Fast Motorcycle Industry News

S&S Cycle Saved By Wisconsin State Loans. The company was in peril, admit S&S owner George B. Smith and President Steve Iggens. The La Crosse, Wisconsin company was growing very fast in the 90’s and beginning of the 00’s and took loans to finance its expansion. Then, the economic downturn with less orders and high interest borrowing created a severe cash flow issue for the manufacturer of after-market engines and parts. Help to save S&S Cycle came from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority guaranteeing a portion of the refinancing loans required to continue operation and from a Community Grant from the state Department of Commerce. Today S&S Cycle is back on track, has 230 employees with revenues stated at 30% above those of 2009, the company darkest financial year. 

Headlight Configurations That Make motorcycles More Noticeable. In a report entitled “Recognizability of different configurations of front lights on motorcycles”, researchers from AA&P (Accident Analysis & Prevention) focusing on causes and impacts of transportation accidents, reported that results of a laboratory experiment have shown that motorcycles with a T-shaped light configuration are more quickly identified. It is particularly true when the motorcycles are in visual competition with other motorized road users.

AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Inducts Five Motorcycling Greats. Five outstanding motorcyclists took their place in history Friday, Nov. 18, at the 2011 AMA Visa Card from Capital One Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by KTM, held here at the Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa. Hosted by actor and motorcyclist Perry King, the event honored the Hall of Fame Class of 2011: Magazine Editor Phil Schilling, Motocross Promoter Stu Peters, Industry Leader Fred Fox, Motorcycling Pioneer Norbert Schickel and Roadracing Champion Doug Polencles.

22 Responses to “Fast Motorcycle Industry News”

  1. 1 Brandon Nov 24th, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Glad to hear that S&S is going to survive. It shows how devastating is our recession.

  2. 2 Drake Nov 24th, 2011 at 9:03 am

    230 employees seems a lot for an after-market company. What happened to TP Eng.? Disappeared?

  3. 3 Shifter Nov 24th, 2011 at 9:04 am

    And Accurate Engineering? In neutral?

  4. 4 Joe Cree Nov 24th, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    I know we’ve done our part to move their engines between having the best pricing anywhere and using them in our bikes we build. I’ve used everyone else’s motors and one time or another, except Revtech and Ultima, and I still like their motors the best.

  5. 5 Manhattan Choppers Nov 24th, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Say it’s a grand to build an engine, how do you charge 6K and lose money?

  6. 6 Dr Robert Harms Nov 25th, 2011 at 7:31 am

    Just so they keep building the motor for my new Hellcat

  7. 7 Rogue Nov 25th, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Accurate Engineering is still building though I have been told that one or more engines are no longer available because the parts needed to build them are no longer available.
    They also do service work. Those interested may want to check out their website and or call them at (334) 702-1993

  8. 8 Jason Hallman Nov 25th, 2011 at 8:15 am

    Hmmm…kinda makes you wonder if the X-Wedge and acquiring Flathead Power were really worth it? Not to mention Brett Smith’s push to get “good with God”. I know there were good employees that left during his tenure because of that. S&S, Baker, Jims…all of the premium drivetrain companies have suffered losses from the economy. It would most likely do some good to circle the wagons, trim the fat and stay at the top of the food chain when it comes to engine development in the motorcycle industry. Simply put, I am glad that the title of this article is “S&S is saved by Wisconsin state loans” and not “S&S files for Chapter….”

  9. 9 Kevin Nov 25th, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Whew! I was expecting to see a laundry list of Anti-Governement rants.

    Glad to see that when it comes to motorcycles the No Government Bailout issues
    don’t apply.

    Very happy about that indeed.

  10. 10 Mike Tomas Kiwi Indian MC Co Nov 25th, 2011 at 9:58 am

    S&S is a 1st class operation with bright and dedicated employees who have plenty of passion. These guys push themselves and come up with some great innovative products while improving others. The folks that have moved on have become another companies asset. Leaders all the way around.

  11. 11 tattooeddmike Nov 25th, 2011 at 10:40 am

    In 2008 went up to La Crosse for the 50th @ S&S and checked out the factory tour, and have to say that I along with the friends that went were impressed with the factory and the way we were treated. After the tour we met an employee of S&S and he gave us a little more of a tour and explained some info about the test bikes the employee’s are allowed to use as long as they give a write up on the pos. or neg. on the bike they tested… I’m guessing mostly Positive… from the Bike Show to the Knuckle Show @ Rudy’s Drive-In we had a great time. Glad to hear that they will pull through these though times and wish everyone a late Happy Thanks Giving. Thank You Cyrill for giving us the news on companies like S&S and all the rest. My Best to You and Your’s.

  12. 12 Richard Nov 25th, 2011 at 11:55 am

    I also visited S&S some years back. Great country setting, great product and great people there. Thanks to the state of Wisconsin to help out and provide a loan to S&S. The plant that I worked in recieved a loan from our city (tax increment financing) several years back. We paid the loan back and still have 500+ employees gainfully employed. Hopefully it works out for S&S as well as it did for us.

  13. 13 Olive Oil Nov 25th, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I toured the S&S ranch in 2009 and they were wonderful to me. Fantastic facility and they make the best motors going as far as I am concerned. So glad to hear they are pulling through this mess and will survive. Good luck to S&S and all their employees.
    Wis&shing you all a very merry Christmas&s.

  14. 14 John White Nov 25th, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    S&S had to go through the same downturn as everyone else. The company’s performance in good times and bad depends on decisions made at the top. I have never been to S&S but it must be one hell of an engine program. I own a 124 and I love it.

    The X-Wedge? I am not sure the folks at the top did a full study of the “switching costs” with regards to that engine. One needs a different frame mount, different exhaust, different ignition system, and many other items that are more properly defined as “switching costs”.

    Perhaps the top management was fully aware of these “switching” costs. Those costs were too much to deal with once the downturn hit. Great companies, even those not making big bold changes like S&S were hurt badly. Rarely did any of them receive a govnerment bail out. You take risks, you go boldly into a new engine and then you get hit by an unexpected downturn. That hurts and if not for the bail out where would S&S be? They are very lucky to have this option.

    If the economy had continued on its path then TP would have sailed too. Tom invested millions in new equipment with the expectation of supplying Big Dog with his TP engines. The downturn nearly killed him. We are very glad to be a part of keeping TP alive even though we are a dinky little engine company barely making 5 engines a month. Additionally Tom has switched to making gun parts to keep the doors open. There is no help from the government for him.

    Its very difficult to manufacture American made V-Twin engines and make a living in this current economy. I am glad to hear S&S has the contacts and resources to recover. They made some bold decisions to introduce the X-Wedge. It is a wonderful engine. I hope things get better and I wish the best of luck for the X-Wedge and S&S. I also wish the best of luck to TP and any other US made engine builder.


  15. 15 John White Nov 25th, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Here are the details on that loan:


    Gov. Walker: Signs Special Session Bills to encourage small business growth

    Madison – Today Governor Scott Walker signed Special Session Senate Bill 2 and Special Session Senate Bill 20 into law at S&S Cycle in La Crosse.

    SS SB 2 allows the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority to better allocate the Small Business Loan program funding to guarantee a loan to an eligible borrower. SS SB 20 lowers restrictions on low-interest loans for the agriculture industry.

    “These bills will allow WHEDA to select loans that have the greatest economic benefits, which will help create more jobs in Wisconsin,” Governor Walker said. “They were passed with wide bipartisan support, demonstrating everyone’s interest in making Wisconsin a job-friendly environment. I would like to thank State Senators Leibham and Schultz and Representatives Petryk and Nerison, Larson, Bernier for their leadership on this legislation.”

    SS SB 2 was authored by Senator Leibham and Representatives Petryk, Larson and Bernier and removes the requirement that a small business owner be actively engaged in the business. It also expands the definition of small business to include businesses with 250 or fewer full time employees and increases the maximum portion of the principal loan to be guaranteed under the program to 80% of the principal loan or $750,000, whichever is less.

    SS SB 20 was authored by Senator Schultz and Representative Nerison and changes the range of a maximum guaranteed agriculture loan amount to not less than $2,000 and not more than $150,000. Also, the bill deletes restrictive date limitations and provides that the term of a loan eligible for guarantee may extend to one year after the date the loan is made.

    The bills were signed at S&S Cycle, a recipient of a WHEDA Small Business Loan that has 218 employees and 31 planned new hires.

  16. 16 RKBrent Nov 25th, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Less than $6k for a HD 120R that any dealer can get parts for can’t help S&S. Plus HD will finance it.

  17. 17 Jerry Nov 25th, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    I have seen the new Morgan’s 3-weelers are using the “X” wedge, they are built in England, check out their sight They are great looking, priced at $30,000 might be a good investment for a piece of nostalgia with modern engineering.

  18. 18 John White Nov 26th, 2011 at 1:40 am

    Jerry, very cool. thanks for posting that website to Morgan. ACE is in Seattle but uses a different V-Twin.

  19. 19 DJ Nov 26th, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Just ordered a 107 to put on the shelf for later.. Doin my part

  20. 20 Chopperjohn Nov 28th, 2011 at 10:21 am

    ..and I didn’t evenknow S & S was in financial trouble…

    Ride on

  21. 21 Curt! Nov 28th, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Certainly S&&S has had some mis-steps and some timing issues that could have sunk the company. Their investment in new technology to produce the X-Wedge probably would have been delayed had Brett been in possession of a Crystal Ball. It makes me very happy to have seen them step in and rescue Flathead Power. Anders put his life into FHP and it would have been a tragedy to see his life’s work go away.
    It’s good that the state of Wisconsin saw the value of this icon company and lended a hand in keeping them going. It was pretty obvious to people familiar with the company that hard times were hitting them like the rest of us. Sad to see so many in our industry disappearing. . Hopefully things will get back on track pretty soon and times will get better.

  22. 22 tundra Nov 28th, 2011 at 11:49 am

    I stand with Governor Walker. It’s too bad certain elements in this state are trying to recall him. Politically, it’s very ugly in Wisconsin right now.

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Cyril Huze