Here is a saying we love: "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the happiness of a low price is forgotten!"
It couldn't be more true and many of you reading this have unfortunately found this out the hard way! We now in our early modding years in the 80's we fell for the gimmicks too!
Before we get started we want to make clear everything mentioned in this and future blogs pertains only to UR products. Other companies may make parts that look or seem similar to ours but rest assured they are not.
Can UR products seem expensive? Sure but when you realize what determines the price of quality products like ours you begin to appreciate their true value. First and foremost there are development costs which in our case started accumulating years before we even incorporated or even sold our first product. We spent close to $100,000.00 in man hours, equipment, software and materials. Then there are all the other costs before we opened our doors to sell in May of 1997. Incorporation, registering our name as a trademark, product liability costs (which none of our current knock-offs artists ever have), office insurance, web-site development costs, lease costs for our facility's, electric, water, gas, workers compensation, disability insurance, credit card processing. We haven't even paid any salaries yet, nor the matching social security payments for those salaries, payroll taxes, health insurance and 401k program. What it comes down to is we spend in excess of $50-75K just to open the door each year, not including salaries, depending on the size of our staff.
We've herd many numbers thrown out over the years by arm chair experts about what things should cost and what profit margins are. The best one we've herd, which was focused at our pulleys, was a 300% profit margin all said and done. If that was the case I would have been retired a long time ago! The fact is that profit margins are no where near that percentage unless of course you are a manufacturer in the clothing, jewelry, beauty, software or computers. I would like to how these arm chair blabber mouths even justify the filth they spew. I'm tired of the baseless, clueless crap that these jealous hate mongers throw out for other, unfortunately impressionable, younger clients to read and stew over. These younger clients don't have the experience to realize that these blabber mouths have no idea what they are talking about.
What's even worse is the copy cats try to convince you that there products are ok through marketing lies and propaganda. Our favorite lie, thrown out there specifically by a johnny Come Lately Subaru pulley vendor, is that underdrive pulleys are bad for your engine. There couldn't be anything further from the truth than this insidious marketing myth! We specifically test every vehicle we make an underdrive pulley for, no other vendor can claim this, to make sure that with everything turned on in the vehicle that voltage stays over 12 volts. This includes items you would never have on at the same time and it also includes having an additional draw of up to 600 watts RMS or an equivalent lighting or auxiliary electrical draw. Now what we will say is for those that have a need for electrical output above these levels or because of bolting on an aftermarket supercharger we do make stock diameter crank pulleys. As with the sport compact underdrive pulleys we were the first to bring these stock diameter pulleys to the market in 1999 for cars with these special needs. Our second favorite lie is that there pulleys are lighter than ours. We are at a minimum are a few ounces lighter to mostly pounds lighter than the competition. Don't believe the hype because weight reduction means more machining which means higher cost which is impossible at the prices the knock off artists charge.
What it comes down to in the end is if you can't currently afford to buy a quality brand don't go out and buy a cheap knock-off because you'll end up paying twice to do it right when you could have done it right the first time. Save your money and try to be patient which will save you a lot of hassle and aggravation in the long run. Also realize that in the case of our products, especially pulleys, that you are bolting a critical component to your engine. Our parts costs what they cost not only because of our overhead but because we take the time to design and make them them right which includes the right strength and most importantly the proper balance. No other brand can make these claims. UR has been making pulleys since 1996, we always keep our customers best interest first and we back that up with 5 year guarantee. So is it worth it to save a few bucks when compared to the thousands it will cost you to repair the damage inferior parts will cause your engine. Maybe the part won't cause any damage, maybe the engine can handle the inferior quality but is it worth the chance?
UR Response to: The Danger of Power Pulleys & Understanding the Harmonic Damper (by Steve Dinan)
Before making such a subjective judgment with such wide implications it is important to recognize the fact that long-term real world use outweighs theoretical assumptions. Simply stated the UR staff spent two years doing pre-production testing before our product was offered to the consumer. Coming from a domestic V8 modding background we were also concerned about the ramification that the small displacement domestic & import crank pulleys were dampers. We have worked with engine builders, many of who have been in the industry since the mid fifties. The founder’s brother in law even worked for Honda as an engineer, in engine durability testing, during this period and was instrumental in our understanding that the factory crank pulleys were for occupant NVH control. Meaning at the most basic level they were design to reduce and quiet the noises the vehicles occupants hear in the cars cabin. We have been a trusted aftermarket manufacturer for over 18 years and our customers have accumulated trillions miles using our pulleys. Not once in this period have we ever had even the slightest problems in regard to engine longevity. The fact is if there were a problem with our product we could never have kept it from the public because of the Internet and we would have disappeared within 12 months of launching. Unfortunately because of fear and marketing spin by damper manufacturers we have been the brunt of many urban myths and legends around the Internet. It always seems to be that someone's cousin whose girlfriend’s brother has a friend that had a problem with a UR product. Needless to say we never get a phone call, which we would think would be the first thing an owner would do if they have a problem with our product or any product that supposedly caused a problem. Remember the old adage “Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.” The UR founder spoke with Mr. Dinan and Steve apologized to him privately for any problems his article may have caused as he never intended it directed towards UR pulleys. Unfortunately once the cat is out of the bag, even though it didn't apply to UR the damage was done. Since that time we have always focused on educating the end user about the UR facts.
First mistake in Steve’s opinion is the majority of UR's gains come from under driving. The majority of the gains, 80-85%, come from weight reduction or the removal of rotational mass from the crankshaft. We also do not cause problems with accessory output either, as each kit we manufacture is tested to maintain factory specified output (voltage, engine/cabin interior cooling and power steering assist). So each vehicles under drive is tailored to maintain factory specs and does not exceed 20% under drive. This is important as CARB (California Air Research Board) made it clear to us as long as we do not push beyond 20% under drive we will remain street legal by maintaining factory output specs. Second mistake in Steve’s opinion is the gains from UR pulleys are small. We have seen gains from as little as 5 HP & 3 ft/lbs on a 1993 Civic with a 1.5L SOHC 8V engine to 37HP & 45 ft/lbs on 1990 300Z Turbo. Heck on the E36 BMW M3 we regularly saw 5-9 HP on a stock motor and from 13-18 HP boosted version.
In our early years we worked with many Speedvision racecar teams with a number of different vehicle models. One was Last Minute Racings E36, driven by Alain Chebeir. Last Minute Racing ran our 4-piece pulley kit including the crank pulley for the entire 1999 season. Not once did he ever encounter a problem with our product. We also worked with The Wheel Source/Hikari Supra, driven by David Schart. They ran our 4-piece pulley kit for the entire season, and their motor as turbocharged, making 500-550 HP compared to 320 HP stock. They never had any problems with the use of our product. We also worked with Trac Racings two VW's, running the VR6 engine. They have run our pulleys for two seasons now with no problems. We also worked with High Speed Racings two VW's and they have had no problem whatsoever. All of these teams have disassembled their engines at various times throughout their race seasons and have found no abnormal wear or crankshaft cracking. Now those were just the road race teams. We also work with many drag racers (Vinny Ten, Adam Saruwatari) and one Pikes Peak car (Rod Millens Supra) and none of these teams have ever had problems. Not only these facts but the fact that we have had over 100+ sets in the field on street and street/strip BMW's including some turbo models.
Steve's association of the stock crank pulley being the primary damper is incorrect. But maybe given the problems the Turner Motorsports Speedvision cars had with pulleys we could see where Steve got off on the wrong track without knowing the facts. The Turner vehicles were running under drive pulleys from another source interestingly enough and there is a story behind why. We had originally engineered two designs for the BMW crank pulley, but both kits were four pieces in total. One crank pulley design used the factory six-bolt hub and the other design was a one-piece replacement of both pulley and hub sections. We sent this one piece design to Mr. Turner for evaluation. The main idea behind this one piece design was to eliminate as much weight as possible. Unfortunately this design had a problem because the aluminum would crack in the corner of the keyway because of the high main bolt torque. Mr. Turner instead of letting us know this detail decided he would not tell us this. We found out at about the same time from another local owner we worked with. Mysteriously the following race season, with other mystery pulleys on their cars they began to have crank cracking problems. Multiple motors were broken from what we understand. We were able to sample the other pulleys they used and the machining quality was frightening not to mention they were also unbalanced. Turns out the company Turner worked with was cutting the factory timing ring off the stock pulley and remounting it assuming the ring was balanced of the ring once it is removed. When we made our kit we laser cut our timing ring and checked balance during machining process and after assembly.
It unfortunately comes down to the old adage that you get what you pay for when it comes to quality. There are offshore and on-shore copies of our other pulley models out there. All of these products are sub-standard. Why do owners keep buying them? Unfortunately its lack or education/understanding and plain old dollars and cents. UR pulleys are more expensive because we don't make any compromises. UR pulleys are always the litest, they have the finest finish and we back them up with the longest warranty (5 years) which is also transferrable. Our crank pulley kits and pulley sets include the necessary Gates belt/s for installation. Gates is the original patent holder for the serpentine belt and they are the largest OE belt & hose supplier in the world. For cars that have an engine where the crank pulley rides and oil seal we press onto the pulley a 316 stainless sleeve that will never corrode and we also include a new SKF oil seal. SKF is a leading global supplier of bearings, seals, mechatronics, lubrication systems, and services.
One other important issue not acknowledged by Steve how this ultimately ends up being a rather random attack on a specific performance adder without looking at power adders in general. Let’s get technical about this issue and look at how all power adders must be looked at under a more rigid standard. Based on factory testing and design even changing something as simple as the oil to a non-factory used oil puts the power plant or driveline into a completely different set of parameter results. It seems a stretch but we know from first hand discussions with the OE's. To clarify though the changes in parameters from changing oil brands or a slight viscosity change are as simple as a small increase or decrease in output with no effect on durability. Another example could be aftermarket intake systems. By increasing the intake airflow, response parameters are changed to some completely different set of parameters from what the OE’s intended in stock form. This does not even take into account the change in intake resonance frequencies, which again creates deviations from the OE design and will very likely increase engine throttle noise changing occupant NVH levels. This does not even take into account that the engine may make more power which again leaves us with a deviation from parameters the OE’s designed the engine to be within. Since Steve happens to like adding superchargers to normally aspirated engines we need look at forced induction. Boost means more power, which in turn means more engine and drivetrain stress. The OE's never designed their normally aspirated engines to be used in conjunction with these power adders. Driving a supercharger puts more stress on the front of the crankshaft. Turbos put more stress on the exhaust valves from backpressure and heat. Turbos can also be trickier as far as boost control goes, tending to spike which causes severe engine strain. This additional stress was never included in the OE design of the crankshaft or pulley systems. If the factory pulley were a damper, in the traditional sense, the additional stress from any modification let alone adding boost would negate any supposed special function the factory pulley may have served. We can go on and on with how non-factory parts, even regular service parts which are non-factory can effect a vehicle. The fact is end users want more power and they assume the risks of their desire. All the products they desire to achieve these improvements where never entered into the design equation of the factory designers.