It all started when I bought a KTM RC8R a few weeks ago. I’d owned one years ago and always regretted letting it go. Long story short, the mirrors give a great view of your shoulders and not much else.
In search of some neat bar-end mirrors I decided to use a quality British supplier and gave Oberon Performance (https://www.oberon-performance.co.uk/) a ring. I’d fitted one of their clutch slave cylinders to a KTM Super Adventure in the past.
I spoke with their Customer Services guy, David Goodyear, and he helpfully deciphered the multitude of fitting options (actually 9) shown on the Oberon website before I placed the order.
During our conversation I asked if he could arrange a visit to their workshop and so, some weeks later, a hardy bunch of TVAM riders arrive like drowned rats (the rain was biblical) at the Oberon workshop in Havant; one arrived in a waterproof tin box on wheels (lightweight!!).
Steve Street, the owner, entertained us (I use the words deliberately) for over 3 hours. He should write a book. He took us through his early years as an apprentice and subsequent years of successes and failures. His interactions with manufacturers, suppliers and big-name motorcycle manufacturers were an eye opener. He has overcome struggles to obtain British components; who would have guessed it would be so difficult to source 60mm diameter convex mirror glass.
Finally he bought up an anodising plant because his supplier became so overwhelmed with orders that quality and delivery just failed dramatically.
Steve is a true entrepreneur; biker, engineer, shrewd businessman and innovative problem solver who isn’t fazed by challenges. It’s a story of biker becoming accessory manufacturer with real ambition to make a difference. The ethos of Steve’s company is simple, to offer parts which improve the performance where OEM parts may have failed or just to enhance a bike’s look and feel. Examples include clutch slave cylinders, mirrors, footpegs and clutch/brake levers.
Steve explained that OEM parts are often poorly designed; an example being the metal to metal contact of sliding surfaces in a hydraulic component and seals which fail prematurely. He has skilfully re-designed these with more appropriate tolerances and better seal design to give smoother operation and longer life. He originally designed and made his own seals (EPDM, frozen for machining – for those that are interested) although these have recently been outsourced.
His interest and expertise in mechanical engineering, materials science and chemistry has led him to be the owner and driving force behind a successful and unique enterprise.
We had to tactfully refuse his offer of more tea when we learned he’d overrun and missed an appointment with his grandson.
Great visit and a much more pleasant, dry, ride home with a stop at The Long Barn, Alresford.
A good day out. If you’re interested in the process in full you can find it at: www.oberon-performance.co.uk/how-its-made
First published in Slipstream September 2021