“Dear Cyril, My name is Mike Wilson, and I am the managing partner of the 360 Brake Company. I wanted to take the opportunity to clear up some confusion regarding our company, answer questions we have received, and give you some updates on where the 360 Brake company stands.
What happened to the Baldwin Wilson Development Company (BWDC)?
As you know the 360 Brake came to the market with much fanfare in March of 2006. Through mismanagement and poor business practices the company and its shareholders found themselves in debt and near bankruptcy. In July of 2007 the shareholders took control of the company away from its President, Tim Wilson (no relation to me). They hired an independent consultant, Dale Needleman, to run the companies affairs and try to initiate a turn around. We came up with the only solution available that we believed could help. We would purchase the patent pending rights to the brakes design, and in turn pay BWDC a royalty out of brake sales. Through this royalty the shareholders, customers and creditors of BWDC would have the ability to be paid off over time based on the success of our new company.
Are the 360 Brake Company and BWDC the same company?
No. Many people in the industry are confused about the relationship between 360 Brake Company and BWDC. We are not the same company. Our company, Providence Ventures, LLC was formed in October 2007 after purchasing the rights to the brake and did a name change to adopt the name 360 Brake Company, LLC. It is not much different then the story with Indian Motorcycle. Different people choosing to keep the same product name for marketing reasons. As part of the formation of our company we made the decision to retain Dale Needleman, as our interim President during the transition because of his in-depth knowledge of the company, the brake, its history, issues, etc. We also retained BWDC’s former Receptionist/Office Manager, Rae Soots because of her relationship with the previous customers, dealers and distributors. Nobody from senior management was hired including Fred Baldwin or Tim Wilson, the inventors of the original product. As well, none of the previous sales people were brought on. There were too many claims being made by too many people and we wanted little if anything to do with the previous company or their staff. This caused obvious frustration and anger by some of them who chose to vent in various ways.
Where is BWDC now?
The board of directors of BWDC is made up of investors who made the decision to invest some money in a really cool, revolutionary product. They are in the process of hiring a trustee to pay bills, deal with correspondence and handle customer and creditor claims.
Does the Original version of the 360 Brake work?
Yes. We have received many testimonials from riders and dealers who have been using the original version of the brake and love it.
A handful of these riders have 15,000 to 20,000 miles on their brakes. We also have dealers who chosen to keep the original version on their personal bikes because they haven’t had any issues with it. We do not discount the fact that many people have had issues with the BWDC version of the brake. Some people purchased brakes and never installed them, and others removed brakes that had no issues when they received the disclaimer letter from BWDC’s attorney.
In our opinion, BWDC never did enough testing to learn the brakes full potential or braking capacity. The letter sent out recommended not to exceed a gross vehicle weight of 700 lbs while the tests that they did perform were done closer to 800 lbs with some unknown safety margin. If customers were sold that the brake could do more than it does, they should file a claim with BWDC’s trustee and get their money back.
What is the upgrade program with the new company?
As a new company, we made several business decisions. First there were several customers and dealers who had paid for brakes but never received them. We set aside a portion of money out of the profits from new brake sales to fill these back orders. Nearly all of these customers have been taken care of and received their new brakes. Next we created a program whereby customers could upgrade their old brake, whether it was installed or not, to the new re-engineered version for $395 in polished (Retail $995) and $495 in chrome (Retail $1,095). This program has met with mixed reviews. Some people have been extremely appreciative that we as a new company would help them, while at the other extreme we have been told if they don’t get free brakes they will never do business with us. While we have no obligation to sell brakes at cost, we chose to do so to help build good will and try to preserve as many of the dealer relationships as we could. What we have found out is that so many people felt lied to or misled by BWDC that we may not be able to salvage those relationships. If giving away free brakes is the only thing they want, then unfortunately we probably won’t be able to keep their business. The BWDC brake was sold with a six month warranty and the company hasn’t sold brakes now for over a year.
Will BWDC do a recall on the original version of the brake? To our knowledge, no. BWDC has no plans on recalling its brake. We have not heard of anyone being injured using it, and in fact many people are still using it today with much success. From what we have seen if the brake is free from defect (chrome flaking, no chrome around piston area, rotor spins freely prior to install, etc) and is installed properly according to their recommendations the brake seems to works fine. It is not a high performance brake but it will stop the bike. For people who have problems or defects with their brake, they should contact the BWDC trustee to file a claim.
Is the 360 Brake DOT approved?
No. DOT as many people know is not for products but for vehicles with certain equipment. We put our brake through the rigorous FMV SS 122 DOT simulation test to determine if it would pass DOT so we can pass that information on to the companies looking to use the brake in an OEM setting. Our brake met and exceeded the stopping distances set forth in the DOT in some cases by over 100%. We are in the process of instrumenting the brake on a bike to send it out to an independent testing facility that does DOT approvals to obtain more testing data for people requesting it.
Why is installation so difficult?
The majority of the issues that surround this brake are that it is difficult to install. It is not a bolt on application…yet. It does not work exactly how people might expect which causes it to be prone to mis-installation. People need to be able to make precision measurements, machine crush tube spacers, and machine correct size hub spacers to use this brake. We are in the process of putting together some video showing typical problems people encounter to help the installation go smoother. We are also seeking a manufacturing partner who can help us create a spacer kit needed to allow people to bolt these brakes on out of the box. In addition we would like a wire wheel manufacturer to work with so we can offer our brakes to customers wanting the wire look.
What is new with the 360 Brake Company?
We are currently wrapping up the prototyping and testing of our 6” Big Brake. Although it is only 1” larger than the current 5” version it appears to have about 30% more stopping capacity. This new product will be for the larger bikes/payloads and/or people who want more brake feel than the 5” brake provides. Also, we are hoping it is a suitable replacement as a single brake for applications currently using duals. Our current brake is rated for 1,000 lbs at 80 mph, (plus a significant safety margin).
We believe the 360 Brake is the most unique and coolest looking product on the market that cleans up the look of your custom bike and wheels. That being said, it is not for everyone. If you are looking for a high performance / competition brake system, this product is not for you. The 360 brake provides an aesthetic advantage while achieving DOT required stopping distances. The best combination of Form and Function. This product will continue to get better and better as we progress as a company. At the end of the day, we feel it is the coolest looking brake on the market that absolutely will stop your bike. We appreciate the opportunity to answer these questions and look forward to the future of the company and this revolutionary braking product” Mike Wilson 360 Brake.