President Brett Smith About S&S 50th Anniversary Celebration.

Brett Smith, President of S&S Cycle reads this Blog, and of course all the comments you made following my posts about the S&S 50th Anniversary Celebration. Below are his answers to your questions and/or concerns (picture Brett Smith with wife Robin during opening ceremonies)

“Hello All:
Judging from the various posts on this website, we are as passionate and enthusiastic as ever–a great thing. I think many of you know that I typically do not respond to posts on websites, but on occassion, I feel it necessary to try and clear up a few points. Many of these points have already been made, but perhaps hearing them from me might carry some weight–if you can trust me to speak truth. If you can’t there’s not too much I can do about that.

#1: It is absolutely correct that the builders were volunteers and the contracts they signed had as much to do with the possession of limited edition 50th Anniversary Engines as anything else. They were also required to attend in person–barring significant conflicts or personal issues. All the builders knew this well in advance, except for those gracious individuals (such as Chopper Dave, Flyrite Choppers, Trevelen, Kris Krome, and Blake Sabers) that stepped up to fill in at the last minute (within two months of the 50th) for a few builders that had personal/professional issues precluding their attendance.

#2: It is ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE that if a builder failed to show up or elected not to participate, that they could never buy from S&S again. That is simply a farce and libel against our company. S&S would never endorse such a policy and anyone that knows me at all would tell you that.

#3: It is true that the builders accounted for 60% of the vote and there were 50 of them, so the builders could essentially decide the winner if they all agreed. It is true that the media accounted for 20% of the vote, and there were not that many media member voters. Finally, there were many sponsor and VIP voters–over 30 if I’m not mistaken and of that number, I believe there were 5 S&S representatives (I WAS NOT ONE OF THEM). So, while S&S had a vote, it amounted to somewhere around 3.33% of the total vote–hardly enough to sway anything.

#4: I had no idea who the winners were until they were announced on the podium. I wanted it that way and demanded it. AMD was contracted to oversee the entire process vote counting process. You can ask Robin Bradley, Neil Blaber, or Chris McGee if you must–they spent 17 hours tallying all the votes–NOT S&S.

#5: The voting criteria was very focused, the builders were informed of it before they built their bikes, and was as follows:
30% Engineering and Innovation
20% Craftsmanship
17.5% Creativity
10% Celebration of S&S 50th
7.5% Overall Aesthetic Appeal
15% Rideability

#6: As many of you know, the ride from La Crosse to Viola and back with all the builders was cancelled due to the continual rain we had. We wanted to attempt to do it later during the weekend, but the logistics proved to be far to difficult to overcome with continual scattered showers and the traffic (we lost the window for the state police escorted ride after the first day). Further, all the builders put their heart and soul into the bikes and we didn’t want to risk damage during a ride in the rain. For that reason, we gave each builder full credit on Rideability because the judging at that point would have been subjective and arbitrary, rather than objective through a 110 mile round-trip ride.

#7: S&S didn’t make a dime off the event. As a matter of fact, all the profits from the engines we sold to the builders went right back to the builders in the form of accomodations, meals, jackets, river boat cruises, MAC toolboxes, prizes, etc.

#8: The admission to the event ($5 for the entire weekend) went directly to the Oktoberfest committee that graciously lent the land so any builder/vendor that showed up didn’t have to front the money for space (at other rallies similar space would start at $5K and go up to $25K for a week). All the profits on the apparel we sold at the event was done through 3 charities: The Boys & Girls Club, the Children’s Museum, and Riverfront (an organization that employs the disabled and handicapped). In total the Oktoberfest committee raised over $50K and our three charities raised over $18K each.

#9: S&S is not moving to China, Europe, or anywhere else. We are a Wisconsin-based company that distributes products globally and always have. The relationship between builders from the United States versus other countries was nearly directly proportional to our sales in those various regions–FACT.

#10: To say that we intentionally master-minded the winner and ensured the foreigners had such a respectable showing is simply false and completely ludicrous. As a matter of fact, some of these foreign builders had to overcome huge obstacles to get here and got no special favors (other than our international shipping rates) to get here. They had challenges with overseas shipping, the EPA, customs, etc. I’m thankful for all the builders and proud of their spirit, teamwork (many of them helped each other out with last-minute challenges), and support of our event. The dedication was so remarkable, that even a few builders that ran into snafus with their bikes and didn’t get them totally completed, STILL SHOWED UP AND DISPLAYED THEIR BIKES! That took remarkable courage in my opinion and I look foward to the completed versions of those bikes when they compete at the World Championships in Sturgis. THANK YOU TO ALL 50 AND GOD BLESS THEM ALL!

#11: I’m glad I was not a judge for the very reasons I’m responding to these blogs. I’ve travelled all over the world and attended custom bike shows in many different countries. I can tell you that the talent assembled at our 50th and the competition was unbelievable and nearly every builder I spoke to regarding their resposibilities as judges said they were overwhelmed. The builders and all judges took their roles very seriously and many spent well over 4-5 hours judging at a time, came back, and judged some more. To say that the voting was rigged is a discredit not only to the builders that won, but all the builders that took their role as judges very seriously. I am dissapointed that some of the posters on this site have such little regard for the integrity of S&S, the media, and most importantly, the 50 builders that were the primary judges of our celebration. I wish those of you that didn’t make it could have been there to experience it and enjoy it as enthusiasts of this great industry.I hope this post clears up any confusion.  Thanks much and God bless, Brett Smith, President S&S Cycle.

15 Responses to “President Brett Smith About S&S 50th Anniversary Celebration.”

  1. 1 Art Welch Jul 9th, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Well said! There will always be an issue with shows like this.. Always people that won’t ever be happy with results. The truth is, everyone should be happy that a show was even done to unite all bike builders and enthusiasts. Why do some always have to bitch and moan. Custom bike shows should be fun, not anything you have to complain about later. No one ever knows how much effort goes into putting something like this together, unless they’ve done it before. My opinion? Can’t wait till ya do the next one. God Bless and do it again SOON!

    Art Welch
    Twin City Custom Cycles

  2. 2 Nicker Jul 9th, 2008 at 4:56 pm


    As a business man trying to run a competitive business in an open market, you shouldn’t have to justify your position or strategy to us. Your success does that for you. Obviously you conduct your business in a manner that you feel is in the best interest of your enterprise. And that is as it should be.

    Congratulations on that success and S&S’s 50th Anniversary.

    If more American businesses developed good business plan and a good product we might once again see “Made In America” as the benchmark for manufactured products in this increasingly Global market.

    Keep up the good work.


  3. 3 Rick Fairless Jul 9th, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    I was very proud to be invited to the S&S 50th Anniversary. Brett Smith, Howard Kelly, Kurt Peterson & the rest of the S&S gang did a fantastic job putting together this event. I did not hear one single person who attended the show complain of the results or anything else for that matter. Us 50 builders were the main judges that determined the winners. The people of La Crosse & the surrounding area were some of the nicest people I have ever met at a bike event. I was very happy with the show & I will return any time S&S sees fit to send me an invitation. Congratulations to S&S on your success & on putting together one of the classiest motorcycle events in the world.

    Rick Fairless
    Strokers Dallas

  4. 4 raycwheeler Jul 9th, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    S & S Cycle and all involved ,




    Raycwheeler ………. planet earth ………….

  5. 5 Marilyn Stemp Jul 9th, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    Anyone who attended the S&S 50th can attest to the pervasive good will that prevailed. Well said, Rick, it was a classy event to be sure – while being not at all pretentious.
    I had no doubt that S&S could defend their position, and Brett certainly did that, thoroughly. But it’s a statement of the negative attitude of some people that this defense is even necessary. In the midst of a flagging U.S. economy and gloomy predictions of not just related to motorcycling but regarding financial predicaments worldwide, it was a welcome respite to celebrate S&S’s success in La Crosse.
    An American product that is in demand overseas? Make more, and fast.

  6. 6 Biker DATA Jul 10th, 2008 at 7:31 am

    Brett and S&S staff:

    Just wanted to say thank you again for producing an event that I will cherished for the rest of my lifetime. I am still talking about to everyone.

    As a witness to some of the judging process, everything you said is so true and I was somewhat amazed to see the time each builder spent judging each entry.

    Cannot wait to see what S&S comes up with in 10 years! (Hint)

  7. 7 Kephas Jul 10th, 2008 at 7:56 am


    I stay away from the small percentage of folks that find great satisfaction from making people miserable. From what I understand, your 50th was a great success. S&S has developed into a leading technical asset. My hats off to your and your staff.

    I hope that personal update did not take too much of your time. Our industry needs you at the drawing table. I always look forward to see what innovations S&S has up its sleeve. Thanks for the first 50!

  8. 8 sam terry keyboard motorcycle shipping Jul 10th, 2008 at 11:28 am

    I was proud to be a small part of the S&S 50th
    I know how hard Brett and James and others worked on this project.
    James was in contact most every week to ensure for everyone that wanted to ship their bike to the 50th would have a way to get it there.
    So I can’t belive any of the builders could say anything bad about the event.
    good luck S&S on the 100th. I know it will be a sucess also

  9. 9 Kiwi Mike Tomas Jul 10th, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    There is not a truer word spoken by Brett Smith and the others before me. I can’t help but feel bad that some of the postings were negative. Not only were we builders extremely proud to be involved but EVERYONE in town made us feel proud and welcome no matter where we went, good country town USA hospitality. I would venture to say it was one of the most professional events I have ever been a part of and I will cherish it for the rest of my life along with the camaraderie between all the builders.
    Life is about building relationships and myself and my family made many new friends and strengthened others.
    Thank you to EVERYONE at S&S, the builders and everyone involved.
    Mike Tomas (a new US citizen)
    Kiwi Indian MotorCycle Co

  10. 10 John K. Endrizzi Jul 11th, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Unfortunately there will always be an element dedicated to raining on the parade. I seems to me that in recent years that group has grown exponentially in this country. Although I don’t know Brett Smith personally, I do know two Smith family members. They are totally dedicated to our great sport. I wish to thank James Simonelli who spearheaded the S&S 50th Anniversary Celebration. It was the unselfish enthusiasm for the sport and it’s history that led James hooked Knucklehead Company M/C with Gary Rudy of Rudy’s Drive In to provide the public with the chance to see the largest display of Knuckleheads since the factory shut down production in 1947. S&S made no money from this association. Knucklehead Company raised just shy of $400 for the Make-A Wish Foundation through donations at our show. Again >>>>>>> Thanks S&S. We are proud to have you as Wisconsin player in the two wheel world.
    John K. Endrizzi

  11. 11 Jeff Nicklus Jul 11th, 2008 at 4:44 pm


    I just had the opportunity to read your insertion in Cyril’s blog pages. Wow!

    Let me say this:

    It is your company, your party, your anniversary and your dollars paying for the event. You could take your football and go home any time you like. You therefore have no need or obligation to explain yourself to anyone!

    I am sorry that I had other commitments and could not attend the event. What say you do a 60th and I will plan on attending that one now?

    Good job guys, keep up the good work.

    Jeff Nicklus
    Desperado Motorcycles / Jeff Nicklus Customs

  12. 12 Gina Woods Jul 13th, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Hi Brett,

    I got AWESOME audio from the S&S 50th Anniversary Award Ceremony. I have had it edited and downloaded on a CD and will send your way….I am also going to get our website guy to throw it online for you to hear.

    It has been a pleasure and honor for the last six weeks to have been discuss ing and promoting the event on Open ROad Radio with you & Howard Kelly and some of the great builders that were featured at your event like Rick Fairless, Arleen Nes, OCC, & Dave Cook

    I just want to Thank S&S for having me and my crew and what a great time it was! I was thrilled to be there and everyone I spoke to was as well!.

    The Back Street Horse’s Bike show was sick! What an eclectic assortment of bikes. Also the Knucklehead Show at Rudy’s was fabulous…you guys did a TOP NOTCH job and I was so proud to be a part of it!

    Gina Woods

  13. 13 Kevin "TEACH" Baas Jul 14th, 2008 at 9:57 am

    Thanks for having us there Brett, it was an honor to have the class bike on display all weekend at the fairgrounds and we were honored to be able to use the S&S SH motor in the bike the kids built. The event was awsome and everyone who went had a great time.

  14. 14 Bobfather Jul 14th, 2008 at 11:11 am

    I’ve been selling and using S&S products long before they sold complete motors. They’ve done an amazing job with their growth and I have now used their motors in our custom bike line since 1996. Always a good product and any problems I’ve ever had have been dealt with the way one would they would be. I’d like to offer my congratulations on their 50th anniversary. They’ve done a good job building a quality company with a quality product.
    My only criticism would be they try to remember those small builders and shops that were there for them before they became a globally represented company. I’ve seen builders invited to participate in their various celebrations that are not or were not even offering their products on their bikes. Next time you do something like this try to remember those of us that helped S&S get where they are today by supporting the company for so long by selling and using your products Brett.
    Again, congrats on the 50th anniversary.

  15. 15 Curt Jul 16th, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    Nice job of clarifying your position, Brett. What an amazing list of people who read your blog, Cyril. Marylyn, Rick Fairless, Kiwi Mike, and JKE.!!!! What A lineup. I have nothing to add…… just wanted to have my name in the comments section with such company………… Party On, Dude

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Cyril Huze