Meet the makers: From apprentice to one of the gaffers
With decades-long experience in the engineering and motorcycle industries, you’d like to think Dan Rack knows his stuff when it comes to designing top-quality motorcycle parts. You’d be right. Very right. As a director and designer at Evotech Performance, Dan explains how he first became a fabrication engineer and why bike racing is so important in the development of EP motorcycle accessories…
My dad got me into motorcycles
I’ve always had an interest in motorcycles, ever since my dad took me to a bike event at Cadwell Park when I was a lad. We were actually supposed to be going to a car event, but he got the dates wrong and we ended up staying to watch the bikes instead! I started riding motorcycles at 13 years-old, but then I broke my leg falling off a bike and mum didn’t really want me to ride anymore…
My first real job was at Freddie Frith’s
My first taste of working life was at Freddie Frith Motorcycles Ltd in Grimsby, before I went to Rob Drury’s Sheet Metal Fabrication workshop in an unofficial apprenticeship role in the early 90s. My dad used to work in engineering and Rob was a mate of his so I went there for some work experience. At that time, Rob was making replica sheet metal parts for vintage motorcycles and had built up a pretty good reputation for the quality and accuracy of his parts. Back then, all the work was very hands-on – you needed to know how to weld and use a hammer! I think a lot of these hands-on skills have stayed with me over the years.
By the mid-90s, we’d started to diversify into electronics and we were making a lot of electronic boxes for EMC Filters as well as other bracketry. It was really precision stuff. After a while, the business diversified again and we went into other sectors like building and leisure – for example, we started manufacturing pressure washer housings and parts for motorhomes.
We identified a gap in the market for quality motorcycle parts
Evotech Performance was established in 2003 as an evolution of our parent company, Drury Precision Engineering Ltd., because we couldn’t find the quality motorcycle parts we wanted. There was an obvious demand for quality parts and we had all the equipment and everything in place to make them, but I’ll let Chris [Chris Vines], also an Evotech Performance director and design engineer explain more about that another time.
The parts we now design, produce and supply world-wide are popular both on the road and in the racing paddock and it’s great to know that we’re fabricating parts that people actually want. It’s mad to think that people in faraway lands are buying the products of ‘tin-bashers’ from a little town in Lincolnshire!
No two bikes are the same
Every new bike that comes into the workshop presents a new design challenge for Chris and I. Motorcycles are evolving every year, which means we’re always adapting our production methods to ensure they have the best fit and aesthetic for the machine. While some motorcycle models will just get some minor updates, others might have complete facelifts, which means designing a completely new set of parts. Then you get bikes like the BMW R NineT, which is a completely asymmetric bike so has challenges of its own!
I’ve owned more than 30 motorcycles
Of all the motorcycles I’ve owned, my top three would have to be the Aprilia RSV1000, Suzuki GSXR1000K3 race bike and the Kawasaki KR1S. But it’s a tough choice. I’ve owned 34 bikes in total (to date) including everything from a Kawasaki KE100 and Yamaha RD125DX, to a Ducati 888 and the very first Honda CBR900 Fireblade. And, I can’t say I’ll stop there…
Racing will always be one of my passions
As well as working a ‘full-time’ job and project managing things at Evotech, I’ve also done my fair share of club racing! Between 2000 and 2005, I was winning at club level in the 600cc, 750cc and open classes – particularly at Cadwell Park and Mallory Park. I mainly raced with the New Era and Derby Phoenix clubs. I also took part in the 2004 Superstock Cup at Cadwell Park and managed pretty respective ninth and 12th place finishes.
As well as competing, I’ve also done some track day instructing plus ‘spannering’ for several riders and teams over the years including Maria Costello, Steven Neate, Rizla Suzuki, Hydrex Honda, Swan Honda, North Point Ekerold and PTR Honda.
With a young family I don’t have a lot of time to spend at a racetrack anymore. That said, racing is hugely important to the development of Evotech Performance products and we’re currently supporting a number of teams and riders in the British and World Superbike paddocks such as Tyco BMW, Be Wiser Ducati and PTR Honda as well as road racers like Michael Dunlop. Ultimately, feedback from these guys helps us to continually develop and refine our road accessories and that’s just one of the many factors that helps us to stay at the top of our game.