I came across Jeffery Lowery and his CNC work on social media, and got in touch for an interview. GI
How old are you and where are you based?
I am 23 years old, based out of Saint Louisville, Ohio.
How did you learn your craft?
I have been around machining my entire life, but I learned the fundamentals of CNC machine programming through a 4 month trade school.
When did you start making flat track wheels?
My dad was self-employed in 2017, working in his machine shop. I helped him design and make our first flat track wheels then, while I was living two hours away. In 2019 my dad got a job outside of his shop, and in January of 2020 I moved back close to home. I improved the wheel designs, expanded our applications, and used my dad's shop to start this business. In May I bought a new Hurco CNC mill, and in November 2020 I resigned from my 'real' job to be fully self-employed.
I am the only person working on this business full time right now, but my girlfriend Gabrielle, my mechanic Kevin, my dad, and a few other friends all contribute a lot.
Please give us a basic outline of the production process of a wheel.
The wheels are rotary forged and turned in a lathe before I buy them. When I purchase the wheel blanks, the outside rim section of the wheel is finished. I use a CNC mill to machine the wheel pattern throughout the center of the wheel.
The hubs start as extruded aluminum bar stock. We cut it into pieces with a band saw, turn the profile and bearing bore in our CNC lathe, and machine the flanges in our CNC mill.
Our wheels are then anodized, which we outsource.
Who designs the wheels?
I personally do all of the designing and programming of the wheels.
Some of the spokes look very thin, do you do FEA calculations?
I have used some force simulation software, but determining exactly what is strong enough is not a straightforward answer. The wheel is experiencing a lot of very dynamic forces as it is spinning at a high rpm, the motorcycle and rider are on suspension, and the forces coming from the track are dampened by the pneumatic tire. Conceptualizing those forces is not extremely difficult. Calculating those forces is.
I used my best intuition to design the lightest wheels that I was personally comfortable using. I made this 'weak' set of wheels and I use them on my bikes. After hundreds of laps on rough tracks, those wheels are still straight and true. All of the wheels sold to customers are legitimately stronger than my personal wheels. Lowery Racing wheels are for off-road use only, and I have not received any complaints.
How much do the wheels cost and what is the usual waiting time?
The base price of a wheel body is $600, hub assemblies range from $150 to $520 depending on the application. We are building an inventory of black wheel products that we will be able to ship the next day. Any different colors are made to order, and most orders are completed within 4 weeks.
We are currently working on a website and intend for it to be live in January of 2020. This website will make the information easy to find and simplify the ordering process.
Do you race yourself, please give us details of what you race and where?
I have raced flat track since I was 4 years old. So far, the highlight of my career was winning the AMA Dirt Track Horizon award in 2013. I intend to race select events of the AFT Production Twins class in 2021.
I did not race professionally in 2020 in order to focus my efforts on this business. My race program will have more resources in 2021 than ever before, so I am excited to get back at it. We do not plan to race the full 2021 AFT schedule, but I really believe we will compete for wins this year.
What other products do you make?
We have been completely focused on wheels so far, but we plan to expand to triple clamps, heavy clutch baskets, and other flat track parts in the future.
Who are the highest profile customers you have?
We work with some of the highest profile teams in American Flat Track. Lowery Racing wheels were on bikes that won AFT Super Twins, Production Twins, and Singles races in 2020.
We will be working with even more teams in 2021.
What plans do you have for the business for the future?
I’ve always seen flat track as an under-served market, and this business is here to meet that demand. The main focus right now is to further expand our wheel offerings, but there are more things coming in the future. We are sharing our journey through our Instagram and Facebook page, give us a follow to see the fun!
See more at @lowery_racing on instagram