Former Vance & Hines duo begins new parts adventure
John Peck makes no bones that his duties are plenty as president of Firebrand Design, LLC, the newly launched manufacturer of aftermarket products for motorcycles. And business partner and vice president of development Leigh Crawford, well, he’s got his work cut out for him, too, as the company embarks on Year 1 of post-garage status.
“We joke that I’m president of the company in charge of unskilled labor, and Leigh is VP/skilled labor,” Peck said told Powersports Business in January during the HardDrive National Sales Meeting in Boise.
They’re not exactly two guys and a garage, but they were exactly that when they walked the V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati in 2014, aiming to find a distributor.
“A year ago we were two guys with a pipe and a box at the Cincinnati show, and here we are,” Crawford laughed.
The two hardly are newbies. They spent the past 15 years in management at industry parts giant Vance & Hines — Peck as VP of manufacturing and Crawford as manager of research and development. But they decided it was time to hang up their own shingle.
“We wanted to bring about some new innovation and changes,” Peck said. “We’ve seen the industry get a little stagnated and wanted to bring some passion back to the industry. We’re both riders, and we’ve been riding all our lives. We used to race, and we think that with our experience in the industry and our passion for motorcycles that we could bring some innovation back and improve upon what’s out there with additional styling cues, and adding things that are different, but not just different colored end caps.”
Now, the Anaheim-based company, producing 100-percent handmade products in California, has more than a dozen offerings. It’s a long way from the 4-inch Loose Cannon Slip-On Muffler that they brought in a box to Cincy. At the moment, they have exclusive distribution in the U.S. with HardDrive thanks to the distributor’s interest last year. Motovan provides the product to Canadian dealers, and Firebrand has distribution in Australia and South Africa.
“HardDrive took a chance on us, and here we are already with our first full system,” Peck said.
The 2-into-2 Upstarts for Harley-Davidson Sportsters from 2004-15 are engineered to handle today’s larger motors. They feature 1.75-inch head pipes stepped up to 2.5-inch “quadradical” up-slash muffler bodies. Stainless steel, perforated core baffles wrapped in dual density packing complete the system. They’re available in chrome or black.
Similarly, the Harley-Davidson touring models can get an upgrade with Firebrand Double Downs. The four quadradical muffler bodies are only the start of giving the bike a distinct look, along with top sound and performance.
“Nobody has done anything like that,” Peck said. “It’s answering a question that wasn’t asked: Why would anyone want four mufflers on a V-twin? Well, for starters, it looks really cool. It’s a unique look that may not work for everybody, but it exemplifies everything we’re about — pushing the limits of styling and innovation.”
Firebrand has been able to capitalize early on by using some of Peck and Crawford’s longtime sourcing partners for projects like chrome plating and black ceramic.