An Inside Look at Brock’s Performance

. By Shane Burton
By Shane Burton

Sometimes opportunity comes knocking on short notice. Such was the case when my better half Racheal and I were recently invited to take a tour of Brock's Performance facility and operations. Located in the relatively small town of Beavercreek, OH (a suburb of Dayton), Brock's Performance has established itself as both an industry leader and innovator. Specializing in "bolt-on" performance, Brock's has built up a near cult following online, and at local dragstrips and bike nights across the country.

Upon arriving at the Brock's Performance facility, we were struck by its modest size. Well kept, but small, the lot hardly suggested that we were about to tour one of the most well-known aftermarket vendors. After being buzzed through the entrance door, we were greeted by Brock and his wife whom works at the facility as well. A few minutes of casual conversation made it apparent that while Brock is certainly interested in growing his business, he is above all an enthusiast at heart.

After our initial discussion, Brock suggested that we start the tour. The first stop was Brock's office. The room boasts a simple standing workstation. Yes, this is where Brock answers the tons of emails that he receives on a daily basis. Brock explained that he switched to a standing workstation for health reasons, which we can all probably appreciate.

Looking further around the office, there were various engineering drawings and even a prototype muffler. Brock was very keen to show us some of the specialized software and engineering utilized in product development. He quickly pulled up a CAD image which showed various aspects of a current product. Within a few mouse clicks he was giving us a 3D tour of a mounted exhaust system.

Gone are the old days of building an entire exhaust only to find that you need to completely alter it in order to gain cornering clearance. Brock gave an example of just how powerful this engineering can be in action. During product development of a well known Brock's exhaust application, it was determined that a change could be made to allow for additional ground clearance. Brock informed the engineers who simply made adjustments to the CAD drawing. That information was directly applied to the production tooling, and the change was immediately implemented.

Our next stop was the new product R&D bay where we were greeted by Kawasaki's latest 1000cc weapon, the 2011 ZX-10R.

In keeping with the general theme, the R&D "lab" is modest. Essential tools and supplies are on hand, and the room is well-organized and clean. It was amazing to see that so much of the product line has had its beginnings in this small room. Glancing at the exhaust on the 10R, something looks a little different. It turns out that we are getting a first glimpse of the "Alien Head 2" design. Soon the topic of discussion becomes innovation in the industry. From listening to Brock it becomes apparent that he knows that in order to lead, you must continue to innovate.

Next we move to the warehouse and shipping department. Shelves are neatly stacked with product. As you can probably imagine, a large volume of inventory must be moved in order to keep the business doors open, but to keep costs down Brock makes sure to keep just enough stock on hand to fulfill their forecasted orders. Times have been tough for everyone lately, and Brock's staff is down to a bare-bones crew of 8 employees. In fact, the shipping department is manned by a single person.

In order to operate the business with such a small staff, an important focus is on efficiency. One key element of that is Brock's new real-time inventory system. If you have visited the website, you have seen this system in action. Not only can you see if an item is in stock, but you can see the number of units on-hand. Brock explained that there were many challenges in getting this system up and running, but the benefits to customer service and efficiency have made it worthwhile.

Jeff Grieco, Brock's Director of Operations, took the time to walk us through some of the inner workings of the system. A high-tech scanning system is used to keep track of inventory. As part of the tour, I actually scanned and picked an order for a customer. The process was quick and very precise. The scanner literally walks the employee through the entire process, virtually eliminating errors. In talking with Jeff, it is clear that he takes pride in his work at Brock's, and is focused on continuous improvement. In addition to being well-versed on the mechanics of the business, you can sense his enthusiasm for his job.

We pop into a small office where Brock's employees handle the graphic, video, and website design duties. We get a glimpse of a new video that is in the editing process. It's a how-to video giving tips for getting the most out of your suspension for drag racing applications.

Next we move to Brock's in-house dyno room. Brock uses a Dynojet 250i Eddy Current Dyno with the specialized Tuning Link software. Brock explains to us the extensive work involved in setting up the dyno room. From the custom air exhaust system, to the calibration of the sensors, attention to detail was top priority.

This area was of tremendous interest to us. We have watched the development of many of Brock's bikes, such as the "Diary 1" ZX-14. I always wondered how Brock managed to squeeze so much performance out of these stock-motored machines. Were they special bikes from the factory? Were they really indicative of the performance you can expect from your own bike? We would find out soon enough.

As many of you probably know, Brock's offers an extensive Map Support Program. These fuel maps are custom-designed to work in tandem with Brock's own products. As part of our tour, Brock offered to demonstrate his mapping procedure for us. In fact, to show what kind of performance can be achieved by the average individual, he suggested that we perform the process on Racheal's own stock-motored street/race ZX-14.

In order to get the most out of the bike, Brock made some suggestions. He strongly advised that we should switch to VP MR12 fuel, so we brought some with us. He also recommended that we send the ECU to Guhl Motors for a reflash. He explained that we could benefit from the extended rpm that the modified ECU would offer.

The mapping process was surprisingly detailed. The Dynojet Tuning link uses an electric brake to dynamically load the engine. This allows the computer to calculate the proper changes to the mapping in order to reach the desired air-fuel ratio. With each change that Brock made, the bike seemed to respond more strongly. Simply switching to Alisyn <<0W oil and Petron additive yielded 3 hp with no other changes. I am a skeptic at heart, but I couldn't argue with the results. All said and done, the bike picked up 12 hp from start to finish....and made as much or more hp than the famous "Diary 1" bike. I guess my thoughts of "ringer" bikes were misplaced after all.

To say that we had a pretty busy day would be an understatement. We were all tired, but I stopped to snap a picture of some well-known machines:

Yes, those are the famous "Diary 1" ZX-14, "Chronic" Hayabusa, and even the "Sledgehammer" grudge bike. It was interesting to learn that these very same bikes are still in continuous use for new product development.

With that, our tour was complete. We said our goodbyes, and left with a new appreciation for what it takes to lead and innovate in today's demanding economic climate.

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Tags: aftermarket, brocks, performance, r&d