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Monday, 23 March 2015

Ultima Motorcycle Products

Ultima T-VO rubber mount Twin Cam is an 'A' Series bolt-in stock replacement

It has been a quiet market in terms of new aftermarket engine projects, and no surprises as to why. But having waited years, all of a sudden two have come along at once ... Robin Bradley got the Ultima T-VO story from Mike Garrison and Dave Sieve at this year's V-Twin Expo.

The Ultima Engineering and Machine Shop Crew: from the left - Mike Garrison, VP Manufacturing; Brian D. Brace, Program Manager; Tim Steinbach, Senior Machinist & Patrick Orick, Machinist
From there being some 15 or so aftermarket engine options at the height of the market in the spring of 2006, the industry is now down to a handful at best.
The irony of waiting so long and then seeing two come in quick succession was not lost on anyone at this year's V-Twin Expo - where Ultima Motorcycle Products unveiled their new T-VO, a patent pending design that is said to be a replacement for Harley's Twin Cam 'A' series rubber mount engines.

Mike Garrison - "We really have paid attention to detail, and placed reliability and durability at the top of our production thinking"

Ultima is the own-brand products in-house design and engineering division of distributor Midwest Motorcycle Supply and is headquartered alongside them at the new Arnold, Missouri facility they built and moved into around 10 years ago. Of the 15 or so engine makers that were around (in varying volumes) back in 2006, Ultima is a survivor.
Despite the timing of Midwest's property investment and the impact that the downturn has had on all distribution and engineering businesses, especially those leveraged in the engine game, the engineering leadership of veteran aftermarket engine designer Mike Garrison (remember his Enginuity 147 incher?) has seen the company "stay the course" with the Ultima program, and with the T-VO concept.

The Ultima T-VO is a direct bolt-in single cam replacement for the stock Twin Cam 'A' and is available in 100, 107, 113, 120, and 127 cubic inch displacements

Having squared circles to bypass the patent restrictions that Harley placed in the way of the aftermarket when it unveiled the late 1990s developed Twin Cams in 1999 and 2000, and done so with several proprietary tweaks of their own, this latest T-VO iteration is due to have started shipping by the time you are reading this, and with displacement options all the way up from 100 to 127 cubic inches there was a palpable sense of optimism surrounding their booth at Cincinnati this year.

Right-side case view showing the press pinion bearing insert, piston oilers, oil scraper and oil stripper plate; the right-side case view from the transmission shows the transmission reed plate installed in the cam chest wall - shown here without the reed plate cover

The T-VO series is a single cam replacement for Harley's Twin Cam that Garrison says "dramatically improves durability and performance by eliminating a cam, two drive chains, two sprockets and a cam support plate."
Available polished, black or silver, Garrison says that it "will fit all 'A' motor applications from 1999 to 2006 with carburettor or Delphi EFi, but will not fit Magnetti Marelli EFI applications, and neither is it a replacement for the Softail style Twin Cam B motor applications."

This view of the bottom half of the case shows the combined pressure and wheel chest scavenge pump on the left, with the second cam chest scavenge pump on the right

However, with what he described as a totally new case design and two extra oil pumps "to provide 60 percent more protection," Garrison says that "it fits straight in to the stock chassis and there are several design innovations that we have made in order to address some of the well known issues that have affected the Twin Cam."
Those issues have largely revolved around the cam chest and its interaction with the rods, and with Harley's patents due to start expiring soon Midwest VP Sales & Marketing Dave Sieve is predicting a mini-boom in Twin Cam engine tuning and modification options.
"I'm not saying it will be anything like what we saw going on with engines a decade ago," Sieve told AMD, "but there will definitely be an uplift soon - somewhat of a parallel to what we saw from the late eighties and early nineties when everyone was all over the Evo engine because they could be. Harley hadn't wrapped that design up in patents in the same way they did with the Twin Cam, that was a lesson they learned.

The interior of the cam chest showing the reed plate and oil control plate installed

"There will be a bit of a spike in Twin Cam re-building in the coming years though, and while we have the components to help dealers, builders and riders achieve results with their old Twin Cam engines, with the T-VO we think we have a very sharply priced complete product that will be popular. Not having to modify the frame will be a huge factor."

This view of the front of the case shows the oil pumps and drive gears installed in case

Garrison went on to say that "the case, for example, features reed valve breathing and we have used a crank trigger that is based on an established Ultima three-piece design. There are elements throughout the design that are aimed at making all displacements as easy to install as a bolt-in stock replacement as possible - for example, the intake flange distance has been carefully maintained so it is spaced to accept stock width Twin Cam EFi and carburetor manifolds.
"We really have paid attention to detail, and placed reliability and durability at the top of our production thinking."