Advancement in technology is a great thing! If you disagree, you ought to live in a mud hut and read articles off a stone tablet. Without technology, we wouldn't have the wild and dependable two-wheeled machines we've come to love. When it comes to motorcycles, one specific area has greatly benefited from technological advancement, the billet components segment, with the introduction of abrasive waterjet cutting.
In the '70s, waterjetting was a very expensive, loud, dirty, and complex process used by a handful of specialty shops for production line operation. These machines used a highly pressurized stream of water that was suitable only for cutting soft materials like cardboard, foam rubber, and even food products, such as chicken nuggets.
Twenty years later, waterjet pioneers like Dr. John Olson of the Omax Corporation, evolved the technology to a user-friendly, PC-based control system that incorporated abrasives into the water stream for the cutting process. Not only was this new system much easier to use, it was also less expensive, quieter, cleaner, and capable of cutting materials never before considered, such as metals of various thickness.
We wanted to see, first hand, exactly how abrasive waterjetting is used to carve custom motorcycle components. So, we took a trip out to Temecula, California, to Wicked Image where Omax Abrasive Waterjet systems are used to manufacture everything from intricately designed shift linkages and wheels to forward controls and mirrors. Owner Tony Quinones was just getting ready to cut out some of his company's skull and flame mirror arms, so we followed the precise process.