Berg & Co’s fixed-gear-inspired 300cc custom…
For many of us, the love of motorcycles started with bicycles, and this was certainly the case for our friend Kevin Bergeron of Berg & Co — a firefighter, heavy-duty mechanic, and moto / bicycle builder out of southern Alberta, Canada, near the Montana border:
“I never grew up with enough money to own motorcycles so bicycles took their place and have always been hugely influential in my life.”
When Roland Sands opened his Dream Buildoff competition, Kevin had the cause he needed to pursue a vision he’d had for some time — an utterly minimalist single-cylinder custom inspired by fixed-gear bicycles. These single-speed, coaster-less track bikes began life racing on the world’s velodromes and migrated into the hands of messengers and riders all over the world:
“I’ve always been drawn to their simple aesthetic and what cleaner look than a ‘fixie.’ So I decided to let that lead the way for the vision of this bike.”
The frame is built from DOM tubing like the GT Triple Triangle (“Triple Tri”) Kevin grew up riding, but with an aero seat tube and radial recess for the rear wheel. All tubes were TIG-welded and capped with brazed silicone bronze like the steel bicycles of yesteryear. (Take the paint off an old Chicago Schwinn, for instance, or you’ll find brass fillet brazing.)
Kevin designed and machined everything in-house on his mill and lathe, including a single-crown rigid fork designed to look like a “lugged” part — another common bicycle feature — and a one-off front hub machined from 6061 and radial-laced, so that none of the spokes overlap.
Many fixed-gear bicycles are ridden brakeless — the rider uses their legs to brake — and Kevin came up with an ingenious solution to give his build a similar look:
“In keeping with my minimal vision, I designed a drive brake system, I used a disc and caliper setup from the go-carting world and attached it to the drive sprocket of the bike. Finally, with sheet aluminum and many hours, I shaped a cover for the whole deal.”
The engine is from a Yamaha XT250, which Kevin rebuilt top to bottom, boring it out to a maximum displacement of ~300cc. It actually breathes through the downtube!
The throttle is an internal model of Kevin’s own design, and the bike is running a foot clutch and hand shifter. The hand-fabricated details and engineering solutions on this bike go on and on — there’s a story in every detail.
Weighing just 150 lbs with 300cc of air-cooled power, the bike isn’t lacking in punch, either. We can’t help but think of the lines from one of our favorite poems, James Dickey’s “Cherrylog Road“:
And I to my motorcycleParked like the soul of the junkyardRestored, a bicycle fleshedWith power, and tore offUp Highway 106, continuallyDrunk on the wind in my mouth,Wringing the handlebar for speed,Wild to be wreckage forever.
XT250-Powered Custom Bike: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
I am now 29 years old. Still From Canada. More specifically southern Alberta near the Montana border.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
The donor engine is from a 1983 yamaha XT250.
• Why was this bike built?
The vision was brewing in the back of my mind for some time. I had the “misguided” impression that creating a motorcycle which wasn’t specifically designed to be road legal was somehow easier than building a bike which had a laundry list of mandatory features. Eventually Roland Sands opened the “Dream Build off” contest and it seemed like a good excuse to put pen to paper.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
I never grew up with enough money to own motorcycles so bicycles took their place and have always been hugely influential in my life. I’ve always been drawn to their simple aesthetic and what cleaner look than a “fixie”. So I decided to let that lead the way for the vision of this bike.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
The frame is bent out of DOM tubing, reminiscent of the GT triple-tri I grew up on. I put my own spin on the frame and created an aero seat tube with a radial recess for the rear wheel. Every tube was TIG welded and “capped” with brazed silicone bronze, a technique synonymous with older bicycles.
I manually machined everything in-house either on my lathe or mill, including a single crown rigid front fork which I designed to look like a “lugged” part — another very common bicycle building technique.
I wanted the bike to look as minimal as possible. So I decided to machine a front hub out of 6061 with a low spoke count that I would later radial lace (a process where none of the spokes cross over each other). Buchanans in California was instrumental in providing me guidance along with the spokes and custom drilled 21″ rim hoop I needed.
To match the front wheel I opted for a 21″ rim. I modified a front hub from a newer Honda dirt bike, sourced a blank sprocket, and machined the two to fit together.
In keeping with my minimal vision, I designed a drive brake system, I used a disc and caliper setup from the go-carting world and attached it to the drive sprocket of the bike. Finally, with sheet aluminum and many hours, I shaped a cover for the whole deal.
The brake is operated on the standard right side through a foot lever. It’s the same story for the clutch, foot lever on the left with hand actuated shifter, as is the case on a lot of choppers.
The only other control is an internal throttle of my own design, roughly based on the throttles found on older Honda CB100s or Honda Monkeys. That whole deal runs through a set of wide aluminum bars and is held by a stem/bar clamp of my own design.
The tanks are split, hand-shaped in aluminum. One side houses about 2L of gas and the other the electrics.
The only light the bike has is a “flashlight” I machined out of solid 6061, I used the lens and actuation from an old “Maglite” I had kicking around. I attached it to a front rack I made out of stainless, which is secured through the open neck of the bike.
Engine-wise the bike remains fairly stock. It was rebuilt top to bottom, split the cases, checked every machined surface, replaced bearings and seals. It was well used, so it’s now bored to the maximum allowed tolerance and it breathes through the downtube of the frame. Finally the exhaust runs through the single down tube of the frame and exists directly below the engine .
• Does the bike have a nickname?
The bike does not have an official nickname, although it has always been referred to as the “Dream Build” because of the competition it was built for.
• Any idea of power or weight numbers?
The motor started life off as a 249cc package and now sits around the 300cc mark. The wet weight of the bike is around 150lbs.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride?
This was an exercise of both my mechanical and artistic ability, the riding experience is what you would expect out of a 300cc, 150lbs, single brake, rigid frame motorcycle.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
The creation of something out of nothing is likely what I am most proud of. There are a thousand things I would do differently but I truly am proud of this step in my constant pursuit of producing high quality work. That being said I am very much looking forward to moving onto the next project.