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Friday 30 September 2016

Comment by Editor-in-Chief, Robin Bradley

Preaching to the choir?

When I came into the motorcycle market in 1989, the Evo had already been “in-play” for some five years. As successor to the leaky-old Shovelhead it first attracted opprobrium from the righteously indignant, followed swiftly by deposit checks.
The then much smaller aftermarket was still developing key and strategic new product lines for the Evo even after five years, and continued to do so right up to 1999 (indeed still continues to do so to this day).
In 1999 the Twin Cam A engine (followed by the B motor for Softails in 2000) prompted a frenzy of new product development by a (then much, much, much) larger aftermarket that was distracted by the emergence of 100 percent aftermarket customs following Harley’s suspension of its crate engine program some time before.
Much changed between 1984 and 1999, and just as much has changed again since. A now smaller again aftermarket, but that is still way larger and, above all, way more capable than the one that was greeting the Evo, will be all over the new ‘Milwaukee-Eight’ (M-8) like a rash.
We can expect to have seen the first performance parts and accessories by the time we get to the V-Twin Expo at the end of January 2017, and can expect to see the new product development momentum accelerate for some years to come.
There’s no question that the new engine represents opportunities, but it spells “challenge” too…a further tightening of the patenting and copyrighting that Harley deployed with the Twin Cam, the M-8 is no doubt sewn-up tighter than a duck’s bottom.
The challenges won’t only be legal – is it a coincidence that Harley has settled its lawsuit with the EPA just as a new engine with a new ECU is announced? Probably not. One of the huge changes to have taken place since 1999 is the proliferation and development of the fuel injection management and ECM tuning market. 

 The Twin Cam is mid-90s tech

Prior to the Twin Cam A in 1999, fuel injection was something exotic with only a handful of “Gurus of Go” pioneering injected delivery on Harley V-twins – just as there were a mere handful of visionaries pushing twin plug conversions (Shovelheads most famously) and 4-valve heads (remember the Jim Feuling developed Rivera 4-valve heads?).
Unlike those pioneers, the preachers of the electronic fueling gospel actually had an aftermarket to go after once the Twin Cam was in-play, sales to drive their R&D investments, but with the changes Harley have made to the M-8’s ECU, just how far back to the drawing board are they going to have to go - to say nothing of the legal obstacles.
Equally, the redesigned exhaust positioning and configurations, the suspension improvements, the engine changes themselves and improvements to the charging system, and a lot more besides, all have opportunity writ large, but so too they have expense, legal and better-product obstacles writ just as large.
A better product? Well yes, actually. Sure the M-8 is flawed, all volume production engines that have to meet rigorous (international, no less) compliance standards, be practically and cost-effectively serviceable, meet a price-point and keep the manufacturer in business for the next 15-year cycle (or longer) absolutely have to have a back story of compromise.
But it nonetheless has to be a better product, and the M-8 absolutely is. At last, is this the Harley engine that won’t burn your legs, shake your teeth out and leave you last at the lights?
Well, somewhat – in the context of Harley itself, it is a major leap forward; but in the context of the competitive offerings Harley needs to sell against, and the new market opportunities that Harley needs to sell into, I’m afraid to say this engine barely even gets them a little bit pregnant.
The power output ratings of the current Indian and Victory Motorcycle offerings aside, this is an engine that preaches to the choir.
It offers a way improved ownership and riding experience to those who wish to buy into the existing Harley offer, but it will only attract a very few for whom the whole concept of the Harley ownership and riding experience is alien.
The possible implication in Harley’s own press announcements is that this may in fact not follow the 1999/2000 A/B pattern, and “just” after all be a better can opener for Harley’s existing tourer market. Which would be fine, nothing wrong with that, by all means look after the core customer first. But it is what happens now that is really, really important.
The recently almost obligatory deployment of mid-cycle announcements, the much needed “proof of life” where the Softails, Dynas and Sportsters are concerned and, above all, the much, much, much needed real outreach to people for whom the Bar & Shield is just a flag they pass at the side of the freeway, are all causes for optimism that there is yet more to come, much more to come, in the next 6 to 24 months.
The irony in Harley’s M-8 PR material is the implicit acknowledgement that the 1990s developed tech of the existing Big Twin and Sportster engines simply are not good enough. The Motor Company appears to be acknowledging that the existing engines simply will not sell in the third decade of the 21st century. The development ground work of what became the Twin Cam was done at least 20 years ago, and the outcome of that process of compromise cannot possibly remain a robust offer five years from now.
With Matt Levatich’s focus on “smart manufacturing”, short lead-times, versatility and flexible response to market opportunities, what we have seen with the Twin Cam, good though it is for what it is, cannot possibly be all there is. Even the investment community appears to understand that, with the M-8 announcement barely measuring on the Wall Street Richter Scale.
Indeed, just as the 1999 and 2000 Twin Cams were a start-point, Harley has acknowledged that they have left a lot on the table where this first iteration of the M-8 is concerned. With Screamin’ Eagle Stage I, II and III kits offering up to a 24 percent increase in torque over the stock engine, the charging system only just now starting to be acknowledged as an issue, Harley deliberately and unnecessarily leaving some vibrations in the drivetrain in order to maintain the “feel” of an engine on which the fins are approaching redundancy and the sound approaching track-day, yes, Harley realize they are only starting on a new journey with the ‘Milwaukee-Eight’, not arriving at their destination yet.
They also know only too well that combined critical mass of the markets they now need to reach are way bigger than the core touring market, so surely there just absolutely must be way more to come in the next 6 to 24 months?

Rick Fairless Custom Parts

“Ethel, the Evil Octane” by Rick Fairless Custom Parts 


Rick Fairless is a custom bike legend and restaurant/bar owner of Strokers Dallas, but also an authorized Victory Motorcycles dealer.
His latest build, called ‘Ethel, the Evil Octane’, is a departure from the usual style of bike that “Captain Tie-n-die” is normally associated with, instead sporting grey and browns and “sharp and aggressive lines.”
“I wanted to make Ethel a tough, streetfighting broad!” says Fairless. “I love the lines of the Octane, so I wanted to make a mean and nasty one.”
The build took four months with Rick using his own RF custom parts to transform the Octane, all of which can be bought and shipped from his online shop, including to Europe. “We absolutely sell our RF custom parts in Europe, he says. “I can sell to individuals or to dealers, and we have a dealer price list.”

Rick says the toughest part of the build was designing and making the girder front end, and this and the 180mm front tire are the design features he’s most proud of. Others would argue the exhaust is the highlight - a beautiful 2-into-4-into-1 number.
The only geometry changes Rick made were to the front end and the rear, which was lowered a couple of inches.
The Octane’s standard front fender was widened 5/8”, while the rear fender was shaved and widened by 2”.
The remaining parts, such as the handlebars, seat, grips, pegs, belt guard, licence plate bracket, gauge mount, fairing mount, headlight, rock guard, shift sleeve, skid plate, clutch arm cover, radiator grill, cheese wedge and bolt covers are all from RF Custom Parts.
“Every bike I build is built to be ridden,” Rick says. “Ethel runs great. I took her out for a long ride and she feels, looks and runs like a “mean, pissed off woman” with a bad attitude, compared to a stock Octane, which is like a sweet gal next door.
“My objective was to build an Octane that was different from what any other builders have done. I am very happy and proud with the outcome of Ethel.”

Rick’s build is part of the “Operation Octane” that Victory launched as a custom build competition for its dealers back in August. Dealers must submit their final build photos by 24th of October. A two-week period of online voting will then open from 14th November to 28th November, where everyone is welcome to vote for their favourite Octane build. The top two winners in both North America and the rest of the world will be notified on 30th November. First place wins $5,000 and second place wins $3,000.


Harley adds two to Board

On July 25, 2016, Harley’s Board of Directors voted to increase the size of the Board from nine to eleven persons and to elect Brian R. Niccol and Maryrose T. Sylvester as new directors to fill the new vacancies.
Brian R. Niccol was appointed to the Board’s Sustainability Committee, Human Resources Committee, and Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee. Since January 2015, Mr. Niccol has served as CEO of Taco Bell, a division of Yum! Brands. Mr. Niccol joined Taco Bell in 2011 and served as President from 2013 to 2014, holding the role of Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer from 2011 – 2013, having previously held various positions at Pizza Hut from 2005 to 2012.
Ms. Sylvester was appointed to the Board’s Audit Committee and Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee. Since October 2015, Maryrose Sylvester has served as President and CEO of Current, powered by GE, and she has been employed by General Electric Company since 1988. Prior to her role at Current, Ms. Sylvester served as President and CEO of GE Lighting from 2011 to October 2015.
The Company’s Director Compensation Policy is applicable to Mr. Niccol and Ms. Sylvester as non-employee directors. Mr. Niccol and Ms. Sylvester will each receive a pro rata portion of the current $110,000 annual retainer that the Company pays to non-employee directors, with at least 50% of the retainer paid in shares. Ms. Sylvester will receive an additional $5,000 retainer as a member of the Audit Committee; as outside directors she and Mr. Niccol will each receive a grant of 2,587 share units.


TecMate new “product blitz” part II

Internationally respected battery charger, maintenance system and accessory manufacturer TecMate has already unveiled several new products this year, but their “innovation blitz” continues with a whole range of new products and updates to established top-sellers due for unveiling at this year’s INTERMOT Expo at Cologne, Germany, in October, many of which are already available.

Updated USB stick charger delivers 2400mA fast charge; battery protection with LED battery monitor
The OptiMate USB O-105 is a 3300mA dual output USB charger with 90° opposed outlets. Powered through the bike plug (DIN/Ø12mm) that fits the OEM socket on BMW and Triumph motorcycles, battery protection prevents accidental vehicle battery discharge.
The OptiMate USB O-100 is a popular USB ‘stick’ charger that just got better. The updated version delivers 2400mA to fast-charge any USB device. Battery protection shuts down USB charging if the vehicle battery drops down to 45-50%. Once shut down, it becomes a three LED battery monitor. 

A 3300mA dual output USB charger with 90 degree opposed outlets
Among cable offerings in the OptiMate range are the O-67F SAE to DC2.5mm socket and O-67M SAE to DC2.5 plug adapter; the O-111 USB mini charge cable with built-in circuitry that allows a Garmin or Tom Tom GPS to receive charge from any USB charger; the O-112 USB micro charge cable with built-in circuitry that hooks up with Android and Microsoft phones, on board cameras and Bluetooth communication devices; and the O-113 Lightning long and short cable set for iPhone 5/6 and iPad 3, 4 and Air. 

M18 panel-mounted SAE socket and mounting slots on the SAE connector of the O-01 battery lead

SAE to DC2.5mm socket and plug adapter

USB micro charge cable with built-in circuitry that hooks up with Android/MS phones, camera and Bluetooth devices
Long and short Lightning cable set for iPhone 5/6 and iPad 3, 4 and Air
A few more products that are slated for release at INTERMOT include the OptiMate 1 table top version and an update to TecMate’s flagship powersports product, the OptiMate 4 Dual Program. New in cables will be the O-40 M18 panel-mounted SAE socket and mounting slots on the SAE connector of the O-01 battery lead.
Martin Human, TecMate’s CEO, says: “As a company that designs all our own products, we know that new introductions and continuous improvement is essential in keeping us ahead of the game. We have over the years introduced many new concepts into powersport, some of which have become the ‘go to’ products in their sector. It’s not only my opinion, ask our customers, including those who co-brand our OptiMate products!”


Drag Specialties

S&S Cycle - in stock at Drag Specialties

This month AMD Magazine presents a round-up of products from legendary Viola, Wisconsin based performance parts specialist S&S Cycle that are available from inventory at Drag Specialties.


Replacement flywheel assemblies
S&S Cycle replacement 4-5/8” stroke 8-1/2” flywheel assemblies for S&S 89” stroker kits are made of high-strength forged steel and designed for stock and high-performance custom applications. A special, keyed, 6-degree large diameter taper sprocket shaft provides more contact area for increased strength.
A standard S&S tapered crankpin and pinion shaft are used for ease of service; the kit comes fully assembled, trued and balanced; available for ‘84-‘99 Evolution Big Twin carb motors (’90-‘99 applications require pinion shaft conversion kit).


Short-Block engine assemblies
Featuring S&S flywheels installed in S&S super-stock crankcases, these Short-Blocks for ’84-’99 Evolutions feature 3-1/2” bore by 4-1/4” stroke.
Compatible with all stock and most aftermarket parts, they are available in black finish. On ‘84-‘89 models they require ‘77-‘89-style pinion gears, spacers and nuts; ‘90-‘99 models will require an S&S pinion shaft conversion kit.


High-performance oils
S&S Cycle first launched its own-brand range of high-performance lubricants at the start of 2013. Introduced as an application-specific alternate to the Mobil-1 oils the company had previously recommended for use with their products, they are formulated specifically to meet S&S Cycle’s own engineering and performance requirements.
These lubricants meet or exceed all known OE and S&S requirements and feature carefully researched and extensively tested additive packages for durability, reliability and performance.


Twin Power

Tension reliever manual primary chain adjuster

Twin Power continues to add to their growing line of aftermarket parts and accessories for V-twin motorcycles. The newest addition is this tension reliever manual primary chain adjuster, designed to eliminate previous issues with keeping the primary chain at the right tension.

“An overtightened primary chain is known to cause premature failure of the engine, transmission and primary bearing as well as to cause other complications,” says James Simonelli, Brand Manager for Twin Power. “This problem plagues 2006 Dyna and 2007 and later Big Twin models. These motorcycles came equipped with an automatic ratcheting primary chain tensioner, which is the culprit.”
Twin Power has developed a solution, which keeps the problem of overtightening from occurring. It replaces the stock factory adjuster, allowing a proper primary chain adjustment of 5/8–7/8 inches of free play when cold. It is machined from 6061-T6 aluminum and hard anodized for durability.
It also features a 4140 steel adjusting screw and heavy-duty nylon 6/6 shoe. 100% made in USA and easy to adjust, it uses stock mounting hardware. For use with 34-tooth sprockets; the chain adjustment and tension check will require the removal of the outer primary cover.


Arnott Motorcycle Air Suspension

‘Ultimate Ride’ kit for Softails

Merritt Island, Florida based Arnott Motorcycle Air Suspension, who say they are “the leader in True Onboard adjustable air suspension kits for motorcycles,” has announced the introduction of a height adjustable FOX air suspension system for 2001 to 2016 Softails.

Available in black or chrome, the Softail motorcycle air suspension system is a featured new offering in Arnott's completely redesigned line of TruAIR motorcycle air suspension kits - available for many popular Harley-Davidson, Honda, Indian, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Victory and Yamaha motorcycles.
Arnott says that at the core of their patent-pending system design is a gas pressure FOX shock absorber paired with a separate Goodyear air spring encased in a separate protective housing.
The kit, featuring Arnott's TruAIR technology, includes a rugged air spring bladder and is not an air cylinder or air-assisted unit.

The system has been custom-designed for the Softail frame and features a powerful compressor and stylish black anodized or chrome cover which attaches to the regulator
Each Arnott motorcycle air suspension kit includes everything needed for a “fast and flawless installation,” including Arnott's air distribution valve with a muffler to control how fast air is released, detailed installation manual, fused wiring harness and relay assembly, all necessary tubing, wiring, cable ties, fittings and mounting accessories. Arnott says that each kit is custom-crafted and rigorously tested in their Florida manufacturing facility and backed by Arnott's Limited Lifetime Warranty.
The Arnott motorcycle air suspension product line has evolved into two categories designed to give riders a welcome choice. Both categories boast Arnott's TruAIR technology – their entry level “Smooth Ride,” which is a value price-point upgrade on stock shocks that offers height and air spring adjustability, and their top shelf “Ultimate Ride” premium performance kit, which features FOX shocks, many with optional rebound control.


Coastal Moto

Coastal Moto “fully 3-dimensional” ‘Largo’ custom wheels

In what Jason Spillers, owner of Coastal Moto, is describing as “the biggest wheel industry news in a decade”, the Ormond Beach, Florida based manufacturer has announced “one of the most exciting new products for the American V-twin aftermarket” - and “an award-winning, fully 3-dimensional wheel design at an earth shattering price.”
Distributed exclusively by Drag Specialties, their ‘COMO3D’ is a new precision-cast wheel series that is “nothing short of true works of art,” according to the former Sales & Marketing Director of RC Components.

The first in the new series is called the ‘Largo’ and features “full 3-dimensional design elements that continue all the way out to the edges of the rim. These 3D elements have never been possible to achieve using industry standard CNC-machined forgings, so we have set out to do something never seen before, and we believe we have delivered,” says Spillers.

They accept ‘14-up style OEM brake rotors with their ABS compatible version, shipping with Intelligent ABS pre-installed, so there is no need to recalibrate the ABS system on linked brake models. They ship pre-assembled with bearings and valve stems.
The ‘Largo’ is available in chrome or black cut finish and in two sizes: 21 x 3.5 front for ‘08-up Touring model Harleys, and 18 x 5.5 rear for ‘09-up Touring model Harleys. These wheels include a 2-year limited warranty on finish, materials and workmanship and a lifetime structural warranty.
Spillers founded Coastal Moto in 2008 with the goal of “designing and developing an award-winning brand of custom motorcycle wheels. After years of growth and expansion, we are now proudly a market leader for custom motorcycle wheels in the United States. We house one of the largest inventories of wheels in the US and ship to hundreds of countries and six continents.”


EMD’s (Esteves Motorcycle Design)

The Speed Merchant to distribute EMD parts designs in the United States

In a relationship that started out with a design for a replacement primary for the Triumph Bonneville, parts and accessory designer and manufacturer The Speed Merchant of California has taken on domestic US distribution of French manufacturer EMD’s (Esteves Motorcycle Design) Harley and ‘metric’ parts designs, with EMD becoming a distributor for The Speed Merchant in Europe.

EMD and Speed Merchant collaboration - Triumph stator and sprocket cover

That primary was built to match the design of Speed Merchant’s stator and sprocket covers; a rocker cover followed, and over time the relationship between these two emerging parts businesses deepened to where it is today.
“Our relationship with Brandon and Dan at The Speed Merchant had gone so well in terms of parts design collaborations and sales of aftermarket parts for Triumph models that when I started to look for someone who could help us to further build our aftermarket product sales in the United States, especially our Harley parts and accessory designs, The Speed Merchant was the obvious choice,” says Nico Esteves.
EMD are best known for their contemporary take on the classic ribbed and finned look that started on primaries back in the ‘60s and ‘70s in the hands of people like Robban’s in Sweden and Randy Smith (of Custom Cycle Engineering fame) in California.
EMD sells classically styled, high quality cast parts that have done much to help make the increasingly popular “retro” look accessible to all riders.
The latest addition to the EMD line-up is the program of primary and transmission parts seen here for the FXR.

FXR primary and gear box cover

Tuesday 27 September 2016

AMD World Championship

Over 90 bikes entered in AMD World Championship

Custom builder community and wider industry reaction to the opportunities provided for doing business at this year’s AMD World Championship, the flagship feature at INTERMOT Customized in Hall 10 in October, continues to be overwhelmingly positive.

This year's Championship ring was handcrafted in England by Alabaster & Wilson in 18ct gold, diamonds and black onyx. Founded in 1887, Alabaster & Wilson are one of the founders of the internationally reputed artisan jewellery quarter of Birmingham, England and have been award winning makers of fine jewellery, medals, awards and ceremonial items to the British Royal family, Houses of Parliament, and many other famous British and international institutions for over 125 years. This is the highest grade Championship Ring yet awarded to the AMD World Champion of Custom Bike Building and a true one-off piece of art.

Indeed, with the number of booths now being taken by aftermarket vendors (and additional custom program booths by OE manufacturers, including Harley-Davidson), overall reaction to the concept that organizers Koelnmesse are successfully developing has been excellent.

There are 74 builders confirmed for the AMD World Championship, coming to Cologne, Germany, from 27 different countries (including as far afield as the USA, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Russia and Ukraine); in total some 96 bikes are entered into the five classes.
Set-up day for the event is Monday October 3rd, with Tuesday 4th as Press Day, Wednesday 5th as International Trade Visitor and VIP Visitor Preview Day, with public admittance from Thursday 6th through to Sunday 9th. The awards ceremony will be held at 4:00pm on Sunday 9th.

2014 winners

Hall 10 at INTERMOT is one of the best attended halls, being right alongside the two primary visitor entrances – in 2014 over 200,000 people visited INTERMOT in total, with the 11th AMD World Championship being won by Belgian Fred “Krugger” Bertrand’s “Nurb’s” – a futuristic 1650cc BMW.

Heartland USA

Lonny Spiva buys Heartland USA

Industry veteran and former Sales and Marketing Director Lonny Spiva has bought the Gardena, California based parts, accessories and styling and custom conversion kits manufacturer Heartland USA from founder Jim Grove.

Known for their E-Z rear fender conversions and quality accessories for the American V-Twin marketplace for the last 20 years, in Lonny Spiva, Heartland is now in the hands of an experienced and respected industry professional who numbers Biker’s Choice, Custom Chrome, Hard Drive, Custom Cycle Engineering and Renegade Wheels among others in a career that has well equipped him for an ownership role.
Speaking of his decision to retire and sell to Spiva, Jim Grove says that “Lonny was the first choice to carry the Heartland USA brand into the future. In the three plus years that Lonny was here at Heartland, his fingerprints can be found all over this brand. For example, he was instrumental in developing our first catalog.”
“I was excited when Jim called, I have always loved the Heartland brand, and now I have been given the chance to be a part of it in a very big way,” Lonny said about the future. “I feel I’ve come home, and I’m looking forward to conservatorship of the Heartland brand.”
Jim stated: “I know that Heartland will be in good hands with Lonny at the wheel. He has a passion for the business as much or more than I do.” Lonny added: “We’ll be getting busy straight away, so watch for new and exciting kits coming from Heartland in the upcoming months.”

News Briefs

Prompted by an analyst research report, BRP (Bombardier Recreational Products) has confirmed that it is exploring options to enter the motorcycle market. Best known for their SeaDoo PWC line, snowmobile and Can-Am Spyder reverse three-wheeler, BRP once sold Can-Am bikes (1970s) when it was owned by aircraft and train manufacturer Bombardier, and is the owner of Rotax, the Austrian engine manufacturer.

Harley-Davidson has approved a cash dividend of $0.35 per share for the third quarter of 2016. The dividend is payable Sept. 23, 2016, to the holders of record of the Company's common stock on Sept. 13, 2016.

California has now, finally, legally recognized “lane splitting” by motorcycles.

Riding Denis Manning’s legendary “7” streamliner on the 3-mile short course at the Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials, Valerie Thompson has become the world’s fastest female motorcycle racer. She recorded a measured mile average speed of 304 mph (489.66 km/h). Thompson made two runs over 294 and 304 mph, with a highest exit speed exceeding 313 mph, which also earned her the event top speed award.

Indian Motorcycle confirmed that its all-new Indian Scout FTR750 race bike will make its racing debut on Sunday, September 25 at the Ramspur Winery Santa Rosa Mile AMA Pro Flat Track at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds race in Santa Rosa, California. Debut race rider will be Joe Kopp – one of just 15 riders to complete the Dirt Track "Grand Slam," with victories on short track, TT, half-mile, and mile courses.

The United States is Europe’s third largest country of origin for imports of motorcycles and related products, with nearly 16% of the imported motorcycle product in Europe coming from USA. Japan remains the largest source (nearly 42 %) followed by China (20%).


The Ron Loynds story – the Californian wheel manufacturer Metalsport pretty much invented the “Big Wheel” craze with their 30 and 32-inchers.

Best known for their Big Wheels, South Gate (Los Angeles), California based Metalsport Wheels was founded in 2007 by Ron Loynds - but the background to the Metalsport story is one of a family owned and operated precision machining business with considerable aerospace credentials.

Ron, a life-long rider, started working in his stepfather’s “old school” machine shop when he was a kid. “I did the typical stuff when I started – cleaning machines, sweeping floors and such like. I guess he wanted to see that I could be trusted in “his space” without killing myself or breaking something!”
But he did neither, and after about 6 years was running the shop, and after being involved around 12 years in total, his father decided he wanted to retire, so Ron took over ownership and set about modernizing the business, “but without losing the sense of craftsmanship, precision and excellence that he’d schooled me in,” he says.
“In truth, the main thing I did was to simply roll my sleeves up and put in the hours. My father had been fine with his way of doing things, and that was fine of course – better than fine. But the equipment was antiquated and slow, and I knew that I had to bring it up-to-date and find new customers.”
Putting in the hours even involved sleeping at the workshop sometimes and having no other focus, a familiar story for many, I’m sure, but there is no substitute for sheer hard work and determination, and as for so many others, it worked for Ron.
As the business grew, he was able to start expanding. From having just the one “tin hut” to start with, as Ron puts it, he now has four businesses, with Metalsport housed in a 30,000 sq ft facility, employing 25 people, 22 of them in manufacturing.

Along the way he had developed a notable presence in the aerospace industry, designing and making tooling and components for the Apollo and space shuttle programs, and for military projects such as Minutemen and Sidewinder missiles - and others that he says he still can’t talk about publicly!
Ron’s first opportunity to turn his passion for riding into a business opportunity came in the early 1970s. Ed (“Big Daddy”) Roth turned up at Ron’s shop one day, saying that a friend had recommended he’d check Ron’s place out, and that he could maybe help him resolve a problem he was having with his VW Trike project.

The end result was that he designed and fabricated a new springer front suspension that immediately resolved the problems Ed had been having, and from that point the springer fork became a required part of Ed’s VW Trike kit.
Ron has had many very successful collaborations down the years, not least with Chip Foose. Ron’s involvement with the motorcycle industry deepened from that early involvement with Ed Roth by producing components for several aftermarket suppliers and specialty parts for noted custom bike builders.
Eventually Ron bought out the small motorcycle wheels division of a major automotive wheel manufacturer, and that resulted in opening up as Metalsport Inc.
These days the company offers over 30 forged and billet wheel designs in total over their 2D and 3D ranges, with front and rear fitments all the way from 16 x 3.5” up to 32 x 4”, all CNC-machined from 6061-T6 aerospace grade aluminum. 

The most popular in their ‘2D’ design range are the ‘Don Juan’ and ‘Don Juan Torque’, and the ‘Corleone’, ‘Impression’ and ‘The Whip’ in their ‘3D’ program.
Major machinery investments have been made along the way, and in addition to finished wheels, Metalsport has also become a large scale producer of blanks. Additionally, the company is one of the V-twin market’s largest vendors of Vee Rubber tires, and has always offered a range of other accessories, such as the stylish new patent pending, contour-hugging billet trunk and side bag racks for Harley’s Tour Pak hard bags.

It was Metalsport who, thanks to their partnership with Vee Rubber, effectively gave life to what went on to become known as the “Big Wheel” craze.
With 26-inchers the “hot ticket” and largest readily available option at the time, Ron invested in tooling for a 30-inch wheel and tire, and when that proved successful, followed it up 12 months later with their now famous 32-inch wheel and tire package.
Along the way Ron also pitched a line of whitewall tires, which also captured the market’s imagination. Vee Rubber subsequently invested in the tooling for a line of 10 tire sizes that were not available in the marketplace at the time.
As a Vee Rubber distributor, Metalsport stocks the Big Wheel and Whitewall tires along with standard replacement sizes for most Harley applications. Ron regards this as the missing link that gave Metalsport the opportunity to offer a complete package.
From wheels and hubs with matching rotors and pulleys right through to the tires – pre-mounted and balanced if the customer wants, “we can offer a complete, ready to install package.
“We make every effort to carry the tire sizes our customers need,“ says Ron, “we still offer pre-mounting and balancing before we ship, and we strongly recommend taking advantage of this service, especially if ordering 26” and larger wheels.”
Blanks for the wheels are machined from aluminum billet or rotary forgings, with the 26” and larger designs machined from billet plate. The company has invested in the tooling needed to produce 30” and 32” ‘2D’ and ‘3D’ wheel blanks and installed a monster 4-Axis CNC mill that is capable of machining any size wheel. Indeed, Ron says that Metalsport “is the only manufacturer of true ‘3D’ wheels.”
Metalsport sells its blanks to the industry at a cost saving of around 50 percent against the pricing of typical “billet blanks” available from other factories.
In order to further reduce costs and improve production speed, efficiency and quality control, Ron has also invested in Metalsport’s own on-site polishing facility, installing three upright polishing units and one automatic polisher just for wheels.
The facility is run by a ‘Master Polisher’ with “years and years of experience,” and Metalsport is also actively exploring the possibilities of investing in their own chrome shop.
Ron told AMD that the thing that has given him the most pleasure and been the most rewarding is “to have the opportunity to be a friend to, and to work with, some of the most talented people in the industry.”
Oh, and BTW - you didn’t get it from us, but there is a new wheel size in the works, but that is still “hush-hush” at this time – watch out for news about it in an upcoming edition of AMD Magazine just as soon as Metalsport are ready to go to market with it.


 See the feature in full from AMD here >>>

S&S Cycle

S&S adds to online media capacity

S&S Cycle of Viola, Wisconsin, has moved to strengthen its online marketing capabilities with the appointment of Savannah Rose in the newly expanded position of Social Media Coordinator. Savannah is an avid rider, not afraid to wrench and a “market leader in the evolving digital media environment.” 

Photo by to Michael Lichter

In addition to being well versed in digital media channels, with diverse skills and experience, she has experience in the next generation style events that now populate the annual events calendar – events such as Born Free, Chopperfest and others.
S&S Vice President David Zemla describes Savannah as a “market savvy media authority who understands the social as well as the marketing aspects and is versed in leveraging both, and we look forward to her unique take on consumer facing media.”
Savannah Rose relocated from California and is currently adding to her Sportster collection while traveling with the S&S team, and can generally “be found where the action is, with camera in hand”.

Mid-USA Motorcycle Parts

Control kits

Based at Hazelwood (St Louis), Missouri, Mid-USA Motorcycle Parts offer a wide range of control options, including these ‘V-Factor’ brand handlebar control kits for most 1996 and later Big Twins and 1996 – 2003 Sportsters.

For handlebars up to 1 ¼” diameter, they are available with a standard profile (OE height) master cylinder or with a stylish low profile master cylinder.
The kits can be shipped with or without chrome or black switches and a 48” wiring harness and OE style wide blade brake and clutch lever.

The new adjustable highway bar for 2000 and up Softails, also seen here, is available with or without footpegs. The bar is an easy install with a three-point mounting system directly onto the frame; the bar can be pivoted front or back.


Zodiac International

Zodiac International adds the complete Ciro product line

Founded in 2014 by Aero Rudd and a team of top flight designers, Ciro offers contemporary, unique, easy install, high quality construction accessory designs. The company made a big splash in the USA in 2015 and has now made the jump over the ocean with Zodiac International as their European distributor. Here are some highlights from Zodiac’s extensive inventory.


‘Cipher’ air cleaners
The ‘Cipher’ air cleaner, one of three designs in the current Ciro range, has a “unique, exotic and clean style that says performance in every sense and beautifully accents your engine.” It has an ultra-low profile design for maximum leg clearance and incorporates an OEM style crank case breather. The Ultra-Flow filter is said to produce a massive 45% increase in air flow over a stock 2014 air filter. Fits all 2008 to present Touring and Trike models, as well as selected Softails and Dynas with “Fly-By-Wire” throttle control. Ciro chrome cover (to hide the servo motor wiring harness) is also available.


Fairing intake trims and headlight bezels
Ciro has designed what Zodiac regard as “the most appealing and innovative fairing vent trim on the market to date.” The LED lighted version features light pipe technology that creates a contemporary effect without affecting the air flow. Made out of ABS, the module plugs directly into the stock wiring harness with no cutting, drilling or splicing. Fits all 2014 to present Harley-Davidson Electra Glide, Street Glide, Tri Glide and Ultra Limited models with an OEM Batwing fairing. “You can also add some fangs to the front of your bike with the Ciro headlight bezel - this new design is sculpted to perfectly fill the space around your headlight for a streamlined look and also features custom fang-shaped bright white LED running lights that automatically turn on and off with the headlight. “


Fork tin accents and lower leg covers
These covers are bolt-on and have a design element so you can see the amber reflector. Fits lower legs on 2014 to present Harley-Davidson FLHT, FLHTC, FLHTCU, FLHX, FLHR and FLHRC models. Also available with amber LEDs that highlight the lower leg and provide additional side lighting. Ciro’s fork tin accents complete a custom look – they fit easily on the stock fork tins without disassembly of the front forks on Touring models 1996 to present.

Master cylinder covers
These easy install handlebar master cylinder covers are said to enhance the boring look of the stock handlebar master cylinders - they bolt straight onto 2014 to present Touring models with hydraulic clutch and handlebar-mounted or Batwing fairing mounted mirrors.


Saddlebag accent lights and extensions
Described as “the parts that the factory forgot,” these filler panel lights complete the rear end of 2014 to present Touring models by filling the large unsightly gaps with a smooth, flowing chrome or black accent and LED light. This part dramatically increases visibility from the rear by incorporating an ultra-bright plasma amber turn signal along with red low intensity running lights and high intensity brake lights.
The Ciro saddlebag extensions “really finish the rear end of your bike and create that full-smooth and low custom look.” They are designed to maintain the lean angle and manufactured in the same ABS material as the original equipment bags, and give increased visibility with LED running-, turn-, and brake lights on both the sides and back. Easy plug and play installation on 2014 to present Road Glides, Electra Glides, Street Glides and Road Kings (except Screamin' Eagle models).