For the past 16 years it’s been a February ritual, an opportunity to see the latest aftermarket goodies in the American cruiser and custom motorcycle scene before the spring buying frenzy. It’s a place where the heavyweights strive to maintain their status as top dogs, while others seeking to make their mark in the industry scurry to find an inroads. The annual Cincinnati V-Twin Expo by Easyriders is a place where deals are sealed with a handshake, business networks are expanded, new products are showcased, and industry leaders are honored.
The highest honors of the 2016 V-Twin Expo were awarded to Mike Taylor, CFO of Barnett Tool and Engineering, who earned the 2016 Industry Leader of the Year award. Taylor heads up Barnett Clutches and Cables, a family-owned and operated business since 1948, their products a favorite of racers and regular riders alike. Specializing in custom cables, the company was featuring its new Scorpion Clutch Basket for 2007-2016 Harley Big Twins at this year’s show.
Other winners at this year’s V-Twin Expo include Freedom Performance Exhaust whose American Outlaw High 2-into-1 exhaust won the 2016 Performance Product of the Year award, S&S Cycle who won 2016 Tech Product of the Year for its TC3 Oil Pump and Headwinds who earned 2016 Value Product of the Year for its H4 LED Headlight Bulb.
Some of the storylines coming out of the 2016 V-Twin Expo include Kuryakyn launching a new logo and rebranded packaging. Kuryakyn has been making motorcycle accessories for the cruiser crowd since 1989, endearing themselves to riders by being a fixture on the motorcycle rally circuit. We caught up with Kuryakyn’s VP of Brand Management Steve Veltri about the change.
“I’m super excited about something we just recently launched, a brand refresh for Kuryakyn. As you can see behind me, one of the components of that brand refresh is packaging. You’ll soon see all-new packaging for Kuryakyn products in dealerships shortly. We’re super excited about the new word mark and logo that’s associated with this repackaging and refresh of the branding effort. And, of course, our tagline now and for the near future is ‘Miles Ahead.’ Kuryakyn, always on the gas, always ahead of our competition, ‘Miles Ahead,’” said Veltri.
Hot on the heels of its February 5th debut, Black Brand Motorcycle Clothing brought its new line of men and women’s riding gear to the 2016 V-Twin Expo. The Black Brand, a division of Tucker Rocky/Biker’s Choice, offers chaps, vests, gloves and jackets made from top-grain leather. It also has worked with helmet maker Kali Protectives for both three-quarter and half-shell offerings utilizing Kali’s composite fusion technology whereby the EPS liner is fused directly to the fiberglass shell. Black Brand Motorcycle Clothing is also conducting a campaign benefitting Homes for our Troops with a donation made to the organization when specific products are sold. Be sure to read MotoUSA Editor Byron Wilson’s Black Brand Motorcycle Clothing Debut article for more information about the new company.
Another company looking to expand its presence in the cruiser segment is Galfer Performance Braking Systems. Galfer’s US Manager Alessandro Milesi showed us the company’s wonderfully designed Harley Wave Rotor claimed to have the best friction of any stainless steel rotor. GalferUSA has a warehouse in Oxnard, California, where it stocks brake pads, brake lines, and rotors. Milesi pointed out that Galfer makes brake lines to order, cutting them to specific lengths to fit a builder’s needs.
On the flip side, a company that’s already entrenched in the cruiser industry, S&S Cycle, was eager to share plans that S&S is going racing. No one was more stoked about this than S&S Cycle’s Marketing Manager Patrick Garvin, a man who’s been known to terrorize a track or two.
“So a couple years ago, Mama Tried started up right there in Milwaukee, which is kind of in our backyard, or we’re in their backyard. Not only is it an awesome show, great builders, a perfect curated show for the wintertime in the Midwest, they started racing on the ice and added an indoor element this year. Not only do we want to be involved in the show and be a sponsor, of course we want to go racing. So we decided to build a couple of trackers. We built this ’09 here, it’s got our 1250 kit, some cams, some headwork, it makes about 100 horse. And then we built another ’97 with our 100 inch engine in it and places like Performance Machine, Biltwell, Speed Merchant, Dime City Cycles, everybody kicked in to make these cool trackers. I’m excited. Turn right to go left!” said Garvin.
S&S Cycle is eager to go flat trackin’ at the Mama Tried Show on this Sporty with an S&S 1250 kit.
The Mama Tried Flat Out Friday Indoor Flat Track Race will be held February 19, 2016, in Milwaukee. S&S Cycle also launched the 4 ½” version of its Power Tune exhaust system at the V-Twin Expo. The company is looking to expand its reach in the exhaust aftermarket and intends to start producing pipes at a separate exhaust manufacturing facility in Lacrosse, Wisconsin, come spring.
A company that’s been specializing in motorcycle pipes since 1969, Bassani Xhaust, shows no signs of slowing down thanks to its ability to adapt and keep with the times. Founder Darryl Bassani said that Dynaholics and H-D Hooligans like the guys from Unknown Industries have been begging Bassani to build a stainless pipe with a fabricated look and no heat shields. Bassani heeded their request by launching a new Road Rage III Stainless 2-into-1 performance exhaust system. The stepped Dyna headpipes are hand Tig welded, have only a partial heat shield and a removable baffle and end cap. The pipes allow for more lean clearance and sports a clean, industrial look. Said to provide a generous torque boost, the Bassani Road Rage III’s fit mid-control Dyna’s from 1991 – 2016. Bassani said he’s been working to promote his company to the younger generation and cross-over crowds by enlisting the services of people like pro skateboarder and Dyna rider Greg Lutzka, who we met at the X Games in Austin this past summer, and Freestyle motocross rider Lance Coury who can wheelie a Harley with the best of them.
MagnaFlow is another company that needs no introduction when it comes to performance motorcycle exhausts. MagnaFlow’s Motorcycle Division Director, Chris McGee, was happy to point out the merits of all MagnaFlow head pipes for us, stating that whether for touring or Sportsters, they’re made of stainless steel so they run a little cooler.
“We put a magna black coating on it so it doesn’t blue,” said McGee, who also said MagnaFlows provide great torque and horsepower gains while providing a “really drop-bass thunder tone.”
Arlen Ness Industries is another company that needs no introduction when it comes to the cruiser and custom crowd. We were eyeballing Cory Ness’ show-stopping Twin engine bagger that’s been making the rounds of the custom bike show circuit, the monster dual 124 cubic-inch engines sharing a common case and spooned into a heavily modified Ness frame, when we caught up with third-generation Ness builder Zach at their booth.
“We’re at the V-Twin Expo 2016 showing off some of our new product line for 2016, from our 10-gauge lineup, our engine line, new air cleaners, new motorcycles. We’ve got our new double Twin 124 engine bagger we’re showing off, one of my dad’s builds. With that, we’ve got new gas tanks, a ton of new products for 2016, be it Harley, Victory, Indian, anything American V-Twin, we’ve been on the gas with it,” said Zach.
Most recently Zach put his spin on the Victory Combustion Concept, a custom muscle bike featuring Victory’s pre-production liquid-cooled 1200cc V-Twin. Victory’s production bike is slated to be unveiled February 19th, and while Zach couldn’t give specifics, he did say that his design direction was deliberate. That said, we suspect the forthcoming Victory “Octane” will carry over many of the cues as Zach’s bike.
We also got a few moments to chat with Shelly Rossmeyer Pepe of Bruce Rossmeyer’s Destination Daytona. With the 75th anniversary of Daytona Beach Bike Week right around the corner, Rossmeyer Pepe talked about the killer line-up of concerts and bike shows they’ll be hosting at their newly renamed outdoor pavilion Jesters Live (formerly known as Coca-Cola Pavilion). The party starts March 4 with a show by Buckcherry, with Black Label Society taking the stage the next night. Rally favorites Creedence Clearwater Revisited is scheduled to play at Jesters, and The Charlie Daniels Band will close out the week with a concert March 12. While several bike shows are scheduled throughout the rally, the one we are looking most forward to is Dave and Jody’s Perewitz Custom Paint Bike Show Wednesday, March 9.
Cruising around the floors of Duke Energy Center’s convention hall, we stopped at the booth of Ken’s Factory to check out the bike prominently displayed front and center. Ken Nagai said it’s the motorcycle he built for Michael Lichter’s Naked Truth Sturgis exhibit, only now it’s all dressed up with phenomenal flake and color blends. The motorcycle is a showcase of Nagai’s eye for design, from his trademark fantastic girder to the ribbing of the chromed air filter and covers. We saw another well-known custom builder, Jesse Rooke, hanging out at the HardDrive American V-twin Products booth. Rooke has just signed on to be HardDrive’s creative ambassador and will soon be designing signature V-Twin parts for the brand. In return for his services, HardDrive will be the official distributor of Rooke Customs products.
Saturday evening we shot over to O’Malleys in the Alley, an old Irish Pub, to hang with our buddies from Hot Bike and Baggers magazines. Hot Bike announced its 2016 tour will take a spin through North Carolina and ride the ultra-scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. The final list of builders on this year’s tour is still being nailed down. We closed out the night at Rhinegeist Brewery for the second annual Garage Brewed Moto Show to check out the Cincy-style biker soiree put together by the Cincinnati Café Racer club. Check back for a full report on it soon.
- The floor of the Duke Energy Center begins to fill up with exhibitors and vendors during the 2016 V-Twin Expo.
- Easyriders Editor Dave Nichols gets ready to present the 2016 industry leaders award.
- Ken Nagai built this bike for Michael Lichter's Naked Truth exhibit, but as you can see now, it's far from naked.
- Jody Perewitz's Hot Rod Dyna was on display in front of Brocks Performance booth.
Once again, the number of participants at the V-Twin Expo declined this year, with 164 exhibitors listed in the program compared to 182 exhibitors last year. The International Motorcycle Shows happened to be holding a show in Minneapolis last weekend too, and vendors have to decide whether they get more exposure out of the V-Twin Expo or at avenues like the AIMExpo. But between connecting with old friends and opportunities to make new business alliances, the V-Twin Expo by Easyriders still holds a special place for many as it is one of the only shows specifically for the American cruiser and custom scene. That said, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for it.
2016 V-Twin Industry Award Winners
2016 Performance Product of the Year
Freedom Performance Exhaust
American Outlaw High 2-into-1
2016 Accessory of the Year
MCL-3014 Gauge Set For ’14-Up Baggers
2016 Value Product of the Year
H4 LED Headlight Bulb
2016 Tech Product of the Year
S&S Cycle, Inc.
TC3 Oil Pump
2016 Audio Product of the Year
Lower Speaker Adaptors for Liquid Cooled Baggers
2016 Cruiser Motorcycle of the Year
Fat Boy S
2016 Custom Production Motorcycle of the Year
Indian Chief Dark Horse
2016 Motorcycle of the Year
2016 Industry Leader of the Year
Mike Taylor, CFO Barnett Tool & Engineering