The aftermarket rim, code name AL4, was approximately the same weight as the OE rims but made from a superior 7-series aluminum alloy. The material was difficult to anodize but harder and much stronger than other aluminum rims. In the hands of MX competitors, the rims soon caught on as the toughest rim in the market, and became a “must have” for serious competitors.
The current rim is the A60 pinstripe with the Excel logo on the top and bottom and a triangle cross section. It is made from a better grade of aluminum than the OE version. By contract, the OEMs are not permitted to use the A60 or its unique profile. (Press image courtesy RK Excel)
Miyake took the same marketing route with the wheels that he’d done with the chain: racing, advertising and sponsorship. Excel reportedly has captured about 60 percent of the market, while RK Chain has from 14 to 20 percent.
Certainly the recession has affected business, but sales have remained steady, Miyake says. "We know that in spite of the recession our customers are still riding," he adds. "I talk to my compatriots in the tire, spark plug and chain business and they’re all doing fairly well. As long as people ride, they’ll need to replace these items.”
Ninety percent of RK Excel’s products are sold through distributors and a few dealers. But typical lead time for chain is 110 to 120 days, and some distributors over the last few years couldn’t predict their sales levels that far in advance. With that in mind RK switched from simply being an order taker/importer to warehousing a significant amount of product and being able to provide Just On Time (JOT) service.
“We still have some dealers, but they buy mostly the items they know they can sell," Miyake explains. "We’re able to offer give them one-week turnaround. We’ve been doing this since the ‘90s and hopefully we’ve learned something about the distribution of chain and alloy wheels. We try to stock what our customers are going to buy, and they’re very helpful in providing input. We’re charging a bit more, but providing better service, and we don’t sell to Internet stores.”
It’s Miyake’s opinion that people in the motorcycle world are looking for high quality, and that to undercut and sell something cheaply in this market isn’t the smartest way to do business. As he says, “I learned a long time ago, as long as you’re selling a quality product, you never have to make excuses for it.”