As the era of the air-cooled Harley-Davidson Sportster winds down, it’s worth remembering that the iconic Evolution-powered motorcycles are fantastic canvases for customization. Although no more, the short-lived Comete Motocycles of France was dedicated to the Sportster platform as a source of inspiration and commerce. The brainchild of the internationally schooled Guillaume Drapier, Comete Motocycles offered over 100 Sportster parts to customizers worldwide, all manufactured in France. The Lille-based company also built its own striking creations, including the Lumberjack.
Comete used the ’70s-inspired Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200 as a basis of this bug-out beast. The eyes are immediately drawn to the Metzeler MC5 Motocross front tire on a 19-inch wheel. Yes, a rear tire for a motocross bike leads the way. If society collapses and you need to get out of town, the route you are forced to choose may not be paved.
Contrasting the knobby front is an Avon Safety Mileage C MkII rear tire. While not an off-road tire, it puts a five-inch wide footprint on the ground. Yes, those are struts replacing the Iron 1200’s shock absorbers—this is a hardtail with a short-travel fork.
The next attention grabber is the fuel tank. Painted by Bruno Allard of Regarfix in Biarritz. To showcase the tank, it is raised three inches from the stock position. Likewise, the headlight is lifted, and its eyebrow jettisoned.
The Comete Motocycles Lumberjack has ergonomics that favor profiling. The leather tuck-and-roll upholstered seat is thin and low, while the footpegs are mid-mount. The riser-mounted wide handlebar has a downward bend that sweeps back just a touch, with the throttle-side cables routed around the right fork tube. The width of the handlebar gives the rider the needed leverage to muscle the meaty Metzeler. Consider your choice of boots and pants wisely, as there is no cover on the belt-drive’s transmission drive pulley.
The intake and exhausts of the Lumberjack are worthy of notice. The header pipes are wrapped, with no significant muffling visible. Presumedly, when you are escaping the urban mayhem, there will be no one to write excessive noise tickets. The intake is wide open, so be careful when cracking open the throttle when pigeons are present.
There are a couple of noteworthy relocations. The front turn signals are dropped down to the frame, mounted just below the crankshaft centerline. Knowing that your specific velocity will be the least of your concerns, the speedometer is mounted on the ignition coil, next to the left side of the front cylinder.
A Comete Motocycles branded timer cover adorns the right side of the cases. The left side derby cover is also by Comete, but relies on texture and design for appeal, rather than lettering or graphics.
The air-cooled Evolution motor will likely be disappearing soon off of Harley-Davidson dealers’ showroom floors. Fortunately, there is a nearly unlimited number of examples in use, so we’ll have no shortage of platforms for customs—tame and wild. The Comete Motocycles Lumberjack shows that creativity and the Sportster go hand-in-hand, and often quite unexpectedly handsomely.