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He built this 1997 Sportster Chopper in his Bedroom

Meet Devin C Millett from Eden Prairie, Minnesota. He shared with us the journey of building his 1997 XLH 1200 custom Hardtail Sportster chopper. He took it from stock purple-and-chrome to a striking one-off machine. Devin talks us through the meticulous process – stripping it down, sandblasting, chopping the frame, and installing the Throttle Addiction Deluxe Sportster hardtail kit.

Devin C Millett's 1997 Sportster Chopper

It started off as pure stock, purple and chrome. I got it from an old shop and I worked at it. My first idea was like, Well, I'm going to completely rip everything off of it.

During the Minnesota winter, I brought my bike inside of our bedroom. You know, God bless my wife for putting up with me for this. I tore every single piece off that bike down to the bare frame, sandblasted it, and chopped it in half. 

I put a Throttle Addiction Hardtail on it at my buddy J Spain’s shop. We welded it up, mocked up fenders, gas tanks, had everything just ready to go. I got my frame powder coated black and then I started putting the pieces back together. At this point it was like January. So I was trying to come up with an idea and drawing out different paint schemes. I wanted to keep a balance of simplistic versus still custom and really nice.

So I came up with the classic black and chrome style with a really cool paint job. I got connected with Peter Lex out of Grand Meadow, Minnesota. I gave my drawings to him and he was like, “I'll make it happen, man.” He painted up my tank, made it perfect. He gave me hot rod flames on one side, the classic chopper guy sunrise on the other, and then some cool waves on the top.

When all the paint and the power coating was done, I pieced it together. I had my motor built back together and put it in. I put in six over tubes in the front. Chrome spoke wheels in the rear and the front. I chopped up my cam cover and my sprocket cover to make it kind of look like an old generator Big Twin. Yeah, might be poserish, but I like it. 

I slapped a chain on it. I wired it up as minimally as possible too with just old cloth covered wiring. I set it up to run off a key switch on and then a start button lever connected directly to the starter.

I got an on-off petcock, a 2.1 narrow Frisco tank on it. I’ve run out of gas about five times. Aris style headlight on the front. I got a Biltwell model E tail light on the sissy bar with the license plate right under it.

I’m running Throttle addiction 9” vintage narrow apes which I freaking love. Originally I actually had rabbit ears on there. I rode it like that for one year. I'm like, not for me. They look cool, but they are sketch city.. So the 9” ape hangers make it handle really well.

A little added detail that I like is the vintage cloth spark plugs with the Throttle Addiction ivory boots on them with the fins. Just that little contrast In there really makes it pop. Other than that, I put a Barnett clutch in it. I did N4  Andrew cams in the engine. That's kind of it. Anti-gravity batteries too. They kick ass.

I went in blind. Absolutely blind. I went in before Throttle Addiction released their videos on how to use their hardtail, how to build it and stuff. So I just kind of went for it. I got it and I read the paper instructions and went with it.

No welding experience at all. That's when my friend Jeremiah Spain, he was like, “hey, bring it to my shop, man. We'll go all through it. I'll teach you how to weld, we'll cut it.”

And we did. It was really easy, really smooth. The whole process actually went a lot smoother than I thought. Probably because I was planning on doing this for a year when I found the right bike.

So once I got it, I was like, “all right, we're going in.” So all in all, pretty smooth. 

I've never really had a problem with the bike at all. Actually, the one problem I had with this was when I cut the cam cover. I trimmed it down, all the extra metal that you don't need on it.

On it there is a little hole. I don't know why this hole is here, but it's there and it goes straight through the bottom. I didn't notice it when I cut all the extra metal off. When I put it back on, I started the bike and oil just started pissing through it. So I just plugged it up with some red loctite and a self tapping screw. Haven't had a leak since. So it's been killer. Pretty smooth.

My favorite ride that I've taken it on is the flood run route. From Minneapolis you go over to 10 and you go into Prescott, Wisconsin. From there you take 35 down to the Mississippi River. It is just such a beautiful ride. I took it out like mid-October with my friend John, and it was beautiful, colors all around. I was on my chopper, he was on his and we were just all day running the road, all the way down to Wabasha. Stopped in Maiden Rock, Because you've got to stop in Maiden Rock. That's probably my favorite ride until probably this August where I'm going to take that chopper up to the U.P. and ride along Lake Superior. But we'll see.

Honestly, when I got into bikes I just couldn't leave them alone. I'm a guy that really likes to put my personal touch on things. So my first bike I completely ratted it out and it was decent for a first time bike. My second was pretty good. Then I met my mentor, his name is Daniel Hedberg. He is really into the old school chopper scene. He gave me some magazines and some ideas. When I saw this stuff I looked at them like that's what I want to do, I want to build choppers. Honestly, I probably wouldn't be as far as I was without Daniel. Every silly, stupid question I had, you know, he was there. He answered it all the time. He mentored me. He taught me how to wire a bike, basically.

I just love the idea of making something bone stock into your own personal machine. When someone sees it, they're like, Oh yeah, that's Devin's bike, you know? Being able to distinguish that stuff is what makes it your own. That's what I love about it.

From Throttle Addiction I got the Ivory spark plug wires and boots  with the fins on them. I've got theThrottle Addiction Hardtail with the Throttle Addiction horseshoe oil tank and battery holder on it. And then the Throttle Addiction flat fender, I believe it's five inches across. Throttle Addiction sissy bar on it. You got the king and Queen Diamond stitched seat from Throttle Addiction. And the 9” chrome vintage narrow ape hangers from Throttle Addiction.

My name's Devin Millett. I'm from Eden Prairie, Minnesota. You can follow me at @Devin_C_Millett on Instagram.

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