September 3, 2007 – Established brake company breaks away from tradition

A manufacturing company that has worked primarily behind the scenes in the powersports industry is moving its brand name to the forefront in the V-twin aftermarket and possibly other industry segments.
Wilwood Engineering, a private company based out of Camarillo, Calif., used the recent Sturgis event to show off a new product, a disc brake system that will carry the company name. Previously, Wilwood has kept to the background as an OEM supplier, creating brake systems for Harley-Davidson, Arctic Cat, Rucker Performance and others. The company, which started out in the auto performance industry, also has produced product for national distributor Custom Chrome under the Rev Tec label.
Despite what Doug Burke, Wilwood’s director of sales and marketing, called the “good efforts of some of our private label programs,” the company sees just cause for promoting its own label.
“We see a lot of market out there that we can capture,” he said.
Initially that market will be the V-twin segment, as Wilwood’s new product, the Stealth Brake System, has already captured a lot of interest from V-twin OEMs.
“We had some incredibly good opportunities presented to us during Sturgis to supply some of the best known brands in the V-twin market,” Burke said, noting the company now is examining those options before deciding on which OEM to supply.
Whatever decision the company makes, Burke doesn’t believe that will hinder Wilwood’s efforts at making its own brand a success in the aftermarket. “We really feel we can accommodate a very broad spectrum with a pricing margin structure that is attractive” to both OEMs and dealers, Burke said.
The company figures to have interest from both after introducing the Stealth brake, a front-end system that mounts up and inside the fork legs for what Wilwood describes as an “invisible” installation. The patented product does not have a rotor or caliper, allowing V-twin riders to better show off their chrome wheels.
The company originally projected increased V-twin sales of approximately 20 percent because of the Stealth system, but “based on Sturgis, I think we could dramatically improve on that,” Burke said.
How Wilwood will distribute the new brake system, dealer direct or through a national distributor, hasn’t been decided yet, Burke said. For now, dealers interested in carrying the product should contact the company directly.
“Wilwood’s model in the (auto) racing and performance aftermarket is to align itself with the key innovators and builders in that market and we have certainly begun to adopt that model in the V-twin market,” he said. “We feel it’s in our best interest to stay closely connected to the people that move and influence this market.”
The company, which started in 1977 by current owner Bill Wood, won’t focus solely on the V-twin market, however. Burke said Wilwood has developed products for Arctic Cat’s snowmobiles and ATVs since the early 1990s. For now, Burke expects the company to stay primarily as an OEM supplier, rather than pursuing a strong aftermarket presence, for ATVs.
And what about plans for the metric side of the motorcycle market?
Burke said the company currently does not have any products available for metric bikes “but that’s about to change. We recognize there’s a big demand for it.
“Although Sturgis is heavily American
V-twin, most of the builders and dealers asked us about our position within the metric market,” he said. “While we have some designs, we do not have product yet for the market. But that’s going to change quite quickly.”
— Neil Pascale

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