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March 13, 2006 – S&S Cycle looks at other powersports options

March 13, 2006
Filed under Features

CINCINNATI — S&S Cycle has added to its aftermarket offerings while keeping an eye on the future.
The company, known for its V-twin engine, showcased its new clutches and six-speed transmission at the V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati. Both the clutches and transmissions are new this year from the Wisconsin-based manufacturer.
“We’ll be in those two businesses for the long haul,” said S&S President Brett Smith.
The S&S High Performance Clutch fits 1991-2006 big twin models, except 2006 Dyna, features a 66-tooth ring gear and has matching pinion gear available. The clutches were available in early February.
At the S&S booth in Cincinnati, Smith also talked about where the company is headed — to other parts of the powersports industry.
Smith said the company is getting into frame manufacturing and will look at other OE applications.
“Once we develop that core competency, we’ll be able to leverage that possibly into quads, into sand cars, maybe even into boats or something along those lines,” Smith said. “So it is our long-term strategic objective to penetrate the powersports industry as a whole.”
Smith, who has been president for two and a half years, also lauded the company’s pro-stock motorcycle engines that are used extensively in the All Harley Drag Racing Association (AHDRA). Smith said seven of the 16 teams that regularly qualified in the 2005 season had S&S engines. That number could go up next year, he said.
“When you build a reputation like that, some of the automobile companies may take a look in your direction as well,” said Smith, referring to possible future interest from auto racing series, like NASCAR.
Ridley Bikes
The Oklahoma City, Okla.-based manufacturer of the unique automatic transmission bikes has found its niche audience — women.
Seventy percent of Ridley’s sales go to women consumers, said Vice President Jay Ridley, who said the company is currently making about 500 bikes a year. Jay Ridley said the company will try in the next two years to increase production to 750 bikes a year at its 30,000-square foot facility.
“We want to make sure the market is there,” Jay Ridley said of the company’s chances of increasing production. One early, positive sign — the company is sold out of inventory for the next 90 days, Jay Ridley said.
What the company will not manufacture anymore is the smaller compact cruisers that Ridley originally started with. The company made its last compact cruiser earlier this year.
The decision to go away from the smaller cruiser was based on customer feedback. Jay Ridley said consumers said they liked the company’s bikes because they were lower and lighter than most, but above all, they sought the automatic transmissions.
So the company reacted by redesigning its transmission and building bigger engines and frames. Now, five of Ridley’s six current models feature automatic transmissions. MSRP pricing on models range from $13,995 on the Ridley Sport and its 738cc engine to $24,950 for the Ridley X88, a manual transmission with a 1450cc engine.
Saxon
The Casa Grande, Ariz.-custom bike builder hopes to increase its dealer network and manufacturing output this year.
Mike O’Brien, Saxon’s chief marketing officer and one of the company’s four partners, said Saxon produced about 400 bikes in 2005. This year, they’re shooting for about 700.
At the same time, the company wants to increase its dealer network. Saxon will try to grow its dealer base from nearly 30 to 40 by the end of March and to 50 by the end of the year.
For the 2006 lineup, Saxon switched to a right-side drive. “It’s much easier to accommodate a wider-rear tire” with a right-side drive, O’Brien said.
Saxon also is offering more paint options — something customers have requested — and a larger and more distinctive package of graphics.
Prices range from about $22,000 MSRP for the Sceptre to $27,000 MSRP for the Black Crown.
Big Bear Chopper
The Big Bear Lake, Calif.-based bike builder is moving into a new arena — factory-built motorcycles.
Until this year, the company had only produced kit bikes. This year, Big Bear hopes to manufacture roughly 360 bikes. That doesn’t include the kit bikes, which will continue to be made. Including kits, Big Bear Chopper could be making 100 motorcycles a month.
“The next step up for us in growth is going to be a dealer network,” said Andy Meadors, head of marketing for Big Bear Chopper.
Big Bear hopes to have 20 dealers on board by the end of the year.
Big Bear will offer 10 of its 12 models for the factory-built motorcycles that are offered to dealers.
Only the Rigid and Softail Merc won’t be offered as factory-made motorcycles.
The factory-made bikes, which are available in small quantities now, will be priced from $25,000-$30,000 MSRP.
Noise and the CHP
During the V-Twin conference meeting, there was a report that the California Highway Patrol was giving tickets to bikers if their exhaust systems did not match those that were in a booklet carried by CHP officers.
The Motorcycle Industry Council later contacted the CHP to find out about the booklet and was told the CHP is currently doing nothing regarding motorcycle noise.
Powersports Business also contacted CHP representatives in the department’s Sacramento offices. Representatives there also did not know of any kind of booklet. psb

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