Warboy 883 XWL – A Sportster 883 in WL Clothing

Warboy - the Harley Davidson 883 XWL

Warboy - the Harley Davidson 883 XWL

You've seen the old Harley Davidson WL models, decked out in olive drab and used by the military in WWII, really neat old machines. The original WL engines were reliable but not ideal for riding around on today's roads, combined with 3 speeds and a foot clutch, you had an interesting, but very vintage ride.

Warboy - the Harley Davidson 883 XWL

Warboy - the Harley Davidson 883 XWL

Well, today I receive an email from France with some really sweet photos, showing what looks for all the world to be a perfectly restored WL, but on closer examination is a thoroughly modern 883 wrapped in WL bodywork. Francis, who goes by the tag Milwaukee Belle, has been a fan of the old 45s since his first in the 1980s. He's restored many and some remained totally barn fresh, but he wanted to build a tribute to the old 45s, with all of the appearance of the old bikes but completely modern and street legal in every other way.

Warboy - the Harley Davidson 883 XWL

Warboy - the Harley Davidson 883 XWL

Equipped with a 12 volt electrical system, modern lights, modern brakes, modern switchgear, including electric start and a trusty Sportster 883 V-Twin engine, it looks so old you almost don't notice all of the modern touches. Yep, looks good.

Warboy - the Harley Davidson 883 XWL

Warboy - the Harley Davidson 883 XWL

This is really well done, he can keep his real 45s in the garage and take them out for show, but if he wants to ride and still have the look, all he has to do is fire up the 883 XWL. Cool!

Link: Milwaukee Belle

Warboy - the Harley Davidson 883 XWL

Warboy - the Harley Davidson 883 XWL


  1. todd says

    I can imagine him getting a large order from Hollywood for a new war movie. Nicely done. Though, what’s with calling himself “Belle” or the bike “Warboy”?


    • biggyfries says

      I like it overall, but the ‘warboy’ graphics are tasteless. Erase them and I am back to liking the bike.

  2. Redman says

    Looks great, but the forward visibility on that has to be terrible. Just check out the lower half of that windshield.

  3. chris says

    If you can make a bike look this kicka**, you can call yourself and your creation anything you want.

  4. SteveD says

    A really nice job. I’ve always liked that rifle holster and shovel. “Thompson submachine gun not included” :-) I bet you can see fine over that “whatever it is” on the windshield. No worse than those touring fairings.

  5. Paulinator says

    That works. It gives you that WWII nostalgia without the 60 gallon/hr burn rate (or the fear of main-spar failure).

    …beautiful ride but the rifle holster would probably get you section 8.

  6. DWolvin says

    Gadzooks! That with a sidecar (from a ural, of course) would be illegally fun for putting around the backroads to Julian in SoCal… Love it!

  7. Al says

    I build a model of the original one as a young boy…still remember some of the bike parts…
    Looks good Francis
    Another one of those niche markets..

  8. Sportster Mike says

    Excellent way of building a damn good road bike and a tribute at the same time
    Love it
    Yes, he can call it anything he likes
    I’d paint it metallic pink with flowers on… (only kidding)
    We have a few of the current ‘Harley Davidson’ army bikes (the 350cc ones) riding around with the plastic gun cases for the British Army SA30 rifle (empty though) (Shame)

  9. Jim says

    I wonder what the scabbard and shovel do for front-end stability? Just kidding. I’ve seen an original WL, and they were no great shakes even for the 40s. This one keeps the vibe and brings a level of sophistication and reliability — H-D reliability, but that’s another story.

    During WWII, Norton built bikes for His Majesty’s Army that had a Thompson mounted on the bars. Must’ve been a bear to steer and work the throttle while trying to control a wildly chattering submachine gun. I think they were more for show, and the Tommies removed them as quickly as possible.

  10. kneeslider says

    This bike looks like so much fun to ride, very classy and cool. I love it! With the number of military models Royal Enfield sells, you have to think, Harley could sell these pretty easily. They would be focusing on their core market, the parts are already on their shelves, how much trouble would it be to put this together? Milwaukee Belle should hook up with the Motor Company and work out a deal. If HD wasn’t sure they would sell, they could show one, offer them as an exclusive short run model and take orders before production started. They would sell out. Will they try it? … Not a chance.

  11. 900ssducrider says

    Sweet bike, but did I just read the phrase “a thoroughly modern 883.” Isn’t that some sort of oxymoron?

  12. Paulinator says

    Todd, that’s a wine rack. The French used ’em to deliver libations to their occupiers.

  13. QrazyQat says

    Paulinator’s just jealous cause the French bikes have such a big gun compared to our Harley’s. Sure, our bike is big overall, but the business end is… well, lacking in comparison.

  14. BarefootJerry says

    Hi all ! :-)
    thanks for your interest for my scoot !
    if somebody know HOW-TO-DO to send some pics to the factory : please : just let me know ! I am really curious to get the H.D’s comments .
    that’s true : i ask myself ” why the hell did’nt they already do this ???? ”
    they have the capacities to do best than my work , i guess …and more easy !
    but i also know the Factory is really a heavy and SLOW machinery : so , i’ll will stay the one riding this kind of “alien” for years before they move one finger , even if the idéa is good ….
    you just have to imagine what an XWL gives in civilian dress ( always assembled as a true vintage restoration ) or in a “hollister Bobber” dress ( this is my next winter project )
    the Libérator’s shadow is in everybody’s mind , here in France .
    i put the XWL on the road this spring and it’s really incredible how many times it has been shooted or fimed by people !
    more than the original one i was riding last year . ( now sold without any regrets )

    Many THANKS to The KneeSliders to hold my scoot on the web !
    i’ll keep you posted


  15. says

    BFJ, Your comment about the factory is a different way of saying what the American riders think. Well said! Always good to get the view from a fresh set of eyes.

  16. Hawk says

    Perhaps Willie G. (Davidson) should consider retirement …. and hire BFJ to head up the design Dept?

  17. Hawk says

    Mule, I usually check the Kneeslider a couple of times a day. This time, a buddy in Toronto beat me to it saying that, with Toronto’s free bike parking, he just wants to put one of these at the curb …. and start a bidding war.

    He’s probably right.

  18. BarefootJerry says

    i recently added a new vidéo on YouTube , showing the scoot under assembly stage ( sorry : the comments are in French )
    Kinda way to see dozen cool frame détails nobody see once the bike is completed .
    here’s the link :

  19. Bigshankhank says

    I love just about anything Sportster, and this bike is no exception. However, everytime I look at it my eyes are drawn to the rocker covers. Why were they (along with the entire top end) not shot in olive drab like the rest? Keeping with the military theme, one wouldn’t want shivy parts sticking out at night, ya know.
    Otherwise, very nice looking adaptation.

  20. BarefootJerry says

    The WLA , in its early military version had the heads bare aluminium .
    they were painted in black on the 1944 and later models .

    i needed these two aluminium spots in all this black and olive-drab dressing .

    in an other way : i don’t deny the evolution motor !
    this is like a wink to everybody
    i made my best to “hide” this motor with olive-drab and black paint ( + parkerizing all its hardware ) but the bare aluminium rockers covers seems not to be a problem for me 😉

  21. CTrot says

    what’s with calling himself “Belle” or the bike “Warboy”?

    B-17: Memphis Belle / Harley: Milwaukee Belle

    Civilian Harley: Fatboy / Military Harley: Warboy

  22. jarred says

    I’ll try and find the photos, but I went to a patriot guard riders mission in the dallas fort worth area and someone had converted their HD CROSSBONES into this same type of project!

  23. Scotduke says

    An amusing project and not a bad idea at that. A genuine Thompson to slot into that holster will not be cheap if it is functional (and legal). A guy I work with collects deactivated weapons (they have to e deactivated ehre in the UK) and also rides a bike. I’m sure he’d like one of these. It’ll also be a lot better to ride than the real thing!

  24. Matt in NC says

    @MARK 5, That’s a Big Twin engine in your link, as evidenced by the pushrod tubes, as well as the Primary cover on the other side photo. Still, two pretty cool retro customs in a couple weeks time making their rounds on the web…

  25. why not says

    “They would sell out. Will they try it? … Not a chance.” It was on kneeslider with ONLY two… shall we say less then complementary comments, and with a good argument for its production. its a burnout in there parking lot from becoming a reality.

  26. Drifter says

    Not only is the bike absolutely stunning, but the videos are well done. The music fits, it’s laid back and melodic.

    You guys who think you have to use 120 db metal on vids take note.

  27. michael says

    How can i find a price and will they be for sale in the U.S. ,i have been a collector of WWII Military Memorabilia for years i always said why don’t someone make what you did Great Job . M.B. .