Revvin’ up for another big splash – July 3, 2006
July 3, 2006
Filed under Features
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas — Tim Edmondson refers to it as the “separation time” — the months upon months he spent on the outskirts of the powersports industry in an effort to distance himself from his original creation, leading V-twin manufacturer American IronHorse.
After leaving IronHorse, Edmondson has spent the better part of the past two years developing other business pursuits as well as dabbling in small motorcycle projects, like designing bikes for charities. But nothing like creating a motorcycle that could catch the public’s fancy like the Texas Chopper, the first production chopper of its kind that the Alabama native dreamed up one day in 30 minutes for American IronHorse.
That’s about to change as Edmondson’s time on the sideline is over.
“I can’t say it has been nice because I’ve been choppin’ at the bit to get out and do some things,” he said in an interview with Powersports Business about his new company, Edmondson Custom Built Motorcycles (ECB). “I’m still very much behind American IronHorse, and I offer any help that I can.
“Just out of respect for them I’ve given myself some time and separation there so they can develop their own identity, and then when I get ready to move on, there’s no conflict. And that means a lot to me to do it that way, because no matter what happens, that name, American IronHorse, that product, the whole thing started with me.”
In fact, IronHorse started out of Edmondson’s garage in Bedford, Texas, before it developed into the largest American manufacturer of V-twin motorcycles. Edmondson eventually left IronHorse to build a new company that would allow him more flexibility and creativity.
Today, Edmondson works out of a nondescript, 15,000-square-foot garage in a very different environment than what he left at IronHorse.
“Since the day that I resigned my day-to-day role (as AIH board member and chief of design), there has always been the question, ‘Well, whataya going to do? When ya going to do it again?’ I really, up to about a year ago, had no plans. I really didn’t,” Edmondson said in an office that is much like his fledgling company, set up in some ways and still being organized in others.
“I was going to build signature bikes for VIPs and special charities because that’s what I wanted to do. But I’ve sat out for two years and basically I’ve been bored and I’m ready to go hard now.”
But Edmondson insists he’s not out to build another manufacturer that could one day rival IronHorse in size.
“IronHorse was a great experience. IronHorse is a great company,” he said. “It’s just this one is going to be solely Tim’s, and I’m not going to bring in outside investors because sometimes it dictates what direction that you go and how your product goes.”
That’s exactly what happened with IronHorse as Edmondson and then partner Bill Rucker brought in investors to cope with IronHorse’s massive early growth.
“I still want to be known as an innovator,” Edmondson said. “I still want to be the guy that creates something that’s the head-turner, that gets talked about like I did with the Texas Chopper when it came out.”
Edmondson is working on two projects that could create plenty of head-turning: a unique, high-end motorcycle that he designed and will manufacture under the Duesenberg Motor Co. name and his own production bike, a retro-bobber cruiser that will be sold under the ECB label.
The latter is aimed at being a less expensive option than an IronHorse, with Edmondson planning on his yet unnamed bobber to sell in the mid-$20,000 range.
The bike, with its simplistic, clean look, will feature a 111-cubic inch engine, 5-speed transmission, rigid frame and spoke wheels.
Edmondson is planning on getting his Texas state manufacturing license and then beginning production of the ECB bike on Sept. 1, with an initial goal of building 10 bikes per month. “It isn’t very many compared to what I’m used to,” he said. “But in the scheme of things, that’s a major feat to hit those numbers for somebody starting a new company.”
Edmondson has yet to finalize his dealer agreement contract, but he feels confident that he’ll have the necessary amount of dealers to move the bobbers when it’s time.
“I took (the prototype) to Myrtle Beach and the dealers just said, ‘Hey, can you get them for me now?’ Same way the Texas Chopper was,” he said.
The other motorcycle project Edmondson is working on is farther off from completion, although it may be the one that’s talked about the most when it’s finished.
The Duesenberg bike will be “very different from anything that’s out there,” he said. “It’s going to be more to the racing Japanese-style bike theory in frame design, but it’s going to be a big-bike cruiser. It’s going to have a brand new powerplant in it that’s not out in the market,” he said, adding that S&S built the new engine.
Regardless of the project he’s working on, Edmondson is cautious about making bold predictions or expansive manufacturing projections.
“There are so many people that have the same ideas, the same passions, the same love that I do,” he said. “It’s hard nowadays. It’s far more competitive now than it was when I started IronHorse.”
Perhaps that’s why Edmondson is hesitant to give out too many details about the Duesenberg bike, other than that he will buy the license from the individual who has purchased the name rights of the company that is known for its luxury cars. The Duesenberg was once a signature car for the rich and famous, including the likes of Clark Gable.
Edmondson expects the new Duesenberg bike, which he’s still designing, to be made exclusively for collectors. He figures to make no more than 20 a year, and the bikes will sell for $65,000-$75,000 and up.
“This is far more technical than anything I’ve ever done,” he said. “So we just don’t want to make any mistakes.”
At the same time, Edmondson is striving to achieve the creativity and flexibility that led to his big hit, the Texas Chopper.
“It’s kind of what I’m doing here,” he said. “Hoping I can change things again (in the industry). If I can, I can. If I can’t, I tried hard.”