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Sportster XRTT/Café Progress Report 6, February 26

phil minibike 100Work on this project was put off so I could prep for the Flatout Friday indoor race in Milwaukee with my XR7.50 Mini. Thwas for not. I DNSd after 1/2 lap with chain issues.

xrtt cafe tail report 6aNow it’s easier to see how this kit is developing. What you can’t see in this shot is the angle of the tank and tail now have the same edge angle which is slightly forward and down-Rob Washburn suggested this. That bead on the tail going to be the new curve--it’s a bit flat now.

Report lister Sergio Zapata said “make the angles on the tank a little softer to better match the tail.” This will be done, Sergio, but I am keeping the lines sharp so I can duplicate everything on the right side from those on the left. Then I’ll soften the lines.

xrtt cafe tail report 6bRob Washburn also said, “cafe racers I’ve seen, the gas tank and seat pan are straight and level from one end to the other.” That is true, but I wanted to have the oil tank and battery cover blend into the overall plan.

xrtt cafe tail report 6cI saw this custom Sportster years ago and it greatly impressed me how the oil cover was part of the design. That is why I’m going do it a different way. Steve Clode asked if the tail would have storage.

I’ve done this with other café tails (this is a BMW). I may do it if the storage floor doesn’t add burdensome extra cost. Steve also asked, “which side of the tank are petrol tap or taps going?

xrtt cafe tail report 6 filler capI plan on the filler cap to go center top. Here is the machined cap shape. I’ll make a fiberglass impression of it and nestle in into the tank top surface. I’ll have two petcocks on either side of the back bone. Make your comments by writing If you want to get on the report list, ask.

More when I have it.

Sportster XRTT/Café Progress Report 5, January 21

At this point you can clearly see the direction I’m going. Chip in and make only negative observations and corrections. Make your comments by writing

xrtt cafe tail report 5a xrtt cafe tail report 5b

Sportster XRTT/Café Progress Report 4, January 15

xrtt cafe tail report 4aBrian Hiscock ( commented on my 3rd report (January 4 & 5.) In reference to my proposed mold lines in the tank and tail he said, “Look at Turner who designed Triumphs, not a right angle or sharp edge to be seen and that is why they look so timeless.” I’ve thought about Brian’s opinion and I agree. The further I move away from the styling of the past, the more resistance I’ll encounter. It makes marketing sense to stay within acceptance standards.

You now see Brian’s idea beginning to be expressed on the tail. Thanks Brian. Thus far I think I have adopted every suggestion which has come to me--thanks design team members. Make comments and/or get on the mailing list by writing

Sportster XRTT/Café Progress Report 3, January 4 & 5

I chip away bit by bit. You can see the general direction for the tail. My original concept drawing displayed a squared off tail end. I ended this tail in a point to reflect the shape of the tank. If you disagree, scream. Should I hump the tail profile some more?

xrtt cafe tank 2a xrtt cafe tank 2b


The photos show a 5 ¼” wide flat panel (semi crested) that runs over the tank and over the rear of the tail. I’m doing this give character to what could have been a common rounded tank and tail. Two subtle mold lines will appear on both parts of the body. This, I hope, adds visual interest and could be used as paint separating lines.

xrtt cafe tank 2c xrtt cafe tank 2d


The tank shape is still hard to discern so the new art will help. The art shows the tank knee pocket. I want an answering pocket on the tail facing forward-that is what I mean by ‘answering.’ Again as you look this over, make your comments known to me by writing If you want to get on the report list, tell me that too.

Phil Little

(P.S. There is a rounded contour to the forward sides of the tail. I think I’m going to flatten them so they answer the flat sides in the tank knee pockets--what think?)

Sportster XRTT/Café Progress Report 2, 12/31/18

It’s been a bit over a month since my last report. I do so now to let you know the project is proceeding. But first I want to report two contributions from design team members since that time. I will be following these recommendations:

Gary Martin ( said, “minimize front fender/tire gap, like this...”

xrtt font fenter gap

Eirik at ( said about my idea to recess the gas cap... "Make the cap sit slightly above tank level. Allow room for fingers with recessed neck but keep gap to a visual/practical minimum. Also, minimize the downward extensions of the café front fender.”

As you look over progress photos, make your comments known to me by writing

Dec. 7. Tank deck being raised. I start with my street tracker tank to preserve known specs. The only portions of the SXR tank that the will remain will be the front curvature. (Those flat pieces are Bondo I smeared on glass and cut to shape).

xrtt cafe tank 1a 

Dec. 21. Filling in cavity. I use anything I can to save weight (cardboard and foam) so finished pattern doesn’t tip the scales at an unmanageable weight. 

xrtt cafe tank 1b xrtt cafe tank 1c

Dec 23. More filling. At this point I see the tank top is too low and sloped.

xrtt cafe tank 1d xrtt cafe tank 1e

Dec 27. I raised up the deck some more here. You can see the tank/tail/side cover joint forming. The back of the seat cushion area now has a more severe curve in it. The rest of the tail hasn’t been touched.

xrtt cafe tank tail 1a xrtt cafe tank tail 1b

The old curve and the new curve.

xrtt cafe tail 1a xrtt cafe tail 1b

I know it’s hard to make comments at this time because you have no sense of where I’m going. Truthfully I don’t either. I just think it through as I progress but I have a general idea. If you just happened on this report and have an interest in a Cafed Sportster, email me at to get on the report list.

xrtt sketch 1I’m thinking out loud here and I want you to chip in with your ideas because this café concept is in the roughest of stages. It will change I assure you and I want you along as a design board.

I’m sending this sketch to a large group of Sportster street tracker people, most who probably don’t give a rip about a café bike. If you’d like to follow this project write back so I can put you on a separate list and we don’t have to bother those other guys. Write and say ‘put me on TT list.’

I’m calling this an XRTT. The name is a carryover from the KRTT but the styling will relate more to the XR than the KR design which doesn’t thrill my senses. I did a web search for “Sportster Café” and nothing worked for me. Airtech has two cafe tanks for Harley. One is the KRTT and the other is blah. And nobody has a tail worthy of note. Because the Sportster frame and oil tank are of an older design I think it best to keep styling old school.

The products I see making would be as follows. And always I’ll make efforts to keep costs to a minimum but styling foremost. The tank would be a humped SXR tank with knee pockets and a widened forward section. The tail would be shaped like my XRX tail in that it would follow the contours of the oil tank and my battery cover and would blend into the tank. And it would cover the seat rails just behind the tank.


  • Tank, larger with extended range
  • Tail with taillight and maybe signals
  • GSXR style front fender
  • Fairing
  • 2 into 1 pipe
  • Bars and other stuff

Let’s see where this goes--toss in your ideas and challenge me.


Phil Little