The anatomy of what happens when a mountain-bike rider builds a custom street motorcycle with attitude.
Story by Greg Williams
Photos by: Brendan Stephens Photography
Mountain bikes are cool. From the top of a hill, gravity pulls a rider at speed over a variety of obstacles and down to the bottom. But once down there, as Kevin Bergeron aptly points out, in order for the process to repeat the two-wheeler has to get back to the top.
“I love mountain bikes,” Bergeron says, “but I hate pushing the bike up the hill.”
Bergeron grew up in Sherbrooke, Que. At 16, he moved with his family to Alberta, where his late father, Steve, a heavy-duty mechanic with an interest in aeronautics, was always be found tinkering on something in the garage. A passion for wrenches and iron was passed to Bergeron, and he began building high-end mountain bikes.
“But it was always a dream to own a motorcycle,” Bergeron, who now lives in Calgary, explains, “because they had two wheels, made noise and went fast.”
However, Bergeron’s first adventure with a motorcycle didn’t go well after he traded his car, an Audi A4, for a Buell Firebolt.
“That was a horrible bike to learn on, and because I was used to banging about on a mountain bike, the Buell also wasn’t really my style,” says Bergeron, now 26. “I’d always been interested in the dirt bike side of things because of the mountain bikes, but I didn’t have the wherewithal to pull off a dedicated off-road motorcycle. That’s when I wondered if I could possibly have the best of both worlds and bought an old Kawasaki KLR250 enduro – something to get to the trails, have a great time in the dirt and ride back home.”
Bergeron set to work in his dad’s 14.5-metre by 14.5-metre garage and tore apart and customized that 1984 KLR250, taking many of his design cues from the world of mountain bikes. After that build, he says, he did the “hipster thing” and built a few scrambler-style Honda CB models, including a 400, a 350 and a 100. He also cut and modified a Suzuki DR650.
Have to Start Somewhere
“I built about a dozen bikes over a four-year period,” Bergeron says. “Not all of them were masterpieces, but I’d build one and sell it to fund the next one. Those previous bikes were well received, both online and at shows such as Ill-Fated Kustoms’ Kickstart and the One Moto Show (in Portland, Ore.). That motivated me to keep building.”
Unfortunately, Bergeron lost his dad in April 2015, but inherited all of his dad’s tools. Bergeron says building bikes using his dad’s machinery and tools is an important part of the entire process, and is something special.
Bergeron became a firefighter/paramedic even though he was trained as a heavy-duty mechanic. Now that he works four days on/four days off, he routinely spends his days off in his three-car garage.
And that brings us to the 1994 Kawasaki KLR250 seen here, a motorcycle Bergeron built for a friend who was deployed in Afghanistan during much of the construction process and now is…