John Player Special Sportster

F1 inspired Sportster racer from DP Customs

Ooh the John Player Special. It's legacy cemented in the annals of racing and the hearts of fans forever. The Lotus 79, one of many incarnations of the John Player Special race cars that have inspired more than their share of replicas and tributes.

But most projects built in the shadow of another tend to either lack originality, or not have enough custom work done to really seal the deal. This custom 1997 Harley-Davidson Sportster XL1200 suffers from none of those issues. As soon as I saw this bike, I picked up the phone to talk to Jarrod Del Prado, half of the team at DP Customs, about their wicked new John Player Sporty.

"We're huge motorsports fans here at DP, and so are most of customers. Mario Andretti is our favorite race car driver of all time. We were lucky enough to see him score his last win in an IndyCar here at Phoenix International Raceway in 1993. So, as soon as our customer mentioned that he loved the classic JPS colors, we decided to go with a paint scheme inspired by Mario's 1978 F1 championship winning Lotus-Ford."

"This build began when a previous customer of ours contacted us for another bike. We had built him a hardtail bike called Hollywood and this time he was interested in a full suspension bike to squirt around on his local city streets."

They handmade the front mounted oil tank, gas tank, and tail section, all out of steel, going for an overall lightweight and angular look. There is a Ballistic battery mounted in the tail section. The 19" front and 18" rear wheel were custom designed in house and the CNC'd to spec before being fitted with Pirelli Sport Demons. Their own DP Customs Box Pipe exhaust was installed. With tracker bars, risers, and aluminum throttle sleeve from Biltwell Inc., they set up the ISR adjustable hand controls and Chainsikle's custom mids. The gauge at the bars is a Stach tachometer, adding to that classic look.

Braking is handled by Brembo calipers powered by the ISR master cylinders. Engine performance was improved with a Dynatek single fire ignition and coil, and a rebuilt and re-jetted CV carb. They did a chain conversion (from the Harley belt drive) and used a 51 tooth PBR rear sprocket for added spunk out of the hole. Handling was improved with rear 14" fully adjustable 970 shocks by Progressive Suspension, and the front was stiffened up with Progressive Suspension springs along with Speed Merchant's 39mm pre-load adjusters. The ultra clean paint work was done by Walkers Way in Mesa, AZ.

"The overall goal for the bike was to build something that's really fun to ride on a daily basis, and that looks minimal and sharp. We feel like we accomplished the goal, and are very proud of how this one turned out!"

We completely agree, Jarrod and Justin! If you haven't seen the incredible bikes that DP Customs is putting out, head over to and get an eyefull. We're sure this isn't the last bike we'll feature from DP.