1974 Custom Harley-Davidson SX175 Flat Track Bike

Automotive fanatics should be familiar with the term “sleeper,” which refers to a car that performs better than its worn or ordinary exterior appearance would suggest. Sleeping cars are essentially the automotive equivalent of “don’t judge a book by its cover”. But are there sleeper bikes in the motorcycle world? The answer may seem like no, since bikes naturally flaunt most of their upgrades and additions front and center with no cowling to raise any questions.

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Regardless, looks can always be deceiving. Even the most dented and tattered bikes can cause a stir and turn heads. For example, we visited a racing event called Flat Out Friday in Milwaukee during the Mama Tried Show where a flat track bike stood out for us. The 1974 Harley-Davidson SX175 didn’t look like much, but it turned out to be an absolute shredder on the trail. We spoke to Andy Pickett, owner of the bike and Rustoration Cycles, to find out more about it.

“I was originally buying another bike and asked the guy if he had anything else,” says Pickett. “We went to see the one he had in the shed. He wanted $100 for it…we finally settled on $60.

Sixty bucks might be one of the biggest steals on a bike we’ve ever heard — even if it wasn’t in the best shape when purchased. Pickett told us it didn’t take much to get started, but the Harley was missing a bunch of parts to get started.

“The good thing about having a cheap, crappy bike is people give you stuff,” Pickett says. “I ended up buying another parts bike and racing it vintage once it was put together. After winning the Barber Vintage Festival last year, I decided to make it a flat tracker.

Since then it has run fine…except the week before Flat Out Friday when the motor blew up. No problem for Pickett though, he got a new piston and quickly hand-sanded and honed it to fit the cylinder.

To beef up the bike a bit more, he added a Suzuki RM125 carburettor, a Honda CB350 clutch and extra chainring, a Kawasaki KZ250 front axle with eight washers to slam it on, half a a Yamaha RD350 pipe setup, Harley-Davidson SX650 shocks and Screaming Eagle air cleaner.

All of these additions were completed and added to the bike only one night before the Flat Out Friday race. How did Pickett perform on the track?

“I stopped at the line and had a fuel leak and was told to get off the track, but I turned off my tap and took the hose and just rolled it up. ’til he stops. The race started and I came off the line fourth, but the two guys in front went wide and I cut them off, then I was second for most of the I realized, when I started the bike again, that I hadn’t turned the tap all the way in and it got close, so on the last lap everyone passed me .

It certainly wasn’t the result Pickett wanted, but it was an awesome sight to see his $60 build trail the $8,000 bike in first place. It just goes to show that sleeper bikes exist, and Pickett’s SX175 is a prime example!

If you have a motorcycle, ATV, UTV, snowmobile, or jet ski that you would like to feature in MPN’s Ride of the Week series, please email MPN’s Director of Content, Greg Jones, at [email protected]

About Rachelle Roosevelt

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