The Art and Zen of Motorcycle Customizing

Tips for custom builders from someone who has been there

Denny Berg has had his share of building custom motorcycles and knows that it can be a time-consuming, but highly rewarding process. For those of you who are striving to be custom builders, Denny Berg gives you tips about the art and zen of motorcycle customizing.

Denny Berg custom Cobra
When you start delving into customizing motorcycles you will realize the amount of work that goes into that work of art. Follow Denny Berg's tips and you could eventually make beautiful custom motorcycles like this.Cruiser
  • "A custom bike is the sum of its parts. When your eye keeps going back to the same part, it doesn't work. When my eye keeps flowing over it and finding new parts, it works." As an example he cites the yellow Valkyrie built for Cobra. He originally built the bike with the pretty stock headlight shell. "But it looked too conspicuous, so I finally used an A.C.E. shell."

  • Every part can contribute: "Let a bracket make a statement. Drill a few holes in it, for example."

  • "You should make some parts disappear. Don't chrome them. Paint them flat black."

  • Don't be afraid to experiment. "Try new stuff that appeals to you, even if you haven't seen it before."

  • "A mistake some people make is that they see something they like and copy it, but it doesn't work with their bike."

  • If time is a factor, remember that paint will take the longest, and allow about six or eight weeks for it. "Get the painted parts ready first. Take pictures of the mock-up, so you remember how everything looks. If time is not a factor, I finish the bike, then paint it."

  • "Too many people quit too early." The last details of a project make a big difference in the final result. I spend a lot of time running cables, wiring, spark plug wires, and playing with covers and other details to get the right look. Look at brake lines. Do you want two hoses all the way one that splits [from a T-junction] down below? I spend a lot of time getting the right handlebar shape, the right headlight height, putting the footpegs in the right place. Take the time to get the nuts and bolts right."

  • "Never be afraid to listen to someone else. Sometimes when you're working on a bike, you can't see the forest for the trees."

  • "Just have fun with it."