Carducci Dual Sport SC3 Adventure | Capable Off-Road Sportster
Carducci Dual Sport SC3 Adventure
As a kid I watched the TV series, Then Came Bronson, with a guy who rode a Sportster around California, and he was always riding it off-road,” explains Carducci Dual Sport founder Jim Carducci.
“He traveled to out-of-the-way non-descript towns where he would meet new people in all kinds of situations. My obsession to make my own Harley Sportster dual sport probably began while watching that show. I wanted to do those kinds of rides.”
Bronson’s short-lived television life on NBC came to an end in 1970, and four years later young Carducci got started on fulfilling his own dream. “My first bike was a new 1974 Honda XR75,” he recalls. “I’ll never forget it. I took that bike apart all the way down to the frame just to see how it was made, then rebuilt it.”
A year later, Carducci graduated to a 1975 Yamaha DT100 Enduro, which served as both his first dual sport motorcycle, as well as his first custom build.
“I would ride short distances on neighborhood streets to reach local dirt areas. My first motorcycle customization was on the DT100. Soon after owning it, I ripped all the dual sport lights off the bike, added a plastic gas tank, and made it more off-road capable.”
Infected with the racing bug, Carducci moved up to a full-on motocross bike, and the homegrown modifications became more sophisticated.
“I started racing motocross at our local Police Athletic League track with my third bike—a new 1977 Yamaha YZ125,” Carducci says. “I raced it for two years, and made mods to the suspension and motor myself. I made the suspension parts in my parent’s garage and bought motor parts with my allowance.”
Carducci’s attention turned to the street, and he soon found himself with a 1978 Yamaha RD400 and he stepped up his game. “The customizations on the RD400 were more intense because I transformed it into a café racer via mods and bolt-on custom parts. Since then I’ve customized, to some extent, almost every bike I have owned.” So, the road to Carducci Dual Sport was being charted.
In addition to building Carducci Dual Sport motorcycles, Carducci is also a mechanical systems design engineer and senior engineering director in the semiconductor industry, with over 34 years of design engineering experience. This has helped him build custom dual sport bikes using very unlikely donor machines—Harley-Davidson Sportsters from 1993 to 2003.
“Semiconductor capital equipment development uses similar design processes and manufacturing tools to what I used for the SC3 Adventure,” Carducci explains.
“As with the SC3 Adventure, semiconductor capital equipment products are relatively low manufacturing volume, high-performance niche machines. They must reliably and consistently perform 24/7 at the edge of technology to enable the semiconductor technologies to advance. The machines must also be designed for hardware reliability and easy serviceability.”
“The most important things I learned over the years were paying attention to detail, never giving up, and how to thrive while doing consistently difficult work in a tough environment.
“The semiconductor business is a fast-paced high-tech environment where daily we need to develop new technologies that compete and beat others who are trying to do the same. The pace never slows down. We need to know what we are doing technically and we need to use the best state of the art engineering tools to be competitive and take a robust product to market quickly. We also need to be innovative and take risks.”
Carducci’s knowledge of engineering and computer prowess meant he could exploit the latest technological advances in mechanical design.
“The CAD/CAE (Computer Aided Design/ Computer Aided Engineering) tools available today are powerful, fast, affordable, and they make design much easier than years ago when I began on a drafting board and had to do all the stress calculations by hand,” Carducci relates.
“The upfront CAD work pays off with a fully documented set of components that can easily be reproduced to spec. Virtual digital fit checks with a master solid model of the entire motorcycle giving the ability to drastically reduce reworks on manufactured parts.
“FEA (Finite Element Analysis) stress analysis assures the parts are structurally sound. 3D renderings of the bike show what it will look like before any material is cut. Virtual 360-degree walk-arounds of the entire model show what a paint scheme will look like on the bike from every angle and in different scenes.”
Of course, all the tools in the world are of no value unless operated by skilled hands with solution-oriented thinking. Turning a Sportster into a viable dirt bike required that sort of dexterity.
“The first design challenge was to get the geometry right,” Carducci says. “The stock Sportster geometry is not well-suited for a dual sport with its steep rake angle, a wheelbase too short for its weight, short suspension travel, etc. The dual sport geometry came into focus when I pitched the frame forward, extended the swingarm, and added 18-inch and 21-inch wheels and long travel suspension.
“The 1993-2003 Sportsters all have the same frame which is the key to the geometry of the H-D based SC3 Adventure,” Carducci says when explaining the specific years needed as a starting point for the bike.
“They all have hard-mounted motors which are a bit lighter and provide good feel and feedback when riding. I designed the components to integrate to the existing frame and motor, so our components will fit those model years. The second challenge was to design components to fit that geometry and integrate seamlessly with the existing Sportster parts.”
Although Carducci reckons that 48-percent of the SC3 Adventure’s parts are custom designed and hand-fabricated in his shop, there are a large number of aftermarket parts that are not practical to self-produce.
“When I began sourcing aftermarket parts, I was already familiar with many of the suppliers and contacted them directly. The fun part was explaining what I planned to do, with the typical response being a surprised, ‘You’re building a dual sport Harley?’ Most liked the idea and were very helpful in determining if their parts would be suitable for this application.
“We’re now teamed up with many as dealers — Öhlins, IMS Products, LeoVince, Scotts Performance Products, Shorai, Trail Tech, Brap Off-Road, Zipper’s Performance Products, and Melvin brake lines.”
With the Harley-Davidson motor and frame, the engine can be easily serviced and you avoid the registration and insurance problems that can result from custom builds. The end result is a bike with a unique heritage and purpose.
“The SC3 Adventure is a rugged and robust bike that can be rid- den all around the world,” in Carducci’s experience. “Some of my favorite places to ride are to the California deserts and the High Sierras. Riding there on the pavement and then having fun off-road on fire roads is a perfect fit for the SC3 Adventure. I’ve ridden on some pretty technical off-road trails and it does very well for a bike of its size. It’s also a blast to ride twisty local roads and stop at bike hangouts, where it usually draws a big crowd and I have a good time talking to everyone about the bike.”
With a unique motorcycle in hand, Carducci is aiming at a specific type of rider: “Our target customer is someone who wants a very unique bike, likes the Harley motor and feel, and appreciates dual sport bikes. The SC3 Adventure is a badass bike that bridges the gap between Harley riders and adventure riders. I envision SC3 Adventures all around the world, on and off the road.”
We did have one last little mystery that we needed to clear up with Carducci — what is the source of the SC3 designation? “The bike was named for my wife. SC3 Adventure uses her initials and favorite number. She created the website, helped with bike design input and aesthetics, and kept track of all the money I spent.”
The Carducci Dual Sport SC3 Adventure embodies the true spirit of Alchemy. Jim Carducci has taken the base metal of a Harley-Davidson Sportster and transformed it into a noble bespoke motorcycle.
Carducci Dual Sport SC3 Adventure Specs:
- Engine: 2003 Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 w/ nrhS 1250cc bore kit and andrews n4 cams
- Exhaust: SuperTrapp megaphone 2:2
- Frame: modified 1993-2003 Harley-Davidson Sportster
- Front Suspension: Öhlins FGKT 1396 rFX 48mm uSd forks with integrated Scotts steering damper, 10+ inches of travel
- Rear Suspension: Öhlins S36Pr1C1LB twin shocks on extended billet aluminum swingarm, 8+ inches of travel
- Tires: Front – Continental Twinduro 90/90-21 rear; Continental Twinduro 140/80-18
- Wheel rims: Sun; Spokes: SST; Hubs: f: Talon, r: Storz Performance
- Brakes Front: Braking caliper and 320mm rotor; rear: Harley-Davidson Sportster
- Headlight: 55-watt halogen (Trail Tech Led optional)
- Fuel Tank: Hand-formed aluminum by evan Wilcox; 6.3-gallon capacity, 200+ mile range
- Handlebars: Bitwell, with 6061 aluminum 2-inch risers
- Rake: 30 degrees
- Wheelbase: 63.5 inches
- Seat Height: 35.5 inches
- Weight: 475 pounds (no fuel)
Story from the Alchemy segment of Ultimate MotorCycling magazine. For subscription services, click here.