Meet the makers: From pork products to motorcycle accessories…
It’s 2003 and you’ve just taken delivery of a brand new Honda CBR954RR FireBlade. The joy of ownership is, however, tainted because the available go-faster and protection accessories aren’t of a quality that befits your hard-earned motorcycle. What do you do? In the case of perfectionist Chris Vines, now director and designer at Evotech Performance, he had no choice but to make his own! Not bad for a pig farmer turned fabrication engineer who then became one of the founders of Evotech Performance…
I used to be a pig farmer
I actually started my working life at a local pig farm and butchery. Although it wasn’t my ideal career choice, it was a lot of fun, but then, to be honest, I just messed around! Like so many people back then, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, other than something that was hands-on.
I did work experience at Drury Precision Sheet Metal, a fabrication workshop
I first went to work for Rob Drury in 1986. My family knew Rob from down the street and so I went and did some work experience there. His business had been going since the mid 70s and he’d found a niche market in making replica parts from sheet metal for British motorcycles, parts included silencers, mudguards and the like. It was a pretty manual job back then – lots of welding, hammering and metal finishing.
[Dan Rack, another Evotech Performance director and design engineer expands further on the original Drury Precision Sheet Metal in his ‘Meet the Makers’ blog here.]
I’d always been interested in motorcycles
I used to do a bit of off-roading and endurance riding when I was younger and a bit of racing at club level in the past. I even won a few times! I don’t get to ride now as often as I used to, but I still try to get out on two wheels when the weather’s good. Because new models of motorcycles can be in short supply, Evotech Performance occasionally has to buy a new bike in order to have time to design, fit and test the products we develop for that particular bike. This means I get to “test ride” all manner of bikes!
Back in the early 2000s I bought myself a brand new Honda FireBlade. I’d seen a tail tidy I wanted to get for it in MotorCycle News, but it was so popular, it went straight to backorder. I was so excited waiting for it to arrive, but when it did, I was really disappointed – there was hardly anything to it and what there was looked no better than a cheap farmyard rat trap. The replica products we were making at Rob Drury’s workshop were much better quality so I knew then that we could make a tail tidy, but better. Much better…
I spent my Friday nights in the Post Office
In my spare time, I started designing and making tail tidy prototypes in Drury’s workshop – I had an agreement with Rob that I could use the factory equipment, as long as it didn’t interfere with my ‘day job’. My early tail tidies were mostly for Suzuki SV650s and GSX-R1000s and my route to market…eBay.
But then the tail tidies started to become more and more popular – people seemed to like the fact that they could buy tail tidies that were much better quality than the ones from other manufacturers. It soon got to the point where I’d turn up at the local post office every week with a car-load of boxed tail tidies to post out to customers!
‘Evolution in Technology’
Very quickly, all of us at Drury’s realised there was a big market and an opening out there for quality aftermarket motorcycle accessories and not just tail tidies. We could all see the potential and that’s when our parent company, Drury Precision Engineering Ltd., gave us the freedom to start Evotech Performance, which stands for Evolution in Technology – we were a long time coming up with that name. With the extra investment, we started to expand the range of Evotech Performance Accessories even further to include radiator guards and crash protection as well as other EP Accessories found on our web shop.
Speed is key
We strive to be at the forefront of the motorcycle accessory market. This means when a new bike is launched we work as quickly as possible to get the EP Accessory Line for that model designed, fabricated and tested and ready for sale on our website. To help speed up the process and to maintain exacting quality, Dan and I use bang-up-to-date design and manufacturing methods.
One such machine is a 3D scanner, which we use to create a detailed digital version of key areas around a new motorcycle before working out what accessories we think we can and can’t integrate with the bike’s aesthetics – if it doesn’t work or compromises safety, we won’t produce it. We then use a combination of CAD and then CAM manufacturing to get a prototype component produced. I generally focus on EP Radiator and Oil Cooler Guards and EP Tail Tidies. As a rule, Dan will focus on EP Crash Protectors. Together we make a brilliant design team and between us, we can drink tea and coffee for England…