Rucker Diversifying its Product Lineup – December 25, 2006
December 25, 2006
Filed under Features
Rucker Performance will be showing off several new products at the V-Twin Expo, including a new wide tire kit built for the home bike builder. But perhaps nothing will garner as much attention as the Texas manufacturer’s custom Harley-Davidsons.
The Fort Worth builder this summer signed an agreement with a large Harley-Davidson dealer to provide preowned custom touring bikes.
“I’ve started to look at what’s going on in the market and a large percentage of the riders right now are riding baggers,” said Bill Rucker, founder and CEO of Rucker Performance and former American IronHorse executive. “They ride Road Kings, Electra Glides, Road Glides.
“And there’s not a lot of people who try to sell to that market specifically. So I started looking at it as a market, how I could make an impact in it and what was the best way to do it.”
Rucker approached Bruce Rossmeyer, CEO of 13 Harley-Davidson locations, and the two, along with one of Rossmeyer’s bike designers, worked out a plan to build 120 customized, wide-tire baggers.
The preowned 2005 and 2006 Harley-Davidson Road King Police, Fire and Rescue motorcycles feature a number of upgrades, including a wide tire 200 mm conversion kit (from the standard 130 mm), a Screamin’ Eagle Big Bore 96 cubic inch motor, chrome handlebar package and chrome 18-inch wheels. The customized Harleys also will feature customized fabrication work (extended fuel tanks, front and rear fenders and saddle bags), a custom-fitted seat, painted front end as the color of sheet metal, a headlight molding and a graphics package.
Rucker said he’s already delivered more than 20 such custom Harleys and sales have been “very good.”
“We had a really good response at Biketoberfest and they’ve have good response since then,” he said, noting Rucker also is looking at other ways to customize Harleys.
Rucker Performance, which started in 2004, also introduced fuel injection to one of its four models this year. The company in October became the first manufacturer to pass emission standards and receive EPA certification for the S&S T-Series 124 closed loop, a fuel-injection engine used in its Assassin model. It took more than two years of development and calibration research for the Assassin to pass EPA standards.
“We’re trying to make (fuel injection) available for some of our other bikes for next year, but it’s not a priority,” Rucker said, noting his customers “aren’t really demanding fuel injection.
“The reason we did it on the Assassin is because I believe it’s cutting edge and it’s next generation technology. And at some point in time, you’re going to have to (have) it. But even our carbureted bikes are meeting all the emission standards that they need to meet.”
Plus, Rucker said, “there are a lot of guys that like the carburetors instead of the fuel injection.”
Rucker Performance also is developing a dealer network for its 200 wide tire kits, which are designed for Road Kings, Electra Glides, Road Glides and Ultra Classics for 2002 and later models. The kit includes a swing arm, steel rear fender and saddlebag supports and brackets for OEM saddlebags.
“We have built a system that’s simple enough that a guy with limited mechanical ability can do the work,” Rucker said of the wide tire kit.
Also at the V-Twin Expo, Rucker Performance will be handling the marketing, public relations and sales for Hallcraft Industries’ wire wheels. Hallcraft was recently purchased by NTQC, a Texas company that is owned by a group of investors, including Rucker’s daughter, Erin.
“Because we’ve been real aggressive with these new projects, we’ve been really busy,” Rucker said. “Our bike sales have basically maintained their level from last year. We’re not off any on our bike sales, but then again we’re a very niche manufacturer and we don’t have a lot of numbers in our bike business and our customers are much less affected by the economy factors that are affecting everybody else.”