March 1 2010

It’s funny how, when life throws you a few curve balls, you learn to adapt. And when someone says, “that can’t be done,” you find that it’s in your nature to prove them wrong. A combination of those two scenarios is all it took to change the course of Derek Pauletto’s life.

After high school, Derek, and everyone else, figured cabinetmaking was the direction he would take. After all, he made everything out of wood – from furniture to tiny clocks.

A few menial jobs led to a gig in an auto upholstery shop. There was a small welder at the back of the shop for repairing broken seat frames, but as much as Derek wanted to expand his horizons and try the machine, his boss said no. That’s all it took to inspire Derek to set the wheels in motion. He signed up for a part-time polytechnic welding course and received a welding certificate upon completion. He now had permission to use the welder, and unbeknownst to Derek, he was taking a newfound direction in life.

At around the same time, he used to race his GSX-R750. After a bad crash that resulted in a lot of mechanical damage to the bike, he took his disassembled bike parts to Aerotech, a local metal fabrication shop, for repair. He thought it couldn’t hurt to drop off his resume, and within a week he was hired as a welder. With a little training on the lathe and milling machine, Derek was welding all types of metal and then finishing the parts on the lathe or mill.

Derek received a valuable education in the real-world metal fabrication market, and being known in the shop as “the bike guy,” garnered himself a reputation in Calgary’s motorcycle industry for his welding and machining skills. In 2005, Derek quit Aerotech after 10 years to open his own business, Trillion Industries (

Any bike builder will tell you that their dream is to have carte blanche on a motorcycle build, but for many builders that dream never materializes. It was only a few months into running his own metal fabrication and specialty welding business that Derek’s dream build came to fruition.

“I got commissioned to build a bike. The owner said he wanted it black with the biggest engine, and he wanted a big back tire,” Derek said, “and I got to do the rest. I was recommended by a guy I’d built bikes for in the past.” Derek had no intention of building the same type of bike as other people, so he ran his own unique ideas past his customer, and the customer invariably said, “sounds good, just do it.”

Derek has told people about his off-the-wall designs, and responses vary. “People say I eat too late at night and that I have bad dreams,” Derek said of his one-of-a-kind ideas. Just as before, when somebody says it can’t be done, that just sets Derek’s mind in motion to prove them wrong.

Derek now uses a solid modeling program to design parts, but in the early days, sketches had to do. The first design was a two-dimensional sketch of a one-of-a-kind triple tree – although it really isn’t a triple tree in the traditional sense of the common motorcycle steering part. Derek calls his unique piece a Triple-X. To cut the rough shape, Derek took his sketch to a company that does wire EDM, and he later hand-shaped and smoothed the Triple-X with a variety of grinders.

Derek designed the frame, and after bending and welding the Chromoly 4130 seamless steel tubing, he mounted the Triple-X, which uses internal bearings, directly on the end of the frame’s two-and-a-half-inch bent backbone incorporating a 36-degree rake.

Derek wouldn’t be content using a bolt-on rear end, so he designed and made a three-part swingarm using aluminum sidepieces bolted to the Chromoly pivoting front unit. The swingarm utilizes eccentric chain adjusters and a rising-rate single-shock suspension.

Another standout part of Rovad is the exhaust. Derek designed the pipes with a specific exhaust profile program. Derek claims the design will actually help make power and were not devised just for looks. Both headers, made from mandrel bent 304 stainless, are of equal length to exit out of the baffled can.

The combination of ingenuity and skill make this bike, named Rovad, truly a one-of-a-kind machine. These qualities have taken Derek from the bike’s first showing in Calgary to various shows of greater stature, culminating in Sturgis for a Michael Lichter show called One World Choppers, in which Derek displayed Rovad alongside Canadian building legend Roger Goldammer. Both were representing Canada.

What can we expect next from Derek Pauletto? He has another unique bike in the works now, to be finished this summer. But the icing on the cake for Derek is that he wants to build his own brand of motorcycle, engine and all. “When I was 30, I said I’d have my own motorcycle brand, including an engine of my own design, by the time I was 40. Time is ticking on and people say it can’t be done.”

If what I’ve learned about Derek is correct, that’s the wrong thing to say. I, for one, think he can do anything he sets his mind to, and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with.

Trillion Industries is a one-man show, for now at least. Derek will take on any job and estimates that about 60% of his business is motorcycle related, and he’s okay with that. “It keeps the repetition low, and every day is something different. It keeps it in balance,” Derek said. He is also passing his skills on to his kids. Mady, seven years old, and Jaxx, five, have taken an interest in watching their dad weld and work on the machines. Jaxx has even done a bit of welding himself, with dad’s help of course. MMM

Owner: Davor Domic
Builder: Derek Pauletto
Fabrication and Manufacturing: Derek Pauletto
Welding and Machining: Derek Pauletto
Name of Bike: Rovad

Year: 2006
Make: S&S
Model: Twin Cam
Displacement: 124 ci
Carburetion: S&S

Year: 2006
Make: Baker
Gear configuration: RSD 6-Speed
Final drive: Chain
Primary: RMD Billet
Clutch: Barnett

Builder: Derek Pauletto
Year: 2007
Make: Trillion
Model: Rovad
Rake: 36 degrees
Modifications: Rake built into frame

Front End
Make: Trillion
Model: Triple-X
Year: 2007
Suspension: Ohlins

Manufacturer: RMD Billet–Smooth 9
Size: 18×3.5
Tire: Avon Venom 130/70
Make: RMD Billet–Smooth 9
Size: 18×10
Tire: Avon Venom 300/35

Ignition: S&S
Wiring: Derek Pauletto
Headlight: MV Agusta Brutale
Taillight: Derek Pauletto

Donny Klukas & Troy Benson

Tanks: Derek Pauletto
Fenders: Derek Pauletto
Foot controls: Derek Pauletto
Seat: Derek Pauletto
Pipes: Derek Pauletto
Gas cap: Aviation style
Handlebars: Derek Pauletto
Grips: Rizoma
Foot pegs: Fastway

Photo Credit: Kurtis Kristianson/SPL


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