Today, only a few of the original motocross exhaust brands exist today, as many have disappeared over the last decade. There are only three remaining exhaust manufacturers that existed in the 90s, and they are really the only brands that continue to produce two-stroke and four-stroke exhausts since the rise of the four-stroke machines in the early 2000s. Among these three remaining brands is Bill's Pipes, who is well known for their dominance in the late 90s and early 2000s. However, after the four-stroke revolution, the small Corona, California-based brand struggled to keep up with their four-stroke exhaust producing competitors, as FMF and Pro Circuit dominated the exhaust industry along with many other brands popping up and following suit. That's all beginning to change, though, as Bill's Pipes has stepped out of the shadows and looks to reclaim their title as one of the most sought after exhaust brands. Yesterday, we had the pleasure of working with Bill's Pipes' Brandon Dunn and decided to get his take on the rebirth of the brand that was so dominant in the two-stroke era.
You seem to be the go-to-guy at Bill’s Pipes for everything. What does your job title entail?
Basically just a little bit of everything since we are such a small company. Whether it’s sales, marketing, rider support and even sometimes production of our products – whatever the job calls for it’s all hands on deck. We just try to make it happen no matter the circumstances.
Sort of like a jack of all trades, then?
Yeah, you’re kind of just thrown into the fire to get it done, but that's how you learn. It doesn’t matter if you’re the owner like Bill – who is very hands on – we just do whatever it takes to get the task done. It’s not a rarity to see him building pipes out in the shop, either. Everybody there really does put in a good effort to help everyone else’s jobs a little easier.
How long have you been at Bills Pipes and how did you end up working there?
I’ve been at Bill’s for a little over two years, now. I ended up working there because I was working at a different company that did fuel management systems, mostly with road bikes. I wasn’t really stoked on working with road bikes all the time because I’m more into the motocross side of motorcycles. I grew up riding dirt bikes and I grew up with a lot of people that raced, so ultimately working at Bill's Pipes was a natural fit for me. Back in the 2000s when Bill’s was in its prime of winning championships with Primal Impulse and Branden Jesseman and those guys, I was living with my best friend Greg Schnell who was also winning races. We competed against those guys and I knew they had a top-notch quality program, so it was a really easy fit for me to end up here at Bill's.
A few months back, I spent some time at the shop filming for our "How It’s Made | Two-Stroke Pipe" video, and during that time I really got to understand how much of a genius Bill is when it comes to the science behind creating exhausts. Do you find yourself learning a lot while working with Bill?
Yeah, absolutely. Frankly, Bill is sort of like Rain Man to an extent (laughs). His mathematical skills are above and beyond my pay grade (laughs). He can break a pipe down into numbers, he can build a pipe off of numbers and he actually does the mathematics backwards with different cone-pipe angles. The same technology he uses to make two-stroke exhaust systems, he’s applied to make four-stroke exhausts. The amazing part is that they work and they work very well. The pipes produce power and he never second-guesses himself. Factory Honda and factory Suzuki sought his expertise for so many years because of his unmatched knowledge of building pipes.
Over the last few years, Bills Pipes has gone through a rebirth of sorts after a number of years of seemingly being non-existant. Is that something that you’ve noticed, as well?
Yeah, and it's okay to say it because the brand was almost dead. The two-stroke era came and went, and then the four-strokes came into the picture and that is about the time the bills faded out a little bit. Going forward, though, with the help of team Barn Pros Racing, Vicki Golden and Killian Rusk – who was a huge benefit for us – their input is helping us get back into the mix. Helping those guys out has really helped us to progress, As well. Working with all of those guys has really helped us to fine-tune our product to ensure that we have something better than our competition. Bill's Pipes is a very small company, so we really have to make sure that our pipes perform at the same caliber as our competitors. We are not nearly as big as Pro Circuit, FMF or Yoshimura, so we really can’t rely on our name to make sales. Our product’s performance is top priority, so that’s how we intend on standing out.
Another thing I noticed while filming the "How It’s Made" video is the amount of hands-on work you guys put into your product. Is that something that you are proud of?
Yeah, absolutely! It’s great when someone can value your opinion, and a lot of that goes on at Bill's. Egos never get in the way and no one ever has a bad suggestion or idea. All of this benefits the end consumer, and that’s what we are in it for. Literally everyone is on the same page and we are working hard to get Bill's Pipes back on the map like it was in the early 2000’s. Bill's has won motocross championships, Supercross championships and all of that happened while the brand was at the top of its game, so we intend on making that happen again. We know where we need to get back to you, and that’s the ultimate goal for everyone at the company.
Do you guys have any kind of new product coming out anytime soon?
Yeah, we actually just released our RE-22 line, which is our full titanium exhaust system for four-strokes. Everything is bent in-house and everything is welded in-house. There is a large demand for titanium right now, so we wanted to give the consumer what they want. Also, our MX-2 carbon line of silencers for two-strokes is also being released, which are very reasonably priced along with our cone pipes. The carbon silencers and the cone pipes have really brought us up a notch to be equal with our competitors. We are pushing forward no matter what bike it is, and next on the list is the 65cc and 50cc machines because those are such huge classes. That’s something that we don’t want to ignore.
Obviously Bill’s has a strong history with two-stroke exhaust. Have you guys noticed the growing popularity in two-strokes over the last few years? And have you had consumers asking about how they could get their hands on a cone pipe?
Absolutely! Just our Instagram has grown so much over the last few years. We are very appreciative of people that follow us and support the brand even if they’re running one of our competitors systems on their bike. It's still really cool to see them pumped on the fact that we are making a comeback of sorts. Our two-stroke line, in my opinion has always been superior in performance, and that's something that we pride ourselves on. Our motto is "Why Settle!" and that’s the reason why our two-stroke line outperforms the competitors. We get a lot of requests for exhaust systems for Hondas and Kawasakis, and soon will be able to bring those products back to those brands here in the near future. That's all thanks to the manufactures that continue to produce two-strokes. The average guy can’t afford a near $10,000 four-stroke especially if the thing blows up. I think that’s the reason for the popularity in two-strokes again and I truly believe that two-strokes are aiding in keeping this sport alive. Maybe and hopefully the manufacturers that stopped producing two-strokes will bring back their two-stroke line of bikes. Yamaha, KTM and Husqvarna never jumped ship when it came to those bikes, so maybe those other manufacturers will want to join in soon because these bikes really do make our sport so much more economical and enjoyable.