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Raging Dagger: Rough Crafts hot rods the Harley 48

Raging Dagger: A hot-rodded Harley Forty-Eight from Rough Crafts
When it comes to high-end Sportster customs, the weapon of choice for most builders is the Forty-Eight. Winston Yeh of Rough Crafts knows the model well: his Bomb Runner from six years ago is still a stunning example of the genre, and he’s built several more since.

This new Forty-Eight is one of the sportiest Harley rebuilds we’ve seen, with the stance (and geometry) of a sportbike, and a weight drop of 40 kilos—almost 90 pounds).

Raging Dagger: A hot-rodded Harley Forty-Eight from Rough Crafts
The brief for ‘Raging Dagger’ came from a most unusual direction. Winston got a call from a sales person at Harley Taiwan, who said he had a customer who wanted to meet up.

“So I went over and found out that the customer had already ordered a brand new Forty-Eight, and was waiting for me,” says Winston. “All he told me was: ‘I like the look and feel of American V-twin engines, but I want something over the top. Something that you won’t recognize as a Harley, but is still easy to ride’.”

Raging Dagger: A hot-rodded Harley Forty-Eight from Rough Crafts
On the spot, Winston decided to build a street fighter with the best performance and ‘rideability’ possible. It would also stay true to the hugely popular Rough Crafts style, without serious modifications to the frame or engine.

“Making the Sportster more rideable has to come from work on the suspension, weight, and brakes,” says Winston. “My biggest inspiration came from Buell motorcycles, which have close proportions to the Sportster—but with race bike influences.”

Raging Dagger: A hot-rodded Harley Forty-Eight from Rough Crafts
The Öhlins AG629 shock caught Winston’s eye straight away. “It was made for the Buell L1/X1 Lightning. It doesn’t go between the wheel and the frame, so it doesn’t make the already long wheelbase any longer.”

“To be honest, I’m no race engineer. But I know the basic theory, and I’ve kept the shock positioned close to where it was on the Buells.”

Raging Dagger: A hot-rodded Harley Forty-Eight from Rough Crafts
With the frame jacked to the height he wanted, Winston arrived at the hard part: connecting the lightweight Trac Dynamic swingarm to the shock. And then provisioning for an oil tank on the swingarm.

“I asked Trac Dynamic not to weld the normal lower mounts for two shocks. Then we carefully measured, 3D designed, laser cut, and welded on an oil tank.” With the battery relocated too, this opens up the space under the seat on the Forty-Eight—giving it a much lighter visual vibe.

Raging Dagger: A hot-rodded Harley Forty-Eight from Rough Crafts
At the front, Winston designed a custom triple tree and installed Öhlins FGRT206 forks, originally made for the Yamaha R1. “They have the perfect length for my stance—740 mm. Plus mounts for badass 130mm Beringer radial calipers.”

BST carbon fiber wheels add even more style, and shave weight like no other rims. For the front brake discs, Winston went with Beringer 330mm outers and floaters, and made his own six-spoke carrier, to match the straight spokes of the BST wheels.

Raging Dagger: A hot-rodded Harley Forty-Eight from Rough Crafts
“The rear caliper mount was a beautiful mistake,” Winston admits. “I forgot to weld on an anchor point for the caliper mount, and didn’t realize that until after it was power coated.”

“I couldn’t drill any part without ruining the powder coat. So I designed a radial caliper mount, in one piece with the chain adjuster, and it’s turned out to be an eye-catching design element.”

Raging Dagger: A hot-rodded Harley Forty-Eight from Rough Crafts
This Forty-Eight feels much livelier than a standard bike, because the rake has gone down from the stock 30 degrees to around 24 degrees—a figure you’re more likely to find on a sportbike.

Winston did this without any frame cutting or welding (although he did cut off the stock fender struts.) It’s simply because the back of the bike now sits higher.

Raging Dagger: A hot-rodded Harley Forty-Eight from Rough Crafts
In Taiwan, mechanical modifications to bikes are stringently regulated, but the front suspension can be returned to normal on this Sportster. “Theoretically it’s almost bolt-on, with minor work to the frame,” says Winston. “We can still put it back to stock if we have to.”

With the Sportster’s new stance sorted, Winston started work on the design. Regular collaborator MS Pro helped him to fabricate monocoque bodywork out of aluminum, which was then molded into carbon fiber—with an aluminum fuel cell underneath.

Raging Dagger: A hot-rodded Harley Forty-Eight from Rough Crafts
To eliminate the chubby side panels, Winston designed a one-piece bracket split into two sections.

The front section under the seat houses the electrics, and the back half is raised into the tail section. There you’ll find an RCE lithium ion battery and a 3-into-1 LED taillight from Dog House Racing (which was originally made for the Honda Grom.)

Raging Dagger: A hot-rodded Harley Forty-Eight from Rough Crafts
“A big shout out to Motogadget for their m.unit Blue,” says Winston. “It made it so easy to tidy the wiring, and looks amazing at the same time.”

When it comes to saving weight, titanium exhausts reign supreme. MS Pro built the pipes according to Winston’s design, with a high-riding system that exits just above the rear wheel. “There’s plenty of room to tuck in the exhaust at the leg section,” says Winston. “As scary as the raised pipe looks, it’s actually well clear of your leg.”

Raging Dagger: A hot-rodded Harley Forty-Eight from Rough Crafts
There’s nothing scary about the leather perch, which comes from local specialist Kingsman Seat. “They specialize in hand dyed leather,” says Winston, “which gives us more design elements to work with.”

“There are slim blue stripes in the body paint, so Kingsman gave the seat dye a gentle grey-blue-black gradient, which ties the whole color scheme together.”

Raging Dagger: A hot-rodded Harley Forty-Eight from Rough Crafts
The artisans at Air Runner Custom Paint have long been a key part of the Rough Crafts look, and they’ve done an incredible job again.

The tank badges and pushrod collars are from 2 Abnormal Sides, and CT Garage helped with the final assembly.

Raging Dagger: A hot-rodded Harley Forty-Eight from Rough Crafts
“At the end of the day, the Forty-Eight turned out to weigh 40 kilos less than stock,” Winston notes. “It’s a good number considering we didn’t go to extremes. We might upgrade the engine in the future, but man, it’s an astonishing night-and-day change just from losing some weight and changing the proportions.”

The Forty-Eight has been a big seller for Harley, and it’s not hard to see why: it’s one of the best-looking Sportster variants of all time.

Raging Dagger: A hot-rodded Harley Forty-Eight from Rough Crafts
But this version should appeal to fans of American V-twins who like to emphasize the ‘sport’ in Sportster. Especially since Winston’s planning to take the bike to the track to get an even better feel for it soon.

We suspect Erik B would approve.

Rough Crafts Facebook | Instagram | Store | Photos by JL Photography

Raging Dagger: A hot-rodded Harley Forty-Eight from Rough Crafts

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