Have you wished Harley-Davidson would make a scrambler? Does the torque and rumble of a Harley V-twin excite you, but the cruiser ergonomics leave you wanting? Hugo Moto has created three bolt-on kits that convert a Sportster into an off-road capable machine. The kits are designed so that no cutting or welding is required to install, only basic mechanic’s tools. The Hugo Moto kits shave 30 pounds or more off a stock Sportster, depending on options. Ground clearance and suspension travel are increased, and stainless enduro foot pegs are placed in a proper dual-sport position via a cleverly machined new shift linkage. A generous bash plate protects the crankcase and the exhaust is relocated to a scrambler position, complete with heat shield. A longer sidestand is included and dirt bike bars top the cockpit. Wheels, final drive and suspension are the critical kit differentiators between models.
The Scrambler Stage-1 kit is $2,499 and ships with the above components, plus Progressive cartridges and springs, which are used inside stock Sportster forks, with 5.5 inches travel. Fox shocks support the rear with 4.25 inches travel. Stage-1 customers use their existing stock wheels and ground clearance is increased to 7 inches. Scrambler Stage-2 kits contain the components from Stage-1, adding spoked wheels (19-inch front, 17-inch rear), plus it converts belt drive to chain.
Both Scrambler kits ship from a dealer network. The World Tour Kit sells for $4,299 and is available directly from Hugo Moto, with approximately one-month delivery, based on waitlist position. It contains all the Stage-2 components, plus bigger spoked wheels (21-inch front, 18-inch rear). Suspension is adventure quality, fully adjustable EMC shocks and cartridge forks, providing 7-inches of travel at both ends and 11-inches of clearance. We rode the World Tour and Scrambler Stage-2 prototypes, which were Craigslist Sportsters built out with the Hugo Moto kit.
These were not show bikes festooned with extra trick components, but similar to what the average customer would experience on his project. Both bikes were coated with mud and dust, so we were not surprised when Hugo encouraged us to ride them hard on road and off. The World Tour was shod with TKC-80s (50 percent tread), the Scrambler with new big-block Kendas. Riding mountainous backroads, we drilled the bikes through tight slow speed corners as well as high speed sweepers. The difference between a stock Sportster and the kitted bikes was instantly apparent. With foot controls directly under the rider, great ground clearance and superb suspension, these bikes really let the Harley Evo perform. Like many large adventure bikes, the World Tour tips into corners easily, courtesy of the 21-inch front wheel. The pilot needs to arrest the fall with steering or throttle input. The EMC suspension had the better road feel of the two.
The Scrambler is a bit more flickable, yet it’s steering effort was higher, which could be rectified with a different profile front tire. At speed, the bikes were stable and predictable and the ergos instilled confidence. Unlike stock Harleys, we had to work hard to scrape pegs, freeing us to enjoy the torque these big V-twins are famous for. Some flexing was felt when encountering bumps in high speed corners— it’s a stock Sportster frame—but the bikes didn’t lose composure, thanks to quality suspension. On dirt roads, both bikes acquitted themselves well. In places where the gravel was loose and deep, the World Tour’s 21-inch front wheel fared better.
The Sportster V-twin is famous for handfuls of low rpm torque, which was fun to exploit off-road. Both Sportsters had a stiff clutch lever pull, so slipping the clutch on loose uphill sections was work. Instead, we dropped into first, got up on the pegs and used the Harley grunt: the bikes tractored uphill at idle, occasionally needing a squirt of throttle. The prototype bikes were loud, which Hugo apologized for. It seems that a free-breathing “silencers” are tough to find for Harleys.
The company is working with well-known aftermarket exhaust vendors to find a solution that won’t set off car alarms. Were we to build one, a Rekluse clutch would make dirt riding much more enjoyable. Additionally, we’d shave down the steering stops to widen the travel; slow U-turns on narrow dirt roads became three-point affairs. The bikes drew attention, even KTM and GS riders were impressed, which indicates that Hugo may have tapped an underserviced market. Hugo Moto calls their World Tour Kit a true adventure bike, and to prove it they’re assembling a team to compete in the Baja 1000 in April 2018. A custom Sportster named ‘Harley’s Comet’ entered in 1986. The team was ridiculed on the starting line by a BMW rider and a Husqvarna pilot—neither of whom reached the first checkpoint. The Comet soldiered on to finish fourth in class. If you’ve been looking for a gutsy Harley-Davidson that is a real dirt bike, this is an attractive option.