The Secret Life Of Bert Baker

Is our destiny a sequence of events that is inevitable and unchangeable, or do we control ours by choosing different paths throughout our life? Were Bert & Lisa Baker meant to study in the same university in the same class, to receive the same Mechanical Engineering diploma, to work for the same employer, to become a couple, to business partner to create in very short years the V-Twin Motorcycle Drivetrain Authority? If it was predetermined destiny, it must have been fore-ordained by the God of V-Twin. The storyline of their destiny (or fate?) is very well recounted in their own website at The Baker Story, An american One
Baker Drivetrain made its first professional appearance in 2000 with a small display (facing mine) at the Cincinnati V-Twin Expo. Armed with the necessary theory, protocol, and experience acquired during 14 years as a Senior Project Engineer to Manual Transmissions at General Motors, and supported by a partner wife already planning the manufacturing and marketing of their brand new revolutionary product, Bert Baker introduced his 6-speed overdrive transmission concept that all the custom motorcycle industry worldwide will adopt in the following months, inluding o.e.m. manufacturers…

Since then, with a commitment to using the best materials, labor, creativity, know-how and grit that is born or made in the USA, innovation has never stopped with Bert releasing all the time new drivetrain products, each of them improving bikers’ experience with their factory or custom built motorcycles. Ardent and vocal defenders of the “Made In America” Bert & Lisa Baker define their business philosophy as to preserve the purity, integrity and creativity of American engineering. (Top picture copyright Cyril Huze. Bottom picture copyright Baker Drivetrain) 

Cyril. In High School, what your teachers said about you? Bert. No recollection. I was a military brat and moved every year or two.

Cyril. Who were your childhood heroes? Bert. Jim Morrison and my Uncle Bud who dropped bombs on Germany in WWII in a B-17 when he was only 19 years old

Cyril. What was your 1st vehicle? Bert. Honda SL70 when I was 10. I lived in Albuquerque at the time and loved to ride along the Sandia mountain foothills

Cyril. If you were not working in the motorcycle industry, what would you do? Bert. I would be an automotive engineer but I tried that already for 14 years and figured out I’m incapable of working for someone else.

Cyril. What is your favorite way to relax? Bert. Driving my ZO6 real fast

Cyril. What are you afraid of? Bert. My children’s economic future in America
Cyril. What was the last music you downloaded in your iPod? Bert. I don’t know how to do that and I don’t care to learn. I have no music in my iPhone. In the shop right now I’m listening to Traffic, Buck Cherry, Johnny Cash, and Pantera in the stereo machine.

Cyril. Which film made you cry? Bert. Requiem for a Dream

Cyril. Name five things you hate. Bert. People who drive shitty Korean cars too slow in the left lane, Potato salad, China, Winter, and hairy un-manicured “snappers”

Cyril. Who is the person you would love to meet? Bert. I missed my chance with Dennis Hopper but I would like to meet Crispin Glover or Jeff Bridges.

Cyril. What was the last book you read? Bert. I don’t read fiction; my mind wonders too much. Last book I read was ATSG Saturn TAAT transmission repair manual

Cyril. Do you have any guilty pleasures? Bert. White Castle/Krystal burgers. They’re so nasty I can’t brush my teeth enough times to eradicate the stink

Cyril. Do you collect anything? Bert. Human skulls

Cyril. What was your worst buy? Bert. 1977 Triumph TR7 when I was a kid. British cars suck

Cyril. How do you take your coffee? Bert. Black. I got this stove top Alesi coffee maker in Italy and it makes strong coffee.

Cyril. What was the most embarrassing thing you have ever made? Bert. I’ve had some shitty shift system concepts but nobody knows about that and I’m going to keep it that way
Cyril. Where is your preferred vacation place? Bert. My cottage on Lake Michigan. The infinite expanse of  looking westward over the water gives me humility

Cyril. What is the best thing you can cook? Bert. Deep fried fish filets with flour, egg, and Panko coatings

Cyril. When was the time you were really angry? Bert. 9/11 and I continue to be mad at that religion and the ignorant fucks who follow it. Every time I have to do a full cavity search to get on a plane in my country I am reminded of this.

Cyril. What is your perfect weekend when you are at home? Bert. Weekend, what’s that? When you run a business you don’t have weekends and it all blends together

Cyril. What is your preferred rally? Bert. Used to be Daytona back in the Custom Chopper excess days, but now it’s Sturgis

Cyril. What is the worst question a journalist asked you? Bert. This one, you crazy Frenchman!

30 Responses to “The Secret Life Of Bert Baker”

  1. 1 chicagojohn Oct 20th, 2010 at 7:02 am

    I’ve put two of Bert’s 6-speeds on my softtails over the years, both have performed many flawless miles traveling around the country. Thanks for a great product.

  2. 2 Johny Oct 20th, 2010 at 7:09 am

    Great interview. It’s nice Cyril that you show a picture with his wife Lisa. She is a big part of the business.

  3. 3 Cigar City Chapter Oct 20th, 2010 at 7:30 am

    Best answer = Human skulls…classic stuff!

  4. 4 krugger Oct 20th, 2010 at 8:00 am

    Great culture, great guy ( and wife) ,great style and great product!!

  5. 5 P. Sherrer Oct 20th, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Innovate, never imitate.

  6. 6 howard kelly Oct 20th, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Bert is a very interesting person. Spend some time really talking with him abouttechnical things…he can blow your mind with his knowledge. Lisa really is the brains behind the business though 🙂

  7. 7 Shifter Oct 20th, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Go gearhead, go Baler!

  8. 8 Dennis Johnson Oct 20th, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Great interview, Cyril. Congrats to Bert and Lisa for doing what they do.

  9. 9 Sugar Bear Oct 20th, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    My man …………… stay cool!!!! Give Lisa a kiss for me!

  10. 10 Greek Oct 20th, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    One of the most professional companies in the motorcycle industry. Great products and excellent reputation for service.

  11. 11 Jester Oct 20th, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Great couple. The apparently joking-all-the-time Bert Baker is a very serious professional supported by a smart business woman wife.

  12. 12 Roadside Marty Oct 20th, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Two of the finest people you could ever hope to meet as well as being a leader in the motorcycle industry..great interview questions by the way..Roadside Marty

  13. 13 gina woods Oct 20th, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Great interviews Cyril…..keep em comin!! Great products, successful business congrats to the Bakers!!

  14. 14 Dar - Brass Balls Bobbers & Choppers Oct 20th, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    Fantastic products! Even better people. Thank you for your contributions to the motorcycle community and America.

  15. 15 Doc Robinson Oct 21st, 2010 at 6:19 am

    Great products, great couple … though Bert’s a little crazy.

  16. 16 T-bone Oct 21st, 2010 at 6:39 am

    He’s not joking about the no weekends, I call the shop with a question on a sunday and Burt answers the phone.

  17. 17 rk99 Oct 21st, 2010 at 8:48 am

    It’s good to read of an American success story for a change! Thanks for this excellent interview – May Baker Drivetrain be a success story for the ages.

  18. 18 Richie Oct 21st, 2010 at 8:55 am

    Baker is proof that with expertise and hard work an American company can succeed despite all the Asian knock offs. Not easy task but possible. Buy Baker, buy American. I wish that Bert Baker would be able to patent everything he does and make Harley pay its dues when they adopt his inventions and technology.

  19. 19 C. Jansen Oct 21st, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Great personal and professional success story. Cyril, keep these interviews coming.

  20. 20 Darin Maltsberger - Instructor @MTI Oct 21st, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Great story Cyril. I always enjoy being able to share positive stories about positive people in our industry with my students in the classroom. The Baker Drivetrain story proves that American ingenuity and perserverence are alive and well. Thanks for sharing.

  21. 21 Jason. Oct 22nd, 2010 at 9:27 am

    I am lucky enough to count Bert and Lisa as friends…even if I AM the “ugliest motherfucker” Bert has ever seen. These two are an example of all that is right with the industry. Baker hasnt walked away from the decline without any scars but they are most likely the most solvent and definately the best staffed company in the industry. I traveled as part of the installation team for a full year and I can tell you that if you want to see people that actually give a shit about the business they are in and actually do what they say they are going to do, the entire Baker crew is this way.

  22. 22 Graham Cracker Oct 22nd, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Bert and Lisa are a great couple.

    They took a big risk, but had faith and through passion, sweat and tears, have created a great American business.

    British bikes are better than their cars, by the way. Unfortunately not many around these days, the far east won that battle. Hopefully they won’t win against Baker Drivetrain.

  23. 23 Mike Tomas Kiwi Indian MotorCycle Co Oct 23rd, 2010 at 6:53 am

    Bert and Lisa are top notch folks all the way. Bert is the wild card and Lisa brings normalsy to this crazy man. Great team and it shows all through your company with good team members.

  24. 24 John B Oct 23rd, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    I have known Bert and Lisa since I started working for Big Dog Motorcycles in 2003. Together, they have built a brand that is recognized throughout the industry for innovation in the V-Twin market. Bert will tell you what he thinks, and he did! I wish them both the very best.

  25. 25 666 Oct 24th, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    sounds like bert has a problem with koreans…..

  26. 26 Wiz Oct 25th, 2010 at 6:25 am

    Bert and Lisa, Your picture brings me back to Sturgis the last couple of years when we had the pleasure of sharing the same beautiful campsite. Hope to hitch up with ya’all next year. Like I said before, give that little cutie a big ol’ hug an’ smooch for me. Iffin’ ya don’t, I will! Later, Wiz

  27. 27 Bob Stetson Oct 25th, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Bert is a great friend and he and his wife are great to work for. i wish them
    both the best luck and success. Bert, since you don’t answer you phone give
    me a call some time.

  28. 28 Englishman Oct 25th, 2010 at 9:07 am

    The epitome of American ingenuity.

  29. 29 John Williams Oct 25th, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    WOW !! All this in 10 years…I had no Idea. A true American. I can tell by his politics…worried about his kids future….911… Islam is going to take our country down because of f**kin political correctness…it isn’t a religion, it’s a deadly culture aimed at overtaking the world…

  30. 30 Bud Oct 28th, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Bert Effin Baker. The man.

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Cyril Huze