Talking Titanium with StradaFab's Randy Martin
TMS Titanium caught up with StradaFab owner Randy Martin. StradaFab specializes in the design and construction of high performance Titanium frames, exhausts, components and accessories for Ducati motorcycles. Everything they make is crafted with the utmost care and precision because they believe in only offering the best quality products to our customers. Randy works side by side with his son Zach in their shop in Kansas.
TMS - Tell us about how StradaFab got started...
Randy Martin, StradaFab – “Well I was working at a factory job and was looking for a career move. My wife and I were at the Indianapolis MotoGP one year and the company from Italy (NCR) that builds Titanium Ducati frames had a display set up. I told my wife I think I could build those frames. So that was the inspiration."
“It took a few years to get everything going but eventually produced the world's first Ducati Monster with a Titanium frame. Then I started building titanium exhausts. Later, my son Zach started working for me and we added a lathe and CNC mill to meet customer demands. The only thing we don't do in-house now is water jetting. Most of the products we have added have been customer driven. We've been fortunate to have good customers with a vision of something not on the market."
TMS - You are a father son team… so how does that work and how satisfying is it to work together?
Randy - (chuckles) “It was a bit of a rocky start but once we figured out where our strengths were, it has been really good. Zach does all of the machining now, I don't think I could make it without him.
TMS - How many projects or bikes do you work on at once?
Randy - “Like any small business we have our ups and downs. Although it seems like as we go there are fewer downs. We generally will have three or four projects going on in various stages. Probably our biggest problem is getting enough work out. With just the two of us we can get overwhelmed with orders."
TMS - How much Titanium are you using?
Randy - “It's hard to say how much Titanium we use. It really just depends on orders. It's a niche market so we're not producing hundreds of parts."
TMS - Can you talk about how TMS is helping?
Randy - “TMS has been great to work with! James really takes care of us. I was just telling someone today the ability to have Titanium cut to size is really the key to doing some of the things we do. I'm getting ready to prototype a pressure plate for a Ducati clutch. The material is $1,440.00 per foot. I only need one inch. So being able to purchase the material I need for $120, versus $1,440.00 is huge for us."
TMS - What is it like build something that is a performance machine but some people also consider art?
Randy - “I don't get into the artsy thing too much. There is a certain style I like, and most of my customers are into that same style. There are a lot of artsy bikes out there that are nearly un-ridable. That's not the purpose of a motorcycle for me."
TMS - Can you talk about the benefits of using Titanium?
Randy - “Obviously the weight difference is the big advantage on a motorcycle. We can build a frame that weighs 12-14 lbs. and an exhaust system with Titanium headers and carbon fiber silencer that weighs 5-7 lbs. The quality I like about Titanium is that it never rusts or corrodes. In certain applications it is just not going to wear out. The cost is more up front, but it will last forever."
TMS - If you could make anything out of titanium what would it be?
Randy - “A gas tank and a seat! I'm working on a bike now that will be almost entirely out of Titanium. Frame, exhaust, triple clamp, stator cover, cam covers, swing arm, axles, pivot shaft, pressure plate, belt pulleys will all be out of titanium. The only parts missing are the tank and seat, but I'm working on that!"