Roger Bourget was born on August 23, 1957 at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida to parents Joseph Roger and Marie Bourget. His father rode military Harleys and continued to be a motorcycle enthusiast his whole life. His father’s military career meant the family moved often throughout the country – ultimately settling in Phoenix, Ariz. in 1966 where Roger’s fascination with motorcycles began.
When Roger’s father left for Vietnam, he found himself acting as man of the house at the young age of 10. With those new duties came a father-like-son fascination with his father’s dirt and street bikes left in the garage. Roger didn’t hesitate to try it out on the bountiful, undeveloped deserts of late 1960’s Phoenix where he, his younger brother, and friends took advantage of the wide, open spaces.
Roger acquired his first motorcycle in 1970 – a Honda 100 dirt bike – and quickly advanced to bigger and faster dirt bikes as he raced motorcross and flat track throughout high school. He didn’t own a car like other guys; instead Roger earned his first driver’s license on a Kawasaki 500 triple street bike. Soon after, he was modifying Kawasaki 500 and 750 triples, porting, carbs, chambers, and ending up with hot rod in line fours by the early 1980’s. Little did he know, a long career of custom builds was ahead.
A Career Begins
Immediately after high school, Roger started work at Phoenix-based Sea Ray boats in the interior assembly department. His eye for sleek lines combined with a highly creative and artistic mind gave him a natural-born talent for design. He soon moved up the ranks at Sea Ray to become a key designer in the engineering department. His next passion had emerged – boats.
Over the years Roger owned many different boats and, at one point, operated a fiberglass shop – designing and building his own brand of watercraft. Roger ultimately acquired a small navy of customized, high performance boats including a 40′ MTI Scism cat, a 32′, a 40′ and a 46′ Skater, just to name a few. He got into poker runs and racing offshore in a Super Cat Light, and eventually in a Super Cat.
The First Chop
It was 1986, when Roger left Sea Ray that he bought his first Harley – a 1984 Softail. Before long, the bike was unrecognizable. Roger stripped it down to the frame, raked, chromed, rebuilt the engine, added nitrous, and painted it until the bike was a completely different creation.
That same year, he started working at a Harley-Davidson shop where owner John Wells so believed in Roger’s talent, that the two men started a company called Accutronics Racing. John financed the business, but it was up to Roger to learn how to program, tool, and set up the CNC machining centers – building foot controls, triple trees, and billet accessories. Roger quickly had a grasp of the equipment and his designs were accepted in the after-market world which was picked up by 2 after market distributors. Accutronics successfully remains in business today.
Throughout the late 80’s and early 1990’s, Roger had many other “project bikes.” He had growing a following among friends and acquaintances who would ask him to work on their bikes, then build them new ones. In 1991, he built the first V-Twin custom bike to run a 170-17 rear tire. By this point, Roger pretty much decided that there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do to a stock Harley-Davidson frame.
It was 1992 when Roger rolled up the doors of his three-car garage and began designing his own brand of motorcycle frames. He invested in a CNC mill and small lathe and started making proprietary billet components to go along with the frames. Roger became the first bike builder to offer a complete rolling chassis to the public, which took off like wildfire. People went crazy when they saw Roger’s frames – attracting more than his share of press, including the inaugural edition of Quick Throttle magazine with his monster rear car tire bike on the cover.
This once hobby had become a full-blown career, and now a shop was an absolute necessity. In June of 1993, Roger officially incorporated his first company and rented a real space. The rest is history. He quickly outgrew his first three shops, he built and occupied a state-of-the-art 36,000-square-foot facility and then added another 38,000 square feet. Between 2003-2005, Roger’s shop produced as many as 800 bikes a year out of Phoenix. Roger’s creativity and talent generated many different styles of custom motorcycle frames and parts, including Roger’s signature design – the oil-in frame/drop seat style chassis.
The oil-in frame/drop seat style chassis marked a revolutionary change in the style of custom motorcycles offered for sale to the general public. In addition to the drop-seat/oil-in frame design, Roger Bourget also developed the first jackshaft design, which enables the drive train to be centered in all of Roger’s wide-tire chassis – holding anywhere from a 250-, 280-, 300-, or the custom 330-series rear tire.
In 2004, Roger struck a deal with Avon Tyres (U.S. division) to manufacture an exclusively designed tire for Roger’s chassis. He wanted the biggest DOT motorcycle tire that could be made. Just to be sure they’d commit to the idea, Roger volunteered $50,000 for Avon’s tooling and R&D, so they could together come up with his dream tire. The outcome was the 330-17 tire, which first appeared in his old company’s 2005 line and started the “Super Fat Tire” craze that continues today.
With a dissolved marriage with his ex-wife / Vice President and no support with new designs, Roger’s visions were no longer heard by his company so he began to isolate himself in the back of the shop. As the first decade of the new millennium drew to a close, Roger again found himself most often in the back of the shop where he solitarily pursued his dream designs. This is where he completed his last designs before his inevitable departure. Roger left with his final bike design which he rode to Sturgis and also in the Charity Ride for Kids which Roger and his friend John from Deadwood Tobacco started in 2007.
Roger was the original designer of the quad, which debuted at the 2008 SEMA Show Las Vegas. The quad earned rave reviews and is one of Roger’s proudest creations of all time. The prototype featured four 330-series tires, the same power-to-weight ratio as a Bugatti Veyron, acceleration of 0 to 60 in 4 seconds, and a top speed of around 175 miles per hour. Roger’s wife Emily drives the Street Quad prototype to this day.
After nearly 20 years of building bikes for his old company and tired of all the stress from the large shop, Roger and his new wife Emily moved to one of the nation’s best riding southwest Colorado – where they incorporated Roger Bourget’s Chopper Shoppe (launched July 2011). Located on the main street in Montrose, CO, Roger has established his latest fabrication, CNC, and service shop with a show room to display his custom creations.
Roger Bourget’s Chopper Shoppe will feature five new bike designs in 2012. They are preparing to launch new custom baggers geared toward customizing your current bike, fat tire street bikes, sport bikes and other special projects. The business runs limited production numbers, with Roger playing an instrumental, hands-on role in every project. He is committed to keeping the shop small and personal so he can get to know each of his customers and dealers and get back to having fun again.
Roger and Emily are now expecting twin boys who we all know will have bikes in their blood and will carry on the Bourget name living on to build bad ass customs in their lifetime. When Roger and Emily began living in Colorado and enjoying their new life in one of the nation’s best riding areas off the beautiful “Million Dollar Highway” they saw thousands of bikes all summer. With the closing of the local Harley shop Roger saw a need and wanted to fill it.UPDATE: Roger and Emily Bourget have now welcomed their twin sons Clutch & Cam Bourget to the world. Watch their amazing and inspiring story below: