Big step for Big Dog’s testing – January 22, 2007

Big Dog Motorcycles made a bigger commitment to testing in 2006 with the creation of an on-site facility.
The 10,000-square-foot testing facility is part of the company’s 10-building headquarters in Wichita, Kan. Not including staffing, the company will invest more than $500,000 into the new facility.
“Our quest is constantly trying to basically build a better mousetrap,” Big Dog President Nick Messer said of the new facility, which has allowed the company to do more long-term testing.
The facility includes a vibration machine that can stimulate road conditions, a high-speed camera that can videotape a bike at high speeds and then slow it down to show possible weak points, and an environmental chamber that can test bikes at up to 30 degrees below zero.
Before creating the testing facility — the company converted an existing building that is located close to the main factory — Big Dog contracted testing out and conducted on-road tests.
“Really the best way we’re finding to test the complete motorcycle — everything from the electrical system to the frames and the motors — is to run in-house testing,” Messer said.
The new facility allows the company to test product that is currently on the market and bikes that will be part of Big Dog’s ’08 lineup.
The facility staff is currently at eight people, including two staff members that Big Dog hired away from Harley-Davidson facilities in Georgia and Milwaukee. Messer said the company has plans to increase the staff by another four or five people in the coming year.
“If you’re one of those people who really enjoys getting into the real nuts and bolts of how something works and looking for what can go wrong, it’s really a great playground,” he said. psb

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