In today’s environment of reality show bike builders that are always up against some fictional deadline or in a screaming match over who’s late for work, it can be hard to focus on what custom bike building is about.
And in the midst of all of this is Denny Berg, chief fabricator at Cobra Special Projects division. For 18 years, he’s been turning out some of the slickest customs in the industry. I caught up with Denny at this year’s Dealer Expo in Indianapolis (see video above), where Cobra rolled out a fleet of its custom bikes to celebrate 20 years of the special project division. We talked with him about four of his builds on display, including the 2000 Trakker with its carbon fiber body and gas tank; the 2005 Harley Knuckster; Red Rider — the first custom VTX bike ever built; and his 2002 Honda “Copper Chopper.”
To me, the thing that stands out the most about Denny is the platform he builds on — or more accurately, the multitude of platforms he builds. That’s because Denny builds everything. When people hear “custom bike builder,” most of the time they immediately think Harley-Davidson. And believe me, Denny has built more than his fair share of HDs.
But he’s also got a resume packed full of metric builds that are pretty much guaranteed to warp your mind. His builds are sneaky, and I apologize for my lack of a better word. These builds don’t hit you over the head with an asinine gigantic rear tire or a gas tank in the shape of a garbage truck. When you see one of his bikes, you immediately want to check it out, and the more you check it out the more badass fabrication and slick innovation you find.
Denny doesn’t need a television camera crew following his every move. He says he’s happy working by himself out of a 1,000-square-foot shop in Palm Springs. “I just turn the music up and build motorcycles,” he says. All the while keeping functionality at the bike’s core.