WRENCHMONKEE #69 – 2003 Harley-Davidson XL 883R Cafe Racer

In America, Cafe Racer, Custom by Tim HuberLeave a Comment

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Harley-based cafe builds are very hit or miss for me. The American machines don’t lend themselves particularly well to this genre of build so it takes an extensive transformation to really get it right. Though this example may at first look like just another one of the many cafe builds floating around these days, it boasts a couple of subtle features that are seriously cool. In addition to that, the overall quality of the build is stellar, resulting in a particularly clean one-off Harley-powered cafe racer.

This example was built by the WRENCHMONKEES, a Copenhagen-based custom motorcycle shop that has been churning out some fantastic one-off scoots since 2008. The team is a two-man operation run by Nicholas Bech and Per Nielsen (who I suspect may be the brother of Lars Nielsen of fellow Denmark-based Gonzo Moto). They are responsible for quite a few truly impressive builds, all of which are named “Monkee #__”, with this example being Monkee #69. Their builds include all kinds of bikes, based on Japanese, Euro, and American donors.

Built around a 2003 H-D XL 883 R donor, this example has had its 850cc powerplant undergo a belt-to-chain drive conversion before being fitted with an aluminum rear sprocket, power clutch, and a 2-into-one modified Bossley Reventon exhaust. Wrapped around this example’s V-twin is a modified stock frame that’s been chopped and powdercoated. The engine currently has had 43,900 miles put on it, though it was completely broken down and rebuilt between 2015 and 2016 when this cafe build was created. Lastly, a lightweight lithium ion battery sits in a custom battery box.

This build retains the stock forks off the ’03 H-Donor, though the unit has been given progressive springs and a lowering kit. Chainsikle CNC aluminum triple trees were also utilized. In back, a pair of upgraded YSS suspenders dampen the build’s stock swingarm. A collection of small aftermarket knickknacks were selected for this project, including LSL rear-sets, Highsider taillight and signals, Joker clip-ons (wrapped in Motogadget grips), and Grimeca levers which marry the bike’s stock master to front and rear Russell floating discs via steel-braided lines.

The primary defining features on this custom are its bodywork, tail and tank. The tail section consists of a WM seat, cowl, and inner-fender. A beautifully hand-brushed bare aluminum Storz Road Race tank (with Pingel petcock) furthers this Harley’s cafe aesthetic while prominently displaying the WM logo. The lefthand side of the bike wears bespoke bare aluminum side-covers, while the opposite side houses the oil-tank. The matte black bodywork consists of a Yamaha TZ-style fiberglass fairing unit held on by custom brackets. A small offset Ellipsoide headlight is a cool asymmetrical touch, with another WRENCHMONKEES logo adorning the nose as well. An extremely subtle but cool feature is a cut-out section of bodywork on the right-side of the bike where a custom-shaped piece of metal bubbles out – with the opening facing forwards – serving as something of an air-scoop to feed the oversized K&N filter.

A set of aluminum rims (18” front and 16” rear) and hubs (with stainless spokes) has been powder-coated to match the matte black bodywork, with the spoked wheels wrapped in Continental K112 rubber. The use of paint and powdercoating on this example is outstanding. The tail section’s flat blue not only matches the frame, but also the multiple shop logos found on the bike. The combination of exposed raw brushed aluminum and matte paint look great and give this example a lot of its character. All in all, this is one of my favorite V-twin cafe builds I’ve come across. It boasts a certain simplicity that I thoroughly appreciate, and is just a really solid custom two-wheeler.

You can find this awesome Wrench Monkees 2003 Harley-Davidson XL 883 R cafe-build entitled “Monkee #69” for sale here on TheBikeShed in Copenhagen, Denmark with a price of $19,675.

Editor’s Note: I saw this bike in person when I stopped at the Bike Shed as part of a visit to the UK this summer. It looked great in person.

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