Most of the time, the features in the Performance Times Blog concern racing or engine building or something pretty exciting like that. It’s usually something that takes us away from the day-to-day routine. This time, we’re making an exception, because although it has nothing to do with making more horsepower, the subject of this blog is really important to the same independent motorcycle shops that do the majority of the performance work on v-twin motorcycles.
Although the economy has started to pick up, some folks may still be a little hesitant to invest in performance upgrades, but they still want to ride! As a result, the independent shops are finding that routine maintenance and repair are becoming an important share of their business. To do that kind of work they need access to quality service parts.
That’s why S&S Cycle is extremely pleased to launch a selection of high quality service parts for Harley-Davidson® and other American v-twin motorcycles; Viola V-Twin™! Based on customer demand, we are expanding our product offering to include service/repair parts for stock v-twin engines. Viola V-Twin service parts are available through all S&S dealers.
How does Viola V-Twin (VVT) help you if you are not an S&S Dealer? There are a number of ways VVT benefits end users, whether you have your local shop work on your bike or if you are a do-it-yourselfer. If your local shop works on your bike, it means that your engine will be serviced with the finest parts available. VVT parts meet or exceed OEM specifications, and if at all possible, they are U.S. made. If you work on your own ride, you benefit because your local S&S dealer will be able to provide you with top quality service parts, which are as good or better than the originals. Of course if you’re a vintage buff, VVT is a great source of engine parts for your antique v-twin.
An Exceptional Web Resource!
The Viola V-Twin website at www.violavtwin.com is not only a great place to look for replacement engine parts, but the line drawings and parts listings in the online catalog make it an excellent informational resource. If you don’t have a service manual for your engine, the Viola V-Twin website and catalog are invaluable. You can look at the exploded views to see how your engine goes together, or maybe you just need to find an OEM part number. Browse or search the catalog online or download it in convenient PDF format. We don’t sell online, but there’s a dealer locator to help you find a local S&S dealer who will sell the parts to you and maybe provide some good advice, as well. If VVT doesn’t happen to have the part you need, you can even suggest that we add it to our product line. Just click on the Parts Suggestion Form under the “Contact” menu.
Talk to your local S&S dealer or visit us on the web at www.violavtwin.com to learn more about Viola V-Twin service parts for American v-twin motorcycle engines.
I get requests for product images all the time, but this one was unique. J&P Cycles' Dave Stewart contacted me for images of a KN-Series engine at various angles. May I ask 'what for'? It turns out, a couple of inmates at the Grafton Correctional Institution in Ohio have quite the hobby. Their first completed project: A scaled replica of the Exile Trike by Russell Mitchell. After 1,000 hours using limited tools (various sanding shapes, paper clips and toe nail clippers) they created this replica with meticulous attention to detail.
"I was completely blown away by the quality of work and attention to fine detail when I received this piece, and I can barely wait for the guys to finish the HotRod model they are currently working on!"
Currently, the replica is on display at Exile Cycles in California.
You can expect to see more amazing replicas of motorcycles and an S&S KN-Series engine in the future.
S&S Cycle stands behind Big Dog Motorcycle engine warranties
On April 8, 2011 Big Dog Motorcycles of Witchia, KS closed its doors.
If you own a Big Dog motorcycle, you may be feeling a little uneasy about keeping it on the road. S&S is trying to make that easier by offering a number of services related to the engines. First of all S&S will honor the warranty on any S&S engine that was supplied in a Big Dog for as long as the original vehicle warranty would have lasted. This warranty applies to the orginal owner. Secondly, S&S can supply replacement parts for your stock emissions compliant engine. That means your engine can be repaired at any S&S dealer or by the S&S Remanufacturing Service, and you can be assured that it still is "street legal" and that you are not violating emissions laws. Finally, S&S can offer performance upgrades for your BDM V117 engine, which can be installed by an S&S dealer or our Remanufacturing service.
For more information about keeping your Big Dog warranty for the engine and how S&S can help your Big Dog stay out of the pound, see the full details here.
High performance v-twin engine manufacturer, S&S Cycle Inc. announced that they have received the coveted "Engine of the Year" award for the new KN-Kone engine, at a ceremony held during the V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati, Ohio. The award was given at a ceremony on Saturday evening February 6, at the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati. The KN-Kone engine is a new product sold under S&S' Flathead Power® brand of vintage engine parts.
Accepting the award for S&S and Flathead Power were S&S VP of Product Development Scott Sjovall, and Flathead Power product line manager Eric Wangen. Eric was the driving force behind designing the KN-Kone and getting it into production. When asked where the KN-Kone rated on a coolness scale of 1 to 10, Eric immediately replied, "It would at least be an 11!"
The V-Twin Expo is a three-day dealer-only show, which is presented by Paisano publications, the home of both V-Twin and Easy Riders Magazines. This is one of the largest, most important, and certainly the most historic shows in the v-twin industry.
The KN-Kone is a cool combination that looks like a knucklehead top end grafted to an alternator style shovelhead crankcase. The result is a very unique retro looking engine that will drop into any 1970-'99 big twin chassis. It can be used in an earlier chassis if the longer late style transmission shaft is used. Klassic knuckle kool has the bright lights of an alternator charging system and the compatibility with the modern primary, clutch, and transmission goodies. The joins an extensive selection of high quality vintage engines and components in the Flathead Power product line.
S&S Cycle's Engineering Manager, Jeff Bailey, just came back from Bonneville, attending the "World of Speed" meet and had brought his own custom built bike to put to the salf flats. Not only did he come back safely, but he came back with a new speed record!
Jeff Bailey had this to say:
"This was my second trip to Bonneville, both times at the World of Speed event put on by the USFRA. Last time I ran a Buell X1 with a fairing and a S&S 100” engine, earning a 172.5 mph record in APS-PG 1650. With that bike, I had a lot of experience at speed after running at Maxton, NC several times. This trip was different though because this was a new bike with no miles on it, with a new engine and one off prototype fuel system, so I didn’t really know what to expect.
This time I ran an open 1995 Buell S2 with a 160 CID (4.8” x 4.375”) S&S race engine. This put me in the A-PG 3000cc class. The previous record was 159.833. In 4 days of racing, we bumped this record up to 180.35 and then switched classed to the fuel (A-PF 3000), but didn’t change anything on the bike, and set that class record to 176.271 in 2 runs. The previous fuel record was 164 something. My fastest one way speed was 181.
My crew was a little bigger than before too. The Hillegass brothers, Nevin, Grant and Kyle left a day early to do a little sightseeing before showing up in Wendover, UT. Gene Dlask, my dad Neil Bailey and I headed out with enough time to take 2 days to get there. We were ready to tech inspection on Tuesday and only had to steal a couple parts off the old 100” bike to pass tech.
Racing started on Wednesday and lasted through Saturday. If everything would go to plan, we would make a run to qualify for a record and the next day make a return run to set the record. That is exactly how the week went. Every run I made was either a qualifying run or return record run. After you qualify for a record, you go to impound and wait for the record return runs the following morning.
The bike ran flawlessly thanks to the prototype closed loop wideband EFI system Rob and Nevin cooked up. Other trick stuff included a custom clutch based on S&S’s Victory clutch, Spyke starter to spin this monster up and a custom Works Performance Shock.
Not a bad first trip anywhere with this bike, although my expectations were a bit higher. A couple more runs and I am sure we would have hit 185. In the 8 runs we made, there wasn’t much experimentation."
Here is Jeff's run log for the week:
Wed, September 15, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Run 4: 174.996, but had a 180.38 speed through the first quarter mile – set a new record of 175.5
Run 5: 180.535– qualified on my new record
Saturday, September 18, 2010
- Run 8 - 177.6 - set a new record of 176.271 mph
"Although there are a lot of people who helped with this, I need to especially thank a few of the guys here at S&S who really made this all come together." said Jeff.
"Gene Dlask kept everything running smooth at Bonneville – not only my bike, but he also worked on the truck, trailer, someone else’s Hayabusa, the neighbors van starter and just about everything else in his way.
Nevin Hillegass came up with a EFI system that worked so well, we didn’t have to touch a thing.
Grant Hillegass designed an intake manifold that did everything I asked for.
Rob Creighton put together a wiring harness and electrical system that is a work of art and is bullet proof.
Dan Kinsey took care of all the machining projects that I could have never done right.
Thank you all very much."
Jeff's 1995 Buell S2 specs:
- 1995 Buell S2 built from a bare frame.
- Custom sideplates and frame modifications to accommodate the 5+ inch taller engine
- 160 S&S cast pro stock – 4.8” bore x 4.375” stroke
- One off single bore EFI intake with 3-3/8” throttle body
- S&S VFI with prototype dual cylinder wideband closed loop system
- AIM dash/data acquisition system with CAN communication to the S&S ECU
- Baker XL6 transmission with reverse shift drum
- One off clutch modified to accept the S&S Victory variable clutch plate
For many of you who have been following George's Blog on the S&S website, you may be surprised to find that it is now called the Performance Times blog. The reason for that is that I'm not the only one here at S&S Cycle who has something to say. A couple of weeks ago my brother Ken wrote a blog about our father's red pan chopper. It was well received and really informative. So we opened the blog up to allow more people to contribute. We chose the name Performance Times because that was the name of a print publication that we used mail out to subscribers. Performance Times used to fulfill the same function as this blog before blogs existed. I presented product and industry information, and we used it to tell stories about S&S cycle and the industry. So in the coming weeks, you can expect to see blog entries by a number of authors.
For example, we have some really talented employees here at S&S who work in product development and production, and frankly, they are the absolute experts about what they do. So why not have them tell you about it in their own words? I'm sure that most riders have no idea what’s required to take an idea and turn it into a working prototype and finally a product on the self at your favorite motorcycle shop. The majority of our business is making high performance parts for Harley-Davidson® motorcycles. In other words, we start with something that is already good and we make it better. That can be pretty difficult, but as the saying goes, "We leave the easy stuff to the other guys."
My brother Ken and I will continue to post historical and industry related articles now and then, because when it comes to S&S company history Ken is the undisputed authority. I am a close second, but there are other folks who have worked here at S&S for many years and been a part of the history and have seen growth of the company first hand. I know that an occasional story from one of these S&S "lifers" will be interesting to our readers.
History aside, I expect that you will see various articles about S&S performance parts and about goings on in the high performance aftermarket industry. I wouldn't be surprised if these people come up with some unexpected angles. That often happens when a group of highly creative people such as our staff here at S&S is given the opportunity to tell about their jobs and their experiences.
So don't feel bad about George's Blog ending. As one door closes, another opens.
One of the things that have always set S&S Cycle apart from other companies in the v-twin high performance aftermarket is the fact that we made parts that nobody else did and we would make S&S parts the way our customers wanted them. Many of the guys buying S&S parts were either racers or very tech savvy Harley® riders. So if they wanted something special S&S would try to make it for them. We still try to do that as much as we can, but it's not as easy as it used to be.
S&S still makes a lot of special parts for racers. Racers will always be trying to find that competitive edge, and we make a lot of special "skunk works" type components to help them try out new ideas and hopefully whip up on the competition. However, even though the average street rider today is not the person who usually turns the wrench on his engine, they generally stay well informed about what's available by researching the internet. Racers want special parts and certain street riders want to pick and choose a specific combination of parts, so S&S has developed an ordering procedure to satisfy both types of customers called CTO – “Configure To Order”.
CTO is a feature of our business software that allows S&S to offer specially machined parts for racers as well as allowing our dealers to put together high performance kits that contain just what their customers want. CTO allows us to offer options for certain types of parts or kits. S&S only offers the options that work with that specific kit, and we only offer what we can deliver.
Let's say you want one of our stock bore stroker kits. To build a stroker engine, at a minimum, you will need a flywheel assembly and pistons. The CTO process allows you to choose the style of flywheel assembly you need and to specify the required piston oversize. In some cases you may even be able to choose the compression ratio. If flywheels and pistons are all you want, you can stop there. However, to get the most out of your stroker engine you will need some additional performance components. Here is where CTO can really help you get the right stuff by offering parts that S&S recommends for your specific application. You can choose a cam (or a set of cams), pushrods, an S&S carburetor, a set of cylinder heads, rocker arms, rocker boxes, and a lot more, depending on the kit. CTO allows you to get the parts you need, but you don't have to take anything you don't want. Maybe you already have one of these parts, and don’t want to buy another one. As you look at various products on the S&S website, you will see some that list items called “Basic Kit Contents.” These are components that always come with that specific kit. After that there will be a number of optional choices and/or parts that can be chosen when the kit is ordered. These products are either Special Order or Made To Order through CTO. So when you talk to your S&S Dealer about your project, think about the extra parts you are going to need to complete it. Chances are they will be offered as CTO options with the basic kit.
CTO makes it easy to get everything you need, and to be sure that everything you get will work together. We know from experience that a combination of incompatible parts can cause a high performance engine to be a dog. We also know that if customers follow our recommendations, they will have great results and ultimately feel that they got their money’s worth. Customer satisfaction is really S&S’s most important job.
One of the most popular features of the S&S website is the Flathead Power® forum. This surprises some people, but it doesn't surprise me. Flathead Power is S&S Cycle's brand for motorcycle vintage parts and since nobody throws a Harley® away, it makes sense that all those old bikes that are still out therewill eventually need to be fixed. S&S Cycle has been in business since 1958 and my father was making high performance parts on his own for years before that. As a result, we have a pretty good feel for "vintage". One thing we know for certain is that the guys who are into vintage motorcycles are "really" into them - bordering on fanatical. So it's no surprise to me that the forum is popular.
Those who have followed the vintage scene for a while will know that Flathead Power actually originated in Sweden. A gentleman named Anders Nygren was producing parts for flathead and knucklehead engines and gained quite a reputation for producing high quality performance and restoration parts. In the late 1990's Mr. Nygren formed a partnership in America so the parts could be manufactured in the USA. Unfortunately, that arrangement did not work out and in the end, the company went bankrupt. In July of 2007 S&S purchased the Flathead Power (FHP) brand name and intellectual property (trademarks, patents and designs) along with the remaining inventory of parts and tooling.
When S&S got all the material from FHP, it was not just a simple matter of resuming production. We needed to validate the quality of the parts, and in most cases improve the design and material. This is the same thing we do with all the parts S&S manufactures. S&S has always been driven by the need for quality, and the basis for quality is good design and sound engineering. That means we had to dot all the "i's" and cross all the "t's" to ensure that we could consistently make excellent parts time after time. In our plant we have state of the art CNC machining centers, which can rapidly and efficiently machine parts, with one part virtually identical to the next. The investment in time and effort to make sure that everything was right before those machines started making chips was job one.
This very necessary up-front work resulted in over a year's delay before we could actually begin to supply parts to satisfy the demand for quality vintage products. We introduced the KN-Series engines shortly after our 50th anniversary celebration in 2008, and of course if we can sell a complete engine, we can sell all the parts needed to build it. We've come a long way, but it's not over yet. Our next FHP product release is likely to be cylinders for big twin side valve UL engines, or flatheads as they are commonly called.
There is a strong demand for vintage motorcycle parts, and part of the reason is that there just weren't that many flatheads manufactured back in the 1930's and 40's. At least the number is not large by today's standards. Another reason is that back in the day, they weren't held in the reverence that they are today. They were just old motorcycles. Since the 4-9/32"stroke of a 74" UL motor was longer than the 3-31/32" stroke of the 74" knuckle or pan, it was common to take flywheels from UL engines and use them to build "stroker" knuckle and pan engines. According to some conversations we had with a couple of old timers at the Cincinnati Dealer Expo, the UL crankcases were just smashed with a sledgehammer to get the flywheels out. The rest of the motor was just thrown away. I'm not sure that's really true, but it makes a great story. It does make me cringe to think of what those engines would be worth today!
The popularity of the Flathead Power forum just goes to show that "vintage" never gets old.
Until next week . . .
By Ken Smith
In 1958 my dad and Stan Stankos had just went into partnership calling the new business S&S Cycle Equipment.
They both had Harley dressers and wanted to use them to showcase some of the parts and new ideas they had been working on and planned to sell. Dad wasn’t interested in using a nice, expensive dresser since he planned to modify it and mold it to his needs. He wanted something light, and a stripped down big twin with chopped rear fender (“chopper” in the Midwest) was just the ticket. A local Harley dealer had bought some police bikes at an auction and was selling them. A non-descript 1953 ex-police bike was perfect, and cheap.
That summer was spent riding the stock ’53 and working at nights and weekends on the new business. There was no time to build the motorcycle he had in mind. Putting product ideas on paper and developing them was his main focus. He and Stanley had made big bore steel cylinders for the Knucklehead they raced at Bonneville in 1954 and they intended to make and sell them along with solid lifter aluminum pushrods, big valve, two carburetor heads and stroker flywheels. A series of accessories they had made and used before was also in the works.
That first year was a losing proposition, all work with little return. Stan’s auto upholstering business was suffering and he decided he wanted out. He needed the security of his business and didn’t have the time it would take to develop S&S.
By early 1959 my ma and dad made the decision to buy him out and make a go of it on their own. They couldn’t quit with some of the new products so close and ready for testing. It was time to start working on the ’53.
The engine was rebuilt using an S&S 4-1/2” stroker kit that included flywheels, cylinder base plates, longer pushrod cover keepers and base studs. Stock cylinders and modified stock pistons made a displacement of 84 cubic inches, 10 more than stock. The heads were modified stock castings with the intake ports welded up and redirected to the left side of the engine. Customers could pick the type of carb they would use and my dad would make the proper mounting bolt pattern. He chose late Linkert carbs for the ’53. In addition to dual carbs, he modified the heads for 2-1/16” intake valves by machining out the old valve seats and threading in new custom made aluminum bronze seats. He tried several aftermarket cams settling on an Isky HH20 with S&S solid lifter pushrods.
Next came the chassis. The rear fender was chopped behind the vertical fender bracket and an aftermarket taillight/license plate bracket assembly was added. The front fender was sectioned down the length and stylized by his brother-in-law, Sid Smith to accommodate an 18” narrower front wheel. The gas tanks and fenders were refinished in his favorite color, red, by his other brother-in-law, Merle Smith. The stock oil tank was modified so it could be filled from the right side and chromed (a service that S&S did on an exchange basis early on). Six inch rise buckhorn style handlebars from Flanders topped off the stock Hydra-Glide fork. With chrome primary chain covers, a few other do-dads and a solo seat, it was ready to roll.
The bike was to be the test bed for products while serving as his “rider”. Early on it was equipped with a prototype dual point, dual coil ignition system with no manual spark retarding mechanism. He had to be on his toes when starting the thing, because if he didn’t have the engine cycled right, it could kick back and launch him over the handlebars. The dual carburetors also presented some problems. To prime the engine with no choke, he would kick the engine over with the switch off and lean the bike to the right to let raw gas run into the cylinders. Needless to say, fires were a constant threat and he had to be ready. He could usually put them out by kicking the engine through with the switch off and sucking the flames back into the engine. Sounds exciting? It was more exciting to watch when it happened.
Over the next several years the ’53 red chopper graced the cover of early S&S literature and was ridden all over the South side of the Chicagoland area. During that time it was ridden annually to the Illinois State Fair to watch the Springfield Mile motorcycle races. For longer distances when riding two up where a little more comfort was required, a 1961 H-D FLH was purchased.
In December of 1963, my ma and dad bought the farm where S&S is located now. His dream of farming and moving from the city had finally begun to materialize. In five years when the last child graduated from high school, they planned to sell the house in Blue Island, quit his job and move the business to Wisconsin. They were committed to the move and their plan and some of the summertime activities took a back seat including riding the motorcycles.
By 1966 the farmhouse in Wisconsin had a new basement built under it and needed a modern heating system to make it livable. The job went to Ma’s brother, Sid, who was a journeyman heating and sheetmetal worker. During the summer he got a good used oil furnace from a job and installed it along with all the required ductwork over a weekend. Earlier that year Dad bought a new ’66 Harley dresser so he could study the new cylinder head design. Ironically, Sid had sold his ’56 chopper and was without a bike. Not needing the red ’53 anymore, Dad gave it to Sid for doing the furnace work. It couldn’t have gone to a better home.
In January of 1967 I quit college and started working at an apprenticeship in the printing industry in Chicago. That month a big blizzard hit the Midwest, and Chicago received about 27” of snow over a 24 hour period. The “Big Snow”, as it’s referred to now, paralyzed the city and surrounding area for almost a week. Nothing was moving. Cars were stranded where they got stuck and slowly the snowplows opened one lane areas for only blocks at first. We had a1961 Chevy ½ ton pickup that Dad drove to work. To make it mobile in the deep snow, he tried to find some tire chains. Sid found some near where he lived in Dolton, Illinois about 10-12 miles from Blue Island. Two days after the snow stopped falling I set out walking to Sid’s house to retrieve the chains. When I got there around 1pm, my feet were wet and my uncle said he’d take me home on the ‘53. Sid put a battery in it, a knobby tire on the rear and around about 4pm we were ready to go. With the solo seat Sid had to sit way up on the gas tank which was customary for the driver if you didn’t have a buddy seat in those days. I sat on the back with the box tire chains that weighed about 20 pounds. We took off plowing through the deep snow and drifts. Some of the main roads had been somewhat plowed to clear stalled cars so there were sections with parts of a single lane open. Each time it was the same thing. We‘d have to break through big drifts to get to the next road. We’d get off and Sid would stand alongside the bike and throttle it through the drift. Often, I’d have to put the chains down and push whenever he needed help. Once we were clear, I’d hop on and off we went. We had to go through many unplowed sections to get to a cleared area. I can still see him seated way up on that tank, elbows sticking out throttling the engine, and snow flying off to the sides like a speed boat as we went along. Sid was amazing! The strength it took to control that bike with me on the back drained him. When we got back to Elm St., it was dark and around 6 o’clock. My ma and dad talked him into staying over and waiting until the next day to return home. What a ride! (see picture – Sid is 6’4”, Ken is 6’1”)
Over the next 3 decades the ’53 went through some changes. The fenders and various other parts were used during the chopper craze of the ‘70s and the bike became a 92” full fendered motorcycle painted black. It became another motorcycle in Sid’s collection and took a backseat there as well to a number of other bikes he preferred to ride. Shortly after Sid retired from S&S in 1994 I asked him what he planned to do with it. Eventually he planned to sell it along with all of the other parts and motorcycles he’s accumulated. I said it would be fitting if it could return to S&S and made a deal for him to restore it. The rest, as they say, is history. It can be seen in the S&S museum outside Viola, Wisconsin and while it’s not identical to the way it was originally built, it’s still the same ’53 red chopper.
Every now and then someone asks me why we call our big bore cylinders Sidewinder® Kits. The naming of that product was one of those things that just sort of happened. An idea or a circumstance occurs and it just sticks.
My father introduced Sidewinders for Shovelheads back in 1978, shortly after the United States bicentennial celebration in 1976. With that in the back of our minds, we were thinking of the Gadsden flag of the original 13 colonies. This flag showed a coiled rattlesnake with the slogan "Don’t tread on me!" It was natural to associate the Gadsden rattlesnake with the sidewinder rattlesnake from the western U.S. So that's what we decided to call our new big bore cylinders - Sidewinders. It was just one of those things that took hold and stuck, but there are a lot of reasons why it is appropriate.
A lot of people don't like snakes and might wonder why S&S would name a product after one. Well, without a doubt, rattlesnakes are surely not something to mess with. They don't look much different from other harmless snakes (I mentally compare those harmless snakes to stock motorcycles). However, rattlesnakes have the means to defend themselves. They don't look for trouble, but they won't back down if threatened. Contrary to popular belief, a rattlesnake will not strike without warning, but if you are dumb enough to persist in bothering a rattler after it has warned you with its rattles…look out.
Originally, our Sidewinder cylinders were made in Japan because we couldn’t get an American foundry to cast them using the special cast iron alloy we required. We offered them up to a dollar a pound more than normal going rates at the time, all to no avail. After several years of beating the bushes, our persistence paid off and we managed to locate a US foundry that could do the job. Since then, all of our Sidewinder cylinders are made in the USA.
Within a few short years after their introduction, they were so successful that copies began to appear in the high performance motorcycle parts industry. The overseas knock-offs created some bad press we had to overcome. Fortunately for us, what they didn’t copy was the special alloy that we used in our cylinders. As a result, these counterfeit big bore cylinders wore out fast, and in some cases broke. More than once, we had customers send broken cylinders to us for warranty, only to find that they were not ours. "Sorry about your luck, buddy, but you'll have to send these back to whoever made them." It just illustrates the old axiom that "The bitter taste of poor quality lasts much longer then the sweetness of a low price." Having your motor self-destruct will definitely leave a bad taste in your mouth.
When S&S Sidewinders were introduced in 1978, it was a groundbreaking product. Before that, building a big bore engine was a really involved project. Guys were doing it, but it wasn't easy. Typically, companies that offered cylinders might not have supplied them with pistons or other parts necessary to complete the installation. You had to locate a piston manufacturer who could machine blank car forgings to the desired bore. Often after receiving them, they required finishing by the local engine builder’s machine shop of choice. Other parts such as pushrods, intake manifold, head bolts, base nuts and pushrod clips had to be made or gotten from some other source. Then you had to have a really first rate engine builder, possibly the same guy who made the parts, to make sure it all went together okay. The guy who built the engine had to do a fair amount of engineering on the fly, because these were one-off custom engines. Sidewinder kits changed all that. S&S did the engineering ahead of time. Like all of the other products we offered, we supplied everything needed in a nice, neat kit including detailed instructions on how to modify the stock crankcases and assemble the engine. What this meant was that any competent engine shop could build big inch Harley big twin engines at an affordable price. Building a high performance engine became not much more difficult than rebuilding a stocker.
Of course these big bore cylinders were a natural to use with our stroker flywheels and Super B carburetor. These combinations, considered to be large engines by the standards of that time, really made power and were quite durable. To prove the point, we took them to the Bonneville Salt Flats complete in street trim running the same parts we were selling to shops and recorded a best run of over 145 mph with our 98” 1977 FX Lowrider. That same motorcycle was used testing cams at a local drag strip and made 45+ runs on one occasion. Incidentally, this same bike “The Gray Ghost” currently resides in the S&S museum in Viola, WI. Of course today, we have much bigger engines that produce a lot more power, but at that time, like today, S&S produced the best performance parts and the most complete performance solutions available.
I guess you might get the idea that I'm pretty proud of S&S Cycle, how far we've come, and the things we've accomplished. I certainly am.
Until next week, go fast, but play safe.