Readers Ride: Urban Assault Sportster
By Steven Wyman-Blackburn • Photos By Jason Roman
Back in 2011, the American Iron staff faced a major dilemma. What were we going to call our yet-to-be-released publication dedicated to tech and home-built bikes for handy do-it-yourselfers?
Spoiler alert: they chose Garage. Their main reasoning being that most DIYers do all of their wrenchin’ in, a garage. But Nick Partin of Brooklyn didn’t have anything remotely close to a garage when building his 2012 XL1200C. Based on what he did have, Nick would’ve counted himself incredibly lucky if his workspace had walls. A roof would’ve been nice.
“I built my bike on the sidewalk in front of my apartment building,” he says to our surprise. At least he has a place to store his Sportster overnight, a parking complex right next to where he lives. Nick also owns a small rolling toolbox and lift. But he keeps them in his apartment.
“Anytime I need to work on my bike, I have to roll my lift outside and bring down the tools I need,” he says. “When I inevitably forget something, I have to dash upstairs before anyone walks off with my tools.”
That’s life in the big city. The way Nick describes it, though, Brooklyn’s not only alive, but it’s capable of inflicting violence on his bike to the point where he must go to great lengths to defend it. “I didn’t know what look I wanted for my bike,” he begins. “But I knew I wanted it to be sort of an urban attack vehicle. Something that could take on anything that the NYC streets threw at it.”
Brooklyn’s insatiable desire to chuck things at Nick’s future bike was what fueled Nick’s choice to get a Sportster, so he could have “something small enough and quick enough to navigate the crazy NYC streets.”
The concept of a bike that could asault urban threats began even before Nick took his Sporty to the streets (e-r-r-r, “his garage”). He ordered the bike in 2015 from a dealership in Miami, and it was shipped to him with the paint job, dual-sport tires, and chopped fender you see now. “That kind of pushed the theme of this bike,” he comments.
But the streets pushed harder. In fact, Nick had the bike on his sidewalk the very next day to swap out the shocks—because they would protect him from those darn NYC streets.
Nick didn’t have the leisure to work on it every day, though. It was only after he’d saved up enough money for new parts, and that only happened every few weeks. What’s more, even if he did have the parts, Nick still had to wait until he got a day off from his hectic work schedule. Nick took full advantage whenever that happened. “I’d roll the bike out in the morning, get a coffee, put some music on, and just work,” he recalls.
However, Nick faced another obstacle. “Whenever I start building, I have to make sure that I can ride it at the end of the day since it’s my only mode of transportation during the warmer months,” he says. “So all the work I do has to be preplanned so I can finish before the sun goes down.”
Knowing that, the following mods you’re about to read were all performed in accordance to the oldest method of telling time: the sun.
One thing’s for sure, though—the sun saw Nick rewiring his bike … a lot. It all started when Nick realized a tank lift and wire tuck were in the cards. “I wanted a really clean look, so the relocating coil and ignition was a must,” Nick says, which he accomplished by moving them to the right side of the tank. The above cards were finally dealt when one of Nick’s friends realized he had a lift bracket lying around. “I threw that on and did the wire tuck in a day,” Nick says. “I’ve pulled that harness all over the place, so I kind of already knew how I was planning on going about it. I knew it wouldn’t be too bad once I got the tank off.” As Nick says, there’s really nothing better than a tank that floats over a clean top end. “It could stand to be cleaned up even more, though.”
Other mods, however, didn’t go as seamlessly as the lift went, including the mirrors. Nick first switched out the stock pair for H-D’s aftermarket round ones, wanting to capture a skinny, underhung look. But that didn’t work. “Everything kept hitting the tank or sticking out too far,” he remembers. Eventually, Nick found a cheap set of small, generic mirrors on Amazon. However, those didn’t work either. He had to grind down the stems until they fit in the old turn signal mounts. “They now tuck nicely behind my fairing,” he says. Speaking of which, Nick installed a Satin Black Gauntlet from Memphis Shades because the whole club-style Dyna scene is kind of Nick’s thing right now.
And for the mods he couldn’t do, luckily, Nick had an in: Alex at SL NYC. “I was working some pretty crazy hours then,” he recalls. “There were things I just didn’t want to deal with.” Alex helped install the current handlebars, extend the control cables, and helped with a baffle debacle on his previous pipes. When that didn’t work, Alex helped install the new exhaust system. “Alex is incredible,” Nick says before adding, “But I do try to do as much of the work as possible myself.”
And he has done a lot, including mods that were completed after these photos were taken, such as Thrashin Supply saddlebags, a low backrest, and a new seat. As Nick says, “It will probably always be changing.”
One thing Nick wishes would change—and hasn’t—is getting an actual garage and not working from the sidewalk. “I’m searching for a place to have a little workshop near my apartment,” he says. “Once I have my own space, I will buy a new project bike.” He thinks that new bike will most likely be either a FXDX or a Low Rider S, followed by a long skinny chopper.
We’re rootin’ for you, Nick. But more so on getting that workspace. Once you get that, wrenchin’ will be a whole lot more fun. AIG