Not everything on the prototype was made from scratch: MCM bought a disc brake system from a Paramount company; the shock absorbers, lights and ignition are off-the-shelf components, and the muffler--which must be government-certified for noise and spark-arresting capabilities--came from an Anaheim company.
Tubing of light, high-strength chrome molybdenum alloy--or chrome moly--that was used for the frame was supplied by a pair of Southland companies that specialized for years in supplying the race car, aerospace and defense industries.
USC's Goodman said the company's tale underscores what she has been preaching in the university's entrepreneurship program.
"I've been screaming for 5 1/2 years about the modernity of the aerospace and defense industry job shops in Southern California," she said. "These are state of the art and when they discover new opportunities they can produce the best products in the world. The span of what they can do is total. Absolutely anything you need done can be done here, including fabricating rare metals."
The key to successfully using the system, Goodman said, is to "make sure you have a hammer to hold over your suppliers. You don't want to be in the position that there is only one source for what you need. But unless you are dealing with some proprietary process that you can't let anyone else in on, it is rarely cost-efficient or necessary to set up your own manufacturing operation. Why the hell build a plant that will be obsolete 12 minutes after you open it when there are all these job shops out there already?"
Kniegge said MCM has no plans to actually manufacture its own bikes when it begins production later this year. Instead, the company expects to lease a building no larger than 10,000 square feet, he said, and hire a dozen or so workers to do final assembly of parts fabricated by outside jobbers like frame maker Bassani Manufacturing in Placentia and Mike Hamm Engineering in Anaheim, which designed the exhaust system.
"It's the only thing that makes sense," Kniegge said. "It's why we can do this here."
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
Revving Back Up
Over the past decade, total motorcycle sales have ridden a bumpy road, declining almost 60% overall. Since hitting bottom in 1991, however, the figures have turned upward. Totals sales includes scooters and ATVs; all figures in thousands:
Total Sales (1994): 536
Off Dual Year Highway highway highway 1984 485 150 55 1985 405 145 45 1986 305 125 30 1987 285 100 27 1988 220 85 25 1989 172 70 18 1990 166 77 18 1991 161 74 16 1992 168 75 17 1993 185 76 16 1994 194 79 18
Who Runs the Company
MCM Motorcycles is operated by four men who represent various aspects of the motorcycle industry. All are experienced motocross racers who worked in the industry before forming MCM.
BJORN ELVIN Born: Sweden; came to U.S. in 1983 Education: Machine Technical Institute, Sweden; engineering Professional History: * Husqvarna Motorcykla: Test engineer, research and development, motocross team manager * Husaberg Motor: Founder, new product research and development, testing, production and race team management * ATK America: New product marketing WILLIAM KNIEGGE Born: Iowa Education: Palomar College, San Diego; liberal arts Professional History:* Husqvarna USA: Marketing and sales director * Bell Helmets: Vice president sales and marketing * Accuride: Marketing and sales director * ATK America: Dealer development director OVE HASSLEBERG Born: Sweden; came to U.S. in 1967 Education: Technical Institute of Trolhatten, engineering Professional History: * Saab Scania: new product R&D and testing * Saab USA: Test engineer, dealer Service, R&D * Created a "mid-engine" Saab WILLIAM THOMAS Born: Colorado Education: University of Colorado, engineering Professional History: * National Motocross: Event promoter and track designer * ATK Motorcycles: R&D, dealer technical service * Bill Thomas Motorcycles Inc. in Denver
Source: Motorcycle Industry Council, MCM Motorcycle Group
Researched by VALERIE WILLIAMS-SANCHEZ / Los Angeles Times