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Tuesday 21 December 2021

Midwest Motorcycle Supply

50 Years of Ultima

The history of the St Louis, Missouri area's involvement in the custom motorcycle industry, and in the parts and accessory market specifically, is a rich one.
One that has punched above the weight of the Greater St Louis area market's hinterland by reaching out across the continental United States and internationally.


A sister company to Midwest Motorcycle Supply, Ultima Motorcycle Products can trace its origin story back to a business called E&M Motorcycle - a fabrication shop and retail store - in St Louis with Charlie Eckenrodt making parts and wrenching on local bikes.
E&M eventually became the foundation for the business that evolved into the Ultima Motorcycle Products operation we know today.

Charlie Eckenrodt - Ultima grew from Charlie's E&M Motorcycle, St Louis fabrication shop.

"Boyd Dingman’s custom bike build 'Blackbird' shows us 'how fast is done' with his stealth design work and emphasis on high performance. The dual high-performance Ultima carburetors feeding the 140 ci Ultima Competition Series engine was truly impressive. The fit and finish on this bike is of the highest caliber. 100% Beauty and Beast."

Eckenrodt opened an engine factory a few blocks down the road from his retail store, and this was where Ultima engines started to be machined and assembled.
By 1996, Ultima had become renowned in the world of custom bike building and world class bike builders and celebrity bike builders were using its engines in award-winning show bikes. The brand had also started to evolve to include Ultima frames, wheels, transmissions and more. By the late 1990s its, at that stage, Arnold, Missouri facility was bursting at the seams, and in the 2000s the move to a new-build 100,000 sq ft facility at Pevely, Missouri, saw Ultima able to establish a dyno research facility, multiple CNC machining shops, an engine assembly plant and an engine repair shop. 

This is where Ultima was able to develop the latest additions to the Ultima family of engines: the Competition Series Twin Cam replacement engines.
We here at AMD had started to see Ultima engines appearing in AMD European and World Championship of Custom Bike Building competitions and the program's affiliated custom bike shows in Europe in the early 2000s, and its El Bruto V-twins were an established 'go-to' for builders seeking that rare trifecta of power, reliability and accessible pricing. 

2 1/4 " Radium mufflers for 2017 and up M-8 Touring models feature removable high-flow performance steel baffles and a slotted channel mounting system that allows for easier installation and guarantees fitment and alignment. The ends are straight cut to accept a billet end cap, if further customization is desired; application-specific mounting clamps separately available.
Ultima 1 7/8" fishtail exhaust slip-on mufflers are available in chrome or black in 33" or 36" lengths for 1995-2016 and 2017-up Touring models. Features include a 1 3/4" inside diameter and 1 7/8" outside diameter. Sold without baffles, they ship with all necessary hardware and are available in chrome or black.

The brand's reputation among the 'Builder Community' wasn't hurt by the fact that the design of Ultima engines has always offered customizers a custom look with styling that suggests they mean business.
Ultima EVO and Shovelhead style engines won major awards. With complete drivetrains that included both left and right-side transmissions, open belt drives and starter motors, Ultima's finger was right on the pulse and its development of the product line has kept it there ever since, even as the market started to change so dramatically in the shadow of a 2007/2009 recession.

Many feared that the financial crisis would consign custom builds to history, but even though the market for complete V-twin engines is way smaller now than it was, it was the 'trickle down' from the positive press and reputation that have seen Ultima powerplants remain a popular stock replacement and performance upgrade platform option.
Indeed, with at least a dozen or more complete V-twin engine options having gone the way of the VHS cassette, Ultima is one of the few left and therefore, actually, has a substantial share of the available market at home and abroad.


Polaris - Taking STEPS to Future-Proof Dealerships

Polaris introduces the Service Technician Education Program (STEP) with Central Lakes College and leading powersports dealer Power Lodge. A $1m grant to the Minnesota college will bridge the skills gap and create job opportunities in rural counties and underserved communities.
Polaris has announced the development of an innovative on-the-job training curriculum for upskilling and training powersports technicians. 

The Service Technician Education Program (STEP), which "leverages new connected vehicle technology to rapidly scale and grow the necessary future technician labor force, is in partnership with Central Lakes College (CLC) in Brainerd, Minn., and leading powersports dealer Power Lodge CLC received a $1m grant to fund the program."

With the powersports and marine industries seeing tremendous growth in 2020, due in large part to more people looking for new and different ways to enjoy the outdoors, there has been an increased demand on dealerships tasked with helping to care for and maintain the vehicles.
Serving as a pilot, the STEP program is being developed to help solve this challenge by connecting student technicians to hands-on, in-dealership experience at a Power Lodge dealership while they complete their educational training at CLC. Students will be paid for their work as student technicians when working for the dealership as part of a new career pathway into the industry.
"This program is about building a connection between powersports businesses and students who have chosen powersports as their career. STEP brings new life to powersports and marine programs offered at colleges like CLC while strengthening this industry as a relevant and meaningful career path that fosters diversity, equity and inclusion," said Bridget McLennan, Polaris Vice President, Dealer Services.
Polaris, CLC and Power Lodge expect to train 80 student technicians and an additional 89 staff over the course of the grant, many of whom will be hired upon graduation.


Bulletproof Bridgeports

Though best known for its hard parts and helmets, there is always more to California based Biltwell than is immediately obvious.
Do you sell gloves? Would you like to? Built for "track days, long days and every day," Biltwell's Bridgeport gloves are a top grade leather and synthetic hybrid with the industry standard rugged construction and racy silhouette.

However, as co-founder Bill Bryant explains in the latest edition of its 'Parts & Labor' magazine, "the stuff you can't see is what puts our most advanced glove on top of the box."
Bridgeport's molded plastic knuckle guards feature Neoprene padding to dissipate impact energy and fleece Lycra touch points on the inside keep sweaty palms dry by wicking moisture away from the skin.

Outside, supple goatskin leather, vented polyester and ballistic nylon combine for a glove that's "damn near bulletproof," says Bill.


LA Choppers

Performance Risers

These two-part performance risers from LA Choppers (Huntington Beach, California) feature 10" (25.5 mm) of pullback x 1/ 14". They are for use with all Harley models with 3-1/2" on-center handlebars. Manufactured in aluminum, they have a 1 1/4"/32 mm clamping diameter.



Power Commander V for H-D Touring (Fuel and Ignition)
Stating that "You don’t settle for ordinary performance anywhere else, why accept that from your motorcycle?" Dynojet is inviting riders of Harley Touring models to "take control of your ride with the Power Commander V tuner," saying that it is "built to give your bike optimized driveability and the fuel efficiency you need. 

"Tried, trued and tested, our sleek, smaller than ever Power Commander V tuner module optimizes air/fuel ratio without directly changing the ECU," for a fully reversible install. The plug-and-play kit can be installed discreetly underneath the seat.
It delivers a fuel change range of -100/+250%, and timing adjustment of +/- 20, "automatically giving you the best mix of performance and fuel efficiency at all times. This fuel tuner holds two maps at a time for multiple drive options (via the Power Commander V map switch accessory), as well as ten throttle position columns, so you won’t sacrifice comfort for performance."
The PC V allows tunes to be easily changed and upgraded as parts are changed out and upgraded; it comes with Power Core software that connects dyno runs with fuel tuners and it is upgradeable with additional features such as auto-tune and launch control.
There is an analog input which allows installation of any 0-5 volt sensor and build of an adjustment table based on its input - such as boost or temperature. It easily connects to a computer via USB and each cylinder can be mapped individually and for each gear, giving riders more granular control. It carries a one-year warranty.


American Prime Manufacturing

"We've Got the Belts"

In addition to its 1.125" 136-tooth and 1.75" wide 101-tooth replacement belts, Santa Fe Springs, California based transmission and clutch components specialist American Prime Manufacturing offers 1.75" 8 mm 138-tooth replacement belts for Softail and Dyna models using the Primo Brute III enclosed belt drive.
Leveraging president Ben Kudon's 40 years of industry experience as a dealer, custom bike builder, distributor and manufacturer of a wide range of transmission parts and related components, Kudon says: "I started American Prime to fill a void that exists in the motorcycle aftermarket industry. 

Primary drive belt 1.75" wide / 138 teeth

"Down the years I have had experience of not being able to source particular products either because they are scarce and hard to find, only available as cheap imports or knock-offs, or simply not offered anymore.
"American Prime fills in those gaps and offers a range of performance upgrade replacements backed by superb customer service." In the past we have featured some examples of the kind of hard-to-find replacement parts that API specializes in, from the Comp Master clutch kit assembly for all pre-Evo Big Twins with early dry style clutches (1936 - 1984) to the Comp Master 304 stainless steel base advance assembly with center post, pivot pins and weights coated with a specially formulated polymer coating and 8, 11 and 14 mm made belts in Kevlar or fiberglass cord. 
Final drive belt 1.125" wide /136 teeth

Primary drive belt 1.75" wide /101 teeth

"Many of our belts are seemingly impossible to get, especially when you need them in a hurry," says Kudon. "We have final drive belts in 24 mm (used on current manufactured Harleys), 1.125" and 1.50" wide with carbon fiber cord, which is even stronger than Kevlar, and in a huge range of different tooth configurations."
Made in the USA by Gates, belts available include the 1.125" wide (14 mm) APM final drive belt with 136 teeth with polychain carbon fiber final cord that fits selected Sportsters; the 1 3/4" wide 11 mm smoothback Kevlar corded polychain primary drive belt that fits selected enclosed primary, electric start Primo Brute III Extreme belt drives and Primo Slimline open belt drives; and the 1 3/4" (8 mm) 138-tooth Kevlar replacement belt for Softail and Dyna.



New Steering Dampers Mean Improved Handling
Italian suspension specialist Matris is noted for manufacturing some of the best "speed sensitive" steering dampers in the world - it has always been a core competency for the brand. Its speed sensitivity design reacts to sudden movements by automatically and progressively increasing the damping without restricting movement at slow speeds.
The short wheelbase and powerful engines of many modern sport bikes are, by their nature, inclined to "nervous" or "uncertain" responses to potholes and other sudden shocks, movements or hard braking - regardless of frame or suspension design. 


These new steering dampers from Matris improve the control of the front axle and front end stability, giving better damping of all the slow oscillations and rapid changes that the bike setting cannot be tuned for.
The new SDR series (racing replica) and SDK series (street version) steering dampers reduce front wheel shake and provide improved safety at high speed.


Matris steering dampers offer fully adjustable hydraulic braking with 13 or 16 calibrated holes for "active", dynamic and micrometric points of tuning - this is the Matris 'secret sauce' engineering solution that delivers a progressive "speed sensitive" hydraulic damping system.
There is a coaxial twin tube system with titanium external cylinder and aluminum alloy internal cylinder and a high-tensile alloy steel single piston rod with hard chrome coating, lapped finished for, effectively, "zero" stiction. The SDR race replica series has an additional TIN (Titanium Nitride) surface treatment.
The external reservoir tank design gives vastly improved heat dissipation and control of fluid expansion and is pressurized with nitrogen gas for greater stability at high operating temperatures.

Matris has asked us to remind everyone that there are a lot of product imitations on the internet of all the best motorcycle suspension and performance products and brands - and to advise dealers to make sure they (and their customers) are buying genuine originals through a reputable channel.
We here at AMD are happy to associate ourselves with Matris' remarks - when it comes to safety, impossibly cheap prices are NOT the rider's friend. It is almost always true that something engineered to be cheap is engineered to fail!



MEC 'Explorer' Pan America Slip-On

Back in the summer (AMD August) we published news that MEC in Germany (The Motorcycle Equipment Company - the joint venture between German sound management exhaust manufacturer KessTech and Austrian custom parts specialist Cult-Werk) had been the first-to-market to announce plans for an 'Explorer' slip-on for Harley's Pan America ADV models.

That prototype is now production-ready and MEC says it is now shipping the 'Explorer'. Furthermore, it has also now released a pre-series version of its adjustable exhaust for the Pan America and is already taking pre-orders, with the series production version expected to be ready to ship by the end of 2021.


Penz Custombikes

Penz Zero Degree Rake Triple Trees

Noted Austrian custom bike builder Penz Custombikes is well known for the series production and custom frame designs that made its signature custom bike builds such a recognizable fixture in the European custom bike market for decades.
In addition to frames, Penz also offers a program of stock upgrade and custom application triple trees and front fork assemblies - its 'Radical Race' line.

Precision CNC-machined from high-quality billet aluminum with a 220 mm wide center - designed for a “slim race look” - they are suitable for Öhlins sliders with a diameter of 54 mm at the bottom, 50 mm at the top, WP sliders with 54/51 mm, WP 60/54 mm top, and others - more details on request.


The triple tree offset is 0 degrees. The triple clamp can be replaced directly and fits most popular Harley-Davidson models and custom accessory frames and it provides an internal fork stop. The finish is raw aluminum or powder-coated black. This part comes with the upper and lower trees and includes the steering rod.


Rick's Motorcycles

Sportster S Parts by Rick's Motorcycles

Within days of receiving its first new Sportster S, well known custom parts manufacturer and authorized Harley-Davidson dealer Rick's Motorcycles (Baden-Baden, Germany) had its first custom parts designs for the Revolution Max 1250T ready for shipping.

The latest iteration of a Harley-Davidson sub-brand that originated in 1957, the reimagining of the Sportster is more than design alone. It offers a stylish, contemporary platform that is a regulations- friendly solution to the aims of CEO Jochen Zeitz' 'Hardwire' strategic business plan to maintain brand desirability and profitability.

Shifter peg AK 4.7, OEM mounting
Headlight fairing

While the stock styling is convincing - performance cruiser meets muscle bike meets streetfighter - nothing can't be improved. So, when the experienced parts designers at Rick's got hold of it, their first instinct was to eliminate the license plate bracket and replace it with an easy-on, easy-off bolt-on reversible install Rick's license plate holder design.

Side mount license plate kit

Turn signal bracket rear kit, including turn signals

The reflector and the entire rear lighting are mounted under the rear fender using a multi-bracket specially developed by Rick's. In combination with the stunningly effective, ultra-reliable Kellermann Atto DF 3 in 1 turn signals, you get all the necessary lights for a road legal combination.
At the front end, Rick's kept the stock LED headlight but came up with an easy-install new shape and look headlight fairing and custom turn signal brackets that change the character of the front end completely.


Tuesday 14 December 2021


H-D in LiveWire SPAC Deal with Private Equity and KYMCO

Harley-Davidson is not allowing the fact that recent months have seen the investor community cool on the use of Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) - as a stock listing alternate to the classic IPO - to dissuade them from an audacious plan to float 26% ownership of LiveWire to raise some $545m capital for the ongoing development of its electric vehicle products.

Harley will be left with 74% ownership of the newly floated LiveWire subsidiary. The investors (17%) and founders (4%) of a SPAC called AEA Investors and Bridges Fund Management (ABIC) will own a combined 21% (through certain noted Private Equity firm AEA Investors' executives) and Taiwanese motorcycle and scooter maker KYMCO owning a 4% stake in what Harley Chairman, CEO and President Jochen Zeitz is describing as "the first publicly traded EV motorcycle company in the US."
"The transaction will be financed by $400m cash pre-raised and held in trust by ABIC, a $100m investment from Harley-Davidson, and a $100m investment from KYMCO (through a PIPE - private investment in public equity).


Launched in summer of 2021, 'LiveWire One' is a tech-rich and more reasonably priced Mk II LiveWire (approx. $20k) that did much to reboot the stand-alone LiveWire brand against a previously unrealistic $30k price-point for the first 'More Roads' strategic plan's iteration of Harley's entry into the electric vehicle market.

"The combined company is expected to have an enterprise value of approximately $1.77bn and post-money equity value of approximately $2.31bn at closing.
"Jochen Zeitz will be Chairman and serve as acting CEO of LiveWire for up to two years following completion of the transaction; Ryan Morrissey will serve as President of LiveWire. LiveWire's Board of Directors will include independent directors in addition to representation from Harley-Davidson and ABIC.
"The net cash proceeds will be used to fund LiveWire's strategic plan to accelerate its go-to-market strategy, invest in new product development and enhance its global manufacturing and distribution capabilities.
"As the majority shareholder in LiveWire following the transaction, Harley-Davidson will continue to consolidate LiveWire's results of operations for GAAP financial reporting purposes. LiveWire will be reported as a separate segment within Harley-Davidson's financials with GAAP disclosures recognizing amounts attributable to the non-controlling interests.
Harley Chairman, CEO and President Jochen Zeitz will additionally be Chairman and acting CEO of LiveWire (NYSE Ticker Symbol "LVW"), with LiveWire's results consolidated into Harley's fiscals as a separate segment.

"The transaction, which has been approved by the boards of directors of both Harley-Davidson and ABIC, is expected to close in the first half of 2022, and is subject to the approval of ABIC shareholders and other customary closing conditions."
LiveWire will also include STACYC, the all-electric balance bikes for kids. The common stock is expected to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "LVW". J.P. Morgan Securities LLC is serving as financial advisor to Harley-Davidson.
Jochen Zeitz is quoted as saying that this announcement "is a historic milestone with LiveWire set to become the first publicly traded EV motorcycle company in the U.S.  By building on Harley-Davidson's 118-year lineage, LiveWire's mission is to be the most desirable electric motorcycle brand in the world, leading the electrification of the sport.
"This transaction will give LiveWire the freedom to fund new product development and accelerate its go-to-market model. LiveWire will be able to operate as an agile and innovative public company while benefitting from the at-scale manufacturing and distribution capabilities of its strategic partners, Harley-Davidson and KYMCO."

John Garcia, Chairman and Co-CEO of AEA-Bridges Impact Corp, is quoted as saying: "We are at the confluence of two seminal shifts impacting the industry - vehicle electrification and sustainability. LiveWire is well positioned to become the premier sustainable electric motorcycle brand and redefine the industry by leveraging the manufacturing and distribution expertise of Harley-Davidson and KYMCO. We're excited to partner with Harley-Davidson and the LiveWire team to help define the future of electric motorcycles as the industry continues its rapid transformation."
Harley's statement concludes by stating: "Together, Harley-Davidson, ABIC and KYMCO believe in the future of LiveWire as a dedicated electric brand with the ability to lead, grow and revolutionize the electric motorcycle industry and beyond."

NAMZ Custom Cycle Products

Sound Thinking from NAMZ

Always striving to "make it easy for you to do it right," Oreland, Pennsylvania based NAMZ Custom Cycle Products has spent over 21 years coming up with "solutions for problems that shouldn't exist," says President and Chief Technical Officer Jeff Zielinski, "but we don't think it should be that way.

OEM radio rear speaker harness

"So, our wiring gurus here have put in all the thought, effort and quality engineering you have become used to from NAMZ, and we are proud to offer a range of application-specific speaker and Tour Pack wiring harnesses that have been engineered to meet the evolving needs of sound-savvy riders."

OEM style rear speaker harness jumper

First up is a pair of NAMZ OEM (audio only version) Tour Pack rear speaker harnesses that are Plug-n-Play installs for all 2006-2010 (NHD-70160-06) and 2011-2013 (NHD-70160-11) models with a Harman Kardon radio and factory speaker equipped Tour Pack that allow the use of Tour Pack audio controls.

OEM Tour Pack rear speaker harnesses

Next is an OEM radio rear speaker harness with OEM 35-pin connector that just needs a dealer radio flash to activate the rear channels.
Finally, a NAMZ OEM style rear speaker harness jumper that is 100 percent Plug-n-Play for all 2014 and up Touring models with fairing.
"The best part about these harnesses," says Jeff, "is that you do not need a degree in Electrical Engineering to install them. We have done the heavy lifting and the extensive testing to make sure you have reliable, durable wiring that is as serviceable as it is easy to install."


Replacement AM/FM stubby antennas


Also new from NAMZ, these new styles of replacement AM/FM stubby antennas are more 100 percent Plug-n-Play options for all H-D models with an existing audio antenna. The NRA-CA1 features an aluminum body with a carbon fiber insert; the NRA-RS1 offers a reinforced rubber body.
NAMZ and Badlands products are available through Drag Specialties, Parts Unlimited, Tucker, Mid-USA, J&P Cycles, V-Twin, Parts Canada, Parts Europe, Custom Chrome Europe, Motorcycle Storehouse, W&W, Zodiac, Rollies Speed Shop and Performance Cycle Wholesale Limited, or directly from the company's website.



EXFIL-18 - Ergonomic and Universal Utility

California based helmets and accessory specialist Biltwell's EXFIL soft luggage line has been a 'hit' with riders for years.
Known as a rugged, durable and ergonomic solution for those who ride hard, co-founder Bill Bryant told AMD recently: "We’ve taken the knowledge gained from years of designing and abusing rider-oriented luggage and poured it into two all-new saddlebag designs.
"Now, hauling a full camping set-up or daily commuting kit is a lot more convenient, durable and attractive."

Biltwell's new EXFIL-18 saddlebags are visually similar to the ten-year old EXFIL-7 design they replace because the versatility of the original design "set a standard" for universal design and all-round service right out of the gate.
Looking good on just about any bike, the 18 clears most turn signals and can be zipped off without removing the mounting yoke. Fully supported by compression straps and surrounded by MOLLE, "this thing is ready to rock," says Bill.
"EXFIL-18 is packed with rider-oriented features like a low-key zipper pocket that's accessible without even getting off the bike, flo-orange interior so you can see your stuff, hidden cord pass-thrus and a fitted rain cover for each side."


Custom Chrome Europe

More Fat Ness at Custom Chrome Europe

The Ness Enterprises big wheel kit includes a 5.5" x 18" fat factory forged front wheel - "the perfect solution when updating to a 180 mm fat tire on the front of 2020 or newer touring models." It also matches the factory rear wheel on all Touring "special" models.
 It features a gloss black powder-coated forged aluminum rim (not cast) with gloss black anodized hubs and disc adapters; it accepts factory rotors, to save more cost, but can be upgraded to Ness 'Jagged' series rotors for an additional cost.

Fat tire billet fork boots

It does not work with the factory fender, requiring the purchase of an 8" wide front fender from Arlen Ness or other brands. It also requires Ness fat fender fork boots or Ness tube guards.
Available in all black, fitment is for all 2008-up FLT models, and it accepts Arlen Ness rotor adapters with factory or aftermarket rotors/disc options.
Fat 'Stocker' front fender

Ness' fat tire 'Smooth' billet fork boots feature a sculpted CNC-machined billet design with specially notched inside surfaces to allow the use of 18" x 5.5" fat front wheels on factory front ends. When paired with Arlen Ness fat front fender designs, 18" x 5.5" fat front wheels can be installed without any fabrication for a fully reversible true direct bolt-on design.
CNC-machined from billet aluminum, they are designed to work with Arlen Ness and other aftermarket fat front fenders; 2014 and up applications include a set of fork dust seals. They are available in black anodized or chrome finish.

Radial 'Fat Wrap' front fender

Also seen here, Ness' fat 'Stocker' full length front fenders for wide tire Baggers feature a "smooth, flowing custom design with a straight cut front to match your factory style. Each steel fender features a direct bolt-on design, specially notched sides and smooth flowing body lines for contoured curves seen from every angle.
"The design offers a smoother ride and protects the front wheel from potholes and all the other rigors of the road. At 8" wide, it fits 18" x 5.5" front wheels with 180 mm tires perfectly. We make it from a single sheet of premium quality steel, stamped and precision laser-cut."
The fender allows clearance for up to 14" oversized brake rotors and can be paired with the Arlen Ness 'Smooth' style fork boots for a complete direct bolt-on installation on select '99-'13 FLT/FLHT and '14-up FLHT/FLHX/FLHR/FLTRX with 180 mm wide front tires. Sold in a raw steel finish, it includes radius body lines on the side of the fender.

5.5" x 18" fat factory forged front wheel

The bolt-on Ness full length radial 'Fat Wrap' front fender for wide/fat tire Baggers (FLT Touring models) has "specially notched sides and smooth flowing body lines for contoured curves seen from every angle." It is also an 8" fitment for 18" x 5.5" front wheels with 180 mm tires and precision manufactured from a single sheet of premium quality steel.
It allows clearance for up to 14" oversized brake rotors, features the radius lines and pairs well with the Arlen Ness 'Smooth' style fork boots for complete direct bolt-on installation on '99-'13 FLT/FLHT and '14-up FLHT/FLHX/FLHR/FLTRX.