Our Sister Sites:

Bikernet Trikes Bikernet Baggers Bikernet Blog
Ride Forever - Bikernet.com
Monday Edition


Metalsport Revisited

Masters of “Big Wheel” development.

By Wrench with photos from Terry at MetalSport
8/22/2016


Share this story:



This is my favorite Chip design, a classic, the Nitrous 2D.
This is my favorite Chip design, a classic, the Nitrous 2D.



Ron Loynds, owner of Metalsport and three other companies is an interesting cat.

He’s not like a rich business guy who inherited his business from the family and flies in and out of his office in a helicopter. Ron is a biker who worked for his stepdad in a machine shop as a kid. Ron started out cleaning machines and sweeping floors, gradually increasing his knowledge and capabilities along the way. After about 6 years Ron was running the shop. Six years after that Dad retired and Ron took over the business. Dad was ok with the small shop, antiquated equipment and slow pace but Ron wasn’t satisfied. He realized to grow the business he needed to roll up his sleeves and put in some 12-14 hour days, 6 and 7 days a week. As the business grew the hours spent at the shop grew too, so he built a small room at one end of the shop where he could shower and spend the night if it became too late to make the long trek home.

Elvis, the King, riding the Roth trike with the first Ron/Roth springer.
Elvis, the King, riding the Roth trike with the first Ron/Roth springer.



Ron has grown from the single tin building to owning four companies with a dozen buildings. But, Ron has always been a biker and always wanted to be more involved in the industry he loved. In the early ‘70s Ed (Big Daddy) Roth stumbled into Ron’s shop, said that a friend had recommended him, and could he help resolve a problem with his VW Trike project. Ron said “Ed was similar to what Chip Foose is today, he was an illustrator and innovator who could talk about a part and then draw it with enough detail that you could make what he wanted.”

Ron drove the Trike to see the problem for himself. After brainstorming a bit, he designed and fabricated a springer front suspension that immediately resolved all issues Ed was having. From that point on the springer front end became a required part of Ed’s VW Trike Kit.

At that time Ron’s primary business was designing and making tooling and components for Apollo, Space Shuttle, Minuteman and Sidewinder Missiles.

NOTE: During the Cold War a vast arsenal of nuclear missiles were placed in the Great Plains, hidden in plain sight. For thirty years over 1000 missiles were kept on constant alert, hundreds remain today. The Minuteman Missile remains an iconic weapon in the American nuclear arsenal. It holds the power to destroy civilization, but is meant as a deterrent to maintain peace and prevent war.





Ron went on to become much more involved in the motorcycle industry by producing components for aftermarket suppliers and specialty parts for custom bike builders. But, that wasn’t enough for Ron. Ultimately, Ron bought out the diminutive motorcycle wheel division of a major automotive wheel manufacturer and opened shop as Metalsport Inc.

Chip (left) with Ron.
Chip (left) with Ron.



Bikenet worked with Metalsport for several years and I fell in lust with one of Chip Foose’s classic wheel designs, the 2D Nitrous. I’m not a major fan of wild wheels, I like a classic, strong and simple mag wheel design. I’m also attracted to something with an aerodynamic flair or a race look. I met Chip several times at Metalsport and he was always willing to flip open his sketch pad and discuss design notions.

When I first encountered Metalsport and realized Ron’s willingness to build a small business in the Custom Motorcycle Industry I was impressed with his sense of direction and classic style. He wanted to build beautiful custom wheels and offer complete packages with wheels, rotors and pulleys. But, something was missing.



As Metalsport’s reputation for quality, innovation and value grew, Ron kept looking for other avenues to promote the business. Metalsport developed a partnership with tire manufacturer Vee Rubber and together they started the “Big Wheel” craze. At the time 26” wheels were the hot thing. Not satisfied to go with the flow, Metalsport invested the money to tool a 30” tire and wheel, and they were off and running. About 12 months later they tooled the 32” wheel and tire. In that same timeframe, Metalsport pitched a line of Whitewall tires and that too was a hit. Through its customers, Metalsport researched availability and desirability of various sizes of Whitewall Tires. Based on that research Vee Rubber invested greatly in tooling 10 sizes of Whitewall Tires that were not currently available in the marketplace.



Metalsport became a Tire Distributor, stocking the Big Wheel Tires along with Standard Replacement sizes for Harley. This was the missing link giving Metalsport the ability to offer a complete package, Wheels, Hubs, Rotors, Pulleys and Tires, mounted and balanced, ready to install. Just take off your old wheel, slide the axle into the new wheel package, tighten a couple nuts and ride.

Customer service is everything.
Customer service is everything.



We make every effort to carry the tire sizes our customer’s need.” said Ron. “We still offer pre-mounting and balancing before we ship. We highly recommend taking advantage of this service if ordering 26” and larger wheels.” It’s too easy to fuck up the wheel or tire.


Blanks ready to rock.
Blanks ready to rock.




Blanks for the wheels are machined from aluminum plate “Billet” or aluminum rotary “Forgings”. Typically, wheels 26” and larger are machined from “Billet” Plate. Never resting on its laurels, Metalsport moved forward to develop a complete line of forged wheels purchasing the tooling needed to produce the 30” and 32”, “2D” and “3D” wheel blanks as well. As icing on the cake, Metalsport installed a new, quarter million doller, 4-Axis CNC ‘monster’ machine capable of machining any size wheel. Being the only manufacturer of True “3D” wheels, Metalsport stands out from the crowd.

A 30-inch wheel cutting machine.
A 30-inch wheel cutting machine.



With the machining capability and full line of “Forged” Blanks, Metalsport offers a quality wheel blank to the industry at a cost savings of about 50% under the typical cost of “Billet” Blanks.

The wheel polishing master.
The wheel polishing master.



In order to keep production time to a minimum, Ron brought a polishing facility onto his property, installing three upright polishing units and one automatic polisher just for wheels. Running the polishing operation is a Master Polisher with years and years of experience who does a truly fantastic job. Metalsport is also considering investing in a chrome shop to better serve its customers. They’re not messing around.



There’s also a new wheel size in the works, but that’s hush-hush.



Metalsport offers Finished Wheels, Wheel Blanks, Tires and Polishing Services to Distributors, Wheel Manufacturers and Bike Builders world wide.

Advertisement





Share this story:



Back to Tech


Your thoughts on this article

Your Name
Email
City
Country
v
State/Province
v
Comments
Anti-Spam Question:
Please enter the words you see in the box, in order and separated by a space. Doing so helps prevent automated programs from abusing this service.
Submit
Clear