55 years in the biz, and still growing
S&S Cycle continues to drive profitability with new initiatives
When thinking of the V-twin market, it’s not a far stretch to get S&S Cycle in the picture. For 55 years, the company has manufactured high performance engine parts, but S&S isn’t staying complacent. In fact, at the V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati, the company showcased three new initiatives aimed at growing its business and helping its dealers.
S&S is expanding with a new line of lubricants, a selection of new service parts and custom engine manufacturing.
Showcased at the V-Twin Expo was S&S Cycle’s new line of lubricants, produced by Spectro Oils. For seven or eight years, S&S worked with Mobil 1 on a line of S&S oils, but the company recently decided to switch manufacturers. The reason for the change was twofold: as a smaller company, Spectro has been easier to work with, and Spectro was willing to produce petroleum oils for S&S.
“Petroleum oil, Mobil 1 didn’t really want to go there. That was their thing, but we wanted to offer a wide variety of products to people to meet their needs,” said Bruce Tessmer, marketing projects coordinator for S&S Cycle.
S&S’s Lubricant line offers both petroleum and synthetic engine oil and transmission oil, along with a primary oil. S&S believed that offering both petroleum and synthetic was important for its customers.
“People ask us, ‘Well, isn’t synthetic better? Why do you have a petroleum oil?’ The fact is we believe synthetic is the way to go. We believe that’s the finest thing you can put in your engine, but a lot of people don’t,” Tessmer explained. “We know there are people that aren’t going to use it for some reason or another; either they don’t believe in synthetic, or they don’t want to spend the money.”
Another benefit to working with Spectro is the company’s batch blend system, which combines all the components evenly, rather than in-line blending, which can lead to inconsistency.
“Spectro, they batch blend their stuff, so they can tweak it until it’s perfect, and they always make things on the high end of the spec, so every time you buy a bottle of S&S oil, it’s going to be the same,” Tessmer said.
The S&S formulas differ from those Spectro sells itself because the S&S line was created specifically with S&S’s needs in mind. The oils are high-performance premium blends, but Tessmer says they can be used on any V-twin engine.
“It can’t be too good. If it’s a superior product, it’s going to work, and its going to handle the rigors of high-performance engines, or your stock engine is going to love it too,” he explained.
S&S oils will be sold exclusively through S&S dealers and distributors.
“This is a motorcycle product it needs to be in a motorcycle shop, and we do like to support our dealers,” Tessmer said. “There is a definite need for a local motorcycle shop in most communities, and by supporting those guys, we’ll make sure there’s always someone there that can service our customers.”
The oils come in cases of 12, and each case of engine oil comes with a free S&S oil filter. Oil change kits with four quarts of oil and a filter are also available. The line only includes 20W50 oil to start, but more weights, such as 20W60, may be developed in the future.
“We do intend to broaden the line as time goes on, but we needed to get going with a certain number of things, the most important things,” Tessmer said.
As S&S Cycle’s business has grown, the company has sought out more ways to help its dealers. The new Viola V-Twin line, named after S&S’s hometown of Viola, Wis., delivers high quality service and maintenance parts.
The concept for Viola V-Twin originated two years ago when the crew at S&S was considering developing a service parts catalog. The company realized many of its products could be used for stock maintenance, and a lot of its dealers, especially non-franchise shops, need access to those types of parts.
“So we decided let’s go for broke here. Let’s bring in other high end products, so we can flesh out the line, so if you’re not a franchise dealer and you want to fix a customer’s bike, you can get the parts,” Tessmer said.
The line includes everything from gaskets and tappets to pushrods and flywheels.
“This is directed at stock motorcycles. It’s not something that will increase your performance, but it’s going to work really well,” Tessmer said.
Viola V-Twin is working with a number of companies to complete the line. The parts all meet or exceed OEM specifications and are made in the U.S. whenever possible. Viola V-Twin’s website, ViolaVTwin.com, offers an online catalog that includes line drawings for easy parts lookup.
Since Viola V-Twin was launched in December, the response has already been positive.
“It helps a dealer if they can get all the stuff they need from one source for maintenance,” Tessmer said.
Though S&S Cycle has a lot in the works, just weeks before the V-Twin Expo, S&S Cycle revealed to Powersports Business that the company is also getting into the business of custom engine building.
S&S’s remanufacturing department in La Crosse, Wis., has traditionally remanufactured S&S engines to factory specs. Though that service is still being offered, the Service and Speed Center, as the La Crosse factory is now being called, will also custom rebuild any V-twin engine.
“You can send them a stock engine, and they’ll rebuild it. They’ll either rebuild it as stock, or they’ll hop it up if you want stroker heads on it or something,” Tessmer said.
The custom engine builds allow dealers to offer a unique service to their customers looking for something special.
“We think that’s really cool because a lot of shops would like to build a custom engine for their customer, but they don’t have the space or they don’t have the experience,” Tessmer said.
S&S Cycle has hundreds of dealers across the U.S. Though many are small non-franchise repair shops, others are larger, with many Harley-Davidson dealers in the network.
Though S&S Cycle has struggled at times to find high quality dealers, it does have many that work well with the brand, and its always looking to expand its network for dealers like that.
“Some dealers support us really, really well, and we’d like to have more of them out there,” Tessmer said.
S&S presented two sessions at the V-Twin Expo, both aimed at showing off its latest products.