MotoGP rider Ben Spies signed autographs for fans at the HJC booth during the first day of Dealer Expo 2012.
We hadn’t stepped 50 feet into the Indianapolis Convention Center and we were in love. It’s not every day you run into a Ducati dragster, its stock 749cc Twin hanging precariously from the trellis tubes of a custom made frame. But there she was, a beautiful asphalt destroying, stretched out Ducati
rocket with its tiny, pointy nose fairing waiting for a rider to tuck in tight behind trailed by a sleek stretched rear fender, a standout among many other stellar bikes in the Ultimate Dealer Custom Bike Show.
We met the crew responsible for this gem, a shop called Motorcycle Performance out of Madison, Wisconsin, who has made drag racing Ducatis their passion. It’s impressive to think that they’ve put down a 9.21 second run at 142.29 mph with a Ducati 749 engine. Granted, it is equipped with custom throttle bodies, a modified clutch basket with a MTC ZX12 slider head to go along with a few other tricks up her sleeve, but Motorcycle Performance’s accomplishments are nonetheless impressive. If this is how our day was going to start, we anxiously awaited what other treats the first day of the 2012 Dealer Expo might have in store.
The doors opened in the Indianapolis Convention Center with a sense of optimism. From what we’ve heard, the general consensus is the show is smaller than previous years and it’s transitioned to where there are fewer dealers and more vendors. But there’s still more than 700 companies represented this year and over the next three days, thousands of people will wander through the convention center’s doors for a chance to check out the newest products for the powersports industry. Needless to say, our head is still spinning from sensory overload, from the maze of booths we’ve wandered through to the conversations we’ve had, but we’ll give our grey matter a good squeeze to see what we can recall from Friday at the 2012 Dealer Expo.
The American V-Twin Dealer Show is holding its inaugural custom motorcycle show.
For all you motorcycle riding Dead Heads out there, check out River Road's new gear.
We spied MotoGP star Ben Spies at the HJC
booth autographing posters for fans. HJC has a sharp looking Ben Spies Monster
Replica helmet which is sure to be a hot seller. HJC also debuted its RP Max modular helmet, an ultralight lid for a modular courtesy of carbon fiber, aramid and fiberglass shell. A large-sized helmet weighs in at a whopping 1450 grams. Though it’s a modular, HJC has done a bang-up job of injecting it with sportbike-like design. It comes with an integrated sunshield that deploys easily, is available in pearl white, black, silver and matte black and HJC backs its work with a five-year limited warranty. Kudos to HJC for shaving off some weight from what has been to this point hefty modular helmets.
Over at the EVS booth, Bobbi Ali introduced us to the company’s first venture into the street realm. EVS Sports is starting off with small steps with a range of street-riding gloves, from a full-mesh summer glove called the Laguna Air to full leather, gauntlet-style racing gloves. They’ve set some very competitive price points, which should help get the product line out of the blocks quickly. EVS stays true to form with a collection of protective gear for the street, from its Sport Back Protector with fully articulated spine protection to a comp vest with foam impact chest protectors and removable PU back armor.
Hearing that River Road was coming out with some Grateful Dead branded gear, we had to stop by their booth to see for ourselves. Apparently the company was fortunate enough to score an exclusive agreement with Rhino Entertainment to sell merchandise with Dead Head motifs. The collection runs the gamut, from half shells with dancing skeletons to River Road Grateful Dead Jackets
emblazoned with the iconic Steal Your Face 1965 logo. Jerry Garcia would be proud.
Over at the VP Racing Fuels booth, reps were eager to show off their two new combustible elixirs. After hearing gripes about how pump gas with ethanol has been clogging up injectors and fouling carbs on race bikes, VP decided to remedy the problem with its T4 unleaded fuel. Of course, it’s ethanol-free and has a 100 octane rating which VP claims generates three percent more power and reportedly improves throttle response. T4 is designed for most slightly modified four-stroke engines in competition vehicles, from motorcycles to quads to UTVs. But VP also introduced a new product for the two-stroke lovers out there. C9 Pre-Mix is a racing fuel for two-strokers that is blended at a 50:1 ratio with top-shelf synthetic oil. According to VP’s Jim Kelly, “C9 Pre-Mix eliminates all the guesswork and hassle of mixing.” Just like VP’s C9 racing fuel, the pre-mixed version is non-oxygenated, unleaded and has no ethanol.
We also caught the debut of brd Motorcycles 2013 Redshift MX bike. The company’s industrial designer, Jeff Sand, said the electric motocrosser has the power output of a Lites class motorcycle. A peek at the spec sheet reveals it has a claimed 65 mile range with a top speed of 65 mph. It is powered by a 40 hp PMAC, liquid-cooled brushless motor with a 5.2 kWh Lithium-Ion battery. The front is anchored by a WP 48mm inverted fork with 11.8 inches of travel to go with a WP monoshock on the rear that is adjustable for preload, rebound and compression. It tips the scales at a reported 250 pounds and by all appearance is a solidly built ride, but its $15,000 sticker price is sure to raise a few eyebrows.
We then headed back to the new American V-Twin Dealer Show area just in time to catch the unveiling of BlackSmith Motoring Co.’s prototype Retroliner Kit for the Star Roadliner. Gio and the BlackSmith crew have a knack for hopping up metrics with both performance and style and the Retroliner they unveiled is no exception. They bumped up the stock 113 cubic inch powerplant to a stroked 120 claimed to be good for 165 hp at the rear wheel. BlackSmith will be offering it with various wheel packages, ranging in size from 21 to 26 inches on the front. For the model they debuted today, BlackSmith took a set of Corbin Beetle Bags and extended them 4 ½ inches down and cut the tapered edge on the bottom. They hooked it up with a set of BlackSmith Gunrunner floorboards, proprietary Low Low Beach Bars with oversized grips, an internal throttle and a wicked fairing they stripped of a Ninja ZX9 which gives the bagger an aggressive stance to match its power. Full air ride suspension completes the transformation from stock to stunning. BlackSmith intends on offering its kit in three forms, the Retro, Retro Classic and Retro R.
Dealernews was also conducting its Top 100 Dealer Awards ceremony today. Suzuki walked away with the 2012 Vehicle Brand of the Year for having the most franchised dealerships in the Top 100. PowerSports of Joplin of Joplin, Missouri, received a Special Merit for Community Involvement award for its role after the devastating tornado
John Parham from J&P Cycles receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from Don Emde at the Dealernews Top 100 Dealers luncheon.
that struck the town last year. But the most emotional moment of the day took place when John Parham took the stage to receive the Don J. Brown Lifetime Achievement Award during the ceremony. Parham not only built J&P Cycles into an aftermarket giant, he is the driving force behind the wonderful National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa. He and his lovely wife Jill passed the reins of J&P Cycles down last year but still dedicate themselves to ensuring the prosperity of the museum for future generations. During his acceptance speech Parham touched on his recent battle against lung disease and brought to light how precious every day is, something we take for granted with the frenetic lives we lead. The Parhams received a standing ovation from the appreciative crowd.
This scratches the surface of all we saw on the first day of Dealer Expo 2012 but many of the storylines we’re saving for more in-depth feature articles. Besides that, it’s late and we have to be up early tomorrow so we can do it all over again, so stay tuned.