Sarah Dixon from Menifee California may be a newer rider but her custom 2000 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 is anything but the typical first bike. It’s pure bad ass. After passing her motorcycle safety course her friend at the time , now boyfriend, Jeff Tarver owner of 52 Cycles wanted to do something special for her achievement. Sarah says, “Unlike any normal guy who would’ve taken me to dinner, he found and old Sportster and told me he would customize it for me”.
Owner: Sarah Dixon
Year/Make/Model: 2000 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200
Fabrication: 52 Cycles
Build Time: 1 year
Year/Type/Size: 2000 Sportster 1200
Carburetor: Mikuni HSR 42 Exhaust:
Iron Cobras Fabrication
Air Cleaner: Joker Machine
Front End: Stock with Race Tech cartridge emulators and springs Rear
Shocks: Race Tech G3-S 15”
Front Size: H-D Thunderstar 19”
Rear Size: H-D Thunderstar 16”
Gloss Black by Doug Starbuck, Copper Leaf & Red Pinstriping by Mike Lamberson
Rear Fender: 52 Cycles
Gas Tank: Cycle Standard Blackbird
Grips: Pro Grip
Foot Controls: Joker Machine
Headlight: Free Spirits
Taillight: Custom Dynamics
Turn Signals:Custom Dynamics
License Mount: 52 Cycles
Seat: Duane Ballard Custom Leather
The bike in it’s original condition was “The least sporty Sportster you could imagine” bemoaned Sarah. “It was outfitted with ape hangers, forward foot controls, a king and queen chopper seat, a dual gas cap tank and a horrible paint job. I grew up around the motorcycle and hot rod scene, working shows with my uncle, Pete “Hot Dog” Finlan since I was 10 years old. I’ve pretty much seen every paint job there is and I can easily say this Sportster’s was the worst”.
The moment Jeff rolled the bike into his shop, he tossed the tins into the trash as there was literally no saving the appalling pieces. The rest of the parts that made up someones previous dream chopper were rapidly ripped off and put aside. Once Jeff had the bike down to the frame he was able to envision the customizing needed that would put the “sport” back into this machine. A street tracker build was decided on.
The first thing to be done was sorting out the suspension. Since this would be a performance build, suspenders that looked and worked the part were in order. Jeff and Sarah drove out to Race Tech headquarters in nearby Corona to meet up with the Race Tech suspension experts. And experts they are, with the company providing over 30 years of high- performance suspension service throughout all forms of motorcycling. The Sportster forks were setup with Race Tech cartridge emulators and springs while out back a pair of 15” custom valved and sprung G3-S shocks would give it just the stance needed.
Jeff then started amassing the parts he would need to build one trick street tracker. A Cycle Standard gas tank was sourced as it was the perfect combination of form and function for this go fast machine. A café racer tail section was found along with a bunch of other necessary pieces to the puzzle. Sarah confesses, “ During the time we were building the sporty, which we named Nova, we were also in the process of opening a paint shop in Temecula for my uncle Pete. It took a lot of time, money, effort and stress to take on that kind of responsibility and the build was put on the back burner. Nova sat for months and months and the bare metal finish on the gas tank began to rust”.
This would prove to be a blessing in disguise at it gave Jeff more time to brainstorm about the build. He reworked the tail section by trimming it’s length and doing some fiberglass surgery on it in order to fit perfectly on the frame. Some Duane Ballard Custom Leather work was added for style and function points. The end result was much slimmer, shorter, sportier and appealing to the eye. Jeff really didn’t like any of the headlights he had laying around for use on this project so he started poking around on the mighty internet for a racier alternative. A snazzy numberplate/headlight mask from Free Spirits in Italy was discovered and ordered. Harley-Davidson ThunderStar 5 spoke wheels were added to roll on and fit the bill for a more aggressive appearance. They were ready for action after a black powder coating and adorned with Galfer brake rotors. Iron Cobras Fabrication in Long Beach was commissioned to construct an exhaust. What Iron Cobras fabbed up is a true work of stainless steel art.
“Although it sucked to put everything on hold to make sure other stuff was taken care of, we are glad we had the extra time to upgrade our build”, said Sarah in a tone of revelation.
As the bike started to come together Jeff worked out some of the finer details that would add to the bikes racier nature. A sleek bracket to hide the gauges behind the number plate was whipped up along with relocating the ignition where it was out of the way and hidden. Sarah quips, “Jeff even designed his own paint job with absolutely no paint experience or artistic abilities for that matter. Sorry babe, but we both know it’s true”.
As the bike was taking it’s incredible form and being in the finishing stages, Sarah was gaining riding experience by riding a Honda Grom and a stock Sportster around town. She has yet to ride the finished street slayer as its construction was completed right before the photo shoot. One thing is for sure, everyone should be as lucky as Sarah to have such a kick ass machine as their first bike.
Words and Photos by: Ed Subias