The Twists & Turns blog is here to bring you exciting travel stories, how-to installation guides, product reviews, new release highlights, and other tips & tricks useful to every motorcyclist.
It is our hope this blog inspires you to do something great! Go learn to ride, buy your dream bike or build your next project machine, and ride to the top of every mountain that stands in your way. The world is a magical place, time to start exploring from the seat of a motorcycle. We can help every step of the way.
First and foremost, Twisted Throttle LLC would never have made it off the ground without the constant support, ideas, late-night talks, and talents of my parents, Lauren and Howard, and my brother Adam. The logos, website templates, product presentations, and tradeshow displays (including a custom-fabricated rotating turning stage!) you see at TwistedThrottle.com are a direct result of their talents and their willingness to help for nothing more than my thanks. John Ennis, my partner during the early days of startup, provided the guts to demand respect from our first U.S. product suppliers and to buy the first beer for our new German friends in Munich. To my friends — Laura, Cathy, and Amy — thanks for the box packing, the comic relief, and the hockey.
It all began when I was living in Philadelphia in 2001. A friend of mine mentioned that there was a free Motorcycle Safety Foundation class I could take to learn how to ride a motorcycle, and that the class would supply the helmet and the bike. All I had to do was show up, and I’d get my motorcycle license. I had a great time, and following completion of the class, I bought a used Suzuki Intruder 800. I had no idea it would change my life like it did.
By early 2002, I’d ridden the Intruder about 10,000 miles on cross-country trips, and I decided I wanted a bike that handled better and had more power, wind protection, and comfort. I traded the Intruder in for a Suzuki V-Strom DL1000, a bike that was being marketed for “adventure touring”, expecting to travel the world. Imagine my surprise when I found out I couldn’t buy basic touring accessories for the bike from Suzuki USA!
Twisted Throttle LLC began in June 2002 with a “group buy” of SW-MOTECH centerstands, crashbars and luggage systems for a handful of early Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom fanatics, of whom I happened to be the one nutty enough to call a German manufacturer on the telephone and demand that they send me a shipment immediately.
After the first group buy, I started receiving steady inquiries about importing additional European products, and I started thinking it might not be so crazy to be a motorcycle accessory importer. Soon after, I picked a name, got a business license, and converted my apartment’s garage to my first “warehouse”.
My first big purchase was having a professional website designed for me. My elementary school friends Jon Hempstead (a.k.a. “DJ Hemp”) at Alienated Media and Pat Tully at Avatar New York did an excellent job creating the templates for my first website on a penny-pinching $500 budget. My friends Joe and Tony provided the display cases for my first motorcycle tradeshow as hand-me-downs from their athletic club in Stamford, Connecticut.
In early 2003, I hired our first two part-time employees. Cathy packed and shipped all the outgoing orders in my garage, and Joan did all the bookkeeping in the spare bedroom. We also drove to Indianapolis to exhibit our products at the first of what would end up being many tradeshows.
Several trips to Europe and thousands of corrugated boxes later, I met Bob Sims in late 2003. Bob had created the Riderhaus.com motorcyclist community and retail store on the Internet while living in Germany, and shared a similar vision of providing great products, personal service, and an online community to motorcycle enthusiasts throughout the world. He had created a cutting-edge website for his enterprise, and in the process, had decided that he was more interested in becoming a full-time web developer than in running a motorcycle business. Given that both TwistedThrottle.com and Riderhaus.com sold many of the same products, and Twisted Throttle needed a new, more advanced presence on the web, we partnered to create the next incarnation of the TwistedThrottle.com website.
September 2004 brought big changes. With encouragement from my friend Suzy, I quit my day job and gave Twisted Throttle my full-time attention. I moved up to Peacedale, Rhode Island, rented a little 1,600 sf warehouse (a.k.a. “The Cave” because it had 3-foot-thick stone walls and no windows), and hired our first full time employee (Michael, not Mike!). Graham Brookins and Bob Sims continued to extend the features of our website, making it easier and faster to navigate.
By March 2005, we’d outgrown our little warehouse and hired two more employees. We moved next door to a 2,700 sf unit. A few months later, we added The Cave back on to our warehouse to boost our capacity to 4,300 sf. And we hired a few more people…
From 2005 through the present, Raja Kapur and Pat Tully of Avatar New York continued to develop our website and have provided many new refinements and user-friendly features. Thanks for taking us into the future guys!
2006 was the first year we printed our own catalog. Somehow, we ended up exhibiting at 6 rallies and tradeshows throughout the country. Good thing we bought that 30-foot trailer and diesel pickup truck…
In 2007 we moved again, more than doubling our warehouse space to 15,000 sf, and added a showroom and (*gasp*) real office space. After 5 years, we finally had both heat AND air conditioning! To commemorate the move, we had our first office Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus party in our conference room, complete with disco balls and a hip-hop dance party.
2008 brought a bigger 162-page catalog and we exhibited at 21 rallies. We also hired our first product designer so that we could begin to develop our own unique products in-house.
By 2009, we’d replaced our original low-budget truck and trailer with our fancy new black and yellow show rig. We also started filming product demo videos and building video monitors into our display kiosks.
In 2010, our warehouse grew to beyond 20,000 sf, our catalog page count was close to 200 pages, and we exhibited at dozens of motorcycle events throughout the country.
2011 was a monumental year, with the acquisition of our new 27,000 sf World Headquarters in Exeter, RI. The facility houses our offices, warehouse, installation bays, tire changing services, prototyping workshop, videography studios, and new retail store. There is even a fully equipped restaurant with a 10’ wide movie screen and PINBALL machines!
In the fall of 2013, we expanded our footprint to Canada by acquiring A Vicious Cycle, a distributor and online retailer in New Dundee, Ontario.
We’ve got more people running around here than I can count some days (our accountant says we number in the mid-30’s lately). Throughout it all, we’ve continued to take motorcycling seriously without BEING too serious. There’s still a chicken hat on my desk…
We believe in building positive longterm relationships with our suppliers, staff, and customers. Like all relationships, they’re build on trust, honesty, and commitment. The successful beginnings of our company were due in large part to our first suppliers taking a gamble on our vision, and we appreciat their long term support: Jörg Diehl, Jürgen Swora, and Kai Jockel of SW-MOTECH; Achim Kessler of Bags-Connection; Paul Collins, Anthony Church & Big Crazy Craig of GIVI USA; Johannes and Gerhard Klement of MRA Windshields; and Matthew Phillpott of Rideworx.
Our clients’ support, contributions, and suggestions are what makes Twisted Throttle a continued success. Interacting with our clients remains our greatest single reward from this endeavor. Thanks for the many moments that continue to make this journey a wonderful adventure.
– Erik Stephens, Founder and CEO, Twisted Throttle LLC (a.k.a. Mr. Twisted)