Former AMA racer and Chicago native Dan Fischer revealed his 650cc sportbike at the Dealer Expo in Indianapolis, Feb. 14-16, and said he wants to begin deliveries of the 2005 model later this year.
Fischer first publicly revealed his plan to build what he called the MR1000 in December 2002, but said that the bike, now coded as the MRX — his son’s initials, plus an “X” — has undergone a complete redesign since then.
“The MRX features a new engine, a new chassis and new styling (compared to the MR1000),” Fischer told Powersports Business. “Plans to use the original 1000cc Rotax powerplant had to be shelved after objections from Aprilia. But, instead of finding a direct replacement, we signed a deal with Korean manufacturer Hyosung to use their 650 V-twin, which we may couple to a supercharger.”
Performance of the supercharged version, Fischer says, should be “similar to the one liter, but in a lighter package.”
A price for the supercharged MRX has not been announced, but Fischer said plans call for the bike to be offered alongside a more affordable naturally aspirated version that will sell for under $10,000.
Pre-production units are currently being worked on.
“We’re still working out the details of the more powerful version, but our first priority is the normally aspirated version,” he said. “The important thing is that our progress continues at a strong pace. If we only experience a dozen or so unforeseen problems, (the bike’s release by) the end of the year is realistic. You can see the development of the MRX prototype and how far it has advanced from the first Fischer prototype we finished only last summer.”
The frame for the MRX was developed by Gemini Technology Systems, the company that worked on Harley-Davidson’s VR 1000 program, and Brit designer Glynn Kerr shaped the bike.
“I get a lot of crackpots who contact me but, fortunately, I’ve learned to spot them,” Kerr recently told Powersports Business from his home in France. “Dan is one of the few guys that, when he rang me up, made sense. I thoroughly agreed with his concept on this, and I think he had a good idea.”
Kerr said he believes the U.S. has a relatively small but loyal clientel for sportbikes which has to choose between Japanese or Italian models, and said he believes a large number of riders would probably prefer an indigenous product if they had a choice.
“So, all we have to do is produce something that competes with the rest of them,” he said. “The project doesn’t necessarily involve making something radical and new, it just involves not making mistakes and doing it as well as the competition.”
Kerr has been doing design work for 25 years, working on bikes exclusively for the past two decades with clients including Honda, Yamaha, Harley-Davidson, Ducati and BMW, among others. His deal with Fischer, he says, is a bit different.
“A designer’s work varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and project to project,” he said. “I’ve had a lot more involvement with this project than just styling, and I’m hoping I’ll be there for every stage of the process until the bike is finished.
“As a freelancer, all I can do is suggest and advise. If I don’t do what the client likes, he gets rid of me and gets someone else. I like working for Dan because it feels like I’m being listened to.”
Kerr says he has spent the past 12 months redesigning the bike with the overall goal of making it smaller and lighter and more attractive than the MR version.
“We lost almost a year between the first model and second model due to the Rotax engine falling through, but I knew the MR was not good enough, so it was good I was able to go back and re-do it,” he said.
Not good enough?
“The first model with the Rotax engine was a big, fat thing really, so for the 650 we knew we had to slim it down a bit,” he explained.
He says he molded two different looks to the bike, with a final decision made in late December. “Up until Christmas, we actually had two different treatments. One side was a bit more harmonious and looked a bit sport-touring, but we went with the side that had kind of a triangle frame member that looked a bit more racy. It took a bit of persuading but, looking back, I think Dan feels he made the right decision.”
Final clay development, Kerr said, took only three weeks. A couple of months later, the bike was ready to be presented at the Dealer Expo. There, Fischer said, he found the project to be a promising venture.
“We have already been approached by several hundred dealers,” Fischer said, “and many of the dealers have said they are ordering the first one for themselves. So, with so much of the first year’s production already spoken for before even one is built, well, that’s very encouraging.
“We knew there was a strong market for this product, but we had no idea it would be so well-received right out of the box.”
Copyright 2004 Powersports Business