selling the same alloy we use to somebody else. And that that company couldn’t bend the tubes in a 90 degree angle. It was a no go. Could we, please, show that it could be done and send them a sample. So our boys took it and bent it (gestures with hands) by 180 degrees! IA: When I started bending titanium, I produced a terrifying amount of rejects. In those days, when a metre of a hand-made tube cost around 100 Deutsche Marks, it was quite interesting to watch the pile of waste I produced in the beginning. Those were crazy times. I heard that you also purchase scrap titanium for the foundry?
IA: No, we don’t. We use our own, because we have a lot of it. Unless we are using it for special applications, not related to exhaust systems. In such a case we purchase certified Grade 5 titanium. When you were standing in that manufacturing hall, bending the tubes, did you see into the future, did you envisage the 900 employees?
IA: No, I definitely didn’t back then. But I did see enormous potential in the bike segment. There were no big manufacturers that would produce quality exhausts at a level enjoyed
Various exhaust system brands were already present, some with good renown to boot. How come nobody saw what the future would bring?
IA: I don’t know… They didn’t do business in that way. I think they didn’t decide to develop a perfect exhaust for a client. They always made special exhausts for factory riders and their teams and sold a different product. I think we are the only company in the world that provides the same quality exhausts to our buyers as we do to a factory racing team. I’m not saying that the exhausts are completely alike, because the teams have several versions at their disposal, but it might happen that they are the same. We are talking minimal deviations. The two are made in exactly the same way and from the same material. UR: And that’s the key!
Akrapovič’s portfolio already includes exhaust systems manufactured entirely from titanium, first available for Kawasaki and Yamaha bikes.
UR: Perhaps in the long run. But we still have a lot of reserve in Črnomelj. By moving and by optimising production processes we have alleviated the need for any large employee growth at the moment. IA: It is a very complex question and it depends on what and how will happen globally. And not in the next five years, but rather in the next six months! So you do have a plan B in such a case?
IA: We do. UR: And plan C as well! We have been closely monitoring what’s been happening around the world and in the industry since last year. IA: China has good potential as a market for us, but that is not the main issue. If the Chinese economy wobbles, it will cause problems in Europe. What manufacturers sell in China is all connected. And that’s leaving out issues facing Europe or taking into account everything else, including the USA. It can become quite unstable. Uroš, you were fresh on the boat when you joined Akrapovič on the first day of
After successfully moving to the new site
2009 and I presume you didn’t feel as if
in Črnomelj, I saw a projection that you
the motorcycle segment is collapsing?
plan to have 1000 employees by the end of
1999 3D engineering
first professional tube-bending machine. Until then the tubes had been bent on a homemade tube bender, which could not cope with the increased demand.
by Japanese factory teams or arrived at by legendary tuner Pop Yoshimura. From titanium! But such an exhaust cost 10,000 Deutsche Marks back then. Those were high, unreachable numbers!
1999 Tube mill
2000 First world champion
The company moves from its small Ivančna Gorica workshop into a larger hall in Malo Hudo and later opens a newly constructed R&D facility. The first machine added at the new location is a CNC machine for the production of flanges.
UR: I knew some of it, of course.
First steps into 3D modelling – today’s Akrapovič
would be difficult to imagine without it. 3D modelling speeds up the development process. The first modelling software is Pro Engineer.
The purchase of a tube mill is revolutionary for the company, turning Akrapovič into a tube maker, independent from tube suppliers. The company gains total control over the tubes it uses for its exhausts.