I can remember the cool, rainy morning in Daytona Beach four years ago. Jeff G. Holt recently started at Baggers and we shared a room for a week; although it felt more like a month with the little amount of sleep we had. It’s not like that morning itself was so special but Jeff and I were up all night entertaining some of the local dancers when we remembered we were supposed to go to a fancy breakfast honoring, if memory serves possibly Arlen Ness with some English chopper assembler with dyed hair interviewing him. Since Jeff and I RSVP’d, it was only right we show up in our sunglasses, grab some grub, and slip out before the final applause.
We strolled up in our darkest shades on a rainy morning and were escorted to our table. “Hmm,” I thought; “a white-gloved escort for two guys like us.” Then the story got better or worse depending on which memory I rely upon or who I am retelling it to. Jeff and I were seated directly in front of the stage with a group of motorcycling dignitaries, none of whom were wearing sunglasses. As I attempted not to make more of a fool of myself each of us at the table were being introduced—for what exactly I’m still not certain. So, as my name was butchered, I stood and gave my parade wave, but I was shaking from the aforementioned festivities.
I slinked away from the table, grabbed two cups of coffee and made my way outside to roll one up before the big State of the Industry address. Then I remembered scheduling a photoshoot for later that morning. The rain was saving, rather preventing, me from lugging all the gear and coordinating the shoot. I vaguely remember the bike owner was a funeral director or some other “Life’s Next Journey” business, and he wouldn’t accept my graceful bow out for the shoot. He may have been connected to the “big weatherman,” because just as I opened my eyes hidden behind my shades to the sounds of applause the sun started shining.
The shoot was going to be on the beach; the sand gets really hard in Daytona and you can ride on it (even race on it). Then, from my big lens and assorted other gear, more bikes showed up and probably due to the shakes I was experiencing, agreed to shoot them as well. A gregarious fellow named Mike Adams appeared as if he just rode straight out of the ocean on a sano Electra Glide Standard that his shop, Smada Customs, built into a sweet, custom Street Glide. The paint flowed like liquid copper throughout the whole bike with some tasteful and subtle, whispy black flames. Mike made the trip down from Maine and he had a young friend, Derek Lesperance, with him riding a customized Dyna Glide. It turned out that Derek’s own Wicked Paintworks shop painted Mike’s bagger and the Dyna. I think the Dyna had a military theme of sorts but the detail in the artwork was awesome. I took some shots of the Dyna for Derek, and we talked shop a bit. Being in the custom paint business is difficult even with a lot of talent. One piece of advice I gave him was to learn how to use a camera and get his work out there. That was a good way his talents could be seen and get recognized; and he had it, so I wasn’t just giving Derek the “atta boy” talk. I remember he was super respectful, even of me with hair to my belt, smelling of perfume, liquor, and who knows what else.
We parted ways and when I returned back to L.A., Derek sent me an email, “It was really cool to meet you. Thank you for shooting Mike Adams’ orange bagger and my Dyna. Not many people in this world are willing to help someone they don’t know but you did. I have always worked hard and helped out when I could and you made me feel like it was all worth it.” I responded, “Thanks for the kind words—very cool of you. Nice to talk with you; hang in there, do your thing—you have the talent and disposition.” And not one to disappoint, Derek showed what I saw in our brief meeting: “Thanks Toph; and no brother, I’ll never give up the fight. Thank you for all your help.” Mike’s bike was subsequently featured in Baggers (Feb. ’09). I flaked on sending Derek some copies of pictures for what seemed like a year, but the web eventually came to our rescue and he got the pics.
Derek and I exchanged a few howdy emails, then a year or more had passed and Derek hit me up. “Toph, I have a bagger that one of my clients is customizing that will be one for the books. Every mod from engine to wheels to our Wicked Paintworks’ copyrighted Chaos Undertone scheme. I listened to your advice and got serious with the photography side of my work. I can provide you with high-quality shots of the bike if you like.”
Derek is a friendly, smiley, devoted family man but he’s serious about his craft and path, and was never one to bother me. After seeing the thumbnails he emailed me, I asked for the photoshoot. The pics were very good; it’s hard to get a riding shot that is both composed correctly and in focus, even for “real” photographers.
The story of the bike’s owner is just as full of soul. The rider on the cover is Natascha Niffka, and she and her partner, Staci Baker, own Granite State Harley-Davidson, in Lebanon, New Hampshire (close to Wicked Paintworks). Natascha’s path to owning a Harley dealer took her around the globe. Having grown up all over the US, she mainly swapped coasts and spent most of her high school years in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Natascha graduated from the University of Vermont with a Civil Engineering degree and moved to Germany to begin her career. After moving back to the States, Natascha began her financial career in Boston, then taking it to the next level as a Commodities Specialist in Orange County, California, where she met Staci. In 2001 they moved back east after buying a manufacturing converting facility in Sharon, Vermont, and then in early 2008 they purchased the dealership.
The Street Glide is Natascha’s fourth motorcycle—her first Harley was an ’01 FLHRC she bought new in 2000. After buying Granite State H-D, she customized an H-D or two a season, then sold it. Natascha told us, “Staci, my partner of 13 years and our 4-year-old son love to ride on an ’08 FLHTCU with a sidecar that has an H-D radical paint set numbered 4/15. They love it.” She went on, “I then decided to customize a bike I would call my own. I chose a stock 96ci White Hot Denim FLHX and called Derek at Wicked Paintworks.”
Natascha wanted something clean, simple, and edgy; and she loves black. Derek came back with the Chaos undertone idea, and she loved it. Then they went to work piecing together the components that will really make this bike hers. Natascha started with a Le Pera single saddle gel seat with removable pillion & H-D’s Edge Cut theme for pegs/floorboards/grips/etc. Natascha went with PM’s Contrast Cut wheels that she thought would complement the bike nicely; adding 3 inches to the front wheel and 1 inch to the back. Natascha added H-D’s LED black headlamp (“a FAVE!!!” as she says), blacked out what she could, added Yaffe Monkey handlebars, converted it to a 2-into-1 exhaust with black Night Stick muffler, and finally added a Stage 2, 103ci kit. To help with the tunes, H-D Boom! Audio gear was installed in the inner fairing. Natascha says, “The bike is fantastic. I don’t think I’d change anything about it.”
“Business, as in life, needs to be critiqued constantly, and I love what I do and the people I work with and around, even more,” said Natascha. Continuing, “When I met Derek and his wife, Anne, we immediately connected with our similar (and intense) views of business and work ethic. He’s not afraid to try something new…”
Natascha’s closing words to me were, “Love life. Live life. Make it your own. Rock On…thanks Derek!” B
The paint scheme on Natascha’s bike is called Chaos, and it’s one of six “undertones” that Wicked currently has the designation, “Chaos Undertone copyright Wicked Paintworks 2007,” registered with the U.S. copyright office. This bike is a true one-off when it comes to the paint. There will never be another black and white Chaos Undertone motorcycle ever. Derek will not paint one and if someone else does, Wicked would fight for its copyright. It’s not just the black and white Chaos that’s under copyright; it’s the graphic itself in any color.
Derek told us, “As far as I know, we are the only custom shop that chemically fuses graphics to the base color. The Chaos undertone is made up of 19 different chemicals and is done in several stages. The paint took more than 170 hours to complete and was done by me, Derek Lesperance of Wicked Paintworks.” wickedpaintworks.com
|Owner||Natascha N. Niffka|
|Shop||Granite State Harley-Davidson|
|Shop||Phone (603) 448-4664|
|Year/Make/Model||‘11/Harley-Davidson/ Street Glide (FLHX)|
|Assembly||Granite State Harley-Davidson|
|Build Time||50 hours|
|Cams||Screamin’ Eagle 255|
|Air Cleaner||Performance Machine|
|EFI Controller||Screamin’ Eagle Tuner Download|
|Exhaust||H-D Night Stick|
|Modifications||No modifications necessary|
|Shocks||H-D Premium Lowering Shocks|
|Wheels, Tires, Brakes|
|Builder/Size||Performance Machine, Luxe Contrast Cut/ 21-inch|
|Builder/Size||Performance Machine/ 18-inch|
|Rotor||Performance Machine |
|Painter||Derek Lesperance, Wicked Paintworks|
|Graphics||Chaos Undertone: Derek Lesperance, Wicked Paintworks|
|Gauges||H-D Titanium Face|
|Handlebars||Paul Yaffe |
|Grips||H-D Edge Cut|
|Hand Controls||H-D Edge Cut|
|Foot Controls||H-D Edge Cut|
|Floorboards||H-D Edge Cut|
|Turn Signals||H-D LED|
|Seat||Le Pera Silhouette|
|Fairing||H-D, Painted Inner|
|Windscreen||H-D Wind Deflector|
|Speakers||H-D Boom! Audio |