FMF Factory Tour - Dirt Rider Magazine

FMF has a dyno room, of course, to match raw numbers with test rider feel, lap times and pro racer results and feedback.

In the late '60s and into the early '70s Don Emler's Southern California race team of Ray Lopez, Tim Hart and Don himself made a living by splitting the purse while racing bikes with now distant names of Monarch and Penton four nights a week and on Sundays. Don stepped down from racer in 1972; by that time he was sponsoring riders faster than he was.Then in 1973, after years of building race engines and making custom performance two-stroke exhausts out of his garage, Emler officially launched the Flying Machine Factory. At that time the STP and KTM logos were so cool that later that same year the familiar "FMF" logo flew for the first time. The earliest sign of success came when Honda of Piqua (later to become Honda of Troy) placed an order for 40 pipes-and sent the money up front!Former-FMF-team-racer-turned-factory-rider Marty Smith made Honda aware of the company's pipes, and in 1974 the pipe on Smith's 125cc championship-winning Elsinore was an FMF, and suddenly the SoCal enterprise was flying. FMF was on the map, at that time in Harbor City, California. The facility now resides close by in Rancho Dominguez, California, where it produces thousands of dirt bike exhausts each year, and let us in to see what that looks like.

In 2001 the Q (sound responsible) line was born at Don Emler's insistence, not from demand. Initial sales were very poor, but the company put time and money into promoting responsible sound levels. (And worked with BRC, ORBA and the AMA on land-use issues!)
FMF stocks a lot of pipes. And way in the back you can almost see Indiana Jones looking for a lost crate with something important inside.
Two-stroke expansion chamber production is relatively simple. About four to six stampings and some welds and you're ready to roost!
Inside those Megabomb and PowerBomb header bulges are ports. The size and number differ and are carefully tuned for each model and application.
Issues with supplied titanium tubing led FMF to purchase its own mill four years ago. Here flat coils of titanium start their journey into the third dimension...
Straight pipes are for muscle cars. Motocross exhausts need bends in 'em! FMF's Addison tube benders oblige with an external bend die and an internal mandrel to keep the tube round.
FMF has a massive stamping department that produces all of its end-caps, both two- and four-stroke. Here, a boring flat piece of stainless steel becomes part of something cool.
It all changed for FMF with the Honda Elsinore in 1973. FMF was on the cutting edge of pipe design and engine tune with the cutting-edge red bike.
Think FMF isn't still involved in the two-stroke market? The day I was there the guys were producing Husqvarna, KTM and Yamaha two-stroke pipes.
Four-stroke pipes are welded in a different area than two-stroke pipes. Titanium and stainless steel must be welded in an inert environment. Can't the two and four people get along and agree at anything?
Lil' D is bigger than Big D, but Big D draws more water. It was no surprise to catch Big D in the shop; he usually works six days a week.