Staci Wilt’s 2003 Harley-Davidson Sportster Build

Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Motorcycle Under a Tree

My 2003 Sportster was the first “full motorcycle build” that I did. After realizing that it would be a huge pain to build my 2011 Sportster into the vision I had, I decided to purchase a new-to-me motorcycle: my 2003 “Sporty.” For whatever reason, this bike has never been given a proper name. For as much as this motorcycle and I have been through, it’s always just been “the Sporty.”

My goal for this build was to build a reliable, customized Sportster that resembled a chopper. However, I still wanted to be able to ride it across the country, so I kept the frame and main components mostly stock. To this day, my sporty still gets a ton of compliments and has only gone through a few minor parts upgrades since it was originally built in 2014. Check it out!

2013: In late 2013 I purchased my 2003 Sportster from a friend. Originally an 883 Hugger, it was his mom’s bike, but she never rode it. It actually sat in the living room of their house because the garage was at max capacity with other motorcycles. Other than the exhaust and the seat, the bike was completely stock and only had 5,000 or so miles on it. It was the perfect project bike.

Purchasing and Picking up my 2003 Sportster. Late 2013.
My 2003 Sportster when it was first completed in 2014. Photo By Alex R.

2014: Over the winter of 2013-2014, I got all of my parts organized for Bret over at Top Dead Center Cycles in Austin, who built the bike for me. By March the bike was done and for the most part, not much has changed.

2015: After a year of pushing the little 883 motor to its limits (and my hands, because the highway vibrations are insane on the old rigid mounted sporty’s), I finally upgraded to a 1200 kit. (Again, thanks Bret!)

2016: After years of riding around with the Burly Slammer Kit, including the 2-UNDER front-end suspension setup, I was ready for a cushier ride on long hauls. I added Legend Suspension Revo-A’s to the rear and 4+ tubes to the front. 

2022: The latest upgrades! My friends over at Martian Machine are making some pretty cool parts for Sportsters and Choppers. I’ve added their highway pegs and a custom timing cover.

While I don’t ride my Sportster as often as I’d like to these days, my goals of building a reliable little sporty still hold true. I rode this bike all over the country and other than some bad gas and an ignition issue down in Mexico one time, this bike has been bulletproof. It will probably always be my favorite motorcycle.

Specs (as of 2023)


  • Name: “The Sporty” ….I never named this bike. And that’s okay with me.
  • Mileage: The Odometer rattled apart…so who knows.
  • Originally Built By: Bret at Top Dead Center Cycles – Austin, Texas
  • Paint By: Josh Rodriguez 
  • Tank: Lowbrow Customs


  • Harley-Davidson® 1200 (converted from 883)
  • Exhaust: Two Brothers Racing
  • Carburetor: Good ol’ stock CV
  • Petcock: Pingel 
  • Air Cleaner: You can find similar options on
  • Breather Bolts: Radius Breather Bolts


Rider Ergonomics

  • Bars: Martian Machine
  • Grips: Biltwell
  • Hand Controls: Joker Machine
  • Footpegs: Biltwell
  • Passenger Pegs: Biltwell
  • Highway Pegs: Martian Machine
  • Mirrors: What are those?!
  • Seat: Made by a dude named Dan that doesn’t make seats anymore.
  • Front Tire: Dunlop 401
  • Rear Tire: Dunlop 401

Lighting & Other Accessories:

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Staci Wilt

I’m Staci: a freelance journalist, photographer, and marketing consultant. I primarily focus those skills around my passions of motorcycles, travel, and food…and yes, we will count margaritas and craft beer in that last category. Thanks for checking out my blog!
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  1. David on September 4, 2023 at 11:24 AM

    I don’t see the wheels listed. Do you know what brand and model they are?

    • Staci Wilt on September 5, 2023 at 4:28 PM

      OEM, Powdercoated. If it’s not listed, they’re OEM components.

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