SPORTSTER SCRAM­BLING WITH HUGO MOTO

Tricked-out Harley En­duros on Amer­ica’s Best Roads and Trails

Hot Bike - - Contents - WORDS: MOR­GAN GALES PHO­TOS: CHRIS ROSSELL

Rac­ing down the damp gravel back roads of the Smoky Moun­tains, my knees were squeez­ing the steel gas tank as I tried to re­mem­ber to keep my arms re­laxed. The hole in my shin and the road­side re­pairs we made to the bike af­ter my low-side the day be­fore were dis­tant thoughts as I fo­cused only on the patch of ground in front of me and how to get through it. As we blasted by campers, four-wheeler driv­ers, and other riders on “more ca­pa­ble” bikes, we grinned be­hind our hel­mets as we heard their pre­dictable re­sponse:

“Wait, s—t, those are Har­leys?!” And then we would pull away as we climbed, ripped and slid our way far­ther down the trail.

Over the course of two days rid­ing in Ten­nessee, not only did I get a solid thrash­ing and a les­son in how ter­ri­ble I was on dirt, I learned what it is about these bikes that drives peo­ple to Franken­stein them into ev­ery­thing from air­planes to sub­marines, and how Hugo Moto has fig­ured out the recipe for wild, Amer­i­can-made en­duro fun.

I reached out to the Hugo Moto guys af­ter see­ing the pre­pro­duc­tion ver­sion of the com­pany’s World Tour kit—an all-in­clu­sive pack­age to change a Har­leydavid­son Sportster into a trail-chomp­ing en­duro. Af­ter a quick con­ver­sa­tion with Nico Danan, founder of Hugo Moto, he hipped me to the fact that Hugo had up­dated its World Tour kit to the new HD2 En­duro you see here. With a ba­sic tool kit and some knowl­edge of how to use it, it should take only a cou­ple of days to en­duro your Sporty, es­pe­cially since the parts are all bolt-on and don’t re­quire cut­ting or weld­ing.

The new En­duro kit comes with a long-travel front-end car­tridge kit with com­pres­sion ad­just­ment, long-travel rear shocks with com­pres­sion and preload ad­just­ment, new alu­minum wheels (18-inch rear, 21-inch front), Su­per­trapp 2-1 muf­fler, new han­dle­bar, chain con­ver­sion kit, peg re­lo­ca­tion kit with re­lo­ca­tion bracket, stain­less steel Pro Moto Bil­let MX foot pegs, chain ten­sioner, ad­justable kick­stand, alu­minum shift arm, peg and link­age, skid plate, front fen­der, rub­ber fork boots, Rekluse auto clutch, and high front fen­der kit. The bike I was rid­ing had a few dif­fer­ent com­po­nents that were in R&D stages at the time, but for the most part ev­ery­thing listed is what you get.

Af­ter talk­ing back and forth with Nico and Hugo’s pres­i­dent, Ja­son Smith, a plan was hatched for a visit to Ten­nessee to ride the new en­duro with Nico, Ja­son, and the Hugo boys, as well as Scott Mad­dux, owner of Smoky Moun­tain Harley-david­son, and his crew.

Mad­dux can whip a Sportster through rough ter­rain faster than just about any­one I’ve rid­den with (or be­hind, more ac­cu­rately). And he was no stranger to scram­blers since Smoky Moun­tain H-D had been build­ing them for years. In fact, Smoky Moun­tain H-D helped Hugo de­velop its own scram­bler kit by set­ting Hugo straight with proper ratios for sus­pen­sion and wheels. “When we started the com­pany, we only had the World Tour kit, an ad­ven­ture kit,” Nico says. “We cre­ated the Scram­bler kit fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of the Smoky Moun­tain H-D scram­blers, and we called the first one the Black Dragon SMHD Scram­bler kit.”

The Hugo En­duro kit runs an 18-inch rear wheel with a 21-inch front, mak­ing it a lit­tle eas­ier to hop over ob­sta­cles or cross rough ter­rain but sac­ri­fic­ing a lit­tle on-road han­dling. We would all have the op­por­tu­nity to ride them on some of the best roads in the United States, with guys who knew them like the backs of their hands. Of course, I was go­ing to get slaugh­tered. It was wet in Ten­nessee, but not rainy. The per­fect bit of weather to make rid­ing a chal­lenge, with pud­dles in the shad­owy cor­ners, but not mis­er­able and soak­ing wet the en­tire time. We would leave the deal­er­ship and ride through some of the fa­mous roads in the area, such as Tail of the Dragon and the Rat­tler, be­fore we even­tu­ally headed onto the mud, sand, and gravel roads that fol­lowed var­i­ous rivers and streams through the Smoky Moun­tain back­coun­try.

I LEARNED WHAT IT IS ABOUT THESE BIKES THAT DRIVES PEO­PLE TO FRANKEN­STEIN THEM INTO EV­ERY­THING FROM AIR­PLANES TO SUB­MARINES, AND HOW HUGO MOTO HAS FIG­URED OUT THE RECIPE FOR WILD, AMER­I­CAN-MADE EN­DURO FUN.

Rid­ing the en­duro, I liked how the tall 21-inch front tire found its way through the muddy sec­tions and deeper dirt, but still felt my­self drift­ing a lit­tle far­ther to the back of the group. I was de­ter­mined to stay with them, and by the end of the day—bat­tered, bruised, and ready for some of that “white light­nin’” these moun­tains are known for—i was of­fi­cially hooked on Hugo’s En­duro kit.

Thanks for show­ing me some of that down-home South­ern hos­pi­tal­ity, rid­ing the back roads of the epic Smoky Moun­tains. HB

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