Story and photos by Vincent Stemp
Like many good experiences, my visit to Cycle Electric’s manufacturing facility in Brookeville, Ohio came out of the blue. While we had the shop dog Sportster under the knife at Led Sled Customs in Dayton, Ohio for an install project, we found some pieces of magnet in the bottom of the primary cover. A little detective work revealed that the magnets on the stator rotor had come loose, and were smacking against each other. Fortunately for us, Karl Fahringer and the crew at Cycle Electric were just a short drive down the road.
Our little excursion turned into a full-blown tour, thanks to Karl’s hospitality. Winding our way through the rooms of the shop, we were shown all the various processes and machines that are used to turn out Cycle Electric’s range of products, from generators to stators and regulators. And there’s virtually no application in the Harley-Davidson world for which Cycle Electric doesn’t offer a superior, American made part. “The only thing we don’t make is the stator rotor you need,” Karl laughed, “But the factory has updated the adhesive on the magnets since your bike was built.”
Good information to have, but how in the world would someone outside the factory know a detail like that? Truthfully, it’s simpler than you’d think: Karl is a smart, careful man who pays attention to everything and runs his company in that mindset. Unsatisfied with some of the OEM solutions to increased electrical demands of early electronic fuel injection and its associated pumps, relays and computers, Karl was actually developing three-phase charging systems while the factory was still coming up with stopgap solutions. Since then, he’s had great success selling the three-phase stator kits, as they put up more amperage at fewer RPM’s and run cooler than the stock single-phase setup.
The quality in a Cycle Electric component is engineered from the ground up, incorporating developments from one line of products into another whenever possible. Karl’s sharp eye assesses every one of the dozens of separate processes that it takes to build electrical components, from soldering connections onto PCB boards for voltage regulators to adjusting the intricate stator winding machine to fit just a little more wire on each pole for more output amperage on the finished product. “We make as many of the components in house as possible,” Karl says, an easy way to keep turnarounds short during new product development or improvement. Like the custom bike builder who shoots his own paint knows, less downtime waiting on an outside supplier is more productive time in the shop.
At the end of the day, the finely tuned machine of Cycle Electric can be described in Karl’s own words: “We’re Americans making products in America for American made motorcycles.” And with my Sportster back together and making amperage like there’s no tomorrow, I have to appreciate the effort.
Cycle Electric Inc.