Michelle Baringer’s Sweet Street Sportster

Written by  Story by Tyler Durden Photos by Jack “I’m Sweet On And Off The Street” Cofano Monday, 11 September 2017 16:32
Published in Modified Stockers
   Learning to ride a bike is something every one of us has in common. Everybody’s got their own story of that first ride (or the first attempted ride) that usually involves some sort of silly mayhem and a bike they either remember with total fondness or try to forget about like it never existed. Some people start off at what I’d consider the “top” (at least from my own first riding experience) like Michelle Baringer of Southern Pines, North Carolina, did on her very own 1999 Harley-Davidson Sportster 883. How cool is that?  

  It’s pretty damn cool as far as I’m concerned, but still not quite cool enough for someone like Michelle who apparently doesn’t do stock. “My husband Dave and I originally bought the bike from my husband’s friend, Heath Bethel, for me to learn to ride on,” said Michelle. “When I got the bike, it still had a swing arm, but had been modified by Heath with lowered suspension, an H-D decal on the tank, an aftermarket exhaust, a custom rear fender and a custom seat.”


   Even all those little touches weren’t good enough for new rider Michelle, though, as she said, “After riding it briefly, Dave decided that I needed to be riding a chopper to fit in with Dave and Heath on their Shovelhead choppers. Over the course of a weekend, with little more than a hacksaw and cheap MIG welder, Dave and Heath chopped my Sporty in half and welded on a hardtail. Cutting the frame in half was a little concerning as there is no going back. After that, they mounted the fender and seat, and completely re-wired the bike.” Just learning to ride a bike is obviously not enough for a woman with as much daring-do coursing through her ‘stock-sucks’ H-D veins like Michelle. She’s already riding a hardtail Harley when I was just concerned on trying to make my first tiddler of a learning bike a wee bit louder and hopefully one-mile-per-hour faster.


   There was still more to do, though, and that involved getting the Road 6 Customs weld-on hardtail, the 7 Metal West rear fender, and Frisco-style Sporty tank setup ready for paint and powdercoating. “Dave sent the rear fender off to get powdercoated and decided to use a rattle can and paint the frame himself in the driveway,” said Michelle adding, “For the tank, Dave took it to Steve Havens in Colorado Springs. He has painted several bikes for Dave and his friends. His work is excellent, timely and reasonably priced. The original "paint job" was actually a vinyl decal made to look like an AMF H-D design.

Steve looked at the original H-D decal and improved on the basic design, having it back in just a couple days.” Quick turnaround is good and all, but I wondered if she was happy with it to which she unequivocally replied, “I love it!” Three little words that says it all.


   There are a lot of things I do like about Michelle’s ride that she didn’t mention like the chain and sprocket conversion for one thing. I love playing with gearing and belts and pulleys just don’t make it really easy to do so score one for that conversion. Although I gotta say to Michelle, put some chain lube on ─ stat! I can’t help but like the choice of mids for the control they give especially for someone relatively new to bikes, plus I think they look cooler. I also really like her choice of bars. There’s something really kinda butch and just different with the Zombie-Performance bars she chose plus it’s a great place for hanging on her tool roll. Tools, not cell phones, are a must for me when there’s some sort of trouble and even if I couldn’t fix it on the spot as you usually can, calling someone to bail me out is out of the question. Kudos to her on that one too.


   Dave and Heath also did a neat little addition to her tank with the outside tube fuel gauge. I’ve yet to get tired of that addition on any bike as it just makes too much sense especially for someone like me who doesn’t trust electronic fuel gauges. The oil tank, ribbed rear fender, fender stays, and sprung saddle do it for me too with their classic simplicity. For now, Dave left the 883 engine alone other than the nice set of pipes and a tidy little air cleaner. Apparently not Michelle, though, as she said, “Dave is always tinkering on our bikes but I would like some more power, maybe a NHRS V-Twin Performance 1250 kit to produce some real power.” Oh girl, you are learning quickly.


  But as of now, Michelle’s pretty damn happy with her Sporty and what Dave and Heath have transformed it into. “I'm super proud of my chop. It's different and ton of fun. It’s reliable, never fails to start and runs like a top. It handles great and with the low weight, low seat position and short wheel base, it handles the back country roads we enjoy riding like a champ.”


  Sometimes there are even unexpected benefits to learning to ride motorcycles as Michelle explained, “We have now combined both of our hobbies. We tend to ride around on our choppers while looking at historic sights and photographing abandoned buildings ─ a hobby of mine. I think Dave always achieves his goals.  He wanted me to enjoy his hobby as much as he does and now I do! We now ride all over North Carolina spending time together and would even say that riding choppers has made our marriage better.”


  Nuff said ─ Best ending ever!

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