Quality Control – Behind the Scenes at Burly and Progressive

Discarded parts bin

For one reason or another, none of these parts met the exacting standards of Burly, Progressive and PM. Maybe they wouldn’t miss a rotor or two. 

I doubted anyone would notice they were missing. I mean, they were in the scrap bin after all. Nobody was looking. Sean was already headed to the next section of the factory. Despite the temptress temptation whispering my name, I left the shiny drilled-out disc where it lay in the bottom of the bin.

To the non-scrutinous eye, the hodge-podge of shocks, fork internals, rotors and bearings piled in the scrap bin looked good as new. But for one minute flaw or another, they didn’t make the cut. Such are the exacting standards of Progressive, PM and Burly Brand.

What did make the cut are the slick 490 Sport Series shocks Progressive Suspension just launched.

“They’re brand new to the market. They’re going to be available for V-Twin applications, touring, Dyna, Sportsters and more on the way,” said Progressive Suspension/Burly Brand Marketing Manager Sean Delshadi.

Progressive Suspension shock tester

Progressive shocks get put to the test when this thing  puts the squeeze on them.

What’s not to like about a sharp-looking shock that’s built for aggressive riding, its pressurized gas housed in a lightweight aluminum monotube. Preload can be adjusted by hand, they can be dialed in for rebound, too, and have a sturdy jounce bumper built into the cap for those times when the black spring is taxed to the max. In our tour of the factory we’ve seen the machine that punishes them to prove they’re worthy before being released to the market, simulating road conditions by compressing and compacting them relentlessly until they either tap out or make the grade.

In Delshadi’s office we got to see a new product that has made the grade and is just hitting the market, Burly Brand’s Voyager Luggage for Sportsters. Delshadi gave them a real-world shakedown during a summer road trip and Burly was on the cusp of having them dialed and ready to launch during our visit. Sportsters are hot and offering quick detach canvas saddlebags is a brilliant strategy. So is the combination of options the Voyager Luggage provides. You can buy just the bags, or add a little more storage capacity by purchasing the tail bag, too. There’s a matching roll top backpack, a magnetic tank bag with a clear map screen, and a tool roll-up bag as well if you want to go whole hog. Made from cotton canvas and leather, the zipper pulls and strap ends come with an “anti-flail snap system.” While the bags are detachable, turn signals might need to be relocated for mounting purposes.

Sean Delshadi of Progressive Suspension/Burly Bran

Sean Delshadi is the enthusiastic ambassador of both Progressive Suspension and Burly Brand.

Other ways Burly and Progressive keep it 100 is by building cool bikes in-house for real-world testing and tapping into trends, be it brat-style or café or scrambler. For example, they built a scrambler Sportster called the “Jackrabbit” equipped with Burly’s 15-inch Stiletto Shocks and Scrambler Bar then turned Mark Atkins of Rusty Butcher loose on it for a day in the dirt. If it could survive Atkins’ berm-busting, high-flying antics, it can handle just about anything thrown at it.

Rusty Butcher tests the Burly Jackrabbit scrambler

Is there a better way to test your product than letting Rusty Butcher loose on it? (Photo courtesy of Burly Brand)

These days though, it’s all about Dynas and trackers. Progressive and Burly’s social channels religiously promote #trackertuesday and #wheeliewednesday with shots of Rob Carpenter from 1 Wheel Revolution lofting it high. Several 883s sat in the warehouse ready for some hooligan action at Costa Mesa or Perris Raceway. The company realizes the importance of getting your brand in front of buyers so it brought the 2007 FXDB Dyna called “Snowman” it built to Born Free, the “Snowman” reference a nod to the big rig in the 1970’s classic “Smokey and the Bandit.” In true Burly fashion, the Dyna was loaded with product, from their 12” Jail Bars and T-Bar Cable Kit to MX Pegs to 12.5” Stiletto Shocks.

Performance Machine polisher

The polishers take pride on putting the finishing touches on products before they head to packaging.

My time touring Progress and Burly’s modus operandi left an indelible impression. They hold high standards and keep tight reins on quality control. A high precedence is placed on form and function, evident by the crew hand-polishing product to a high sheen. Parts are tested by both man and machine. The companies have a knack for keeping up with what’s current, a challenging task in an ever-evolving market. Their brand name fits. They take a progressive business approach and make some burly parts, high in both style and performance.