Sideways With Bill Berroth

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Story By Sean Klinger • Photo By Joe McKimmy

If you’ve ever worn a pair of Sidi boots, you have Bill Berroth to thank. Bill is the creator and owner of Motonation, North America’s exclusive importer of Sidi, as well as Forcefield, Vemar, and AGV Sport (leathers and jackets). Here is a little about Bill and his influence on the Sidi boot powerhouse.

How did motorcycling enter your life?

I’m sitting on my mini bike on the side of the state highway in Connecticut and the Penton Cycleliner was traveling up north . This was not something that you normally would see in our little town. It turns out that there was the International Six Days Trials in Massachusetts happening, the biggest thing in the world for off-road. We drove up for the final day, which was the motocross special test and all these Europeans and Americans riding around in this beautiful field and that was it, I was hooked!

Did you ever race?

I raced the New England Junior Enduro Program, finished high school, went to a motorcycle mechanics school, continued racing and by 1979 I raced the Six Days myself in Germany. I watched that first Six Days in ’75 and by ’79 I was totally immersed in motorcycling. After that I continued racing and slowly built a job for myself in the industry.

How did Motonation come about?

Sidi was in America, not selling too many different boots and they needed a focus, they needed a direction, and I’ve always loved the product. So I went over to them and said, “I have this idea where we could focus on your brand and build it up.” I just sold my idea and sold the work ethic and said, “Give us a chance at it.” They put a couple requirements on it and said, “You have to have some capital to get started, show us a bank statement with this much money in it and you got it. And if you reach the goal you told me you could reach in a year then you could keep it.” At the end of the first year we doubled our goal.

What is your role in Sidi as far as R&D goes?

It’s not a formal thing. There is nothing in my job description that says R&D. Sidi is very passionate about cycling. But a lot of the motorcycle development, over time, has shifted to Motonation in the US. For example, it was about 1992 and the previous model was just outdated. We sat down with some riders and asked, “What would  we do different?” Then I made the first prototype of the Crossfire Boot in my garage out of banged up sheet metal, fiberglass, duct tape and cardboard. We used part of a boot as a base and I showed them the ideas, purely technically because aesthetically it was the ugliest thing you’ve seen in your life.

What is the best or most rewarding part of your job?

Seeing people satisfied and safer with the products that we help to create. A lot of Sidi development in off-road happens in our office in San Diego. So, seeing people use the product, enjoy the product, be comfortable with it, be enthusiastic about it, and be safer in it – that’s the rewarding part.

See more about Bill's brands at www.motonation.com.