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June 4, 2007 – K&N quickening production for sport bike filters

November 20, 2009
Filed under Features

K&N Engineering, an air filter manufacturer in both the auto and powersports sectors, is making a push in the sport bike aftermarket segment.
The Riverside, Calif.,-based company is quickening its new sport bike product to market by putting a higher priority on the R&D of such products and requiring vendor partners to hit certain timelines, says Nicholas O’Kane, a national account manager for K&N, a family owned business with offices in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
The expected result from these efforts will be three new sport bike air filters hitting the shelves this month, which is quite a change from previous years, O’Kane says.
K&N previously has brought new sport bike products out to the market up to a year after the new motorcycles hit dealer showrooms. Now the goal is to step that up so dealers are receiving the new air filters three to four months after the new bikes arrive, which would be during the traditional heavy selling season of late spring and early summer.
This year’s three new air filters will be for the Honda 2007 CBR600RR, Yamaha 2007 YZF-R1 and Kawasaki 2007 ZX-6R.
Part of quickening the product to market has meant obtaining the OEM stock air filter, or air box, quicker, meaning sometimes using less traditional routes to receive the stock filter. For example, K&N had a vendor send an air box off a new motorcycle from Australia, where the new bike debuted before hitting U.S. dealerships, to its headquarters in California.
“Once we have the air box in-house, then we’ve streamlined the process to getting the different components that’s needed for the air filters and work together with the team to keep them focused in order to get the new filters (designed) in a short lead time,” O’Kane said.
Part of streamlining that process included getting management approval to put a priority on powersports product, O’Kane says, noting the company sees growth potential in the sport bike segment.
The company also put greater emphasis on requiring vendor partners to hit certain timelines.
“When we send out for quotes, a timeline is very important to us,” O’Kane said, noting that in the past sometimes the cost of the product was given a higher priority than when K&N would receive the vendor’s supplies.
The switch in emphasis also has resulted in a change of some of the vendors that K&N uses, O’Kane says.
One thing that has not changed, O’Kane notes, is the company’s continued use of its in-house Dyno to test its air filters.

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