Late last year, former road racer Dan Fischer revealed that he is in the process of building what is being called “The American Superbike” — actually a line of motorcycles coded as the MR Series that will debut via the MR1000, a bike scheduled to go into production in late 2004.
“I couldn’t have chosen a more difficult time to do this,” Fischer recently told Powersports Business from his office in Chicago. “The real challenge is that the bar is so high. I mean, if you look at the development of sport bikes over the past few years, they are just so good.”
Fischer raised the seed money for the venture through his other business, Copier Discount Warehouse (www.copier1.com), and says financing has been coming out of his own pockets and through friends. “It’s all private,” he says.
Describing himself as “strictly a mid-pack racer” while competing in AMA events, Fischer says he began debating the creation of the MR Series after leaving racing in 2000. He says he took his idea, which he had planned out on paper, and quickly gathered a team he felt had the knowledge to bring it to fruition.
To get his ideas sorted, Fischer contacted Glynn Kerr, an English freelance designer living in France who has penned bikes for over 20 different manufacturers. Kerr came up with the original drawings for the MR1000 and is currently assisting Fischer in engineering and R&D.
“I’m pretty skeptical of most of the people who have come to me with an idea to produce a motorcycle, but Dan Fischer stood out from the crowd because, quite frankly, his idea made business sense,” Kerr told Powersports Business. “If he was just an ex-racer, I would have been more suspicious. But he runs a business and understands finance, and I don’t think he would be doing this if it didn’t make sense.
“One of my clients is Triumph,” Kerr continued. “I know John Bloor quite well, and he’s a man you have to respect for single-handedly resurrecting the British motorcycling industry. Well, Dan Fischer talks business sense in the same way Bloor talks business sense. They are both very straightforward and matter-of-fact in their intentions.”
Kerr says another thing he immediately liked about Fischer and his idea was that Fischer was willing to listen.
“The first thing I said to Dan was ‘Don’t underestimate how difficult it is to get a motorcycle into production’,” Kerr said. “It looks like a really simple thing, but I’ve been with a lot of companies and it takes several years.
“But what we are talking about here is a prototype I believe in, and so we’ve taken quite some time in doing it.”
The MR1000s chassis was developed by Gemini Technology Systems of Mukwonago, Wisc., which used research obtained by studying current production and race bikes.
Gemini is known for its work as a subcontractor that helped bring Harley-Davidson’s VR1000 race bike to fruition.
The motorcycle is currently being worked on at Gemini’s facility, but Fischer says the project will be moved once it gets closer to production. A new location, Fischer says, is still being sought. Discounting Gemini staff, there are currently about a dozen people working on the project.
“We do have an existing structure (in Chicago) that may be converted for our use and, luckily, I have some guys that have been involved in this type of project before,” Fischer explained. “There are guys involved that have some great experience in producing vehicles.”
Although Rotax engineers worked with Fischer and Gemini during the MR1000’s initial development and the prototype uses the Rotax V-997cc engine — the same used in the Aprilia Mille — Rotax is not the only choice of engine supplier, so the chassis is being designed to accept multiple sizes of V-twins.
“The frame is going to change a little because the engine may change a little,” Fischer said. “There will be variations of the chassis design based on the different engines. Whichever engine we choose first really depends on the engine suppliers and their ability to deliver what we need.”
The company hopes to formally announce two engine choices by early summer.
“Our plan of attack for the next year is to continue development, make a final decision on the engine, and do another round of styling,” Fischer said.
Copyright 2003 Powersports Business