In the small town of Mitchell, SD, Brian and Laura Klock are used to the wind that blows steadily across the plains where they and their customers ride.
Crosswinds of 50 to 60 miles per hour can appear out of nowhere, even on a sunny day, and this is especially dangerous when trying to overtake a much larger vehicle, such as a semi-truck.
âA motorcycle has an elevator,â said Brian. “And the faster you go, the more it lifts, which creates a dangerous wobble.”
Klock Werks Kustom Cycles set out to resolve this issue.
Brian Klock started Klock Werks in 1997 as a one-car garage in the city of about 15,000 people. He offered motorcycle customization, which was a natural consequence of what he had been doing for years. In 2004, he and his wife Laura also began to design and sell their own pieces.
âIt was a lot of buddy trading and sweat equity,â he said. âI was driving from Chicago to California to test an exhaust or other part; a magazine editor got wind of it, took a picture of the bike and put it on the cover. It has helped publicize our name. ”
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Klock said he made a profit during those years, with annual sales of around $ 350,000, much of which was spent on developing new parts.
But it wasn’t until he created the Flare Windshield that the business really exploded.
Klock had the idea for a custom shield when he and his family were driving home from the Bonneville Motorcycle Speed ââTrials in 2006. Laura had set records of 137 and 146 miles per hour on a Harley Davidson intended for the cruise. But even though the bike was customized for high speed, it wobbled when it hit around 125 miles per hour.
âOn the way back I had my hand out the window, and it made me think, ‘How do we tilt the windshield so we can add downforce?’â Said Brian.
Upon his return to Mitchell, he began to design the prototype of a curved windshield, which would essentially act as a spoiler and prevent heaving.
âThere had been a lot of crashes on those bikes at 80 or 90 miles per hour,â he said. “It was dangerous and the bike was basically floating.”
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With the materials they had in store, Klock designed the Flare Windshield, a curved polycarbonate shield that makes the front of the bike more aerodynamic and much more stable.
In December 2007, Klock introduced it to its biggest distributor, who thought they could sell 500 a year.
âI went in front of their fifty national sales reps and said ‘I’m going to sell 20,000,'” Klock said. âI had a year to prove it.
Six years later, the Flare Windshield – which sells for between $ 179 and $ 199 – is the best-selling part for Klock Werks, accounting for around 80% of the company’s revenue.
âWe sold 18,500 in the first year,â Klock said. “We’ve caught the attention of every powersports magazine. And we’ve sold about 20,000 every year since.”
He said revenue had grown 650% since 2006. Sales have been strong even during the recent downturn: they made $ 2.5 million in sales in 2008, largely because of the Flare.
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What started out as a store with seven employees selling eight pieces now has 17 employees and 485 pieces. The boutique – and the Flare – has always been a family affair.
âThis windshield is my baby,â said Laura Klock, who is in charge of marketing for the company. “And our philosophy is that people buy from people. That’s why we have a ‘try it before you buy’ guarantee.”
The Klocks and their daughters Erika, 23, and Karlee, 20, who also hold land speed records, regularly go to motorbike shows and races where they sell directly to customers, helping to install windshields. broken.
The Flare is made in Minnesota, and all of Klock Werks’ products except one are made in America. Klock emphasized how important it is for him to keep it that way.
âEveryone told me I couldn’t do it since Mitchell, SD,â Klock said. “Even though I distribute worldwide, I feel like it’s a moral obligation for me to do it at home and try to make someone else’s dream come true.”
CNNMoney (New York) First published on May 22, 2014: 7:03 AM ET