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Posted Date: 2012-05-25
The History of Boyesen Performance
Special Interest Article: Dag Boyesen Interview
Initial Release: Cycle News Digital Subscription - April 4th, 2012
Date: April 4th, 2012
Story and Photos by Shan Moore

There have been hundreds, if not thousands, of motorcycle-related businesses that have emerged out of the off-road motorcycle revolution of the last 30 to 40 years; and each has a special story. A few of them could be categorized as rags to riches tales, where out of necessity a person with a good idea developed a product that would eventually transform how people approached racing. Eyvind Boyesen was one of those people. A Norwegian born engineer, Eyvind started a performance revolution in 1972 on a shoestring budget and a single patent in hand. Soon after Boyesen was founded it began to establish a worldwide reputation as the company to contact if you wanted to make your motocross bike go faster. Over the next 35 years, racers who used Boyesen intake products consistently outperformed their competition. Chances are, if you grew up racing motorcycles during the last three decades then you were most likely impacted in some way by Eyvind's products. Like others in the racing industry, Boyesen didn't just sell his products to racers, he also supported them with technical assistance far beyond what they were used to having access to. Eyvind Boyesen gave back to the sport by helping riders rise through the ranks. With factories such as Kawasaki and Yamaha integrating Boyesen's technology into their production bikes, the list of top-level racers who have fielded Boyesen technology is simply awesome. Racers spanning the likes of John Dowd, Bob Hannah, Jeremy McGrath, Chad Reed, James Stewart and most recently Ryan Villopoto are among those who have trusted Boyesen's technology as a part of their winning formulas. Never content with "good enough," the Norwegian born engineer was obsessed with the desire for continual improvement. On and off the race track, the Boyesen name became equated with superior performance, quality, and service. From those first days, applications for Boyesen technology have expanded to include intake products for watercraft, snowmobiles, and outboard marine engines. Through licensing agreements with major motorcycle and powersport manufacturers, technology designed and patented by Boyesen is built into two-stroke engines around the world. More than three decades and many patents later, motorsport enthusiasts around the world have turned Boyesen Engineering into a company that serves people on six continents. Today, Boyesen holds more than 40 patents applicable to the aftermarket powersports industry, and Eyvind's company continues to thrive today under the leadership of his son Dag Boyesen.

Q: How did your father get involved in the motorcycle industry?
A: My father was born and raised in Norway around World War II, and he was sent over here by his parents to go to high school in the United States. My father and his brothers were fortunate enough to connect with a program that allowed them to come over when he was 17 or 18 for high school and was enrolled in a school outside of Philadelphia. Philadelphia is where my father met my mother, and after school was completed they ended up getting married. He enrolled at Drexler University in Philly and started working at an engineering firm that was doing a lot of research for NASA, working on some of the rocket programs. This is in the early 60's, and all the while dad had a affection for motorcycles. In Norway he saw some type of enduro or off-road race and he thought it was the coolest thing ever. When he settled down here in the states, he got back into bikes and as I understand it he and a friend bought an old mid-60's or early-60's Husky and started going down to the local "pit" to ride. At that point I think it was primarily scrambles here in the states. They first got into doing that and then with the engineering background, he was just always looking to improve how the bike felt and how it ran. Some of the European motocross influence had just started to trickle into this country and some races were cropping up around the area to compete at. At that time Yamaha was the first manufacturer to use reed valve technology, so Eyvind made some of his own designs and applied them to early Maico's and Husky's and they ended up working phenomenally well. He thought there might be opportunity to build some aftermarket kits to convert the piston port engines over to reed valves. He got in connection with some manufacturing facilities in the area who casted him some block and manifolds and he made the reeds himself my hand. At that point it was a great deal of work to machine off the front of the cylinder and then bolt on a reed cage. You had to change a lot of the porting in order to have it work properly with the reed intake. That in turn led to a lot of different and new in porting techniques. All the while my father's father-in-law had some family connections in patent law so he was able to apply for patents for both the reed design, as well as some of his porting solutions. These were boost ports on the intake. The boost ports fed to the transfers and they were solutions that became hotly sought after by the manufacturers; when it came to the evolution of my father's design they saw how well it worked. He was able to get license agreements with all the manufacturers for using the designs in their production units. This was obviously a huge impact for him to move forward with Boyesen Engineering.

He incorporated Boyesen Engineering in 1972; that's the first official year for the business. From there ideas continued to flow and development started. At that point my father hired several engineers and together they started manufacturing our dual-stage Power Reed System, selling sets as bolt-on aftermarket performance products. He worked real hard to find our initial distribution outlets, and tried to get the magazines at the time to test them. Rick Siemon at Dirt Bike magazine; he was the first magazine guy to work with my father for testing which brought results and led to an overall increase in consumer interest. One thing led to another and Boyesen established some distribution partnerships; at the time Boyesen worked with early distributors like Malcolm Smith, and JT Racing. JT Racing initially started out selling hard parts as well as their apparel line. From there he continued on and started acquiring some equipment to do further R&D, with the idea of expanding the Boyesen product lines. Around that time single shock rear suspension technology started to emerge. Single shock setups negatively impacted how the intake system could be made to work within the space confines due to the center-mounted shock. Intakes started to have a lot of angles because the carburetor had to be kicked off to the side to compensate for the shock. That was not the ideal intake design, and he developed solutions that increased airflow performance regardless of the center-mount shock. That situation lead my father into the idea of making a complete intake track which turned out to be the Boyesen RAD Valve. Over time different ideas came and my father and the other Boyesen engineers were very good at recognizing problems and finding solutions. Maybe it was a flaw in a product or model design, and maybe it was only one model year or a short life span for each particular bike design, but seeing a problem and finding a way to improve upon it was something that always turned out to be successful method for developing new product. Those little solutions essentially turned into entire product lines. Obviously, the growth and success of Boyesen was centered around creating performance intake innovation and it has been the core of our business through the years.

More recently we have expanded into innovation with other powersport two-stroke applications as well. Wherever there's a two-stroke that has a reed, we've gotten involved in that industry and served it to some level in an after-market capacity. Sure, we've done a lot of OEM stuff over the years, whether it's Mercury Marine on the outboard side, or with Beta Motors and KTM. We even had some business with Champion where we did a reed setup for a chainsaw. There was even a period where we sold an intake breather reed valve to Harley Davidson for their California models where they had to meet certain emission standards. Over the years we've expanded; we've taken the reed products into many vehicle applications, with off-road, and motocross always being our core interest and passion. We've also taken it to snowmobiles, outboards, and karting. We are also doing business with several UAV companies (Unmanned Air Vehicles) who are building two-stroke drones. We even work with a company out of Florida that has developed a hydrogen fuel cell for cars. We do a lot of work in consulting on design and internal intake tract optimization; helping companies understand the testing protocols required for their designs to work and then also working with them to increase performance. There has been a great deal of interesting products over the years and my father has always been happiest when he was right in the middle of it all.

Q: This must have had a great impact on your life growing up.
A: Yeah it has been a great ride! My life has been blessed by the motorcycle industry, having grown up in a family that's been involved in it as heavily as my father was. I loved all the involvement that my father had, and enjoyed going to the races, raced myself and was competitive for a number of years when I was younger. Through my racing endeavors, as well as leading the product testing teams at Boyesen I was able to learn from not only my father, but also from the Engineers that my father surrounded himself with. I already new testing so I consequently got involved with the business side of Boyesen after racing. I followed my father's lead and learned how he interacted with the industry as well as Boyesen employees. Over time I just tried to emulate and do things in a similar fashion to how I saw it work for my father. Today, I continue with what my dad started, making adjustments to accommodate new markets, and as always thinking about new product ideas. I would like to think that all my years testing and racing has allowed me to appreciate what racers need out of aftermarket performance products. Looking forward, it doesn't matter if a bike is a two or four stroke machine - it can still be made to work better- tuned to the needs of each rider. I see opportunity in continuing to devote Boyesen product development and engineering efforts to motocross and also to expand even more within off-road consumer product solutions. Specifically for offroad, I think Boyesen's devotion to the two-stroke applications should be seen as a positive in regards to the 2-strokes making a comeback. For example, if a guys buys a 2012 Yamaha YZ 250, he can be rest assured that Boyesen is making product to elevate the performance of that bike or to empower him to change the power delivery to his liking.

Q: How has the business changed over the years?
A: Obviously the motocross segment, which has traditionally been Boyesen's core market segment, has made a transition into modern four-stroke applications. My father and I understood that if we were going to stay in business, we needed to change with the consumer demand for four-stroke related product. We looked at new products for the new engine platform and consequently came out with the Quickshot, the Supercooler and other products that provided absolute solutions in response to the four-stroke popularity. So for Boyesen, change has presented itself as opportunity to continually expand our product lines into new market segments and applications. The Supercooler water pump, which is patented, uses a specially designed impeller shape to improve pumping efficiency and cut down on coolant flow cavitation. That design has direct positive performance gains for four-stroke which are a LOT hotter running than their two-stroke engine platforms - especially in offroad where more mud and slower overall speeds result in four-strokes experiencing periodic overheating issues. To me the Supercooler design is a great example of how Boyesen has been forced to change our thinking slightly from intake performance to also include products that are still performance orientated, but with a different focus. Another product... the Quickshot was something that was hugely successful for us when the strength of the market was led by the carbureted four-strokes. If you were competitive and were riding a 250 or 450 four-stroke then you probably at one point had one of those products on your bike. So I think we have responded fairly well to the changes that the motocross industry has seen over the last decade. Now more recently, it seems like certain types of riders are starting to transition back to riding the two-stroke. Maybe not so much in MX, but in offroad we see growth potential for us. In response to this we are currently rekindling some of our old Research & Development relationships with European offroad motorcycle manufacturers. This represents a global cooperative within the offroad marketplace for us and I am excited about what lies ahead. It's a totally different business model that demands our ability to produce products for niche markets and for specific partnerships. I am currently exploring this addition to the Boyesen business strategy, while at the same time continuing to lead our group's focus on consumer product development for the markets that we currently service. Change is always around us. For Boyesen, we always just spin it into more opportunity to contribute to the industry that we grew up in.

Q: How did fuel injection and the popularity of four-strokes change things?
A: Looking back over the past decade, I think initially we were a little slow to react to the four-stroke emergence. But once we saw that the big four Japanese manufacturers were coming to market with 250 and 450 models my father and I new we had to evolve. The four-stroke is certainly a challenge for aftermarket because if you're a performance company, there's not a lot of opportunity out there for an affordable and effective bolt on product, not like there is in the two-stroke engine platform. The keyword here is AFFORDABLE. How have four-strokes changed things... technically they are very cool, but I wonder how much money the average racer is able to continually pay for the advanced technology. I personally feel that the cost of racing, or even just riding for that matter is currently approaching unsustainable levels. I really do feel that has a lot to do with the vastly more expensive four-strokes among other factors like cost of events, cost of four-stroke maintenance and generally the overall cost of living increases that have taken place in the past decade. So the four-stroke is great, but I think it has many challenges for both the aftermarket companies and consumers alike. Take a look at the exhaust companies; they can attest to the challenge of bringing product to market that have performance value but the challenge is to do so with price points that are reasonable to the consumer. It's a different product with them, with sound issues and what have you, but the days of bolting a pipe on your 250 two-stroke and getting some good power is not the same as on a four-stroke. My father and I considered this situation and tried to look at the big picture of what current economic trends were showing us. As a result we succeeded in making the evolution for Boyesen; in short we began to think more broadly about what the term performance actually means. We adjusted our product development focus to make up for the loss of two-stroke numbers and consequently the loss of reed sales. Like I said before we developed other products like the Supercooler, and the QuickShot which saw favorable sales for years; each having now gone through several re-development improvement cycles. To this day, for some riders, these products continue to provide a cost-effective means to gain performance out of your motorcycle. We also focused on carrying over the strength of our product development and design expertise into the Snowmobile market segment. This has been a smart move for Boyesen as it has allowed us to grow and position ourselves for the years to come. We are happy to have been given the opportunity to provide a performance advantage to snowmobilers... these guys are always looking for more peak horsepower out of their machines! So that's good for the snow riders and it is equally good for Boyesen because we have been able to learn more about fuel injection technologies through our snowmobile product design efforts. Because of this strategy I am confident that Boyesen is positioned to respond with performance aftermarket upgrades when two-stroke offroad motorcycles begin to come equipped with either EFI or DFI technologies. Specifically with DFI, I speculate that the manufacturers will lean towards DFI because of its positive environmental benefits. So to summarize, our R&D race team Snowcross partnerships are providing Boyesen Technicians and Engineers with insight that positions our company to continue our performance vision into the modern two-stroke offroad motorcycle applications. There are manufacturers, mainly KTM, who are pushing towards injection technologies and they have systems ready to go if needed. As I understand it the reason why they haven't pulled the trigger on injection is because the market isn't demanding it yet. That means it's coming soon; as regulatory policies change and evolve we think the two-stroke offroad segment will begin to see it. We're aware of that situation, and we feel well positioned to continue to work in this area of intake performance.

Q: Will reeds play a part in two-stroke fuel injection or direct injection?
A: Direct injection and fuel injection work the same way, and we've had fuel injection and now direct injection in the snowmobile world for about 10 years. With fuel injection, the fuel is delivered at the throttle body, so you get air/fuel passing through the intake's reed cage. It's essentially no different than a carbureted system other than the ability to tune it. With direct injection technology we see fuel being delivered in front of the reed, so the reed only regulates air. The throttle body just flows air through and then the fuel is injected, whether it's directed straight in through the head like an e-tech design, or with semi-direct injection, where they are injecting in the cases or the transfers there's a number of different methods out there. Basically, most of these systems still rely on reeds, and their corresponding reed valve systems to deliver performance. Essentially air is a huge component of performance and channeling that air and delivering the air properly and efficiently is key, so yes, the reeds and the entire intake tract still play a vital role in performance. We have been producing performance intact systems for EFI snowmobiles for the last 10 years so I feel we have a decent head start in bringing a performance solution to the two-stroke offroad motorcycle. As soon as the motorcycle manufacturer's release their new injection technologies we will have the advantage of 10 years worth of hands on experience in maximizing air and how efficiently it is delivered to a performance two-stroke injected engine. We fully intend to share our knowledge with teams and manufacturer's when the need arises. Also, we are as we speak creating strategies to package our knowledge into consumer products in response to the release of the two-stroke injection platforms.

Q: Have you seen any uptick at all in reed sales or two-strokes?
A: Absolutely! In the last two years we have received much greater interest in our performance reeds as well as our OEM replacement upgrade reeds. We are seeing growth increases in all of our reed product sales, but what is most encouraging to me is that our RAD Valve sales for snowmobiles and offroad bikes are on the upswing as well. To me this is a positive trend. Not only for Boyesen's business interests but I think more importantly for the offroad community in general. When I first starting seeing a consistent upswing in our two-stroke product sales I started asking my team how we could support the resurgence of the two-strokes. Traditionally Boyesen has focused our Rider Support Programs mainly towards reaching out and helping the MX racers. But for 2012 we have decided to reach out to the offroad community and provide them with increased support options as well. The way I see it, if we can support the rider's decision to buy a two-stroke, then we are contributing to making our sport less costly than it is currently. So this is good for our riders and it is good for the racing and offroad riding community in general. I think it is important to do our part in continually promoting two-strokes where the racing applications are showing strong consumer interest.

Q: Talk more about your father and his approach to the business.
A: Eyvind was the consummate engineer. The details were always so important to him. Eyvind never liked the idea of trying to come out with a "one size fits all" type of product. We do have some of those things, because of the nature of certain products, but when it came down to a true performance-enhancing product, his vision was to identify what worked best for each specific model. That type of approach requires huge dedication to testing and development. Still to this day Boyesen doesn't get a bike and spend a couple of days testing it and say, this works great, let's go to market. Like my father, I believe in the value of testing for model-specific performance. From day one that has been the Boyesen business model and I work to maintain that as one of our R&D focal points. From the flow bench, to the dyno room, to the modeling on the computer, to the real world out on the track, testing is what makes the difference. I think that is something that certainly is a market advantage for us in a lot of ways. Of course this make/model specific design philosophy brings challenges for trying to obtain all the required test vehicles, and trying get product out in a timely fashion. All things considered, Boyesen values the quality of our products - that is what my father built the Boyesen brand around. What the consumer gets when they buy something is paramount to the longevity of a performance company. It was the central focus when my father was building the company and it is still 100% valid today. However, I do realize that we can make use of technology that did not exist 5 or 10 years ago to evolve the rider-focused design philosophy that my father started in the 70's. Currently we are implementing efficiencies to improve how we as a team manage the data acquired from all of our performance testing. We are using database-driven test archive systems that allow our engineers to quickly refer to past flow bench and dyne test results. We now have the benefit of a more readily accessible performance data set prior starting our R&D for each year's new model releases. In the past, especially prior to the mid 90's our Engineer's spent a large amount of time performing our baseline setups. Now we have gained the ability to spend the majority of our time building for performance instead of tracking to ensure baseline accuracy. Since my father started Boyesen in 1972, we have acquired such a vast amount of data. So the question I ask myself all the time... we have all this data, how can we make this relevant? Going back to my father's vision of the company, he was always keen on bringing products to market quickly. Now with our digital data archives we can bring our reed products to market quicker than ever before. One of the cooler programs that we have available now is our Custom Reed Program. A guy can call us and work one-on-one with our Engineers to develop a reed based on their needs and special circumstances. Computer database technology is making that possible. So now a vintage guy can keep their intake performing well, or he can work with us to change the power delivery characteristic of his bike. The same goes for virtually any offroad bike. The key is that we have the data archive that allows us to offer this type of service at a reasonable price. This Custom Reed Program is something that my father envisioned many years ago but it hasn't been possible up until now due to the recent availability of cost effective database applications. But what is important to this whole process is the way that my father approached testing through all the years. He had the vision to record and catalog all Boyesen's testing data - so it remains accessible to our techs and engineers. We are able to bring special services to our customers only because my father implemented his make/model specific design and R&D philosophy years ago. I take pride in seeing how I can combine that attention to detail while at the same time bringing the Boyesen knowledge base into customer friendly programs. To me that represents where I would like to take Boyesen into the future.

Q: So is seems like Eyvind's Legacy is the Future for Boyesen?
A: That is an interesting viewpoint isn't it! I would say I am challenged with respecting the past, and balancing that with our team's ability to create systems and products that have above average performance value. As a company we will never give up on the two-strokes for MX and Offroad applications. Likewise, I don't think that we will be seeing the complete demise of the two-stroke anytime soon. The challenge will be for us to continue to position Boyesen products within the niche market segments where the two-stroke is most widely accepted. Additionally my father always stressed having commitment to his customers. In an industry where "product is king", he also realized that his customers were king. Under Eyvind's leadership Boyesen placed a strong interest in customer service. He understood that producing the best performance product was only half of the equation. Servicing that product, whether it was with tech support, improving distribution communications, or supporting his customers by bringing Boyesen product support to the races all contributed equally to the success of his company. I see that business modeling as a key element to our future. Obviously I will continue with that tradition and move it forward with the best interest of Boyesen customers in mind. My father repeatedly told me that the only reason why a business exists is to provide people with better lives. In our case Boyesen has taken a very proactive approach to working on new products, primarily performance intake improvements, reed valve replacement petals, as well as other performance engine components. All that technical stuff is great, but what is most important to me is that Boyesen remains focused on our customer's satisfaction. My main goal is to take the structure that he has built and evolve it to the point where Boyesen is blending the past with the present to add performance value to people's lives.

Q: What would you say is the legacy of Boyesen?
A: Performance, it's been a big part of my family for all the years that I raced and all the effort that my father gave to Boyesen. Anybody who has owned an off-road two-stroke motorcycle in the last 30 years has probably used some form of Boyesen product. Whether its a cylinder design that was developed by my father, or a reed product. A two-stroke watercraft, a two-stroke snowmobile, anything that is two-stroke related in some way uses an aspect of design innovation that originated from Eyvind and was patented and licensed from him. Personally I have a great deal of pride knowing how much impact my father had on the offroad motorcycle industry but when I look at Boyesen as a company I don't quite think our legacy can be written just yet. Boyesen products have always represented a means to an end for our customers. Performance, innovation, and creativity are all aspects of motorcycling that allow people to express who they are - Boyesen gives them the ability to make their bikes fit them - not the other way around. Our products empower people to custom tailor their vehicle to what they want. In an industry that is filled with great thinkers and hard working people, not many companies have achieved the position of a trusted bolt-on performance provider for as many years as what my father achieved while leading Boyesen. In my mind my father's legacy is simple. Eyvind Boyesen empowered riders to reach for greater levels of performance. But for me, the Boyesen legacy is still an open book. Moving forward, I am focused on creating products that empower people. Whether their bikes are two-stroke or four-stroke - its all about the ability to custom tailor it to your need.
Keywords: Eyvind Boyesen, Dag Boyesen, Boyesen, Boyesen Engineering, Quickshot, Supercooler, Power Reeds, 2 Stroke Engines, 2-Stroke Performance, 4 Stroke Engines, 4-Stroke Performance, Motocross, John Dowd, Bob Hannah, Jeremy McGrath, Chad Reed, James Stewart, Ryan Villopoto
About Boyesen
For more than 30 years Boyesen has specialized in the design and manufacture of high-performance parts to the power sports industry. The confidence instilled by Factory Race Team Research and Development partnerships bleeds all the way down to weekend warriors looking for the highest performing and longest lasting products on the market. Boyesen's tagline, "Leading Edge Performance", is recognized worldwide. From their innovative industry leading performance reeds, to their complete intake track System, Boyesen continues to consistently set the standard for performance and manufacturing build quality.
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