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Director of Engineering and Product Development for S&S Cycle - Jeff Bailey

This week, Dave and Dale discuss all things development, horsepower and racing at Daytona with the Director of Engineering and Product Development for S&S Cycle, Jeff Bailey.

MotoAmerica is the OFFICIAL Sponsor of Pit Pass Moto

This episode is brought to you by MotoAmerica. Moto America is the home of AMA Superbike and North America's premier motorcycle road racing series, with some of the best motorcycle road racing on two wheels. Rewatch every round of the 2022 series – and catch all the action from each race – with the MotoAmerica Live+ video-on-demand streaming service. Or visit the MotoAmerica YouTube Channel for race highlights and original video content. Look for a complete 2023 schedule coming soon at motoamerica.com.

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Note: This transcript is machine generated and may contain spelling and grammatical errors.


[00:00:17.110] - Dave

Welcome to Pit Pass Moto, the show that keeps you up to speed on the latest in motorcycling and brings the biggest names in the motorcycle industry right to you. I'm Dave Sulecki.

[00:00:26.310] - Dale

I'm Dale Spangler, and this week, our guest is the director of engineering and product development for S&S Cycle, Jeff Bailey. This episode is brought to you by Moto America. Moto America is the home of AMA Superbike in North America's premier motorcycle road racing series, with some of the best motorcycle racing on two wheels. Rewatch every round of the 2022 series and catch all the action from each race with the Moto America Live Plus video on demand streaming service. Or visit the Moto America YouTube channel for race highlights and original video content. Look for a complete 2023 schedule coming soon at motoamerica.com. And be sure to follow Moto America on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for real time series updates. So, Dave, what do you think about the Motocross of the nations? Did not disappoint one bit, did it?

[00:01:21.200] - Dave

Not at all. They had great conditions, all things considered, with the rain, but good on USA for bringing it home. And it's been eleven long years and I was so happy to see it. Man, everybody was pumped.

[00:01:33.350] - Dale

Yeah, pumped is an understatement. I mean, it was just absolutely chaotic and saying that the celebrations after the USA team won, but I have to say it was a little bit touch and go there a little bit. I could tell they were probably going to wrap it up, but you never know what's going to happen in the Motocross of nations. And of course, we had some rain thrown in on Saturday night, so track completely changed to me. Like Tomac and Sexton both looked like they were a little bit tight. I don't know what you thought, Dave, but and rightfully so. They have obviously a lot of pressure on their shoulders not having won this thing since 2011, but Justin Cooper, I have to give him accolades. The guy seemed like he really stepped up. People are saying they thought maybe he was the weak link, but man, he did what he had to do. He was strong. Winning the MX two class overall looked absolutely fantastic.

[00:02:20.550] - Dave

Yeah, and beat some fast riders at the same time. Eli probably didn't know he was at the Motocross of nations in that first Moto because he just basically checked out. But maybe he woke up on that second Moto and he had a little bit rougher time going against some of the fastest guys in the world, really. But yeah, hats off to the team. Consistency wins, you throw away your worst Moto, and to score that few points, 16 points in that event, is pretty close to record breaking. And I'm just happy that the Chamberlain Trophy is back in the USA, where it's been for a long, long time, and kind of showed the world that Motocross is alive and well in the US. I think there were seven AMA riders on the podium over the course of the event. So it just kind of shows you that the talent is here and when they put their mind to it, they can beat the best in the world.

[00:03:07.930] - Dale

Yeah. I'm hoping that this and I can tell already, just from seeing the atmosphere at the race this year, that I think this has reignited the USA's passion for going to this race and next year it's going to be in France. I even heard the French team talking, like, next year it's going to be in our backyard.

[00:03:24.220] - Dave

So, Dale, the washinger booth was right next to Team France in the pits across from HRC. So we had like this perfect spot to observe all the cool stuff going on.

[00:03:33.320] - Dale

You were there then? I didn't know you weren't.

[00:03:34.870] - Dave

No, I didn't go. Bob went. He was sending me pictures and giving me reports all weekend, even though they had shitty cell service.

[00:03:42.150] - Dale

As much as I love that, I don't know if I have the energy to deal with, like, a couple of days of that, because it's exhausting.

[00:03:48.930] - Dave

It is. Especially if you're working it. Yeah, we're not young men anymore and that's for the young people in the business. I spent enough summer he's doing it.

[00:03:56.240] - Dale

Sober is harder.

[00:03:57.110] - Dave

No, I was going to say I spent enough summers sitting in the field handing out details. I'm like, it's time to do other things.

[00:04:04.080] - Dale

And of course, the French team, as expected, was right in there for the overall. Same thing with Australia and why Jet Lawrence, what an amazing 450 debut. When is the Open class wins the opening moto? He just looked like he'd been riding that bike for years. And a couple of other standouts to me, though, were Yago Gear, his first ride on a 450 wins the I think did he win the opening motor? I can't remember. But anyway, so maximum maximum wins the final Open moto. So, yeah, the competition is there. It definitely was not a USA runaway. And like I said, I'm hoping this reignites the fire for Team USA to go back again next year and hopefully get on the street again like they have in the past.

[00:04:46.870] - Dave

Yes, let's hope so. Now, you mentioned France and honestly, their fastest rider wasn't at the event. Tom Vowel, who is the World champion, and 250 Class Amex two, didn't ride for France. So you got to look out for these guys next year. I think we talked about it a week ago that they were a team to watch. They're always strong and when they're on home soil, and I wouldn't bet against them. So I think USA has got their work ahead of them going into next year's round.

[00:05:12.040] - Dale

Yeah, overall, fantastic event. I watched every moto and just glued to the set, couldn't get enough the information, social media, all that good stuff. It was fun watching the celebration videos this morning of Team USA. Looks like they let loose a little bit. I don't think I've ever seen Tomac let loose that much. So it was really cool to see, but looking forward to next year, USA going back and hopefully making it two in a row.

[00:05:33.960] - Dave

Yeah, let's hope so. And we also had another big series wrap up this weekend in Moto America about Jake Ganye repeating his champion in that class. Definitely looks strong all weekend. I think that last race, he kind of backed it in camp. Peterson took the win, but good to see. I mean, Jake Ganye and Yamaha, they've been dominating for so long. And hats off to Danilo Pettucci racing all those new tracks this year and coming in second in the series. Pretty cool racing down there at Barber.

[00:06:01.260] - Dale

Yeah, I did see where I saw rumor or I read a rumor that there's a possibility that Petrucci might not even be back next year, so I'm hoping he does. With camera Bovier coming back, I think it's going to be an absolutely fantastic 2023 season. So, yeah, Jake Ganye going for his third title. Of course Pichucci is back. He'll be that much better knowing all the tracks. And of course SCOLs and Peterson, I mean, Peterson went in that last race there. You look really strong and same thing with Scolds. I mean, there's going to be five guys next year in that series. It's going to make it even better.

[00:06:34.250] - Jeff

Yeah. Add Cam Bobie into the mix and some other honorable mentions. Got a shout out to Anthony Matiato who was on the show not too long ago. He brought it home third on the season. He was tied in points with Jody Barry, but I think because of the tiebreakers on wins slipped him back to third. But Blake Davis did take that Twins Cup championship, so hats off to Anthony for fighting and battling all year. And also friend of the show, Kayla Yakov takes home third in Junior Cup. So pretty long season. She won a few events, which was pretty cool and I'm pretty excited to see what she's going to do next year.

[00:07:08.440] - Dale

Yeah, that was impressive. Of course, Cody Wyman and Gus Rodeo tying and the season points with Wyman getting the win based on I think he had more race wins overall. But yeah, Kayla Yakov comes within eight points of taking the title and she just seemed like she had a lot of momentum at the end of the season and ended up winning Saturday's race and I think she got second or third on Sunday. But yeah, definitely on the up and up and it's going to be interesting to see where her career takes her going forward.

[00:07:34.330] - Dave

And probably the biggest event of the weekend we didn't talk about yet. Dale, the pitbike of nations and USA has brought home another title in Brian Villa Porto. I think Willie Browning and Carson Brown were the three man team for USA. They beat France, same as in the Motocross of nations. It's kind of funny how they paralleled each other.

[00:07:54.890] - Dale

Yeah, I saw that. It looked like it was a good time. Of course, on Saturday night there, I think they do it at their night track, which is up in the front of where the Red Bud National track is. And it just looked like as expected, it just looked like a riot. Everybody having a good time. And from what I understand, I listened to an interview with Robbidos and he said that all the bikes were, like, identically prepared, so there was no weirdness going on. Nobody could show up with a super rocket ship bike. So really it came down to who was the most talented. And then, of course, the US team took it. And what a weekend, though, for us pit Bike and Motocross Foundation champions.

[00:08:30.940] - Dave

Yes, I thought it was pretty cool. And just what I mentioned, motozilli, who is the supplier of the pit bikes for that event, is my local dealer, actually, where I picked that's the guy I bought my Royal Infield 650 from. So good group of guys down there, motozilli, he supports it every year. I think it's a big deal. He's got good tie in with Rob Baitis, and I think they do a great job putting that event on. And I think that was the beginning of the partying for the weekend because it got pretty loud. And in the campground there at Red Blood on Saturday night, had to be.

[00:09:00.700] - Dale

Some rough Sunday mornings for a lot of people, I would imagine. And Monday mornings, because after winning that, you can only imagine how late they partied into Sunday night. And I think they even said on the TV announcing, maybe Jason Wagon said it, but he's like, there's a lot of people missing work on Monday, which I would imagine, rightfully so stoked to see Team USA take that and both classes. So what a weekend.

[00:09:22.260] - Dave

Yes. Our guy here is still power washing our pop up tent from attending. So Clean Up continues on. It was kind of muddy there on Sunday, but still good time. Hats off to USA.

[00:09:33.480] - Dale

Man.

[00:09:33.830] - Dave

Great event.

[00:09:34.860] - Dale

Definitely not much else going on, though. Like, I had a pretty uneventful weekend. Just mainly watched the races, but went for an awesome ride on Friday and just kind of getting used to the old rail infield Himalayan. Loving that bike. It's weird comparing that to my Triumph 1200. Like, it's such a mindset change. You get on the 1200, there's fuku horsepower, and then I get on the Himalayan and it's so smooth and mellow and easy to ride. So really enjoying kind of going back and forth on both bikes

[00:10:00.310] - Dave

What a cool problem to have, right? You go out to the shop and you go, what am I going to ride today? I kind of got the same problem, but it's too many dirt bikes, not enough street bikes. So it's either take the mini bikes out or go to the racetrack or jump on the street bike. Yeah.

[00:10:12.640] - Dale

My next one I want to try and get is some type of an electric bike just to have one or either that or a monkey. Just something I can ride down to the grocery store or whatever and cruise around. Just vibing. I just see that cat. I see that cat bouncing his head back and forth. That video of the cat vibing. You guys know what I'm talking about?

[00:10:30.850] - Dave

No. Are you watching too many cat videos?

[00:10:34.530] - Dale

It's like been used so many times. Like anytime someone's vibe and they have this cat going with this bouncing his head back and forth, all of a sudden it's like a white cat and you just see his face and his head is bouncing like it's bouncing to a beat.

[00:10:47.290] - Dave

That's funny. I agree. I have the disease bad so I know exactly what you're talking about.

[00:10:56.940] - Dale

Well, I think that probably is good for this week. I probably should get started with our interview and looking forward to speaking with Jeff Bailey from S&S Cycle.

[00:11:17.930] - Dave

We'd like to give a pit pass modal welcome to Jeff Bailey. He is the director of Engineering and Product development for S&S Cycle and simultaneous the crew chief for the Indian effort, King of the Baggers, who recently won the title with Tyler O'Hare. And congrats on the race season. Jeff, I thought really grabbing that number one plate in the season, you guys ran close all year, you had to be pretty excited about that.

[00:11:41.810] - Jeff

Yeah. Thanks, Dave. It was an amazing year. Being able to win that plate in the last day was pretty awesome. It was a long season, kind of grueling for me and the whole team, but we hung in there and got it done in the end.

[00:11:54.300] - Dave

So let me ask, since you are the director of engineering product development for us and that's how much time do they give you to go do the Indian effort and go to the events and crew chief for the team?

[00:12:05.790] - Jeff

Well, this year it was whatever it took to make it happen. I'd say 80% of my year. This year was dedicated to this, which maybe wasn't the best for the SMS side of the business, but we all wanted to bring home the title and whatever it took to get it done.

[00:12:20.210] - Dale

So what does that mean for S&S to help win that Indian versus Harley show down there and the King of the Baggers? Because it seems like it just got more and more serious as the series went on and you know, like kind of the one upmanship going on there. But yeah, that had to have meant a lot to be a part of that process.

[00:12:36.250] - Jeff

Yeah, I mean it was big not only for Indian but for S&S too. We've been Indians partner in their racing efforts for several years. I've been involved with them since 2015 in the various forms of racing that they've done. So it's hard to separate Indian from S Racing these days. It's all one big group and we're all pulling the same direction. And yes, it started out fun. The first race at Laguna was a good time. We went out there and won and learned a lot. And then last year, with a short three race season, it was still more of an exhibition. But this year, with seven races head to head against Harley, it was really serious.

[00:13:13.790] - Dale

So I was looking at some of the championship photos from just a few weeks ago when Tyler O'Hare took that championship. And then in a couple of photos, I counted anywhere from eleven to 14 people in the photo in addition to Tyler, which to me just shows how much of a team effort it really is to run one of these race teams. So tell me a little bit about that, like, how much of a group effort it was to win that championship.

[00:13:37.410] - Jeff

Yeah, there's a core group of people that are working on the bikes every day. I've got, including myself, seven people on our traveling team, and then there's two to three other guys here that help accurate calibration and fabrication that are involved in our daily meetings. But then outside of that group, there are three or four guys from the players, Indian side as well, the engineers and guys that are helping us out from their side. So it kind of feels like a small group, but yeah, when you see us on a picture, there's a lot of us, but every person has got a little bit to contribute and everybody has a job to do, and that's what it took.

[00:14:15.080] - Dale

Definitely a lot of moving parts, that's for sure. Now, I also understand, I think when I was there at your facility and got the tour, I remember hearing something about when Indian was first developing the FTR 1200 project, the concept. They came to you guys first to help with the design process, probably even more than that, but if you could maybe tell us a little bit about that situation, and I would imagine that has a lot to do with just that relationship you guys do have with Indian.

[00:14:42.080] - Jeff

Yeah, so we did the chassis and vehicle testing development on the FTR 750 back in 2016, and then after we got that up and racing with the factory teams in 2017, they came back to us and they wanted to build a concept vehicle of an FTR 1200. And I'm pretty sure at the time they already had the 1200 project rolling along, but they gave us a scout engine and told us to build a flat track inspired street bike concept for them. And we call it the FTR 1200 custom around here. And Bike is actually just sitting right outside my office, still here at S&S, and it was a bike that we put together in just a few months. We designed the frame, the swing arm, gas tank, did all the fuel injection system and I think it was released at Ikema I forget what year. And then a short time later they came out with the 1200. So we weren't really involved with the production bike, but we built a bike that kind of gave the public a sneak peek at what the 1200 was going to become.

[00:15:40.740] - Dave

Yeah, that's cool. And you've got a hefty crew of fabricators and dreamers on the team at S&S and it makes me want to ask the questions about developing that challenger for road racing. I know a lot went into get that bike on the race track just like I'm sure Harley went through the same things, heavy modifications in order to make that bike into a race bike. What was probably some of the harder, more difficult things that you guys had to do to make it, I guess, race worthy.

[00:16:05.570] - Jeff

Like you said before, it's been an ongoing development and just escalation of performance between both us and Harley. We'd get something figured out and other part of the bike, whether it's the horsepower, handling would catch up or breaks and we just have to keep driving up where as far as what was the hardest thing, it's hard to say. We made a big leap in horsepower over the winter last year and that's how we kind of showed up to Daytona and surprised the guys on the performance of the bike. But then when we got to that power level, the chassis was lacking and it really took to the last couple of races of this season before we got the chassis back under control and matching where the horsepower was. It's kind of been back and forth all year long. I think we ran four different styles or brands of wheels this year. Trying to work on wheel stiffness is everything. We're always working on making each part better.

[00:16:59.050] - Dave

It's got to be like a never ending process, especially when you're at the race track. But I think what you mentioned though, I thought Daytona kind of set the tone for you guys for the year to go out there and win both races and the challenge race on top of that with Tyler and Jeremy both. I thought Jeremy's win was amazing. That draft in the final corner to the finish line. It just had to have the crew going absolutely apeshit over what you guys just did. Taking those bikes around those high banks at those speeds and pulling that off. It was pretty cool. You guys had to be pretty excited about that.

[00:17:32.860] - Jeff

Yeah, it actually gives me chills right now just having to re explain it, what went on. It was amazing. We knew we were going in there with more horsepower than probably people are going to expect us to have. So we knew that would be solid. But you still have to go out on the track and make it happen. And the riders were phenomenal that weekend. Dayton isn't a place you can go test for and be prepared for, so we just had to go out there and be ready to adapt that whole weekend. And if you remember, it was raining and the schedule was always changing. I think that one session, we had like five minutes notice before they were supposed to be out there, and we had the bike half torn apart and had to throw it back together and go. So it took a lot to make that weekend happen, and it was definitely special. Standing in the winter circle at Daytona is something I never imagined I would be doing other than on a tour at the speedway. So it was pretty cool.

[00:18:23.450] - Dave

We like to take a break from the interview right now and pay some bills. And here's a word from our sponsor.

[00:18:31.670] - Dale

Now, another association you guys have we spoke about it a little bit earlier, was the Royal Enfield bill train race program. And tell us about what the involvement is between S&S and Royal Enfield.

[00:18:44.420] - Jeff

Yeah, we've been really good partners or whatever you want to call it with Ruth royal Enfield, going back even before they launched the 650, we built a concept kind of drag bike for them, and then that turned into us. We didn't build the bike, but we helped them run a bike at Bonneville with Kayla Revis back in 2018. And then we've done some other little special projects with them. We built the first Himalayan Ft 411 flat track bikes for them. And that turned I think we've built 15 or 20 of those. Some of them we built. Some of them. We've sent the parts out to their people, like Johnny Lewis. So we've had a great relationship with Royal Enfield. Their North American headquarters is based here in Wisconsin and Milwaukee. So we go back and forth. It's an amazing company when you really start to dig in and learn who Royal Enfield is as a world motorcycle manufacturer, it's a great company to be involved with.

[00:19:43.600] - Dave

Yes. I think Dale and I are both big fans of the brand because we are both owners of Royal Enfield.

[00:19:49.490] - Jeff

There you go.

[00:19:50.070] - Dave

I will say I've got a set of your pipes on my 650, and they sound delicious. You mentioned Bonneville, and I want to go kind of go back in time a little bit. Jeff, because you are a Bonneville hardcore guy. You've been there many times and went for the 200. I know. I think you got over 200. Did you get the red hat eventually? I wasn't sure if you did or didn't.

[00:20:10.050] - Jeff

Yeah, so that's a sore subject maybe for me. Okay, so I've got records over 200 miles an hour. So to get the red hat is actually a separate organization called the 200 milehour club. And they've got class minimums that vary. Could be all over the place anywhere. 205 to 15 to 20, whatever. Further, different classes. So, although I've got a record up over 200 miles an hour in the SCPA, I'm not officially a 200 milehour club member. But yeah, I've raced out there. I think the first time I went out was a seven. I've personally ridden bulls out there with various SMS engines, and I think the fastest one way speed is 207 miles an hour, and that's on an old bulls. Two chassis with 167 cubic inch S&S motor in it. So lots of horsepower and I guess just enough chassis to get down the track.

[00:21:01.460] - Dave

That's awesome. And that's a lot to hold on to. I can imagine. What are the forces like? I know you kind of talked about it in some interviews, but kind of give us a hint what to expect when you get up above 180, what's going on with your arms, holding onto the bike, keeping your helmet down, what's going on?

[00:21:16.280] - Jeff

So I've ran the bike both with a fairing and without a fairing, and up over 100 and 8200 with a fairing on there. Yeah, there's a lot going on, a lot of wind noise, but it's it wasn't that crazy, really, until in comparison, I took the fairing off to try to go after a couple of open records. The last day of some of those meets, and without even changing gearing or anything, I think it went 192, 193, somewhere in that range, and over 190 without a fairing is really incredible. My bike wasn't really laid out to run it open, so it was everything I could do to hold onto the bike. The wind would suck my knees out, and I tucked my knees, and then I realized that my chest was coming up off the tank and I would have to pull myself back down. So it was a handful to hold onto without a fairing on. And I think both of those meets where I set those open records, we just made two passes, just a down and back. It's an average to set a record. So made two records, and the guys wanted to run again because they know we could make it go faster.

[00:22:19.070] - Jeff

And I said, no, that's good, we got the record, let's load up and go home. So with a fairing on, it wasn't too bad, but open over 190 is a handful for sure.

[00:22:28.690] - Dave

That's awesome. And some of my favorite things to read were, I think, going into the bubbly prior to that, some of the modifications that you guys did ad hoc to run the bike without a fairing. You talked about duct tape and cardboard and welding some sledgehammer heads onto the bike to get the weight where you want it. That's cool stuff, all that on the spot modifications to be able to make the run.

[00:22:51.400] - Jeff

Yeah, we had to add some weight to the bike. It was having a hard time getting traction. So we ran down to the hardware store and bought I don't remember how many, through four five pound sludge hammers and cut the handles off and welded on some sheet metal and made brackets and bolted them onto the bike and it worked well.

[00:23:08.500] - Dale

Not to mention that from what I understand, the salt flats aren't necessarily fully flat either. So you've got all these different variables when you're going that fast, which I think in fact this year they might've even canceled it because they got so much rain down there. But I can't even imagine what it's like going across those. And I think, like you said, it's not necessarily all the way flat all the way across there, is it?

[00:23:26.400] - Jeff

No, there's some bumps and the wind was actually the worst problem because wind and the weather out there, you're anywhere from three to 5 miles away from the finish line from where you take off. So what the weather is where you're leaving from isn't what it is at the other end. And there was a couple of times where I got blown off course up over 180 miles an hour. And that's when it gets really exciting. I think on my YouTube channel there's some video of it and getting blown off course because they drag the main course smooth, but when you get off course, there's pressure ridges, it's rough and the bike doesn't really have any brakes either, so you're really just along for the ride at that point. And that was probably the closest I had to a pucker moment out there on the salt flats is getting blown off course.

[00:24:13.700] - Dale

Yeah, I was going to say I don't know if I'd consider it exciting from my perspective, but yeah, definitely some pucker moments, I would assume. For sure, yeah. I recently was able to come out and visit SMS as part of the Royal Enfield Scram 411 intro and so I was able to make it out to your facility and it's just a gorgeous part of the country for riding. And just curious though, what's it like living there near the farmhouse there in Viola and living in that part of the country, because it seems like it's pretty remote out there even to get people to go work there's. Probably going to be tough in some cases, but I think once you see it, you've been in the area, it's a gorgeous area.

[00:24:50.880] - Jeff

Yeah, it's kind of like a Willy Wonka's factory out here, out in the middle of nowhere. I know, I've talked to all sorts of people come out here and visit and they turn the corner off a 56 on a highway G here and their GPS says they're a quarter mile from S&S and you can't even see the place at that point, so they think they're lost. But then you find your way up here to the valley and it's just beautiful. Right now it's September and leaves are going. To start changing here any day now and it's really my favorite time of the year out here this late September, early October. It's beautiful here and getting people to come out here, come experience S&S to decide if they want to work here is always a challenge. We fight all the time, but for the right guy and the right situation, it's just an amazing place to work. We can hop on a bike here at lunchtime and go for a little test ride up around the hills in the corners and great rides, great roads. I'm sure you get to taste some of those when you're out here.

[00:25:45.980] - Jeff

Nobody really bothers us. We can run our Dinos late in the night and fire up race bikes on the weekends or in the evening, and nobody with the deer really seemed to care. But yeah, this was the original family farm, this George and Margaret Smith moved up here in the late 60s, early seventy s and did farming and ranching and eventually that went away and the motorcycle parts just kept growing and the factory grew and now we're all just tucked here in the valley.

[00:26:12.390] - Dale

I think I even learned a cool stat too. Where don't some of your actual race team staff live there in the old farmhouse there on site, right?

[00:26:21.910] - Jeff

Yeah. Dave Zanetti and Michelle de Savo, or flat track team, are living in the old farmhouse and then work up the shop. And Dave jokes in the morning, oh, the commute was hell, couldn't hardly get to work. He just walks up the hill and pets the cat that he adopted that somebody dropped off out here. And he loves living out here and he's amazing guy to have around the shop too. I don't know if you know much about Zonati, but he's been a flat track guru for decades now and just a wealth of information. He helped us out with a bagger program too early on getting our suspension systems up and going for those first few races.

[00:26:56.540] - Dale

I met quite a few people when I was there. Of course there was a big group of us, but the one thing I was like we missed out on because we got a big rainstorm the night before. But there was talk of us being able to spin some lapse on the scram for eleven on your flat track there, which we didn't get to do because it was muddy, but darn, that would have been awesome. So you have a flat track right there on site too, right?

[00:27:15.760] - Jeff

Yeah. That's something that I never met George Smith, but I've been told that there was nothing that was ever going to stop him when he needed to get something done. And that was kind of the same way this flat track came to exist as we needed a place to test bikes and then we had a bunch of people here that work for S&S that were interested in learning and riding themselves. So a few summers ago we made friends with actually a truck driver who drives the flat truck. Truck is also a concrete contractor, so we got him to bring out his bulldozer and some equipment. We carved out a track and one of our employees land and leased it from him. And yeah, now we've got a little speed ranch, we call it. It's probably about a quarter mile oval, but yeah, I took my kids down there just a few weeks ago on a Sunday and we rode bikes around and it's a neat little place to go ride for sure.

[00:28:04.420] - Dave

And I think racing is in the blood of just about everybody in S&S. You could get that vibe from going there and visiting with you folks. And one thing I wanted to ask you, kind of from your professional capacity on your full time job, I guess something I always taken from S and S is the engineering is extremely close to the market and I think that benefits the company in a great way. But it makes me want to ask the question, how do you come up with the next project that you're going to offer to the market? Is it just something that happens organically or are you actively pursuing certain avenues and certain product lines to kind of grow the S&S brand?

[00:28:38.390] - Jeff

It's tough. We have a group of guys we call the product committee and we get together and we brainstorm ideas and we analyze things and try to predict what's going to be the next best thing for SMS. We're watching what other vendors are doing too, of course, but really some of our greatest successes have been just things that brewed up in house organically or sometimes when Harley has released a product, it has some flaws in it from day one. That's our biggest opportunity. Again, before my time, but think back to the 80s, early 90s, when the carburetors that were coming on Harley bikes weren't that good. And SMS came out with the super E and super G and sold tens of thousands of those things. And it was kind of by luck, even our gear drive cams, some of our other most popular products, gear drive cams for twin cams that kind of stem from Harley. The original twin cam drive system having some flaws and the gear drive fixed it. So sometimes we can do our best to predict what we want, but other times it's a little bit dumb luck. Most recently, it's a really simple thing, but we've changed how we're selling a bunch of our M eight and twin cam cams and oil pumps and push rods and we kicked all those things together into one easy to buy package.

[00:29:55.850] - Jeff

And just tremendous growth in our sales of those products just because we bundled them together into one group, that it's easy for the customer to understand what he needs and what he's going to get in the shop. Too. So sometimes it's the simple things, other things we put a lot of work into and they don't all pan out. We do our best every different direction we can.

[00:30:18.540] - Dave

No, and I think what you mentioned is the bundling. You're providing a value to the customer that they don't have to do the calculating and figuring. You've done it for them and you're handing it to them complete, and that goes a long way towards your place in the market. And I wanted to ask you, the engine program that you guys launched years ago and ended up in the Morgan car, I wanted to mention that simply because I know Jeff, you took me for a ride in the Morgan, I think, the last time I was up there, which was pretty cool. I liken it to riding in a biplane without ever leaving the ground, but pretty cool. Is that engine program still going? I think Morgan still offers the vehicle and I see that your engine is listed on their website. It's pretty cool.

[00:30:59.010] - Jeff

Yeah, well, unfortunately, we're pretty much have wrapped up that engine program. They bought the last engines from us sometime earlier this year. And although that engine, the X Wedge, I guess is what we're talking about, never really took off like we anticipated back in I think we launched it would have been late, early nine, about the worst time from an economic market standpoint to launch a new engine. And it never really found a home until Morgan came along and we got involved with those guys. And, yeah, it's just a super neat little vehicle. I've had the chance to travel to Morgan, the factory in England, a couple of times and to visit them. It's a lot like the English version of S&S, I would say. It's an old company and maybe we're not the most efficient or have the highest level of technology, but really dedicated guys who build a neat product. And like you said, those things, they're super fun to drive and I think they're moving on to a different engine platform if they're going to continue to do that. But it's been a great program, but just like everything, it kind of has to find its end and move on to the next.

[00:32:06.060] - Dale

So, speaking of new products, one of the areas I've noticed you guys have gone into pretty heavily in the last year or so is the UTV segment. In fact, you just released a new turbo kit for the KRX models and you have exhaust systems. How did that come about? And I saw where you guys went to the Sand Sports Show, where it just seems like that market is pretty hard to ignore right now. It just seems to be one of the growing segments at the moment.

[00:32:30.570] - Jeff

Yeah, you're absolutely right. I mentioned the committees of people sitting down and looking at numbers and projects and it's really hard to ignore the UTV segment. There's a lot of those sold and there's a lot of aftermarket parts sold for those two. And if you look back through our old S&S catalogs, we had parts for Polaris Razors, I don't even know, probably close to ten years ago now and for whatever reason we let that die off at the time. But yeah, we're really trying to get it back up and going again. We've launched exhaust systems earlier this year. We're launching some Karex, Kawasaki, Clutch Kits. We've got some other parts for Razors coming out. You mentioned the Care X 1000 Kawasaki Turbo Kit. We really just launched that. We put a ton of work into that. I would say as close to an OEM level kit as the aftermarket could ever come up with. And we could have probably launched it a few months ago or even a year ago, but we wanted to be really good and include everything the customer is going to need and it's a very complete kit with a calibration and a lower compression pistons.

[00:33:32.990] - Jeff

We actually do the test driving down there at the Speed Ranch, the racetrack we were mentioning earlier and the guys would go down there and run that thing all day long and just to try to beat on it as much as they can. And I've had a chance to drive it a bunch of times too and it really wakes up that car. So yeah, we've got a lot of plans to continue to grow in the UTV segment and I think the opportunities there are just unlimited. Whatever we can come up with, I think it's going to go.

[00:34:00.740] - Dale

I think someone was test driving it when we were there with the Royal Enfield Group because I remember hearing that thing drive away and it sounded mean though. It was so tough sounding. But to kind of circle back no matter what, it seems like whatever you guys do, you're going to do it right for one, you know, it's going to be a good performance kit and it also seems like racing is what is super important and really what drives and what S&S stands for. Would that be the case? Or almost to the point where it's like it's very much a part of the company DNA even?

[00:34:33.160] - Jeff

Yeah, there are just things that we can't do this. How could we not go racing with baggers? This is what we have to do. And so far with the Indian Challenger performance that we've been working on on the baggers, not too much of that is carried over to products yet. We've got some things in mind, hopefully it will, but if nothing else, it's helping me train my engineers and designers and fabricators how to think, how to work quickly. We go to track at Rota and come back and we need to do a triple clamp and we've got to have it done in a week to go test it before the next race. And we were able to do things like that here this past year where we identify a problem, design a part, call up the machinist out on the shop floor and say, we're sending you a model down and have a part in our hands in a couple of days. So all those activities and that just hold mentality is great to have to carry over into the design of the other SMS products that we've got going on. So, yeah, racing the DNA definitely comes into everything else that we're doing here as well.

[00:35:35.920] - Jeff

Yeah. And it shows you can tell with the enthusiasm that you have in your voice and just the fact that you guys are always the name that comes to mind. So I got to ask you, jeff, as we wrap up today, got any current projects going on? Any car bills or bike builds in the garage right now?

[00:35:52.550] - Jeff

I guess I've got my 79 Mustang that I've had since I was 16. I just tore the master cylinder off it the other day. So I got to get that back up and going. I've got actually a buls three that I'm working on for a guy right now. I sold it to him a few years ago. So I guess I'm the warranty on that one, too. I don't really have anything else personal stuff going on right now. This bagger project has just taken every bit of time I've had this summer.

[00:36:17.890] - Dave

I can't blame you. You had your hands full, your plate full all summer. And trying to fit the home project since it's got to be nearly impossible. So we take these last few moments. Jeff, we always like to ask if there's anybody you want to give a shout out to. I was thinking more specifically around the race team, but in general, I'd like.

[00:36:33.540] - Jeff

To thank Gary Gray at Indian for giving us the opportunities not only with this bagger program but everything. He's been our main contact going back to the early FTR 750 days. So he's kind of our cheerleader there in Indian. When he's got some challenge that he needs to make happen, he calls up SMS and we figure out how to do it. So gary has been huge as far as our relationship with Indian here at S and s, the Smith family and scaled a family groombergers for all letting us do this. It's taken a lot away from the SMS side of it this past year, but again, like I was saying before, to help build up some of the younger, newer people in the company and show them what it takes to go be successful. It's been a great opportunity. So thank you and S and the family for giving me the opportunities there, too, and the job for the last 23 years to live out here in this beautiful part of the world and provide for my family. And it's been a great run, but we're not done yet. We're still going amen.

[00:37:35.870] - Dave

It's a great story, and we love to see it in this industry, people who are dedicated to a brand and definitely bring it at home. So, Jeff, really appreciate you taking the time today to spend with us, and congrats again on the race team and any plans to do it again next year. Is that in the works?

[00:37:50.180] - Jeff

Absolutely. One of my guys this morning, we were talking about something new that we're designing for next year, and he's like, well, the 23 seasons already started. We got to get going. So, yeah, we're full guns already talking about Daytona next year.

[00:38:05.150] - Dave

Awesome. And we're looking forward to it. And thanks again, Jeff. We appreciate your time today. Man.

[00:38:09.260] - Jeff

Thank you, Dave. Dale.

[00:38:21.510] - Dave

If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to follow Pit Pass Moto on your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode. If you have a moment, please rate and review our show. We'd really appreciate it. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and visit pitpassmoto.com. Or you can check out our blog, listen to past episodes, and purchase your own Pitpass Moto.

[00:38:42.610] - Dale

Swag this has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to Tommy Boy Halverson and the production team at Wessler Media. I'm Dale Spangler.

[00:38:53.350] - Dave

And I'm Dave Sulecki. See you next week on Pit Pass Moto.


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The Team

Dave Sulecki

Host
Dave Sulecki is a 37 year industry veteran, and a lifetime motorcycle rider, racer, builder, restorer, and enthusiast.

Dale Spangler

Host
Dale Spangler is a lifelong motorcycle enthusiast, former racer, and powersports industry marketing specialist, writer, and content creator.

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