Several off-road companies whose roots are in professional racing were displaying four-stroke parts and apparel that will likely be popular with dirtbike and ATV customers. Two of these companies, MDK Motorsports and Merge Racing Technologies, made their high-end products available to consumers just within the past year.
Dealers who follow Supercross will recognize the MDK moniker. Company founder Mark Kvamme, a venture capitalist and amateur racer in California's Bay Area, owned a Honda privateer team that started out with David Vuillemin and Nick Wey. It competed from 2004 through 2007 and then made headlines by signing a contract to manage KTM's factory effort for the next three years. The MDK team not only has Wey, but five Lites Class riders, a few of whom have made their way to the podium this year.
MDK Motorsports is also the title sponsor for the Wonder Warthog rider program and, as such, has its logo on the Wonder Warthog semi, tent and bikes. WWH operates like a clearinghouse for sponsorships; the program chooses top pros from around the country who are then sponsored by companies that support the program. WWH transports the bikes, provides mechanics, and performs additional services. "It's a pro level effort that helps deserving riders compete at a high level," said Lee Block, MDK's directory of merchandising.
An R&D facility in San Jose, Calif., called MDK Speed Equipment does all the company's engine development and testing. The machine shop is part of a 30-year-old aerospace company. It works on the bikes ridden by the KTM factory team and MDK-sponsored privateers, and on bikes owned by amateur racers wanting professional-level engines and suspension. A separate race shop in Murrieta, Calif., houses the MDK race team.
Kvamme's company also owns a dealer network. MDK last year acquired two multiline dealerships: a store in Redwood, Calif., that doubles as corporate headquarters, and another farther north in Folsom. A third store in the Fremont area is opening this year, and within six months MDK plans to double the size of the Redwood location to 22,000 sq. ft. In addition to new and used vehicles, the stores sell MDK Racing bikes that have been tricked out at the San Jose location. CEO Barry Gilbert handles day-to-day operations at all stores.
Even with all this going on, the company had time to come up with a line of casual apparel and hard parts for display at Indy, including hoodies, jackets, polo shirts, cargo shorts, hats and T-shirts. Face Lift Unlimited Designs is the company's line of graphics.
For the Honda CRF250F and KTM 250X, MDK had a piston kit, a racing camshaft, titanium valves, a valve spring kit, and a connecting rod. Other parts included an oil cooler kit for the CRF250, a breather kit for the CRF150/250/450, titanium foot pegs for the CRF250/450 and KTM 250/450, and a titanium exhaust system built by FMF using MDK specs that can be used on several bikes made by the Big Four and KTM. "We're making available to the retail public the same product that the factory pros are using," Block said.
The company, which sells dealer-direct, plans to separate its products into two brands: top-of-the-line MDK Speed Equipment and MDK Motorsport products. Block likened the two lineups to Lexus and Toyota. "We would design a sweatshirt, and the Speed Equipment one will be embroidered, while the MDK Motorsport brand style will be screen-printed," he told Dealernews.
On the hard parts side, Speed Equipment valves will be in titanium, MDK Motorsport brand in stainless steel. "Everything Speed Equipment-branded is going to be factory-level product," he added. —Arlo Redwine