Mar 12, 2012


Since an early age, Steffan of Zombie Performance has had a fascination with the mechanical, a love for steel. By the age of 14 he was working on small engines. Later, he moved onto fiddling with hot rods and doing body work. That's where his love of fabrication began to grow. He kept other various jobs but kept finding his way back to small engine work. "I started doing performance mods and porting to chainsaws for my employers and decided to try to build my own business doing that. Once the economy took a dump and all the loggers were out of work, that idea got canned."

Most people would have accepted this as the end to the dream. But he didn't. Steffan is the type of dude that cannot be held down. He started building bars and hard parts for himself. When he would tire of a design, he would sell it, and they would always sell. People took notice...

When and how did the shop open for business?
I was workin' a day job doing small engine work and building bars on the weekends and evenings. It was slowly getting busier but at the same time I kept getting laid off from the day job in the winter due to a lack of work. I started using this time to build the business, get the equipment needed, and everything else I could do to get it to a point of being full time. After this last winters lay off, I made the big jump. So far, everything has been great! I try to keep all my overhead small and try to adjust my advertising to reflect my work load. I'm as small as it gets by being a one man show and working out of my tiny garage. The last thing I want to do is be one of those shops that takes forever to complete customers' orders. I try to communicate as much as I can with my customers so they know what to expect. I start freaking out if a job has taken over a week to produce.

What sort of work do you do at Zombie Performance?
Mainly I just do motorcycle handlebars. I have done some exhaust work and I have a couple of small parts I'm currently working on, but I don't consider myself a fab shop. I don't have enough space to build bikes other than my own and I need to have the bike, or one like it, to do the exhaust work. By mainly just doing the bars, I can focus on doing clean work and having the greatest selection out there. I build just about every set to order so my customers can choose one of my designs and have me build them to their specs or build something totally unique. I've had everything from full on blue prints to a crayon drawing for build plans. Some people will pick a couple of parts they like from different bars and then I will make a hybrid version. Lots of options! Just don't ask me to build someone else's bars or anything that is already commercially available. I'm not in business to steal anyone else's work to make a buck.

What got you into making custom, one off pieces? Why not just mass produce a few sets?
I can only put in so much time building custom bars a day. If i get any busier, I will look into standardized designs, but right now I don't get enough orders in a "common" size to justify it. Plus, I think that's the one thing that separates me from everyone else that makes bars. It's easy to do standard size bars, just build a jig and BAM, weld them up. With people ordering different designs or different sizing, every order has it's own challenges and keeps me interested and away from the dull routines of manufacturing.

What's the wildest set of bars you've ever been asked to make?
I would say it would be these asymmetric t-bars that Eli at Cheapskate Cycles designed and ordered up. They were a wonky version of a traditional t-bar but were designed to be welded onto a springer. My bender will only put bends so close together so I had to cut, weld, and blend each bend into the bar. I think it took over 16 different pieces to make one set of bars. In my opinion, that's "the wildest" bars I've done. I set up a display at a local bike show that was full of the typical factory custom crowd and they thought all of my stuff (including my more basic designs) were sacrilegious.

Where do you see Zombie Performance in the future? Any big plans for the shop?
I wanna get some more equipment and a little bit more space, but I wanna stay small and manageable. Bars are going to be my main focus but I'm working on some small parts to help fill the gaps. Thankfully, they don't require a ton of my time. Most of my stuff is directed towards the newer rubber mounted Sportsters and EFI bikes. Mainly because I have a 2007 sporty and it's easy to build and test off of it!

When did you first have an interest in motorcycles? What prompted your decision to buy an EFI Sportster?
My interest in bikes is a fairly recent thing. I was into old cars and hot rods until I moved up here to Oregon and had to sell all my cars and toys. My wife and I were living in a tiny apartment to get our credit cards and extra bills paid off. I didn't have the space to work on cars, or the tools at home, so I got into bikes. I bought my 07 sportster brand new from the local dealership and never looked back. It's been two wheels ever since! Like most people that bought a new bike, I went through all the same desires of wanting an older bike or a carbureted version. I traded my 07 off and went through 3 Ironheads, and a shovel, and just to go back to my original 07 sporty. I missed that bike like crazy! Old bikes are rad but they don't perform like these newer Sportsters. I now have my 07 and am currently building a 1972 Triumph TR6 to satisfy my old bike needs.

Do you think support for these bikes (EFI) is increasing or falling off?
I think the support for EFI bikes is slowly growing. Every new bike from here on out will be EFI so its going to be inevitable. I think it's more of a niche` market right now because there is a divide between the people that want to build off of a new bike and the people that are afraid to cut on a new bike.

Any plans for a Zombie Performance event this year?
Last year was my first attempt at something. I got some cool people to show up and put some miles on their bikes. In the Pacific northwest, there isn't much of a garage builders/riders scene. So I'm trying to organize some events and rides in the summer to try to get people into working on, and riding their own bikes. This year I'm gonna try to get some other motorcycle related businesses and organizations to help out and see if I can get more people involved and interested in building, maintaining, and most importantly riding their bikes. I hate the "just for show" scene. It's really just about working on your own stuff with your friends, building it the way you want, and riding the shit out of it! No matter what it is. I'm down with anything two wheeled.

You're a busy guy, what do you do to get away from the daily grind?
I don't think theres much of a daily grid with building custom bars! I like to tinker with my own bikes and have recently started brewing my own beer. I've always been a fan of delicious beer. I always tried anything new that came my way, but now that I can make my own, the sky is the limit. I'm a big fan of IPA's and Stouts. Right now my favorite IPA is Pliny The Elder from Russian River and my favorite Stout is the Terminator Stout from McMenamins.

Where's your lost highway?
The Pacific Northwest is full of amazing roads and beautiful scenery. There are always some new "lost highways" to explore. I would say my only semi-routine ride would be a big loop over to the coast into Coos Bay, and then come back inland through Reedsport in a big loop back to Roseburg.

Anyone that you would like to thank? Someone that's maybe steered you in the right direction or helped you out along the way?

I want to thank everyone that has helped to support my business and ALL of my customers. With out them, I'm just another jerk screwing around with shit in the garage.

Lastly, what's the best way for someone to get a hold of you for some custom work?
I try to make myself as available as I can to my customers. You can email, call, text, facebook, chop cult message me or whatever! Email is probably best though, helps me keep track off all of the details.

Thanks a ton for talking with us, Steffan. You're a rad dude! Zombie Performance is truly a testament to what hard work and dedication can get you. Here's to many years of success. We'll be looking for a case of Zombie beer in the mail soon!

You can check out his site at

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