Unclassifiable Classy

Keino Sasaki Builds a Slim and Trim Sportster

Fame is a like a strange virus that devours and consumes a good portion of the US population. Often it is achieved by accident as the spotlight of attention is refocused on something new, that in actuality has been in existence for some time. Keino Cycles has been making some of the baddest, sickest, most authentic ’60s/’70s-era choppers for some time and become, for lack of a better word, famous for them. Looking at these pictures, this 1997 Sporty is the furthest thing from a traditional chopper, with its dual swingarm-mounted shocks and short stubby café racer-ish seat. So what gives? Keino Sasaki explains.

The tank says Keino, but the bike says something else than what we are used to. Can you explain what’s going on?

KS: Some people didn’t recognize that it was mine until they saw my logo on the gas tank. It’s totally a different approach than my other custom bike builds. It ended up making a statement that I love doing these types of bikes too. I don’t like being labeled as a chopper builder. I prefer to be called a bike builder. I love all kinds of custom bikes.

Where did the idea for a Sportster build come from?

KS: I had this Sporty sitting in my shop for a while. I was going to get it running and use it as my daily rider, nothing custom, just push a start button and go run errands and stuff. As a small business owner, my mind is always everywhere else everyday. Finding time to work on my personal bike wasn’t at the top of the list. One day, I was doing sketches and drawings like I usually do when I get a chance and had an idea for a custom bike. I I was drawing and a light bulb went off in my head to do a Sporty that was a tight, compact, skinny, crouching racer-looking bike. It was a departure from what I’ve been building. Since that day, every chance I got, I worked on it — an hour or two, little by little.

What makes this bike different from the rest?

KS: I took an earlier-style Sporty tank, narrowed and sectioned it, and added a top piece to make it as tight as I could. The rear section I cut off the strut, made a seat pan and had an idea for an oil tank that holds the battery in the middle. But I wanted to have easy access to the battery and oil cap, so I added a hinge and stainless lock pin device on the rear. I formed a rear section inspired by Japanese racer replicas. I love the stock narrow 39mm Showa frontend. It’s simple and the perfect size — not too fat, not too skinny. Since I wanted to run clip-on bars, I machined the piece that goes in the riser bushing hole and welded it up, blended it, and sent them out to the polisher.

As for the motor, it started out as an 883. That just didn’t cut it for me, so I called the local H-D dealer and acquired a 1200 kit with dished pistons along with a Screamin’ Eagle bolt-in cam to give it little punch. I installed a Zippers adjustable pushrod kit for easier adjustment and a Dyna S with mechanical advancer. I like that little erratic exhaust rhythm that combination gives, plus it’s still reliable and affordable. Finally I added an S&S E with BCM air cleaner and point cover. I like the minimal look of their parts.

We noticed the paint was kept simple too …

KS: When it came down to paint, I called up Custom Auto Design in Connecticut for the job. Even though he is known for being a master in metalflake paintjob, I wanted a simple plain black paintjob. I have been leaning towards more simple plain paint schemes the past few years. I just felt a simple paint would complement and blend in this bike, rather than being the only thing you see.

for more on this bike visit hotbikeweb.com



Shop Keino Cycles

Shop Phone (718) 858-5767

Website keinocycles.com

Year/Make/Model 1997 XL Sportster

Fabrication Keino Cycles

Build Time Six months


Year/Type/Size 1997/XL/1200

Builder Keino Sasaki

Cases H-D

Cylinders H-D

Heads H-D

Rocker Boxes EMD

Cams Screamin’ Eagle

Carburetor S&S E

Air Cleaner BCM

Exhaust Keino Cycles


Year/Type 1997/five-speed

Clutch H-D

Primary Drive H-D


Year/Type 1997/H-D modified

Rake/Stretch Stock


Frontend Showa

Triple Trees Stock modified

Rear Shocks Progressive

Wheels, Tires, and Brakes

Front H-D/cast gold paint

Builder/Size 19-inch

Tire/Size Dunlop +90/90/19

Calipers Brembo

Rotors Teds

Rear H-D/cast gold paint

Builder/Size 16-inch to 130/16

Tire/Size Dunlop

Caliper Brembo

Rotor Teds

Pulley Drag Specialties

Finish/Paint gloss

Colors Gloss black

Paint/Graphics Custom Auto Design

Plating/Polishing Wilco

Powdercoating Action Powder Coating


Rear Fender Keino Cycles

Gas Tank Sporty modified

Handlebars Clip-ons

Grips Rubber

Hand Controls Magura/Grimeca

Foot Controls Stortz

Headlight Drag Specialties