In the heartland of Hillsboro, Missouri, where the roads wind through picturesque landscapes, and the spirit of adventure thrives, lies the captivating story of a man who turned his lifelong passion into a remarkable journey. Meet Kyle Bertsch, a name synonymous with innovation, custom motorcycles, and a commitment to living life in the fast lane. We recently sat down with Kyle for an exclusive Q&A session, delving into his love for motorcycles, the birth of Forever Rad, and his unique perspective on the Indian Challenger. Get ready to dive into the world of this blue-collar visionary and his extraordinary creations.
I started on a yamahopper moped at 14. I would slide my skateboard behind my backpack and rode it to the skatepark everyday til i bought a car. it was simply a way to get around quicker, it wasnt for another 10 years that i did a small stint with an 86 yamaha xj550 that i turned into a bobber, after that was my first real cool motorcyle, a 95 sportster chopper.
BEER WHISKEY OR WINE?
When i have time to drink, whiskey, because i like to believe i become more distinguished by the day.
WHAT'S YOUR BACKGROUND IN CUSTOM BIKE BUILDING? HOW'D YOU START AND WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO?
I grew up on a skateboard and I started the gearhead way of life when i was 14, im 38 now, theres not been a day in my life since i was 14 that im not doing something related to motorcyles or vehicles, more specifically customs. From minitrucks to full size trucks, to vintage cadillacs and impalas,to choppers and cholo bikes all the way to present day, fast cars and fast motorcycles. i guess u could say i always wanted to be a race car driver but never had the means or money to make it happen, so i kept things low and slow,but now that im older, im more established (and distinguished) and im getting my fix in the need for speed department with a 750 hp audi rs7 and numerous performance based motorcycles, everyday is an adventure for me! i grew up in Bismarck, ND where none of these things are considered normal,so i moved to St. Louis , MO when i was 24, to pursue my dream in building cool shit, no plans, just dreams. long story short, i have an extensive history in paint and body and custom vehicles and bikes that i built for myself which of course sparked interest around the country and led to me opening my own shop called Forever Rad. I would say where im headed is wherever the wind takes me on 2 wheels and paying close attention to what people want out of their motorcycles but of course with a side of skateboarding thrown into it. i love new product development and over the top detailed builds that are built to shred! We will never sacrifice quality or functionality, period. our bikes perform as good as they look and we take alot of pride in that statement! i also love apparel design and have a goal to produce my own skateboards someday, it just seems like a fun project to me.
YOU SEEM TO BE THE GO TO GUY WHEN IT COMES TO BUILDING INDIAN CHALLENGERS, WHAT MADE YOU FOCUS SO HEAVILY ON THESE BIKES?
I am extremely middle class, blue collar, and available as can be, and people seem to really be able to relate to that, and its brought much success to me by simply being vocal and willing to speak to anyone about the challenger platform. In my mind, anything is possible with enough money, patience and determination. I started on my first challenger job in early 2020 for a customer who wanted a custom paint job, the bike turned out really sick and had instantly caught my attention, it was so different from any of the harleys id worked on, but when we finished it the customer told me to go ride it and try to break it, challenge ACCEPTED! i rode that bike for 2 days sraight and i was sold, even though i currently owned an over the top beautiful performance based road king, i knew i had to have one of these challengers, so i focused on buying one, and the rest is history. I got one in the fall of 2020 when there was almost ZERO parts available for it,i tore it down to the frame and decided to simply focus on the things i didnt like about it,and make it better, turns out, i was one of the first to really cut one up and still be fully streetable while making some pretty serious changes to it, and alot of people took notice upon its completion. What i didnt realize at the time, was how much i could continue to love riding the same bike,( i get bored easily) , however, u couldnt keep me off of it, its taken me to all 4 coast lines and numerous mountain ranges and never skipped a beat, and i was never nice to it, i was amazed with how well the bike performed and held up, so i sold my harley and now own 4 indians , 3 challengers and 1 ftr. it is truely a performance minded bagger from the factory, its nimble, light,powerful and reliable, while still having the soul of an american made v twin motorcycle. i love to produce new ideas and parts for the challenger that have yet to be explored, it keeps things exciting and new.
ARE YOU STILL BUILDING A LOT OF HARLEY'S?
For my customers, absolutely i am! i still love harleys, i always will. Forever Rad has become a very niche type of business building specific types and styles of motorcycles for people, and i wouldnt change a thing about it! to me the key to success is to wake up every day and do what you want to do, i am very humbled in the support and opportunities ive been given, and truely feel like were just getting started!
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT THE SECTOR COLLECTION?
Attention to detail, fitment, style, modular, u just cant beat it. like any RSD product, it always stands out in a crowd with a racey meets classy feel. Alot of my inspiration at Forever Rad is due to RSD and Rooke, the young guns, the misunderstood,the dare to be different, rsd parts always stand out in a way that says look at me, but in a tasteful way, We like to do things different from the norm and RSD always fits that bill!
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NICKEL OR BLACK?
NICKEL! I am a major sucker for the nickel, but in my opinion it absolutely takes a certain bike to pull it off, so id love to use it more often, but only if its gonna make sense with the flow of the build. admitedly we run alot of the black parts due to that statement. However we recently built the only custom jack daniels edition challenger in the world for sturgis 23 and i believe the nickle sector risers we used on it are the absolute focal point of the entire motorcycle!
TELL US ABOUT YOUR SHOP...
I always wanted my own fantasy factory like rob dyrdek, i needed a big shop to perform business and build bikes out of, but i also wanted a spot to skate some ramps (especially in the winter) so here we are. The shop is a 2 level 3500 sq ft building with a small skatepark in it, with another 2700 sq ft body shop and paint booth sitting next to it. We have room to grow here for housing many projects and parts. We are striving to be a 100% start to finish shop for all things american v-twin(especially performance based motorcyles) from fab, paint, motor, brakes, suspension and everything in between, we can and will do it all here, and if we cant, we will outsource the absolute best people in the industry to help us out. I love to always throw a nod to skateboarding into as many bikes as i can with loud colors and little touches here and there skate related, but also still build the cleanest over the top detailed bike youve ever seen, with the intention of using and abusing the motorcycle. i dont want to build bikes that appeal to everyone, i wanna build bikes that appeal to me and those of the similar mindset, simply put, Forever Rad is a way of life, no matter what im up to, you can bet your ass its going to be RAD! Forever Rad also has an ever growing website for american vtwin performance parts and i believe the best selection of indian challenger specific parts, so u can buy anything u want from one spot! the go to guy!
IF YOU WERE A MOTORCYCLE, WHAT BIKE WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?
Thats an easy one, Frankie Garcia Taco Truck Indian Challenger race bike, hes my spirit animal, and who doesnt love tacos?!?!