Danny Hayes AKA Million Dollar Bogan set out with a dream of tackling Big Red on a Harley Davidson, check out the custom ride he did it on... Words & Pics: Knackers BDP.

If you don’t know who Danny Hayes is, then hop on YouTube. With over 13,000,000 views, he’s one of Australia’s most watched moto-vloggers. He set out with a dream to conquer “Big-Red” in the Simpson Desert on his purpose built Harley Davidson 48 Sportster Scrambler!

This feature is directly about a bike he bought back off his ex wife and had it morphed into a custom H-D of a not so common and somewhat different type of ride purposely built for one thing only; but still fully registered. It’s a 48 H-D Sportser converted into a scrambler come MX ride.

Check out Danny Hayes story here…

The intent for building this bike was to take it into the Simpson Desert via Birdsville, a 3,000 plus kilometres adventure and climb ‘Big Red’ on it. No one has ever done it! Yep, this is a first and thankfully it’s an Aussie simply having a go; isn’t that our Mantra?

It’s a strange choice of bike to be tackling one of Australia’s toughest dunes on, “Big Red” in the Simpson Desert.

What exactly is “Big Red”? It’s a massive sand dune; part of the many wonders of the wide and vast outback central Australia. In this case the Simpson Desert. Temperatures out that way can reach over 50 degrees celsius during the summer, it’s not a place or region to be taken for granted, as Danny found out.

The bike started life out as 2016 48 Harley-Davidson Sportster Hayes purchased back off his ex-wife.

A large part of it is simply dirt road, there’s bitumen leading into it, but once you go in deep it’s not a place you want to be stranded in as you’re pretty much on your own. That’s another part of this adventure which made this very interesting and a serious challenge for Danny. He’s ridden in plenty of places around the world but this was one that at first beat him through no fault of his own.

Danny began the whole thing with a 2016 48 H-D Sportster being ridden into Geelong H-D. An idea to transform it was shown to Colin Jones; the owner, main man, operator and chief wrench man there. Initially a picture was given to Colin by Danny of something built in Europe, he asked if Colin could copy that, Colin said YES!

This bike actually went through two make-overs after Hayes decided he didn’t like the first build.

However, Danny being the type to change his mind decided he didn’t like that look anymore and after Colin had already begun transforming the 48 H-D, Danny asked Colin if he could do it differently all together. This obviously would piss anyone one off, as it did Colin, but being the professional and all around very wise, clever, talented, professional and complete hands on bike building/mechanical knowledge type of bloke he is, a new version of the 48 H-D scrambler commenced.

Colin began by removing the main parts, then started building a design of his own. The front-end is H-D with adjustable Progressive Suspension internals plus a few cosmetic additions with the likes of Arlen Ness mirrors and RSD grips fitted to the custom MX bars. The power plant was not a concern as it didn’t have high KM, being it’s a fuel injected 1200cc engine married to a 6-speed gearbox; seemed ample for what Danny wanted to do with it. Exhaust is 2 into 1 custom as are both guards all by Colin. 

Front-end is H-D with adjustable Progressive Suspension internals plus a few cosmetic additions the likes of Arlen Ness mirrors and RSD grips fitted to the custom MX bars.”

Another main part, probably the cornerstone to give this bike a much better chance of climbing Big Red, is the swingarm. Colin thought this through and extended it by 4in; he believed “It didn’t need to be a lot, leaving it stock wouldn’t have been a viable thing”. He made it adjustable to a chain and upgraded larger sprocket final drive; the new coilovers shocks are also adjustable.

Another key part which proved to be clever was the modified H-D CVO crash bar fitted upside down to the down tubes; Colin improvised a bracket to suit. This part served two purposes. Firstly, for the obvious, if Danny dropped it at any time, secondly, to hold the aluminium canisters (to be filled with fuel) strapped in using Velcro strips.

Rims are H-D 19in front and 17in rear spoked shod with Michelin Anakee tyres; these were changed to Enduro’s for the actual climb before leaving. The remainder of parts are all H-D (some tweaked by Colin) apart from the custom seat. With the whole bike being resprayed in Audi R8 Nardo Grey; remainder is black, a dash of red plus writing and numbers all applied by Shannon. 

Rims are H-D 19” front and 17in rear spoked shod with Michelin Anakee tyres; these were changed to Enduro’s for the actual climb before leaving.”

So with all that at his disposal Danny eventually headed to where Big Red is. He took the bike of the trailer; it was hitched up to a 4WD as that was the only type of vehicle allowed to enter at the time. That was about 10km from the final destination. 

It wasn’t an easy ride for Hayes by any stretch, as he had a massive weight disadvantage over a conventional MX bike.

But as soon as he reached the target, the entrance alone was a serious struggle. Danny knew this was not going to be easy. Reality quickly hit home and the old “overcome, improvise and adapt” mind set came in to play. He circled back, took a much faster and focused run, with the throttle being consistently open he jigged, weaved, moved his body and leant forward all the while and finally got his first look at Big Red in all its natural state.

There are four different tracks to climb up “Big Red”, all challenging in their own way, after seeing that Danny went back to the 48 and rode down one of the tracks and had another go but just fell short.

With his mind set right, body able and the bike proving that Colin had built the perfect bike for him he had enough energy in him for one more go.

A final attempt was made. Danny said…”I charged at Big Red like none of the other attempts, I leant back on the bike keeping the throttle open and riding it hard whilst in control, I felt it dig in, I was exhausted, but also excited as this attempt just felt better than the previous ones, I could see the peak of it and just went for it…I succeeded and couldn’t believe it at first. 

Reality kicked in and all I could do was laugh and become emotional as I wandered around looking at what I set out to achieve…to conquer Big Red by climbing it on a Harley-Davidson…And realising I actually DID IT!”

It’s not often you seen scramblers actually hitting tough terrain, it’s great that the Million Dollar Bogan put his Harley-Davidson to good use!

If you want to see all the moto vlogs on Danny’s adventure head here!


MDB 48 Sportster Scrambler Specifications

Engine: Air-cooled, Evolution V-Twin, 1202cc, 88.9 x 96.8mm bore x stroke, 10.0:1 compression ratio, ESPFI, custom made 2-into-1 exhaust, six-speed gearbox, larger sprocket final drive

Chassis: Mild steel, tubular frame, cast junctions, steel swingarm extended by 4in, Rake: 30.2°, Trail: 135mm, 49mm cartridge type forks with adjustable Progressive Suspension internals, 39mm dual rear coilover shocks. Dual-piston front caliper, disc rotor, dual-piston rear caliper, disc rotor. Black split nine-spoke cast aluminium, Michelin Anakee tyres, 130/90B16 73H, 150/80B16 77H.

Bodywork: Custom front mud guard, custom seat, CVO crash bar fitted upside down, Arlen Ness mirrors, RSD grips, repainted in Audi R8 Nardo Grey with a bespoke style livery, LED indicator lights.


Million Dollar Bogan’s 48 Sportster Scrambler Gallery

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