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March 12, 2007 – Auto industry icon partners with V-twin company

March 12, 2007
Filed under Features

CINCINNATI — A shared desire for innovation led to a partnership between a motorcycle company and an automobile industry icon.
Rucker Performance, owned by former American IronHorse executive Bill Rucker, is partnering with Shelby Automobiles Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Carroll Shelby International Inc., for a limited-production motorcycle, Rucker announced at the V-Twin Expo.
“He really wanted to come into the market with something that was very innovative,” Rucker said of Shelby, who’s known for building high-performance cars, including the new 2007 Ford Shelby GT. “And I really wanted to partner up with somebody who shared the same kind of dream.”
The limited-edition motorcycle will feature racing-style front forks and a high-performance braking system with ceramic brake rotors. It also will have the Pingel 1-6 electric shifting system and air ride suspension. To keep the bike svelte, the upper body and wheels are built from carbon fiber.
“We gave them drawings,” Rucker said of his initial meetings with Shelby. “We showed them what the bike was going to be like. We told them about the motor, the drive train. They basically fell in love with it.
“Within three months, we had a licensing agreement in place and now we’re the licensee for Shelby for the motorcycle industry.”
Initial plans are for Rucker to build 24 of the high-end motorcycles, which will feature a new S&S X-Wedge engine that Rucker expects to produce between 160-200 hp.
Rucker believes the bikes, which will have a MSRP of $75,000, will become collector items.
“The amount of increases we’re seeing on the value of Shelby-related products is phenomenal,” he said, noting a Shelby Cobra that originally retailed for $8,000 recently sold for $5.5 million.
The agreement with Shelby also calls for Rucker Performance to produce a full line of Shelby motorcycle products, including apparel, helmets, gloves and more. Those will be coming in the near future, Rucker said.
The ongoing project is just one of several that Rucker Performance is doing outside of building its customary production V-twin bikes.
“We have to,” Rucker said of the company’s move to diversify its products. “In our industry nowadays, you have to be innovative and be on top of things. If you’re not, then you’re not going to lead the pack. You’re going to be an also-ran. And Rucker Performance is always going to be on top. That’s my goal for us.”
Big Dog Reorganizes Its Engineering Department
A former Harley-Davidson manager will lead Big Dog Motorcycles’ newly reorganized engineering department, the company announced.
Jim Moorman, a former chief engineer of operations for Harley-Davidson, was hired by Big Dog to lead its engineering department, which consists of more than 40 employees and takes up three buildings of the company’s two-square-block campus in Wichita, Kan.
“This dramatic change in engineering, together with the addition of Jim Moorman, will solidify Big Dog Motorcycles’ stronghold in the market by focusing on design, engineering, motorcycle reliability and inherent product value more than any other custom manufacturer,” said Big Dog founder and owner Sheldon Coleman.
“It will also undoubtedly move Big Dog Motorcycles to a new level of customer and dealer satisfaction and leading brand recognition.”
The change in engineering is mainly structural, as the company divided the department into three divisions. Each division will be supervised by its managers and three managers will report to Moorman. The new engineering divisions are:

  • Field support: Dave Siggins, who has been with Big Dog for more than 10 years, leads this team of 20 as it works with dealers and service centers in identifying and solving current quality issues in the field.
  • Test center operations: Big Dog’s test center, headed by Aaron Smith, supports the entire department by testing fixes on current motorcycles and analyzing new components and designs for future product development. Big Dog has invested more than $500,000 to date on the test center, an 8,000-square-feet facility.
  • New product development: With more than 30 years of design engineering and product management experience, Marvin Bachman leads Big Dog’s product development team.
    Leading all three of these divisions will be Moorman, who comes to Big Dog with three decades of engineering design and management experience. He has held integral engine and drive-train design roles at companies such as Ford Motor Co., Onan/Cummins Corp., Tecumseh Products Co. and, most recently, Teledyne Continental Motors.
    At Harley-Davidson, Moorman was a manager of performance development and helped develop the Evolution series of engines. He also was responsible for all emissions, noise and engine performance. Later, as chief engineer of operations, he managed all engineering division services, including testing, facilities and capital equipment.
    Saxon Unveils A New Model
    Saxon unveiled a prototype of the Mad Jack — the newest addition to its lineup — at the V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati.
    The new model, designed by builder Gard Hollinger, features numerous “old-school modernistic” styling elements, including a proprietary frame, gas tank, fenders, machined aluminum strut system, beehive side-mounted oil filter and hydraulic seat shock dampening system. In addition, each Mad Jack will be numbered and signed.
    The Mad Jack is the second production motorcycle Hollinger has designed for Saxon. Previously, he helped Saxon unveil the Black Crown, which became one of the Arizona company’s best sellers.
    The Mad Jack is scheduled to go into production in late spring as a 2008 model and begin shipping to dealers early this summer. The MSRP?had not been finalized before press time.
    S&S shows off new engine
    V-Twin Expo attendees got to see the new S&S engine, the X-Wedge. The all-new engine design is a 56-degree, three-cam, closed-loop fuel-injected, air-cooled V-twin.
    The engine features three belt-driven cams —two exhaust, one common intake — S&S closed-loop fuel injection, five studs per cylinder, plain bearings, wedge-shaped combustion chambers, automotive-style rockers, one-piece forged crank and overhead valves.
    The X-Wedge was designed by the company’s product development team to meet the 2010 EPA standards.
    A Canadian three-wheeler
    Days before BRP unveiled its new on-road product, another Canadian company showed off a three-wheeler of a different sort at the V-Twin Expo.
    Cirbin Motors Corp., a privately held company out of Quebec, showed off the Revolution, a street-legal three-wheeler that has two wheels in the front and one in the rear.
    “Our passion is for motorcycles, but we decided to do something different,” said Andre Morissette, the president of the company that has spent recent years designing the Revolution.
    The vehicle, which the company says has styling reminiscent of the hot rod era, is powered by a Harley-Davidson engine. The vehicle has a MSRP of $38,000, although a kit will be available for close to $20,000.
    Morissette said the company is aiming for a production of 50-65 in its first year.
    Desperado Motorcycles, S&S Cycle Reach Agreement
    Desperado Motor Racing & Motorcycles announced it has reached an agreement with S&S Cycle to supply engines for the 2007 Desperado model year.
    “I am thrilled that we have rekindled our relationship with S&S Cycle,” Jeff Nicklus, company founder and CEO, said in a press release. “S&S will supply a majority of our power plants for both our main line and Signature Series motorcycles during the 2007 model year.”
    Desperado Motorcycles builds a complete range of signature, limited-edition and custom motorcycles entirely by hand.
    The company also recently announced it has completed a move into a new 6-acre corporate office and manufacturing facility located in Magnolia, Texas.
    “Our new facilities will allow us the opportunity to compete on a much larger stage while increasing our production, quality control, product design, engineering and our proprietary in-house parts production,” Nicklus said. psb

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