On Saturday June 2nd, S&S® / Flathead Power® made the scene at the second annual Knuckle Shuffle (don’t look this up on Urban Dictionary) in Yuba, Wisconsin. For 364 days of the year, Yuba is a quiet, rural village located about half way between Madison and La Crosse, WI, but Saturday was a little different. Several hundred motorcyclists gathered in Yuba for the Knuckle Shuffle, a fund raising event for the chopper class at Kennedy High School in Lakeville, MN. The weather cooperated with a nearly perfect day for an outdoor motorcycle event.
Many of the attendees showed up on vintage bikes in various conditions from original paint to fully restored. (Check out our photo gallery below) The vintage bikes alone would have been a good enough reason to show up at the Shuffle, but there were a whole lot of other good reasons too. The first and foremost reason to be there is the financial support the event provides for Kevin (the Teach) Baas’ Industrial Arts class at Kennedy High School. This is a high school class where they actually build choppers! S&S Sales Manager and Knuckle Shuffle event instigator Jeremy Gilbert says, “Initial figures show that this year’s event was a little larger than the first Shuffle, and by the time the smoke clears and the bills are paid, there should be about $4000 available to donate to Kevin’s class and possibly to some additional schools with similar programs.” Supporting the Chopper Class is the primary reason for the Knuckle Shuffle event, but there’s no reason why you can’t have a good time doing something good!
The atmosphere at the Shuffle is very laid back and easy going. As Jeremy puts it, “The Knuckle Shuffle isn’t like the bigger rallies where it sometimes seems like a war between T-shirt vendors, in the middle of a rock concert, with motorcycles in the background. We keep it pretty real, and it’s easy just to relax and enjoy yourself. It’s about the chopper class, it’s about the bikes, and it’s about simply having a good time with your friends.”
There were two rockin’ bands on hand to provide music for the event. Annie C. and the Roundervilles from Madison, WI started it off with classic rock and blues. They even convinced the S&S Marketing Manager, Bruce Tessmer, to get up and jam a few tunes with them. After a suitable recovery period, The Krank Daddies from Chicago, IL put on a great rock-a-billy show until late in the evening. Of course, a full range of shenanigans are inevitable when motorcycles congregate. A good time was had by all those present.
Just before the Krank Daddies got down to it, Jeremy gave away the raffle items from all the various sponsors, including a brand new Anders Nygren signature series 93" engine from Flathead Power®/S&S®. Dan Grosskopf of Minneapolis, MN took home the motor. Dan doesn’t currently own a motorcycle, but he thinks now he might have to build one. Other sponsors included Baker Drive Train, Crane Cams, Cycle Source Magazine, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Builtwell Inc, Baas Metal Craft, Frame Lock, Gear Driven Performance, Lowbrow Customs, Faribault Harley-Davidson®, Sucker Punch Sally’s of Wisconsin, The Symco Shakedown, The Knucklehead Company, Smiley’s Cycle Works, Full Throttle Bar, Sinclair Art, Bodie Design, and Lake Muskego Lake Trash.
The word is getting out about the Knuckle Shuffle. This year, there were several representatives of the motorcycle press hanging about and taking it all in. Hopefully a few articles will come out of the experience. Ken Kick from the Garage Kickers TV show was on hand to shoot an episode about the Shuffle. Ken ended up with some really cool interviews with industry notables and a lot of footage showing how it’s done in the big town. Yuba, WI – population 91.
Plans are already in the works for Knuckle Shuffle #3 in June of 2013. Good things come in threes!
Anders Nygren, founder of the original Flathead Power company in Sweden, recently visited S&S Cycle. He was accompanied by his son Magnus and freelance magazine writer and knucklehead enthusiast, John Endrizzi. John was along to do research for a magazine article on Flathead Power and S&S Cycle.
Anders started Flathead Power in Sweden in the early 1990's as a way to get parts to fix his own engines. The business grew to be known for their quality parts for vintage motorcycles. To take advantage of reduced shipping costs and access to the larger American vintage motorcycle market, Anders partnered with some American backers and the company moved to Morgan City, Louisiana. The move turned out to be ill fated and Anders was forced to leave the company and returned to Sweden.
S&S Cycle Inc acquired the Flathead Power brand name, intellectual property, tooling and remaining inventory in July of 2007. At the time that transaction occurred, Anders had already gone back to Sweden.
Mr. Nygren was in the States for a about a week, during which he was visiting relatives, touching base with old friends, and buying parts for his hot rod Chevy truck that his son drag races back home in Sweden. We were really happy that he was able to fit in a visit to S&S Cycle. After all, our location is a little out of the way. If you end up in Viola, Wisconsin, either you really want to be there, or you're really lost!
After touring the S&S facility, the whole crew met in Richland Center for dinner to give Anders a send off before he and his son drove back to Chicago. Left to right: John Endrizzi (in an exceptional shirt), Magnus Nygren, Eric Wangen, Anders Nygren, and Bruce Tessmer.
Anders toured the S&S museum and manufacturing facility, which has changed tremendously since he was last here in 2003, as far as any of us can recollect. He was particularly interested in how S&S machines the parts and assembles the KN series engines. Flathead Power Product line manager Eric Wangen, and Marketing Manager Bruce Tessmer served as tour guides and hosts for the visit. While Anders was here we shot a video interview, which you can see here in the blog.
In this video interview, Anders Nygren, founder of Flathead Power in Sweden talks about how he got started in the vintage motorcycle parts business and how he ended up leaving the company.