Project Cobalt Storm

Project Cobalt Storm

Posted on Tuesday May 23, 2017
Builder: Samuel Kao
Build: 1997 Harley-Davidson Sportster XL 1200 named Cobalt Storm 
Company: JSK Moto Company

- Tell us about you/your shop. 
I built some bikes then decided to open the shop in 2010.

- What make, model and year of bike is it?
1997 Harley-Davidson Sportster XL 1200

- What was your inspiration for the build? 
Project Cobalt Storm is our design concept on how to make the Harley-Davidson Sportster even more minimalistic than our Ivory Comet café racer (#ProjectIvoryComet), give you more reason to ride, and the itch to ride just by looking at it. With the Cobalt Storm, the styling needed to be timeless as possible without adhering to trends. We want something you will choose to ride more and further everyday, and take it for some light off-roading just because you can. 

With this idea in mind, we found that it will be cool by adding tracker influences for an upright riding position and nubby tires to achieve some off-road capabilities. This gives us the performance of a café racer without the discomfort of a slouched position and more reasons to ride. But if that’s the main desire, the handlebar and tires can be swapped for the complete café racer ride.

- Where did you find the bike? What year was it originally made?  
We drove three and a half hours to Santa Maria California from Los Angeles. It was in rusty condition due to humid beach climate but the engine condition was good. We still bore the cylinder, changed the pistons, and replaced most of the gaskets.

- Can you run us through the build process? 
The fuel tank may look like one from the outside but there is a lot happening in the space inside. The tank has two sections, the right half contains the fuel tank and the left half contains the electronics.  To achieve having the electronics inside such a compact space is by reducing the clutter. We use Motogadget M-Unit and M-button to reduce wires, relays, fuses and etc. We also have an RCE lithium-ion battery that is ultra compact yet powerful enough to provide stable electric flow to start and move the pistons in the Harley-Davidson Engine. We also elected to use FCR carbonator for its performance and simplicity with reduced amount of vacuum hoses and clutter found from alternative methods.

It is interesting to us why Harley-Davidson’s (HD) V-Rod doesn’t catch on in the USA while in other countries it’s quite popular. It has more modern performance compared to other HD but maybe it does not have enough of the long known HD soul and character? We try our balance on keeping the HD soul and character while adding modern twists and performance upgrades to the Cobalt Storm. From the words from JSK Moto Co. founder Samuel Kao, “JSK rides must ride better than stock, then we can talk about how it looks.” With this, the whole suspension is tweaked: CNC Racing reinforced triple clamps for improved handling, custom Gears Racing rear shock, transplanted single-sided swingarm from a Ducati 916 and Showa front forks to complete the suspension modifications. 

Overall design
This year, we have bikes that follow geometric elements such as #ProjectRhodiumOmega, which design is based on hexagons. Project Cobalt Storm design elements are related to the triangle, whether from the headlamps, the seat bracket, or the oil drums, all have a triangular element consistent throughout the design. 

To sum up
JSK wants to bring out the classic taste that reminds us of good old times yet bring in modern methods, and new elements to stir out more sparks within people. Project Cobalt Storm continues this ideology.  We are fortunate to be in the modern era with new tools and techniques that were not available in the past.  Cobalt Storm achieves a café racer sports bike feel, with tracker influence, so it can be ridden further. If you change the tires and the handle bar, it can also be converted to a café racer to tear up the streets if so desired.

- What was the hardest part of the build? 
Converting swingarm to frame, extending frame. The technically difficult part of the build was the wiring to fit the electronics into the tank. We had to figure out how to effectively source and manage the electronics inside the tank. 

- What do you like best about the finished bike? 
Riding Posture. What I like best about the bike is that I managed to reduce parts on the bike to make It lighter and compact. And yet more reinforced by changing bearings to tapered bearings, lighter stronger triple clamp, and inverted forks. This results in a joyful and confident ride. 

- Do you have a name for the bike?
Cobalt Storm

- What style of bike is it? (cafe? scrambler? other?)

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Photographer: Joe Cheng | Website:


Project Cobalt Storm