by Douglas Chasar
Roger Bourget began building custom bikes out of his garage in 1987. His inspiration was a desire to stand out from everybody else. "I was tired of losing my bike in a parking lot full of Harley's," Bourget explains. Initially designing aluminum parts to fit stock bikes, Bourget continued building all his own parts. Today, ten years after founding Bourget's Bike Works, Inc. (BBW), the company boasts being a true manufacturer, building their bikes from the ground up.

"All components are built by us, with the exception of tires and drive train," explains Scott Voinovich, Sales Manager and Director of Dealer Relations. Voinovich continues explaining how BBW fabricates more in-house components than any other manufacturer including wheels, brakes, frames, sheet metal, front ends, etc.

Every year a combined two hundred tons of steel and aluminum are forged into rolling masterpieces. A tour of BBW's state-of-the-art, 36,000 square foot factory reveals the process one component at a time. Frames are cut, bent and welded from 20-foot lengths of 1 3/4- and 2-inch DOM tubing. An expansive room houses millions of dollars worth of CNC machines which precisely sculpt blocks of raw billet aluminum into everything from rocker boxes, wheels, swing arms and calipers to brake levers, belt drives, mirrors and more. Seat pans are lined with conventional foam rubber or gel padding then covered with hand-stitched leather or more exotic hides such as ostrich, snake skin and alligator. Paint is left only to the customer's imagination.

The current output of BBW is over 900 bikes per year. Having moved into the facility in November of 2001, BBW has already outgrown the new location and plans to begin construction on a 40,000 square foot addition by the end of the year. Though the addition will allow BBW to increase output, Bourget plans to limit production to 1000 bikes per year in an effort to limit the market and ensure strict quality control. "Our frames come with a lifetime warranty, and if there's a problem with one of our bikes, we'll fix it," Voinovich explains. "Roger cares about the quality of product he manufactures."

Currently BBW offers 17 different models including their most popular model the Fat Daddy, Black Jack, Fatso, Python, Kruzer, Beach Cruiser, Retro, Pro-Gets, Low-Blow, Street Racer and the Auti-Mo, BBW's street legal, drag bike. In 2004 BBW will introduce a production version of the limited edition Diamond Anniversary chopper which consists of a polished T6 aluminum frame.

Bourget conceived the Diamond Anniversary model as his entry in the Discovery Channel's Bike Build-off, a friendly competition between BBW and Billy Lane's Choppers, out of Melbourne, Florida. Recognized as a true American success by others in the motorcycle industry, BBW came to the attention of the Discovery Channel whose proposal included a cross-country ride from Phoenix, Arizona, the home of BBW, to Melbourne where the bikes would be judged. Billy Lane's home court advantage seemed to pay off as the manufacturer walked away with the award for its "old school" chopper.

Billy Lane's win does nothing to discourage Bourget, however, as BBW has already taken home its share of awards including Hot Bike Magazine's Top Bikes of 2001 for the BBW Kruzer and VQ's 1998 Best Component Builder of the Year. Though not the only awards presented to BBW, Bourget maintains his humility asserting the awards don't matter as much as the product itself.

BBW's patented drop seat/oil in frame chassis design is one of several innovations Bourget has brought to the motorcycle industry. In addition to being the first custom builder to put a car tire on a bike or NOS (Nitrous Oxide System) bottles in a gas tank, Bourget continues leading the way with the newly patented belt drive Jackshaft allowing the engine to be centered in the frame. Though BBW plans to concentrate on refining their current products, the near future will see the introduction of a newly designed frame along with the development of OEM and retail products including a line of rolling chassis. The future will also find BBW featured in several upcoming television programs including another Discovery special as well as Corbin's Ride On appearing on Speed Channel.

In addition to an extremely talented and hard working staff, Bourget attributes marketing as the key to the company's success. As a true manufacturer, BBW has placed itself in the highest end of the spectrum of American-made after-market motorcycles. "Not everybody can own a Bourget," admits Voinovich. "People who buy our bikes are very particular, appreciate quality and are willing to pay for it." Ultimately, Bourget's passion for motorcycles and quality drives him to provide exactly what his customers want.

Ride safe, ride often...hell, just ride! - dpc

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