Five years ago, nobody had heard of GoPro. At the 2012 Dealer Expo, the company had one of the most visible booths which always had a crowd around it.
Saturday morning began bright and early as a veritable Who’s Who of the motorcycle industry congregated in the Wabash Conference Room in the Indiana Convention Center to support the inaugural Right Riders Breakfast and Auction. Off-road giants like Malcolm Smith, Scot Harden and Chuck Sun joined forces with flat track star Chris Carr and road racers Don Emde and Kevin Schwantz to help raise money for off-highway programs supported by the Motorcycle Industry Council, the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America and the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association.
The auction reportedly raised $52,100 as attendees scooped up prizes like a two-day road racing lesson at the Schwantz School, Team Honda autographed number plates and Indy GP tickets. The MIC also announced it will soon be conducting an OHV economic input study to shed light on how much revenue is generated that benefits not only off-road manufacturers but the restaurants, hotels, gas stations and cities like the ones near our own Oregon Dunes that rely on money the OHV industry provides.
Inside the convention center, the voice of the auctioneer at the National Powersport Auctions’ (NPA) rambled through a collection of 150 pre-owned motorcycles in 90 minutes as the auction generated $1.28 million in sales. It’s a good thing the NPA hired one of the fastest talking auctioneers we’ve ever heard, because that’s a lot of motorcycles to sell in a short period of time. It also emphasizes the importance of pre-owned motorcycle sales for dealerships these days. Some of the highest bids went for a 2008 Honda/Cobra trike at $27,750 and a 2010 Harley CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide which sold for $25,200. The average going price for an auctioned motorcycle was $8400.
One of our favorite exhibits at this year’s Dealer Expo belonged to Cobra USA. The aftermarket motorcycle exhaust specialist had a splendid display called the “Cobra 20 Years of Customs Retrospective” at the show, a unique collection comprised of custom motorcycles Cobra has built in between 1993 and 2011 showcasing their aftermarket pipes on various platforms. Cobra’s history extends beyond merely pipes as the company had a hand in demonstrating the customizing potential of metric motorcycles when practically nobody else would touch them, applying the custom treatment to a Honda Magna in 1993 called Magna-fied.
There’s a lot of moto history embedded in the Cobra collection, from a first year Victory 92C to the Cobra Chief, a bike that looks like a vintage Indian Motorcycle with its valanced fenders but is actually a Kawasaki Vulcan that ultimately inspired the creation of the Kawasaki Drifter. Cobra brought out its president, Ken Boyko, along with the in-house customizer responsible for the majority of the motorcycles in the collection, Denny Berg, in addition to special guest moto editor Dave Edwards to unveil the very first bike Cobra customized, a T&M Engineering 125 Honda Elsinore.
Unless you’ve been privy to a meeting inside Boyko’s office, you’ve never seen the pristine vintage Honda Elsinore because that’s where it resides the rest of the year, so it was a privilege to check out such a unique collection seeing as how Cobra had to ship the bikes out to Indy from its SoCal headquarters.
(L) Cobra USA had its 20 Years of Customs display at the 2012 Dealer Expo. (M) The future of electric motorcycles is upon us! (R) Scorpion introduced its 2012 Spring Line at the Dealer Expo.
While running laps around the floor of the Indiana Convention Center, we were able to catch the debut of a couple of important motorcycle helmets. Bell Helmets broke wraps on its Mag-9, the successor to its popular Mag-8 three-quarters helmet. The new Bell Mag-9 has added intake and exhaust vents, there are new cutouts for speakers to accommodate Bluetooth communication sets, and the DOT-approved helmet has three EPS sizes to minimize materials used in construction without sacrificing comfort or protection. Bell also had pinstripe artist Skratch on hand laying down clean freehand lines on Bell Custom 500 Helmets. It’s fascinating to watch a true artist at work, his steady hands stroking smooth pinstripes with amazing precision and grace.
In other helmet news, Shoei said it used customer feedback to refine its Neotec Modular Helmet. The 2012 version of the Shoei Neotec is said to vent better thanks to a new chin vent, a larger RAM-style air vent on the top of the helmet and the addition of a rear vent. The latest Neotec is lighter, they’ve worked on noise reduction by making a more all-encompassing seal around the neckroll and Shoei switched up the locking mechanism which they demonstrated with a few blows to the modular arm. It now has a fully removable interior, which it lacked before, and has a built-in sun visor to go along with improved aerodynamics.
Over in the UTV section, the team over at DragonFire had one of the hottest UTV conversion kits around for the Polaris XP 900. They’ve injected a stock XP 900 with even more angst, giving it better clearance courtesy of their HiRise Links for the trailing arm which adds a claimed five inches of clearance while laser-cut, chromoly-plated box A-arms beef up suspension duties on the front.
DragonFire’s RacePace modular cage system fortifies the riding compartment with a “Flying V” front brace, their Headache Bar system and smash bumpers front and rear. Best part is, the new cage system has been designed so people can buy it in increments, making it a little easier on the wallet.
The removable D-shaped race steering wheel is ultra grippy and serves as a good theft deterrent because it pops off easily. Meanwhile, passengers will enjoy the new stabilizer of their black-anodized passenger grab bar which DragonFire says doesn’t bounce around noisily like the stock unit. If we were going to hit Baja in a UTV, DragonFire is the first place we’d stop. The company is working hard to make an XP 4 which puts 100 hp to the ground in what they call a “budget-minded” big bore without a stroker crank or turbo. DragonFire is also getting ready to double up its manufacturing size, so look for more good stuff coming in the near future.
While perusing off-road related products, the crew at We-Are MX showed off some of its latest motocross-specific gloves. The relatively new company claims to make super grippy gloves which last three times longer than most others, be it their dual compound or single layer motorcycle gloves. The pre-curved gloves have spandex sidewalls through the fingers and finger slits across the knuckles so they vent well and are comfortable right out of the box. At a price of $30 – $35, We-Are MX has set a competitive price point and the company has intentions to expand its line into the apparel and accessories realm in the near future.
Liquid Image brought its collection of goggle cams to the 2012 Dealer Expo. Its latest offering, the Apex Goggle, will hit the market in June.
The guys at e-Tint have a great product, a motorcycle visor insert that adjusts to light conditions at the push of a button.
Another company that caught our eye at Dealer Expo 2012 was Liquid Image with its Xtreme Sport Cams. The company makes goggles with a built-in camera which is capable of streaming video to smartphones, tablets or computers. It also can shoot still images and captures everything on a micro SD card. Additionally, their product has a GPS system that can be enabled via a smartphone, too. Their sport cams are available in an off-road goggle, but they’ve got a Summit Series for skiers and boarders in addition to a Scuba Series.
The company will be debuting its new Apex Goggle in June which records in HD 1080P, shoots stills whether individually or in continuous photo mode and features the live Wi-Fi ability to stream to smartphones. The new Apex series will list for $399, while its current Summit class, which also shoots at 1080P and has still photo capacity, sells for $299. As much as we shoot video for bike tests, we’d love to check out a pair to review the functionality of the camera and the clarity of the footage it shoots.
One other product that piqued our interest was e-Tint’s motorcycle visor insert that adjusts for lighting conditions either manually or automatically. We’re as guilty as the next person of blowing off swapping out our tinted visor for a clear one when the sun starts going down. Carrying an extra visor isn’t always convenient either. The e-Tint LCD motorcycle insert provides electronic tint whenever you need it. It has two settings, one light, one a bit darker, and comes with an anti-fog coating. No tools are needed for installation and it has a small USB rechargeable lithium battery. As mentioned, the visor insert can be operated manually or you can set it to adjust to changing light conditions automatically, with the manual version listing for $129 while the auto insert costs $149.
The Dealer Expo not only serves as a valuable networking opportunity, it also provides a venue to catch up with old friends. We ran into our buddy Soloman Harris at the show, owner of Cutting Edge Illusions out of Eugene, Oregon. Cutting Edge Illusions are the people who put that killer gold metal flake on our 2011 Honda Fury IMS Project Bike. In addition to laying down show quality paint for custom bikes, Cutting Edge has also started up a Factory Finish painting service for “those who want a new look but do not need a show quality finish or a customized, one-off design.” Soloman had a great collection of designs and colors to choose from at the show for the new Factory Finish program which offers riders an outlet to spruce up their ride without breaking the bank. The single layer designs can be chosen from the Factory Finish catalog and logos in the catalog can be added for no additional charge. A clear coating glosses it up and you’ve got a new paint job that is as good if not better than factory paint.
AMA Flat Track racer Shayna Texter attended the 2012 Dealer Expo, meeting fans and signing autographs.
We also ran into the owner of Royal Riding Gel Pad Seat Cushions, Kris Hart, who we met last year at Sturgis. Kris’ company offers motorcycle seat cushions made from a combination of memory foam and gel. It’s made to take out some of the vibrations felt on your backside while riding and reportedly eliminates pressure points. Royal Riding cushions are available in six sizes and are offered with either sheepskin or neoprene covers. Waterproof rain covers are also available. We love to support the small, independent business people out there, and Kris, her daughter and her friend Jen Calaprice are a veritable three-person wrecking crew who show that with a little hard work, determination, and integrity, it is possible to make it in a tough industry.
Speaking of friends, we also ran into ol’ Charlie Brechtel at the show. Anybody who’s a rally regular knows “Good Time” Charlie, a jack-of-all-trades. He is the host of 24/7 Biker Radio, an online radio station featuring music, news, interviews, and live broadcasts from the various functions and rallies he attends. He also runs around with his camera shooting vidoes which he posts on his site, bicproductions.com. Saturday night, he happened to be the headlining entertainment for the Dealer Expo Industry Party which took place inside of Lucas Oil Stadium, the site of the Super Bowl a few weeks earlier. Charlie rocked the house with his guitar-driven blues and Southern rock, which was a great way to finish off our time at the 2012 Dealer Expo.