Sick Customs Built a Harley FXR Powered by a Holley Sniper EFI!

10 min read

Sick Customs Built a Harley FXR Powered by a Holley Sniper EFI!

10 min read

Sick Customs in Phoenix, Arizona first opened their doors back in 2009, but founder Jack Reigelsperger’s obsession with performance started before he was even old enough to drive. “As a kid, I used to hang out in an old hot rod shop,” he explains. “I’d sweep the floors, and when the shop was clean, they’d let me work on some of the cars. Back then that was kind of the tech school.”

Today Sick Customs specializes in one-off projects like the twin-turbocharged LS-powered ’68 Lincoln Continental convertible that they brought to the 2012 SEMA show, a build which earned the shop a place in the top ten of the Battle of the Builders competition that year. “We were one of the first to really do a Continental like that,” he notes. “We wanted to keep that classic look, but it was kind of a sleeper with the boosted LS under the hood – it’s incredibly fast for how big it is.”

With this project, Reigelsperger tells us that he wanted to build an FXR that ticked every box for him, both aesthetically and mechanically.

The Continental also served as a kind of mission statement for Sick Customs in that way, combining best of old school aesthetics with modern touches that improve both performance and drivability. “The focus with our company is to make vintage vehicles with a lot of horsepower that are daily drivers. We like to see people using these things.”

And that philosophy was part of the deal when Reigelsperger decided to build the ultimate 80s Harley street cruiser. ”I was basically looking to build a motorcycle that had everything I wanted on it,” he says. “So it’s completely custom from front to back.”

He selected a 1989 Harley-Davidson FXRT for the project and set to work making his vision a reality, equipping the bike with radial brakes, a hand-made, one-piece front fairing to replace the factory two-piece design, suspension upgrades, and of course a wild custom paint job. “And performance was a must,” he tells us. “So we did a 113ci V-Twin with an oil-less Comp turbo – we just kind of remote-mounted it underneath the fairing so it’s kind of hidden.” Outfitted with forged internals and running eight pounds of boost, the V-Twin dishes out about 180 horsepower, which is more than enough to get the 600-pound Harley moving in a hurry. Still, Reigelsperger felt like the bike needed something more to help separate it from the pack.

“We like to think out of the box – do things that no one else is doing,” he says. “We always want there to be a ‘wow factor,’ and turbo bikes are becoming more and more common these days. But nobody has been running oil-less turbos on older bikes because it’s a newer technology and it’s tough to figure out how make the fuel injection system work with them.”

And that gave him an idea. “I said, ‘let’s do something that nobody’s ever seen – let’s flip a Sniper EFI system on its side and see if we can make it work.”

To get the Sniper EFI system to work with the V-Twin, Sick Customs fabricated a custom flange to bridge the gap between the throttle body and the factory intake.

Reigelsperger selected a Super Sniper EFI 2300 for the job, as it offered the boost reference MAP sensors he needed and its four 100 pound per hour injectors would be able to keep up with the boosted V-Twin’s fueling demands. But considering the fact that the system had never been adapted to a vintage Harley before, he knew he’d inevitably run into a few challenges along the way. “One of the bigger ones was just making sure that it could function properly on its side. So we added some extra bracketry and made a custom aluminum intake for it, and we made a cutout up underneath the tank so we could mount the high pressure fuel pumps.”

He also points out that the Sniper system offered tuning functions that go well beyond a factory-style setup. “With the turbo system, I wanted something that I could change on the fly. The Sniper system is very tuner-friendly, and it allows us to make changes while we drive for various situations.”

Even still, there was a fair amount of custom work that needed to be done in order to get everything to work in harmony. “We made an aluminum flange for the throttle body and adapted that to a factory Harley intake,” he says. “But getting the depth dialed in was tricky – I think we went through four prototypes before we nailed it. And we also needed to put together that high pressure fuel system with a return – most Harleys don’t have return lines or anything like that.”

“The Sniper EFI digital display gives you far more data than your standard Harley readout ever would,” says Reigelsperger. “And it also allows you to monitor your air/fuel ratios and tune the advance curves, which you wouldn’t be able to change with the factory stuff. And with a newer, M8-powered bike, we do things like create different tunes for it. If you want to go to the track, for instance, you can load a track-specific tune to it in about 30 seconds.”

On the software side, Sick Customs used the Sniper system’s baseline tune to get the engine up and running so its self-tuning features could help get things sorted out, then made some manual tweaks from there. “There were a couple of places where the Sniper wouldn’t want to make changes,” he says. “So we went into the Holley EFI software, made some modifications, and then applied those changes to the system. This wasn’t really designed for a two-cylinder engine, so the tweaks we needed to make were about getting it to work in this unusual application to keep it from over-fueling.”

With those custom parameters dialed in, Reigelsperger says the Sniper EFI retrofit has significantly improved the riding experience. “The power delivery is very smooth, and the response is so much sharper because it’s running the correct air/fuel ratio all the time. And when that boost comes on, it’s just… 'you better hold on.' Normally if you’re cruising on a turbo bike that’s off-boost and you grab the throttle, the fuel injection systems on most of the Harleys will kind of choke up for a second. But with the Sniper’s live adjustment, that just doesn’t happen – it responds instantly no matter where you are in the rev range.”

While the project is still in the final stages of development, Sick Customs is already looking into where Sniper EFI can provide big benefits in other applications. “We’re actually building two other bikes with Sniper systems right now,” says Reigelsperger. “And we’ve been looking into newer Harley engines like the M8 as well. The tunability opens up a lot of options that the factory EFI won’t give you – like the ability to make street and track-specific tunes that you can switch between whenever you need to. It allows us to take these bikes to levels that Harley’s fuel injection systems just can’t do.”


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