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Company Portraits

Company Portraits

Bell Helmets
Back in the Fifties a certain Roy Richter was busy selling auto parts from his backyard garage in Los Angeles, California on the fringes of the ever accelerating Hot Rod and car racing scene. The cars got faster and faster, but the risks and the accidents were growing as well.
So in the year 1954 he did the sensible thing and started producing a decent fibreglass helmet, named Bell 500, as in Indy 500.
And that's exactly where one year later the Bell 500 took part in its first ever race. Carl Niday strapped it to his gourd, hit the throttle, and 170 rounds later the wall. Hard. Miraculously he survived the crash, which he put down at least in part to his new helmet.
Small wonder that Bell helmets achieved a sort of gold standard status in safety, more so after in 1966 the first full face helmet was introduced. From then on, Bell couldn't go wrong. In 1971 all 33 drivers in the USAC 500 series (Indianapolis, Pocono and Ontario) were wearing helmets with the Bell logo.
The by now famous helmets were protecting many famous heads: fast Hollywood actor Steve McQueen, Salt-Flats recorld legend Burt Munro, and of course the man who broke his bones 433 times: Evel Knievel. In 1975 he was wearing a Bell "Star" helmet during his historic Wembley stadium jump over 13 London buses. The jump was a success, the touch down wasn't though. Knievel crashed into the ground head first, still he "only" had a broken hip when he told the 80.000 that he was never to jump again.
Bell kept going though: a seemingly endless procession of safety and comfort innovations kept Bell at the front of the pack, be it helmets for cars, motorcycles, bicycles on and off the track and on and off the road.
Even when Bell revives familiar designs from way back when, as with the Bell 500 or the Bullitt they do it to comply with current safety norms. Style and comfort come as a matter of course. When shopping for a helmet, just listen to your gut feeling, you can't go wrong.
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Fällkniven - A Knife for a Lifetime
If you are one of those people who think nothing of riding a 40, 50, even 60 year old heap of iron across modern day traffic, you probably already have a working relation to much clamored for sustainability.

Regular users of Milwaukee machinery also have a well developed sense for the advantages of perfect tools. This holds true of course off the road and in the garage as well. Here’s a good example: Knives. Sure enough for only a few euros you can buy ferrous contraptions that are legally entitled to the name “knife”. And then there is Fällkniven.

Fällkniven knives have been made in Sweden ever since 1984. They are being produced in a family business, whose founders pride themselves of decades of outdoor experience as hunters and fishermen. Indeed they seem to know what knife making is all about: the steel, the materials for the grips, the sheaths – Fällkniven leaves nothing to chance.

Only exclusive special steels are being used, e.g. laminated Super Gold Powder Steel SGPS, which not only is expensive but also hard to work. It needs the experienced hand of a seasoned smith, but rewards the owner with a edge holding performance bordering on the unbelievable.

When it comes to grip materials, the ladies and gentlemen at Fällkniven aren’t sparing the horses either: Leather, bone, precious Cocobolo wood, Grilon (one of the most stable and durable polyamides), it’s all there.

The Swedes are especially proud of their high standards for their sheaths. There are beautiful and well made classic leather sheaths; government agencies prefer the sheaths injection moulded from the very tough and weather proof Zytel.

Plus, the Fällkniven knives even look good, courtesy of the Scandinavian penchant for clean, simple and timeless forms. Small wonder that the Swedish crown has elected Fällkniven as official purveyours.

W&W feels honoured to be able to offer a selection of these noble pieces of cutting art. We reasoned, why shouldn’t a knife inspire our lives as long as a heap of Milwaukee hardware?
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Lejonkulan - Fat Leather, Heavy Machines
Heavy sewing machines, that is. A few miles outside of Stockholm, Sweden, a couple of ancient, German made sewing machines rattle away across acres of heavy gauge cattle skins. Well, to say they rattle away is possibly saying too much, their operating revs are agonizingly slow. On getting a closer look you can see that the needle is being forced through monumentally thick cow skins. Which is precisely how Krister Jung, the man who produces his legendary saddlebags here, masterminded it from the start.

It all began in 1973, when Krister learned the trade of working with leather in an Israel kibbutz. From there he went on to London, to attend the Cordwainers Technical College, then one of the world's leading colleges for leather workers. There he learned all about the basics about leather: cutting, designing, pattern making – and bags.

Back in Stockholm the freshly acquired knowledge is put to good use. Together with two friends Krister starts making clogs and sells them during the summer to foreign tourists. The money is squandered judiciously on making trips in the winter. All works well, and the time comes when new and roomier premises are found by way of a brother-in-law. A visiting leather dealer just says: “a fine lion's den you got here ...” Which helps to cut short the search for a name. Lion's den is Lejonkulan in Swedish. Bingo!

This was a long time ago, but until this day the name lives on. Krister is managing his shop now single handedly and has moved the Lion's den 5 years ago to Nacka, near Stockholm.

There high stacks of the best and finest Double Butts, cut from the centre piece of the hide, fill the workshop. Krister uses these to manufacture his Lejonkulan saddle bags, using heavy ADLER DÜRKOPP sewing machines. If you ever saw one of his bags growing under the hands of the master, you know that bags stamped with the lion logo will cost you a little more than some dubious special offer from your friendly accessories discounter. We are comfortable offering you these bags also for another reason: Not only is the manufacturing quality aiming at a lifespan good for several generations, Krister also has documented the source and treatment of his cow hides. They are from French domestic cattle and are tanned in Italy using vegetable tanning. Vegetable tanning requires gentle pre-tanning and - contrary to the common and way cheaper chrome tanning - only vegetable tanning agents are used. It goes without saying that hazardous chemicals are not used and compliance with the corresponding EU guidline CE 1907/2006 “REACH” and the 1975 Washington Convention for animal protection are assured.

These glorious hides are used to build Lejonkulan's monumental saddle bags. Just the thing to strap to your Milwaukee machinery for the next round-the-world trip or two.
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BAKER Drivetrain - Shift up with Bert
A General Motors drivetrain specialist takes a detour, burns a wad of insurance money and keeps fiddling about with bikes ever since. Sounds like a neo-realist drama feature at your local art house cinema, but in reality is an American blockbuster – at least when you're watching the world from the gut perspective of a Harley. It's the true story of BAKER Drivetrains. Contrary to popular rumours founder Bert Baker was not born a twin of a piece of Milwaukee machinery, but misspent his youth BMXing, wrenching motocross bikes, graduating in automotive engineering and landing a job at GM as a sort of gearbox guru. So far, so nice.

Responsible for all the rest is Bill Schmidt. All of us (well, all of us that ever wished their gearbox to hell) should bend their knees and thank the man for lending his '93 FatBoy to Bert for the weekend. From that fatuous day Bert was lost to everything non-V-Twin on earth. When they ripped off his ‘94 FLSTN during Daytona Bike Week, his wife gave him the inspiration to build his own bike from the ground up with the insurance money.

Which he did. Only to gain the bitter insight, that the whole sled vibrated like hell, shaking all kinds of parts loose, or it ran nice and quiet, but wouldn't pull a slice of chorizo off a pizza.

Bert knew right away he had to propel the Harley gearbox from it's 40ies standard into some sort of here and now. Having spent his Harley-less years tweaking 6-speed overdrive muscle car gearboxes came in mighty handy now.

Eight months, several prototypes and one founding of a company later BAKER Drivetrains was on track to bring a new dimension of smooth running to the Harleys of this world, including the vintage of 1936 by now. It‘s always worth a consideration, when restoring or customizing a bike from the ground up. There are 6 gears instead of a measly 4, giving you a smooth running setup without any loss of punch in the lower gears. Its all very unobtrusive and easy going, some advanced wrenching experience is recommended however. But after you're done, it‘s just kick and ride, ride, ride …

BAKER applications are available for all HDs from 1936 onwards, including Sportsters and Buells. Everything is done to high precision specs, and: everything's Made in USA. That's something Bert is mighty proud of.
There are optional left- and right side drives, reverse gears, bigger oil bags and shifter drums with a more convenient gear sequence. In our shop alone there are more than 100 hits when you search for BAKER.
Even more can be found on the BAKER homepage bakerdrivetrain.com . The only snag is this: you'll never have enough bikes to use all that neat BAKER stuff. Drives you nuts.
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Roland Sands Design
For years now RSD have been a landmark in the custom industry. Roland Sands Design has that little extra, be it parts or whole bikes: sophisticated aggression mixed with a taste of bobber nostalgia.

As hardcore fans of individualized V-twins W&W CYCLES have been carrying parts by RSD for a long time. Gas tanks and bungs, handlebars, risers, controls, fenders, and exhaust systems – at RSD quality matches the design.

The Los Alamitos, California company regularly creates a stir (complete with awards and show wins) with their project bikes, that are seamlessly styled by Roland from front end to taillight. For these bikes, RSD pick modern and not so modern machinery, TwinCam Softails, V-Rods or a late model Sportster. Even other makes are not spared from Rolands restless creativity.

A couple of words about the man Roland himself: no wonder he already is a legend in his lifetime. At the tender age of 5 his loving parents Perry and Nancy (the founders of Performance Machine) introduced him to the world of motorcycling. And not a day too early: In his 10 years as a pro rider he set and broke innumerable track records in the USA and Europe, won the AMA 250 GP championship in 1998, broke his bones some 30 times, even had a liver injury once.

Not a bad moment to swap the solo seat of his racers with desk and PC and to go full time into customizing. Cooperations with several motorcycle and aftermarket brands show that Roland Sands Design is on the fast track, with ever increasing speed.

You got questions? Just call our team at +49 931 250-6116

See some of Rolands bikes here: www.rolandsandsdesign.com
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