We took the time to speak with Dan Fischer about his dream, the Fischer MRX 650, an American Sportbike. The Fischer MRX has been a while in coming, but word is that the bike should be on the “horizon for this spring”. Till we see the production version, we’ll just have to let the interview inspire our imaginations.
OWD: Why design and build an American Superbike? What brought this all about?
DF: For years I’ve heard people lament that there should be a real American sportbike. I always wanted to do it, but figured a larger company could develop a bike we could be proud of. So many years went by that when the means were available, we put a team together who felt the same way, and we got started.
OWD: What, in your mind, constitutes a Superbike?
DF: I think Superbike is a misnomer used in the press for the MRX650, the Superbike class in racing is of course what I think of, and the Fischer MRX650, our first bike, does not fit under that description. This is a pure sportbike for the street.
OWD: I suppose this begs the question; what convinced you there is a market for an American Superbike/Sportbike?
DF: There’s a huge market in America and abroad, the response we have had has done nothing but confirm what was clear when we started. Just listen to riders in the US and you’ll know that an American sportbike is exactly what they would rather be buying. The MRX650 is a beautiful motorcycle, but it cannot be all things to all people. That said, many riders will choose it because it is a good product, a cool bike, has trick components, is American made… whatever their reasons, the bike we have developed will have a fairly broad appeal for what has been of late such a narrowly defined segment. One good indicator is that we have had inquiries from several hundred existing dealers. Many of the dealers have said they are ordering the first one to keep, not sell.
OWD: Who’s your target market? From the look, this bike, it strikes me as being an American exotic – similar to our perception of other exotics like the Ducati 749.
DF: Yes, it fits in as an affordable exotic. Looks are important, but outside of that, the handling and build quality are the most important attributes, according to customer surveys in our target audience, which is the American sportbike enthusiast. So while we’ll be about 15% more expensive than a comparable Japanese product, we’ll have higher-end components usually only found on an Italian exotic or a factory Superbike – at a much lower price.
OWD: How did your racing career contribute to the push to develop this bike?
DF: Well, I always rode for good teams, which probably made me ride better than I really was. When you have a really developed race bike you often know that the improvement probably lies in your own riding. So if we offer the MRX650 as an affordable bike that is so good that the rider can trust the bike’s chassis and work on his own riding, then that makes the owner a better rider.
OWD: Are you planning a racing program for the Fischer MRX?
DF: When we get production volumes up, we will support club-level racers initially, hopefully to pursue higher levels as we grow. We plan for the bikes to be pretty much ready to race right out of the box.
OWD:Why the Hyosung engine? Are you concerned it will be under-horsepowered in comparison to other sportbikes on the market?
DF: The Hyosung is a great motor. It doesn’t fit into the Superbike category, but with all of the frame and chassis components that create this bike, the handling will be incredible. If people want more power there are other products on the market, but our top speed will be close to 140 MPH. The V-twin gives you a broad, useable power band, too. Performance mods are already in the works, so it will be fun to ride stock or otherwise. Think of how people always say how fun the SV 650 is to ride, no matter what your ability level. If you can envision that type of rider-friendly power band with a top-shelf, GP-inspired chassis with Ohlins forks and Brembo brakes, then you have a good idea of what we are offering.
As for why Hyosung? Having tested and ridden these engines, they are very strong and very reliable. We couldn’t ask for a better engine for our first product; I have personally revved the hell out of these engines and am very comfortable offering a warranty on them.
OWD: The prototype we saw and photographed at the Indianapolis show was the 4th, on the side it read “supercharged”. Is supercharging the MRX a future option or a disregarded development path?
DF: Right now we are concentrating on putting the normally-aspirated MRX650 into production. The development of the supercharged version is coming, but will be at least a year behind. There’s a lot more to it than just the supercharger unit alone. There are also revised cams and other changes to the engine internals and externals, and the electronics.
OWD: Are there plans for a larger displacement Fischer?
DF: We’re concentrating on putting out the bike you have seen right now, the MRX 650, and making a good, reliable product.
OWD: Tell us a little about the team behind the Fischer? The quality of prototype at the show screams out that this simply is not a lone guy working sleepless nights in the garage while the family sedan suffers a slow death by rust in the driveway.
DF: No, I could not have done any of this alone. This is a strong group and most of them are working behind the scenes, not just the engineers and designers, but the modellers, machinists, and fabricators, and so many top-level suppliers. I’m usually very critical, but this is an impressive team.
OWD: Glynn Kerr designed the look of the bike, how interactive was that process?
DF: Glynn Kerr and I discussed the overall vision I had when we first spoke several years ago. He listened to what I liked and the direction I felt we needed to go in. Sure, I had input throughout, and for someone who is absolutely so incredibly talented as Glynn, he really listened to what I wanted. But for the most part, the look of the MRX was all Glynn Kerr. He is clearly very good at what he does.
OWD: What bikes on the market have influenced the design of the MRX?
DF: The Japanese and Italian sportbikes, primarily. I didn’t have some acid-inspired vision, this is just good solid engineering with beautiful design.
OWD: Gemini has engineered the frame. How did they come to join the project?
DF: They were very close by; I’m in Chicago and they are in Milwaukee. I knew guys that worked there from racing at Blackhawk Farms back when we were amateurs. We’d see each other at the AMA nationals running the Harley Superbike program, but I didn’t know they were so deep on the engineering side until I placed a help wanted ad for engineers in the AMAsuperbike.com classifieds back in late 2001. Someone from Gemini contacted me about taking on the chassis project.
OWD: Tell us about the frame? How is it different from other bikes on the market? What are its technological hallmarks?
DF: Just wait until you ride it. So much science went into the chassis over a long period of time that I think when Gemini’s engineers finally put the whole thing together even we were surprised at how well the geometry and construction worked. Aside from the Gemini-development aspects, we were inspired greatly by GP bikes, more for the geometry and mechanics than the construction, because GP bikes have different goals than volume production concerns and longevity. Many of the newer technologies for assembly that are available now were addressed during development. America has some serious technology advantages, which will be more apparent when we release production bikes.
OWD: What is the one piece of this machine that you are most proud of?
DF: Proud is a difficult word because I don’t think we’ve really accomplished that much yet. But the one aspect with which I am most happy is what this team has put together. The chassis is brilliant, the styling is gorgeous (the word we keep hearing) and I am thrilled to be working with Hyosung, they are a great company. So while not yet proud, I am very pleased with the quality of people and companies involved and the work have done to make the MRX something special.
Fischer Website: http://www.fischer1.com