It wasn’t long ago that the V-Twin Expo spilled into the upstairs exhibit halls of the Duke Energy Center. I remember Denis Manning and the BUB 7 Streamliner being set up in the hallway outside of the main venue. Big Dog Motorcycles wrestled with Big Bear Choppers for customers’ attention, the crew from the Limpnickie Lot had an edgy display with chain link fences and the makings of a working shop and the Sucker Punch Sallys booth was a great place to grab a cold drink, chill, and shoot the breeze. Now the show does its best to fill the main auditorium.
And while the changing face of the V-Twin Expo is but a reflection of the recent downturn of the motorcycle industry as a whole, the 2012 event still provided a valuable opportunity for companies to gain exposure for their new products as there was plenty of wheeling and dealing going down on the floor of the Duke Energy Center as new alliances were formed, friendships were strengthened, and innovative products for the V-Twin industry were debuted.
Arlen Ness was at the show meeting fans and promoting the vast 2012 Ness Catalog.
The bagger movement was well-represented at the show and was the topic of conversation at the Road Iron Review seminar. Here, Sinister Industries and John Shope show they are at the forefront of the big tire movement for baggers.
In addition to the action on the showroom floor, some insightful seminars were taking place in the upstairs rooms. We happened to catch the Road Iron Review featuring some of the best bagger builders around. The panel consisted of Cory Ness, Bagger Nation’s Paul Yaffe, Brian Klock, Tom Motzko of Drag Specialties, Jim Nasi, Dirk Hinsey from Bad Dad and Dave Perewitz. Many on this list also brought along some exemplary demonstrations of how far the bagger segment has progressed in a special section designated predominantly to custom baggers downstairs. The group collectively touched on why the bagger movement has been so strong in times where other segments have suffered. Yaffe commented on the motorcycle’s versatility, from its ability to enhance the touring platform to its ability to be injected with a chopper attitude. Perewitz added that the bagger market is not going to go away because they are so practical. The panel noted how the way baggers are perceived has changed and how they are beginning to appeal to a younger demographic who ten years ago thought that style of motorcycle was an old man’s bike. They also touched on two of the current trends in the bagger world as Cory Ness noted how the motorcycle’s popularity has helped the stereo market boom as well. The group then brought up the topic of the big tire movement, with Yaffe the strongest proponent who claimed that as long as the geometry is right and the rake and trail are set up properly that 23-inch and even 26-inch tires can handle fine. Then the topic of conversation turned excitedly to Metzeler’s new 21-inch tire that’s load rated for baggers, which should help smooth out the ride and improve overall handling.
The latest Metzeler ME880 Marathon comes with reinforced sidewalls and as mentioned, is one of the first cruiser tires this size to be load rated. It features a soft compound made to provide grip for heavy, torquey motorcycles and has a tread pattern designed for long-lasting wear. They are currently available for ’09 baggers and up and Metzeler had a 21-inch, 120 mounted on one of the bikes at the Drag Specialties booth to show off their new rubber. While we’re on the topic of cruiser tires, we also learned there are 14 new sizes for Pirelli’s Night Dragon for both Harley and Metric bikes. Having more than one flavor to choose is always a good thing, right?
Another cool new product we were introduced to at the 2012 Cincinnati V-Twin Expo was the Ness Modular Handlebars. Cory Ness demonstrated how the bars have junction clamps that allow them to swing forward and back so riders can easily adjust them exactly how they like. The bars are drilled and slotted so wiring can be run internally and the handles can be pulled off at the junction to help simplify the process. With billet construction, the Ness Modular Handlebars are offered in various styles, from Apes to drag bars, and range in price from $399 – $499.
(L) Rick Fairless has fans wherever he goes! (M) Rampage Wheels used the tried and true method of using a poster girl to attract attention to their booth at the V-Twin Expo. (R) Kiwi Mike was recently chosen to build a bike to honor the Coast Guard for the 25th anniversary of the Rolling Thunder rally.
We perused Todd’s Cycles display to scope out his latest line of parts and accessories. Todd Silicato has built a reputation for himself over the years by making hot rodded, street-savvy motorcycles with performance in mind. Todd’s got a great-looking conversion kit for the Harley Blackline, including a chopped, strutted rear fender, a new Wide Glide 41mm top tree to accommodate a variety of bars, and a new intake and exhaust to add a bit on the performance side. His café style Speed Bar also caught our attention with its ability to be mounted “up” or “down,” depending on preference. Slotted and drilled for either internal or external wiring, the Speed Bars come with billet end caps for $249.
Roland Sands was in the house showing his cool Clarity line of parts and his new apparel line. We love the concept of being able to see the “inner workings” of your engine via the see-through panels of RSD’s Clarity Air Cleaners, Derby and Cam Covers. A transparent polycarbonate makes it possible, while the pieces feature contrast cuts and typical sharp, clean Sands’ design. We also got to see and smell the leather of RSD’s new apparel line, like the Rocker and Turbine jackets. We like that Roland’s new gear offers a fresh alternative to the standard biker garb.
While we were at the RSD booth, we also got to talk to Logicopolis’ Sven Resch who was set up at Roland’s booth with his product called GaugeFace, an iPod app that serves as a digital gauge for Harley-Davidson Motorcycles. All that’s required is a small GaugeFace Hardware Adapter that plugs into your Harley’s diagnostics port and a small mount for the bars. The GaugeFace app can be downloaded from the App Store
Akrapovic Motorcycle Exhausts knows there’s no better way to show off a product than to have it mounted on a killer custom motorcycle.
and you’re good to go. There are options like battery voltage and shift indicators, engine temp and even fuel levels which go beyond the standard speedo and tach set up. We can see Resch’s product being particular useful to custom bike owners who like to show their bikes but still want to ride them on the road, too. They generally want to keep the bars clean and don’t want the clutter of gauges on the bars, but with the GaugeFace they could hook up their iPhone to a small mount, plug it in, and ride. Legally. Sven hooked us up with one, so we’ll let you know how it works here in the near future.
As we strolled by the Rush Racing booth, the team was excited to show us their Vengeance Brake Rotors. Made from a metal matrix composite, the Vengeance disc brake rotor is a claimed to be 60% lighter than traditional steel rotors. According to Rush Racing, this translates to a rotor that is more resistant to warping, corrosion and wear. Available for 1984-2012 Harleys, they come with a lifetime warranty. Not only does Rush claim the Vengeance Brake Rotors will improve the ride quality, they look pretty sharp, too. Good stuff coming from the guys at Rush Racing.
The V-Twin Expo also provided us an opportunity to meet up with our friends from the Legendary Buffalo Chip Campground. Rod “Woody” Woodruff has been throwing the biggest party in Sturgis for the last 30 years and has no intention of slowing down now. The party will be bigger and better than ever this year as the Buffalo Chip is converting a couple hundred acres off of Highway 34 into a new free entertainment area. The Crossroads at the Buffalo Chip will be all-encompassing, providing an area for bikers to hang out, get some grub at the Crossroads Café, check out the view from the café’s decks, take in free live entertainment, have their bike serviced or simply to walk around and check out the vendors. The traditional big name entertainment will still be going on inside the Legendary Buffalo Chip Campground on the Wolfman Jack Stage, doubling the fun at the Chip.
We also talked about other exciting projects, like the 2012 Buffalo Chip Challenge. While the project has worked with Western Dakota Tech’s students in the past, this year the project will be spearheaded by students from Sturgis Brown High School, who will be working alongside Keith Terry of Terry Components as they convert a 2011 Road King into a full
We couldn’t help but think of Big Daddy Roth when checking out the custom paint and graphics at this display.
dresser. Terry, out of nearby Spearfish, South Dakota, is the new mentor for the Buffalo Chip Challenge, taking over for custom builder Michael Prugh, who has helped out the last couple of years. The Challenge provides valuable job skills to local teens, giving them an outlet to source some of their creativity. After the bike is built, it will be auctioned off after the Legends Ride, an annual benefit ride that has raised over $200,000 for Black Hills Charities to date. Terry already has a solid list of contributors to the project, from RC Components who are providing wheels and rotors (which Terry said will be a 23-inch front and 18-inch rear), Sinister Industries is chipping in with urethane parts, Klock Werks is kicking down a rear fender and handlebars, HHI will provided an extended neck to support the bigger front hoop, and Dakota Digital are some of the sponsors said to be onboard so far.
We rounded out our visit to the 2012 Cincinnati V-Twin Expo with a stop by Kiwi Mike’s booth. Kiwi Mike has established himself as the authority on Indian Motorcycles. In fact, if I owned the company, I’d seek out his services because nobody builds them with the same character and flair as the company intended like Kiwi Mike. He was recently chosen to build a bike in honor of the Coast Guard for the Rolling Thunder project in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the Rolling Thunder rally. Rolling Thunder is held annually in Washington, D.C. to honor and bring awareness to American POW and MIA. Kiwi Mike said he’s had a 1945 WW II era Indian that would be perfect for the project and said he intends on riding it from LA to D.C. for the rally.
Though we tried to spread ourselves around, the day ended before we had a chance to visit everybody we wanted to. The evening concluded with the V-Twin Excellence in Motorcycling Awards dinner where the “Industry Leader Awards” were presented. Once Easyriders gets back to us, we’ll update the article with this year’s winners. Until then, we leave the show encouraged by what we’ve found, as even though the industry has been pared down, those with good business strategies, integrity, and a bit of good luck continue to dutifully steer the V-Twin industry into the future.