue’s feature/cover story — in a nutshell the idea was to deck out a trio of then-new (‘17) Harley-Davidson XR1200 Roadsters in off-road-appropriate hardware that not only looked the part, but were actually capable of traversing 2,500-miles of the most perilous terrain Morocco has to offer.

The project received help from a myriad of big-name sponsors including Ohlins, Tudor, Shoei, Kriega, and of course, Harley-Davidson. Borras and his team proceeded to not only fully outfit the three bikes for the trip, but also to ready support vehicles, equipment for documenting the journey, and several pieces of gear designed specially for the trip (that are now available to the public) including the shop’s protective (ES1) Dyneema denim jeans.

After competing the arduous trek across Africa, all three ESMC Desert Wolf bikes made their official public debut at the 2017 Wheels and Waves Festival.

Major modifications to the Desert Wolf 01 (the first of the three) included an SC Project 2-into-1 exhaust paired with a Screaming Eagle intake and ECU, a Rekluse automatic clutch, and a left-hand brake-lever conversion. The new components supposedly afford the V-Twin an additional ten ponies, bringing horsepower output to a claimed 87.

Other minor changes to the 1200-based adventurer included custom made carbon fiber hand guards from Bark Busters, Easton bars, PivotPegz footpegs, grilled dual PIAA LED headlights, and custom fabricated alloy tank, fenders, and headlight guard — all wearing the shop’s signature tattoo-style livery (and complete with custom tank badges). The Harley’s one-off skid-plate was also cooked up in house, and a special set of Kriega’s Dyneema OS18 luggage was tacked on to the builds bespoke cargo rack.

Providing competent suspension was probably the most difficult aspect of transforming the Harley into a genuinely off-road-capable motorcycle. So instead of going the trial and error route, the Spaniards turned to the Swedes at Ohlins, tasking the top-shelf suspension outfit with providing beefy, long-travel units for the Desert Wolf. For the front-end the Swedish suspender supplier offered up its fan-favorite, TTX forks, while in back Ohlins opted to modify an existing set of chunky shocks off a quad-racer that supposedly do a phenomenal job of managing the Desert Wolf’s 560lb wet weight. The American adventurer now rides on a set of 19” spoked Kineo rims shod in Dunlop flat track rubber too, allowing for a bit more traction in the dirt and sand.

This isn’t El Sol’s first rendezvous with cobbling together custom, rugged off-roaders using large V-Twins that most would consider a less-than-ideal platform for a custom ADV mount. A few years back the Spanish shop churned out an equally noteworthy dirt-goer built around a Ducati 900SS dubbed the “Petardo”. It’s currently spending its last days on display at the Vintagent’s Custom Revolution exhibition at the Petersen.

Like the rest of El Solitario’s bikes, the Desert Wolf is brimming with cool, subtle little touches like the engraved rotors, bespoke fuel-cap, ESMC’s Wolf logo printed on the muffler, bespoke stitching on the luggage, custom powertrain cases, and, while it definitely isn’t for everyone, just look at that livery. The fact multiple aftermarket companies went out of their way to churn out custom built components specially for the Desert Wolves speaks volumes about the caliber of the builds…plus that whole magazine cover story thing.

You can find this custom 2017 Harley-Davidson XR1200 Roadster, Desert Wolf 01 (the first of the three) for sale here on The Arsenale in Galicia, Spain with a price of $61,625.