In the early 50’s, George Smith was a motorcycle drag racer dominating the strips around the Chicagoland area, as well as setting speed records at Bonneville. His quest for speed and the desire to make his motorcycle faster led to the discovery there were no aftermarket companies in the “Go Fast” business. Smith along with pal Stanley Stankos ended up having to make the much needed parts in the basement of his Blue Island , IL home. Thus laying the foundation for what would become S & S Cycles, the best know company in the high performance V-Twin aftermarket. In 1958(many moons before K and G Cycles – www.kandgcycles.com – was born) S & S Cycles was launched and the road to V-Twin performance was opened for the masses. The first official product offered by the pair(Smith and Stankos) was a set of light weight aluminum pushrods that converted hydraulic tappets to solid lifters. This upgrade resulted in the ability to operate at higher rpm resulting in more available power. A year later Stankos sold his share of the business to Smith and his wife Marjorie and the 2 never looked back. A decade later their basement could no longer contain the demands placed on the company so operations were moved to Viola, WI in 1969 after finding their spot in “God’s Country”.
So often when we hear S&S we automatically think of the line of performance carburetors which from their introduction in 1967 have had one intent -” delivering a much simpler and more cost effective way to go fast.” General carburetor mechanics is no secret, but S&S sure seems to have figured out what is needed to get the biggest return. Being known industry wide for his significant contributions to V-Twin performance, George Smith was summoned in 1970 to help the Harley-Davidson sponsored streamliner achieve a 265.492 mph land speed record, and earned himself the title of “Fuel Wizard” for his knowledge of nitro burning engine.
The mid-seventies would see the introduction of the famed “Sidewinder” kit, a ground breaking product that allowed almost any repair shop to build big inch high performance engines, without the expense and time needed to design and fabricate special parts, these kits were complete, containing eveything needed to finish the job. As always, Smith was providing simple yet efficient solutions to the problems of building large displacement Harley-Davidson motors. Now the S&S customer could order stroker flywheels, big bore cylinders, pistons, and many related parts. The “Sidewinder” motor had been born.
The coming years would be filled with win after win, the setting of land speed records ( some which still hold to this day), but also loss. In 1980 George Smith passed away, but the story doesn’t end there, Marge’s strong will, leadership, and knowledge kept the company on track and growing well into the 1990’s. Having been an important part of the company, a large portion of the credit for the success of S&S® Cycle belongs to Marge Smith. A fact that is often overlooked, is that Marge Smith was a full partner in the business with her husband George. George’s technical skill and his accomplishments at the race track often overshadow her contributions to the business. Mrs. S,ith was a rider herself, so she was no stranger to the sport or the people who pursue it. She definitely pulled her own weight as she took care of the office chores and did the bookkeeping, but she also worked in the shop and could talk tech with the best of them. Long time S&S customers recall her with fondness and respect, and more than a few chauvinistic male callers were often surprised and perhaps a little chagrined to have their technical problems solved over the phone for them by a woman. Which I am sure left Marge with the biggest smile and best feeling knowing “The First Lady of Fast Motorcycles” had just schooled a big bad biker, and not missed a beat the whole way. Seven years after her passing in 1990, Marjorie Smith and George Smith were inducted into the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1997. In April 2003, S&S saluted its founders with the 145 Tribute, a motorcycle project that also marked S&S’s 45th anniversary. The tribute recognized Marjorie and George Smith as pioneers who played an integral part in the evolution of the V-twin motorcycle market.
Numerous awards and innovations would befall S&S Cycles for years to come including Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year for Relentless R&D, the quickest V-twin in AHDRA Prostock(2002) with a record of 7.47 seconds and 178 mph in the quarter mile, a record 500,000th Super Shorty carburetor produced in 2004, 2 new motor designs, and being awarded the contract to supply the motors for Harley-Davidson “Reman Motor” program. All in all S&S is a phenomenal success story based on the passion for speed, and K and G Cycles (www.kandgcycles.com) is proud to offer you the full line of S&S products from complete engines, exhaust, cams, and other performance enhancing products to complete your transformation from humdrum to holy cow with time tested, quality American-made products. Thank you for your hard work and dedication Marjorie and George Smith and Stanley Stankos so we may improve our bikes performance.