TWMX All Access: DMC

While Dave Miller and DMC (Dave Miller Concepts) may not have been as visible as some of the other well-known exhaust manufacturers on the MX scene in recent years, they actually have quite a heritage on the So Cal scene. Dave is one of those guys who’s a great storyteller, and he let us in on the details of some of his early racing days. “Bonanza was debuting their Mini Motocross, which was a Hodaka-powered kind of bigger-wheeled mini bike, and had Erv Kanemoto engines. That’s where I met Erv, who’s now a famous Honda road race tuner. Bonanza had like seven Nor-Cal dirt trackers…ringer dudes…real fast pro guys, and I had a McCulloch Bonanza. It was almost 20 horsepower with fuel and twin carburetors, tuned pipe, slip clutch…a really evil and hard-to-ride deal. I smoked those guys. By the end of the two days I was Bonanza’s new rider and I took all the bikes they had home.”

“Funny thing was, I was three-time World Champion, and my dad thought I was in church in Garden Grove. He never even knew I had motorcycles. He was an M.D. in the Army, and he’d seen street bike drunk wrecks and people missing legs. He forbid me to have any of that crap around the house. So he learned about it on the front page of the local paper. There was a photo of with trophies that were taller than me. He says, ‘Hey, this guy looks just like you. Hey, this guy’s name is the same as yours.’ I won three World, and five National titles. At the end there was Jeff Ward in the 9-11 class for Factory Bonanza, Davey Carlson in 11-13, and I was 14 and Over. We were like teammates, and dominated.”

Dave was also around during some of the earliest days of FMF, and is chock-full of interesting tales about how they came up with the fixtures for their early CR125 pipes. But these days, with some old friends lending a hand, DMC is also making a new push into the MX market.

Marty Miller was a pro racer on the So Cal scene during the mid-to-late 70s, when it was possible to race several times a week. “I actually worked for Dave and rode for him. I learned a lot from him, actually doing cylinder porting, and building pipes, so I had a basic understanding of what it took. I also worked for Wheelsmith and built Maico pipes.”

Marty continued, “In ’78 I was sponsored by Spectro, and I went to pick up some oil one day just to ride with, and they offered me a job. I had my van, so they had me making deliveries all over Southern California. I had a lot of contacts from my racing, so people would at least talk to me.”

Marty’s oil delivery business eventually evolved into Advantage Performance Distributing, which still handles Spectro Oil, as well as Bridgestone and Kenda tires, and more. “We’ve been Spectro Oil for years and years, and that’s all we did. We started adding more product lines over the years, and now we have a lot of performance products here. Most of it’s pretty hard-core off-road. We wanted to branch out and start to do some of the performance products. I’d been involved with Dave, had built engines as I was growing up, and so I knew a lot about it and was very familiar with that segment of it. But I’d been so involved in the distributing game that I hadn’t really been able to get back to it.”

“Dave’s attention span is shorter than most. He likes to get on a project and build something that’s completely out there. For example, he’s got a Hodaka that’s just out of this world. Everything from the tank being chopped, to the swingarm, and an ignition and reed cage from a KX80. He cast his own cylinder head off an old Webco. So it still looks 1972, but it’s got all the neat bits.”

Dave is also responsible for another interesting project—the aluminum-framed mini that Eddie Hicks rode to victory at Loretta’s back in ’84, which still sits in Troy Lee’s showroom/museum. Though few people probably realize how groundbreaking that bike was at the time, it beat some heavy-duty competition. As Dave tells it, “If you look at the starti line, that was by far the gnarliest. There was Kyle Lewis, Scotty Brown, Larry Brooks, Mike Healey, Shaun Kalos, the Melton brothers, Ronnie Tichenor, Willy Surratt, Mouse McCoy. and more. There were 15 guys who had a legitimate chance at winning.”

So how did Dave and Marty rekindle their business relationship? As Marty tells it, “Dave’s a very creative guy, and is typical of an artist mentality. He has all of the skills of anyone that I’ve seen in this industry. In the mid-80s, he was the Team Green Kawasaki support before Pro Circuit was. In fact, he did a lot of their R&D and a lot of their work. He was at Kawasaki in R&D as well. Then he got sidetracked and went off and was doing karts, and other projects. He’s not as much a marketer as he is a creative kind of guy, so we got back together with him about five years ago. The great thing about working with Dave is you get the ideas, and we’re able to take it from that idea stage and his testing, and then we can actually come over here and produce it.”

“We’ve been building what we call The Alien, which is a twin outlet exhaust system for the TRX400EX, Raptor, and some of the twin-port models, and it worked very well for those models. What we did was say, ‘Look, you’ve already got pipes built for this, let us distribute them. Let’s go after the ATV market, and let’s get our feet wet before we jump into the motocross end of it.’ It wasn’t like we didn’t want to do the motocross, The Alien was just too alien for that market. Some of it’s from experience on all of our part, saying, ‘If we jump in right now, this pipe’s a little weird looking. I’m not sure that we’re going to have the kind of acceptance that we would like to have. Let’s get into it, get our tooling, build up our production capabilities so that when we jump in it, we can build whatever we need to do to satisfy the demand I believe that we can produce from the performance of the pipe.’ All of us love quads, they make up a large part of our business and we do real well with them, but we’re all motocross guys, and we want to build as good a motocross pipe as we could. We got to a point where we said, ‘Okay, it’s time, now let’s focus our energies on that.'”

So how do they differentiate DMC from the rest of the market? Even Marty concedes, “Anyone with access to a tubing bender and a round piece of tubing is a pipe builder now. I think bringing experience is one of the unique things. It all depends on what the engine needs. Some people say, ‘We’ve got stepped head pipes, and that’s the way to go,’ somebody else says, ‘We’ve got tapered head pipes.’ A tapered head pipe might work great on one model, but it’s garbage on the next one. A stepped pipe might work great on one, but not on others.

“One of the things that we look at when we’re running the dyno is not how much horsepower does it make, or how much torque, or even where it makes it. An area that we focus on a lot is the acceleration time. Most of the dynos have them, but you hardly ever hear of anyone talking about them. The guys that are old school—I’m sure Emler does, and the guys that are really in the know, because acceleration is only achieved through a combination of horsepower and torque at the right places. You can have a bunch of torque here, but it’s making no horsepower, or vice versa. If you have horsepower and torque working together in combination, that’s how you get quick acceleration. That’s one of the things we strive for when we’re building these pipes. That’s really what it’s all about. How fast does the engine accelerate from 4,000 to 10,000, or whatever the sweet spot that you’re looking for.”

“Right now we’re building stainless steel systems as far as the head pipe and mid-pipe are concerned. We’re going to use some titanium and some other materials in the future. But from a dollar-to-performance ratio, stainless steel is absolutely the best, most durable way to go. When you start talking about other materials, you can do it, but you’d better be prepared to spend the money either repairing or replacing some of the parts on a regular basis. I don’t care whose brand you’re using, those are the properties that you have in those materials. When the guy says, ‘I want to buy a titanium pipe,’ that’s great, just be prepared. That’s a factory part. Just like factory bikes, they need to be replaced and repaired and worked on.”

“I think the craftsmanship here—maybe we’re a little bit old school—but I think that’s a good thing. If you look at this new system that we’re building, most of the cans now are all riveted together, and it’s almost a throwaway package. This is designed with a threaded end so that you can take it apart and repack it yourself with normal tools that everyone’s going to have in their garage. You have something that the average guy can work on. It’s not, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got to drill it out, find the rivets, find somebody to put it back together.’ It really wasn’t designed to be taken apart.”

“We also use billet brackets. How much easier is it to build the cans, and then clamp it on with a spacer? It’s a lot easier. But in our opinion, that’s not the best way to do it. What we try to do with all of our parts is make them like we’d want them if we were going to be using them, not just for production’s sake.”

This one comes with a spark arrester, it comes with an FIM outlet, it’s got the billet brackets, it’s got the right amount of volume to keep it quiet. We’re using premium packing in there to keep them as quiet as we can. Everything we need to do is right. It’s spring-loaded, and we have the nice stainless steel springs.

“We now have a lot of the real high-end performance parts, and it’s nice to be able to manufacture something like this…something you can be this proud of.”

“This pipe is called The Afterburner, and there was a DMC Afterburner two-stroke pipe back in ’73 or so, which actually, instead of having a stinger out of the rear cone, it actually comes out of the center, what they call the constant…the center portion of the pipe. It’s old kart technology, but it was quieter, and kept it from having to build the stingers that went up around the Monoshock suspension on the Yamahas, where there was virtually no room, and they were always getting pounded to death. This pipe’s actually named in its honor.”

“The thing about it with the distributing company that’s neat is, we don’t have to count on a distributor to come in and buy the stuff from us We have international distributors of the product, but in the U.S., Advantage is the only distributor. We don’t have to say, ‘Oh, is this guy going to buy any of our product and push it?’ Well, we know they are, because it’s us.”

As we prepared to wrap it up, Marty told us, “It’s nice to be able to get back with people that you’ve known over the years, and you know their talents and are able to bring them together and make this productive. We’ve got some incredibly nice product. I think the market’s going to really accept it.”

Contact:
DMC
930 Columbia Ave.
Riverside, CA 92507
(951) 300-2250
www.dmc-on-line.com

ls, you can do it, but you’d better be prepared to spend the money either repairing or replacing some of the parts on a regular basis. I don’t care whose brand you’re using, those are the properties that you have in those materials. When the guy says, ‘I want to buy a titanium pipe,’ that’s great, just be prepared. That’s a factory part. Just like factory bikes, they need to be replaced and repaired and worked on.”

“I think the craftsmanship here—maybe we’re a little bit old school—but I think that’s a good thing. If you look at this new system that we’re building, most of the cans now are all riveted together, and it’s almost a throwaway package. This is designed with a threaded end so that you can take it apart and repack it yourself with normal tools that everyone’s going to have in their garage. You have something that the average guy can work on. It’s not, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got to drill it out, find the rivets, find somebody to put it back together.’ It really wasn’t designed to be taken apart.”

“We also use billet brackets. How much easier is it to build the cans, and then clamp it on with a spacer? It’s a lot easier. But in our opinion, that’s not the best way to do it. What we try to do with all of our parts is make them like we’d want them if we were going to be using them, not just for production’s sake.”

This one comes with a spark arrester, it comes with an FIM outlet, it’s got the billet brackets, it’s got the right amount of volume to keep it quiet. We’re using premium packing in there to keep them as quiet as we can. Everything we need to do is right. It’s spring-loaded, and we have the nice stainless steel springs.

“We now have a lot of the real high-end performance parts, and it’s nice to be able to manufacture something like this…something you can be this proud of.”

“This pipe is called The Afterburner, and there was a DMC Afterburner two-stroke pipe back in ’73 or so, which actually, instead of having a stinger out of the rear cone, it actually comes out of the center, what they call the constant…the center portion of the pipe. It’s old kart technology, but it was quieter, and kept it from having to build the stingers that went up around the Monoshock suspension on the Yamahas, where there was virtually no room, and they were always getting pounded to death. This pipe’s actually named in its honor.”

“The thing about it with the distributing company that’s neat is, we don’t have to count on a distributor to come in and buy the stuff from us We have international distributors of the product, but in the U.S., Advantage is the only distributor. We don’t have to say, ‘Oh, is this guy going to buy any of our product and push it?’ Well, we know they are, because it’s us.”

As we prepared to wrap it up, Marty told us, “It’s nice to be able to get back with people that you’ve known over the years, and you know their talents and are able to bring them together and make this productive. We’ve got some incredibly nice product. I think the market’s going to really accept it.”

Contact:
DMC
930 Columbia Ave.
Riverside, CA 92507
(951) 300-2250
www.dmc-on-line.com