The National Cycle, Inc. and ZTechnik Story
The company known today as National Cycle, Inc. started in Chicago, Illinois in 1937 as Nation's Cycle Center. The founder was a young man, Gordon Willey (1903-1989), who believed that success in business required "Total Customer Satisfaction". This business philosophy was the beginning of a long and successful tradition. It's a tradition maintained throughtout today as National Cycle continue to build the finest motorcycle windshields and accessories in the world.
National Cycle, Inc. is the world leader in windshield manufacturing, with a higher distribution number than any other windshield company in the world. The company is the OEM supplier to BMW, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, Polaris, Suzuki, Triumph, and Yamaha – companies who share the company's philosophy of quality design and manufacturing.
National Cycle has developed more innovations and holds more patents for the design and production of windshields than any other company in the industry. They listen to their customers and work hard to maintain their leadership position. All products are proudly designed, engineered and manufactured at National Cycle, Inc. U.S.A.
An impressive history
- 1937-1945 - The New York Stock Exchange crashed and hard times came to everyone. But in 1931, Gordon Willey's biplane, Lady Luck took Gordon to new hights and found Nation's Cycle Center in Maywood, Illinois in 1937 and a new era in motorcycle accessories was born. The early years were quite a struggle, and after December 1941 the factory's output was devoted to war material, but the Post-War Boom meant good times ahead for Nation's Cycle Center.
- 1945-1955 - Hundreds of thousands of men came home from Europe and the Pacific and settled down to a quiet, peaceful life. The veterans craved the excitements and thrills and dangers that used to be a part of their daily lives and for many the answer to that craving came in the form of a motorcycle. A new nation of riders meant a world of opportunity for Nation's Cycle Center. A small range of accessories soon became a wide range of accessories, and business boomed.
- 1955-1965 - By the mid-50s, America was really starting to rock and roll and the big American v-twin motorcycle became the undisputed King of the Highway. Who better to dress the King than The Nation's Cycle Center? The products catalog featured a wide range of dresser accessories such as Windshields and Mounts, Rear View Mirrors, Handlebar Grips, Fender Tips & Rails, Chrome Bumpers, Wheel Discs, Seat Rails, Spot Lights, Highway Bars, Saddlebag Guards, Tailgunner Lights, Luggage Carriers etc.
- 1965-1973 - Just twenty years after World War II, Japan again invaded America... but this time they were welcomed with open arms and wide-open wallets. An era of cheap but technologically advanced Japanese motorcycles began. Suddenly everyone was on a motorcycle, even the nicest people. Since its inception, Nation's Cycle Center was a manufacturer of accessories for Harleys, Indians and British bikes. With the birth of the Japanese Bike Boom, Gordon Willey saw a great opportunity to expand his market. That market expanded beyond everyone's expectations, and many of Nation's Cycle Center's greatest innovations were on the near horizon.
- 1974-1985 - Gordon's enthusiasm knew no bounds, but his health unfortunately did. In 1974, his son Barry took over the family business as President with his brother, G.B., as Senior Engineer and Partner. Nation's Cycle Center would now be known as National Cycle. With vigor and dedication, Barry went to work on new windshield designs made from new materials. Barry’s pioneering spirit introduced the worldwide motorcycle industry to the No-Hole Ballsocket, one-piece scooter windshields, quick release windshields and backrests, and other designs utilizing his numerous mechanical patents. In 1975 he developed and introduced the very first motorcycle windshield made from General Electric’s new MR40T4 polycarbonate material (later called FMR hardcoated Lexan®). This new windshield was called the Heavy Duty™ and was available for all brands of bikes. Barry chose Lexan polycarbonate for its superior strength – 20X more impact resistant than acrylic, the standard material at that time for motorcycle windshields. An avid motorcycle enthusiast himself, Barry immediately realised the benefits of polycarbonate for motorcycle riders.
- 1985-1995 -Following the Japanese Bike Boom, the industry was hit by overstocked warehouses, a tariff on larger than 750cc imported motorcycles, and a general Bike Bust. National Cycle was not going to let this affect them and continued to design and develop innovative products for motorcyclists worldwide. The polycarbonate Heavy Duty™ Windshield was expanded into a range of styles and sizes, while the world's first polycarbonate replacement screen, introduced for the BMW R100RT a year earlier, continued to sell extremely well. The Japanese manufacturers were beginning to expand and refine their development of metric cruisers. Barry was quick to realize the importance of this growing market segment, and developed accessories and windshield applications designed exclusively for these bikes. The metric cruisers helped sell the accessories and, conversely, the range of quality accessories helped sell the bikes. What many considered to be a passing fad or a shrinking market became a tidal wave of success for National Cycle. More importantly, National Cycle's investment in this market was a significant factor in its continued growth and development.
- 1995-2005 - This period saw unprecedented growth of new products, new designs, and even greater market leadership. Starting off with gradient-tinted windshields (Airhawk, Agressor, Street Shield), National Cycle followed up with the enormously popular Flyscreen® and the Cruiseliner™ quick-release saddlebags. Accessories designed for Honda cruisers became the Paladin® line, and in 2001, National Cycle launched ZTechnik® with a wide range of accessories designed exclusively for BMW® motorcycles. The real frosting on this decade's cake was the 2003 introduction of their quick-release SwitchBlade® Windshields and Mount Kits that let riders remove or install their windshield in less than 5 seconds, without tools. These super-tough, premium quality polycarbonate windshields also introduced another first: Quantum™ hardcoating. Developed by National Cycle, Quantum is the toughest and most scratch resistant, state-of-the-art hardcoating in the world. There is simply nothing better.
- 2005-Today - Some people just can't stop messing with things. Barry Willey, President of National Cycle, is one of those people. He may or may not have been the first person to ask why motorcycle windshields were shaped the way they were, but he was the first person to actually change that shape – and it turned the motorcycle world upside down. Barry simply inverted the traditional windshield paradigm, put the widest section of the windshield at the top, and added a distinctive "V" profile to channel turbulent air. It sounds basic, but it was so uniquely designed and developed that National Cycle was able to get a mechanical patent on the concept. The VStream® Windshield was born. At first riders weren't sure what they were looking at, but they immediately felt how well the VStream worked. Word got around, and suddenly National Cycle could almost not keep up. Currently, there are 160 VStream Windscreens for 97 different model bikes on the market.
Where to from here? For National Cycle, the sky is the limit.
National Cycle Inc. - new brand – Ztechnik®
In 2000, National Cycle Inc. created a new brand – Ztechnik® – which specializes in high quality motorcycle accessories designed exclusively for BMW® Motorcycles. The name itself, ZTechnik, is derived from the German "Zubehör Technik," which translates to "technical accessories" in English. The ZTechnik philosophy is to closely follow design principles established by the original equipment designers, produce only the highest quality parts possible, and enhance the rider's total experience. In some examples, the same factory OEM designer will contribute to ZTechnik's own product designs.