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Tuesday 7 September 2021

Sawicki Speed Shop

"Not your father's Sawicki Speed Shop"

It has been two years since British Columbia based custom bike builder and parts designer Tyler Sawicki sold his exhaust business. In Doylestown, Pennsylvania based Jason Browne he found someone who was determined to champion the brand's styling heritage, but take the manufacturing to a new level…

I had got to the point where I wanted to do something of my own in the motorcycle industry - either start my own business or partner with someone - but when the opportunity to buy the Sawicki Exhaust program came along, it was too good an opportunity to pass up," says Jason.

In many respects, Tyler had been a victim of his own success. The popularity of his designs and the positioning that his brand had in the V-twin market consciousness meant that, if anything, sales grew too quickly and there was no question that quality and service had suffered.

"My first plan was to give myself a year, without initially having changed much at all," Jason told AMD. "I wanted to experience where the brand was for myself, before jumping to judgement about how to redirect it.
"The very first thing I did was to make sure that we honored any warranty issues or other disquiet about the product, ironing out all the glitches with a no-nonsense lifetime warranty policy, with no questions asked.
"That policy, and that experience, gave me the foundation I needed. A basis on which I could rebuild and move the Sawicki brand story forward with confidence and without the negative baggage. Throughout that process, HardDrive remained the exclusive distributor and its support for the brand has been awesome.

"We quickly moved manufacturing to North Carolina and initially stayed with most of the existing designs - they had been Tyler's strength, so until I knew more about the opportunities, I didn't want to risk destabilizing the brand identity, and that has proven to be a good decision."

All Sawicki exhausts are now made in the United States. "We start with laser CAD supported engineering, and have re-engineered the entire line from the ground up. We use 304 stainless across our entire line, with ceramic black coating as well as electro polishing as finish options. All fabrication is TIG welded, by hand. Components such as the billet aluminum end caps are precision CNC-machined and black powder-coat finished - meaning they are fully serviceable. Their sealed cap/slash-cut mufflers are non-serviceable.

"Anybody who contacted us to say they had issues with the anodized finish of the old end cap designs simply received a durable, high-quality replacement from us at our own cost.
"We reached out to our 50 or so direct dealers to get their feedback and input to guide us in the direction to take. Mike Beland at A1 Cycle (Maiden, North Carolina, has been especially proactive with us and has assisted in R&D - he has been excellent, and his view that the Sawicki Bagger Shorty is one of the best M-8 exhausts on the market has been a valuable indicator that we have been headed in the right direction."
Adding newer mid length and full length options to sit in the range alongside the 'shorty' exhaust has meant that Sawicki now has a strong offer for late models right out of the gate - ushering in a new era for the brand.

Softail Long Cannon

Softail Short Cannon

"Once I felt that we'd put any negative brand baggage in our rear view mirror, getting up to speed with M-8 options has given us and our dealers the opportunity to take a big step forward with Sawicki with riders in their local areas. In reality, there was a lot less negative baggage than some may have figured, but our 'no quibble' make-it-right policy has turned any nay-sayers around.
"The M-8 Cannon that we additionally now have for M-8 Softails has added to the opportunity dealers have with Sawicki, and having refined the design to give them better reliability and finish, we have kept Tyler's original Dyna/Bagger Shorty.
"In fact, thanks to what our dealers have been telling us, we have a 'Sporty Shorty' to come soon, and we are also working on options for Indian Motorcycle models - for the Challenger initially."

All Sawicki exhausts have 18 mm O2 bungs in them, and we include O2 sensor reducers with every exhaust we ship. This means aftermarket wideband sensors or factory sensors can be used. "If a bike doesn't have O2 sensors, then an 18 mm sensor plug will get it done, though dealers can request custom pipes without sensor bungs if they prefer. Because we have complete control over all stages of the manufacturing process, we can and do make custom pipes."
Sawicki systems don't yet ship with exhaust port gaskets (but they will be included soon); in the meantime Jason recommends Screamin' Eagle exhaust gaskets from the nearest Harley store.
"Our exhausts will provide performance gains across the rpm range. The results will vary based on displacement, compression and any performance modifications done to the engine, but dealers and their customers can see the dyno graphs we post on our Facebook and Instagram pages.
Although Sawicki exhausts don't have CARB approval, Jason says they are 49 state legal, across the range, and that they are working on a catalytic converter. There is no sound approval though. Sawicki mufflers ship with a removable race-style performance baffle - "they can be packed to the rider's liking with a variety of packing - fiberglass and other options work very well and change the tone of the pipe."

If riders want to take the edge off the characteristic sound that is synonymous with the Sawicki brand and mellow it down a little, then "an easy fix that we like is to get hold of some readily available 4-stroke dirt bike packing for a custom, home-tuned sound."
Billed by Jason as "Not your father's Sawicki Speed Shop," he is very well aware that it is a different world now. That the values of the past are in the past, and that contemporary riders ask more of their vendors. "They want great products and great service and don't expect to have to beg for it," says Jason. 

"Just selling 'bad ass shit' isn't a good enough business plan any more - we are recreating Sawicki Speed. Our start-point was to recognize that there had been issues in the past," says Jason, and that by learning from them, he says that those lessons now serve as blueprints for the future of the company, for the future of the brand.
Jason says that under his new management culture he is building a 'Sawicki' that is fit for purpose and fit for the future, and that while Sawicki designs will "continue to be the gnarliest, bad ass performance Harley-Davidson exhaust systems out there, the buying and ownership experience will be an entirely different matter. Our lifetime warranty is an important part of that positioning - positioning that will mean more products and more for your money."