Passion For Performance: WP Performance Systems
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Most know WP as the brand of suspension components available on KTM motorcycles, as well as on the bikes of motocross champions like Ryan Dungey, Antonio Cairoli, and Jeffrey Herlings. While this is true, KTM suspension is only a portion of what the company focuses its day-to-day operations on, and the extent of what they're involved in was even unknown to us until we received an invite to venture deep into the Austrian countryside for a firsthand look at what WP Performance Systems is all about.
WP Performance Systems – Munderfing, Austria
Founded in 1977, the former Netherlands-based company has had its hand in off-road technology for quite some time now, but it wasn't until WP relocated to Munderfing, Austria, in 2008, and opened its modern suspension plant the following year, that the new generation of WP was born—a forward-facing, technology-driven brand focused on becoming the leading supplier of chassis and engine components for the motorcycle and powersports industries.
What sounds so familiar about Munderfing, Austria? Well, it happens to be just down the road from the small country town of Mattighofen, which is where KTM's global headquarters are located. Although WP was once a subsidiary of the Austrian motorcycle manufacturer, and KTM is still their number-one customer, WP is now a stand-alone brand that caters to other OEMs in the motorcycle and automotive business, despite its close working relationship with KTM. "We're looking to be a global producer of components for all motorcycles, and we're not going to stop with KTM," says WP North America's business development manager, Kyle Guglielmetti.
WP's now massive operation includes not just suspension, but also the design and production of products such as steering dampers, water coolers, oil coolers, exhaust, and frames and frame components, all of which that can be found on new KTM motorcycles that roll off of your local dealership's showroom floor.
Also after the transition to Austria, WP began to focus on its aftermarket product offerings for Japanese models, including A-Kit suspension, which has grown increasingly popular over the years worldwide and could be spotted on several Japanese brands at the 2014 Motocross of Nations in Kegums, Latvia, like Tommy Searle's and Dylan Ferrandis’s Kawasaki KX250Fs. Another big focus by WP is on the innovation of future technology like semi-active suspension, which will be available soon on select models according to the company's top engineers.
WP North America – Murrieta, California
With the new generation of WP advancing quickly overseas in Europe, a need for a headquarters on American soil soon became a priority, and WP North America was established here in the US with its sole focus being suspension, mostly because there is no consumer need for aftermarket frames or exhaust. "There have been third-party companies in the past who have acted as importers for WP," Guglielmetti explains. "That was great, but with the new direction of the company, we realized the importance of having a US office of WP that was Stateside to represent the brand."
WP Authorized Centers And Factory Services
Although only having its one location in Murrieta, California, with the increasing popularity of KTM bikes, WP expanded its American-based services even further with the introduction of WP Authorized Centers and WP Factory Services. "US consumers formerly had to rely on the KTM dealer network to support their WP suspension or component needs," Guglielmetti says. "But the availability of information or spare parts still had great room for improvement. Without a direct line to the manufacturer, it proved to be difficult for a lot of people. Now customers can actually get spare parts and technical support as direct from the manufacturer as possible. This is done through two channels: First, we have our network of WP Authorized Centers, which is the primary channel for technical support and spare parts. These include Race Tech, Factory Connection, PG Suspension, Super Plush Suspension, and SDi. They are all well-qualified suspension shops that represent the WP brand and have the technical knowledge of our products that we require so they can adequately support the customer. We're also really excited to announce we just added one new Authorized Center, the self-proclaimed mini experts, and we certainly support that statement, Powerband Racing out of Minnesota. They're the king of mini bikes."
"The second channel, WP Factory Services, was born from factory racing in the purest sense. It started so we could offer top teams support at a factory level, like Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil//Red Bull/KTM, BTO Sports KTM, and Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna. But we quickly realized that there was also a desire from riders and racers on a lower level than these teams to work directly with the manufacturer, so we opened it up to the general public to have a premium service offering available to our general consumer. This is done exclusively in-house at WP North America, and we're there to support the top factory teams under contract and for anyone else who feels they need top-level premium suspension."
Riders and racers looking for premium suspension services can also look to a WP Authorized Center, and those centers actually supply more A-Kit suspension to customers than the WP North America headquarters itself, which is now available for the entire KTM model range, from 50cc minis to 500cc dual-sports, as well as all Japanese full-sized motocross bikes. The main difference with its Factory Services division is that it's for customers looking to work directly with the manufacturer, and for most people they encourage contacting an Authorized Center of their preference, which is usually local to their region. To find out more, visit wpfactoryservices.com.