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American V-Twin Dealer Show vs V-Twin Expo

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Motorcycle USA got the 2012 motorcycle season off to a roaring start by attending the biggest trade and industry shows in America, the 2012 Cincinnati V-Twin Expo and the 2012 Indianapolis Dealer Expo. What better way to get to see the latest and greatest products than by inspecting them in person? This year, though, the Dealer Expo added a new wrinkle, expanding its show to include a new area
The American V-Twin Dealer Show is a new addition to the annual Dealer Expo.
The inaugural American V-Twin Dealer Show took place in Indianapolis in conjunction with the annual Dealer Expo.
designated to the cruiser and custom crowd called the American V-Twin Dealer Show. Seeing how both the Cincy and Indy shows cater to the same crowd and were being held within a couple weeks of one another (the V-Twin Expo was in Cincinnati on Feb. 4-6 while the American V-Twin Dealer Show went down in Indianapolis from Feb. 17-19), we were curious as to how the two shows would compare to one another and how the new Indy show would be received. Let’s start by looking at some numbers before we draw conclusions.

The American V-Twin Dealer Show created ripples in the cruiser motorcycle industry when the press release announcing its launch stated it would “deliver the single most influential gathering of V-Twin specific products and services in the marketplace today.” It created ripples because with this statement it failed to recognize that there was already a show that addressed this need, the annual V-Twin Expo. It also created a quandary for smaller players who didn’t have the money or resources to attend both. For vendors and dealers it boils down to which show will they get the most bang for their buck and bring them the most exposure.

The American V-Twin Dealer Show is put on by Advanstar, the same company that puts on the International Motorcycle Shows. The American V-Twin Dealer Show is held in conjunction with the Indianapolis Dealer Expo, so it was set off to one corner of the vast Indianapolis Convention Center. Besides assorted cruiser-specific booths, one of the easiest
The American V-Twin Dealer Show is holding its inaugural custom motorcycle show.
The Ultimate Dealer Custom Bike Show was one of the main attractions at the American V-Twin Dealer Show.
ways to recognize you were in the right area was by the custom motorcycles that were assembled for the Ultimate Dealer Custom Bike Show. A small “Builders Stage” was set up in the middle of the floor where Jody Perewitz, the first woman to break the 200 mph barrier on a V-Twin, did an autograph signing and Q&A session with fans and the students of the PowerSport Institute in Cleveland, Ohio, were making over a Harley bagger. We also caught BlackSmith Motoring Co.’s unveiling of its prototype Retroliner Kit for the Star Roadliner there.

The number of exhibitors listed in the designated area for the American V-Twin Dealer Show was 33. Custom Chrome, Rinehart Racing, La Pera and Arlen Ness had highly visible booths, but beyond that, the vendor area was under represented as far as V-Twin specific exhibitors. There were more cruiser-related companies displaying at the show like Tucker Rocky, Hot Leathers and Samson Exhausts, but Hot Leathers was set up in the area set aside specifically for Gear & Apparel while the other two were located in “general” sections. As far as seminars and discussions pertaining solely to the V-Twin market, there were two, Bob Kay’s “Passion to Profit: How Custom Bike Building Can Help Your Bottom Line” and a discussion led by Victory Motorcycles’ Robert Pandya who talked about “The New V-Twin Rider.” There were plenty of marketing, management and sales seminars going on in Indy, but as stated, only two directly addressed the V-Twin market.

One of the pitfalls of the American V-Twin Dealer show was it wasn’t always clear what was going on. Announcements were often lost to crowd noise. We were there when Gio of BlackSmith broke wraps on the beautiful conversion kit they’ve made for the Roadliner, but only a handful of people were on hand to witness it. Ditto the seminar we caught put on by Bob Kay, which is a shame because Kay had some interesting info to share. With so much other stuff going on at the same time during the Dealer Expo, the American V-Twin Dealer Show was relegated to more of a side show instead of being the main attraction.

The 2012 Cincinnati V-Twin Expo was a showcase for the latest and greatest products for the cruiser and custom motorcycle industry.
The Easyriders V-Twin Expo has been filling up Cincinnati's Duke Energy Convention Center for the last 12 years.
The Cincinnati V-Twin Expo has been going on for 12 years straight and holds court as the longest-running annual event held in the Duke Energy Convention Center. The show is put on by Easyriders and this past year we counted 232 exhibitors listed in its V-Twin News guide, but an additional list of booths that were added later and a smaller list of others that had to cancel were circulated at the show. Regardless, it’s safe to say there were about 230 exhibitors at the show. The aforementioned V-Twin News is a helpful handout produced annually that lists show schedules, includes seminar outlines and has new product listings. The American V-Twin Dealer Show has no such publication. The Cincinnati V-Twin Expo held 12 seminars, all tailored exclusively toward the cruiser and custom motorcycle market. The V-Twin Expo also holds its annual “V-Twin Industry Reception and Awards Presentation” recognizing key players and products in the cruiser segment.

Checking the list of attendees for both shows, we found 23 companies that we know of that made it to both. Here’s a list of businesses who were fortunate enough to attend both - ACCEL, Arlen Ness , Austin Steiner Covers, Avon Grips, Bell Helmets, Belt Drives Ltd, Bikers Choice, Cycle Visions, Danny Gray, Diamond Heads LLC, Energy One Clutches, James Gaskets, La Pera Enterprises, National Powersports Auctions, PowerSport Institute, Precision Billet Products, Rinehart Racing, S&S Cycle Inc., Uhl Works, Cobra Engineering, Pirelli, Metzeler, Parts Unlimited. Taking a peek at the list, only a handful are smaller businesses which aren’t already established players in the V-Twin industry. Obviously, the majority of smaller shops and businesses couldn’t make both and most opted to attend the Cincinnati V-Twin Expo.

Looking back at both events, the American V-Twin Dealer Show was posed with a big challenge. Being its inaugural year, Advanstar not only had to build a buzz about their show but had to compete against the status quo established by the Easyriders’ V-Twin Expo. Exhibitors had to
Statues and colored lighting brighten the night in downtown Cincinnati.
Downtown Cincinnati comes alive at night with its public art, outdoor skating rink, and numerous clubs and restaurants that are within walking distance of the V-Twin Expo host hotels.
make a choice, attend a show they’re familiar with or take a chance with a brand new show. Overall, a vendor potentially could gain more exposure at the Dealer Expo because you have more people attending the show. But, you also have over 700 booths, which means there’s a lot more competition vying for your attention.

At this juncture, the Cincinnati V-Twin Expo is still more concentrated exclusively toward the cruiser and custom crowd. After 12 years, its promoters have the show dialed in, from its seminars to its award show. It provides an outlet which highlights and promotes the newest cruiser and custom motorcycle products and acknowledges the key players with a reputable award banquet held amongst peers. When you walk in the Duke Energy Center, there’s energy in the building. By the time industry players get to Indy, they’ve seen what others have to offer and many deals have already been brokered so it’s difficult for the American V-Twin Dealer Show to match that energy. Until the new kid on the block convinces V-Twin exhibitors that they all need to set up shop in the same area, until it is able to attract more attention to its area and events and offer a wider variety of cruiser-specific seminars, it will continue to play second fiddle to the Cincinnati V-Twin Expo.
2012 Cincy V-Twin Expo Photo Gallery
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2012 Indy Dealer Expo Photo Gallery
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harley1   March 9, 2012 11:48 AM
You bet, Gio. Love what you did with the Star Roadliner. Faster, meaner, killer lines, what's not to like! In case you missed it, I talked about BlackSmith's Retroliner Kit for the Roadliner in more detail in my 2012 Indianapolis Dealer Expo Report - Friday article. I'll be at the finals of the Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Shows in Daytona, so see you there if I miss you at the Corbin booth.
BlacksmithMotoring   March 9, 2012 01:04 AM
Thanks Bryan for the coverage, we will have the second version of our retroliner at destination daytona after march 14th in the hoppes industry booth and corbin booth. stop by and see us. or email me at sales@blacksmithmotoring.com and I will give you the direct info.El Vaquero will be at the IMS show in daytona and i will be there in the morning time.
harley1   February 28, 2012 01:34 PM
Thanks so much for your input Tamara. It's good to hear from somebody who was able to attend both shows. Appreciate the catch on Custom Chrome. I think I'm so accustomed to seeing their booth at Cincy I automatically assumed they were at both shows. Took them off the list, though, thanks to your keen observation. Thx for reading.
tamarasmith   February 28, 2012 12:55 PM
We exhibited at both the Easy Rider V-Twin Show in Cincinnati and the V-Twin Dealer Expo in Indianapolis this year. As a V-Twin-specific vendor, we have done Cincinnati for 12 years, and were not looking for a show to replace it, however we did talk to many 'cross-over' dealers/shops in Indianapolis that we otherwise would not have.

The V-Twin 'section' at the Indy Dealer Expo felt almost segregated from the general population. While I do think that it makes sense to have a separate V-Twin area, I don't think it needed to be tucked away in a far-off corner. The area should have been more a part of the show somehow.

There were relatively few V-Twin exhibitors for this inaugural year. I think there were many that wanted to see how this year went before committing, since these 2 shows are so close together - both in proximity and time-frame, and for many the expense of their booths/space/transportation is 10X what ours is. Had that been the case for us, we would not have been able to do both. The down-side is that we don't know whether or not their presence would have made a difference in the amount of traffic through the area.

It would be more appealing for many of us if the second industry show were scheduled for another time of year - in another part of the country, but we will do both again next year, and hope for some changes that will make the Indy show more appealing to more V-Twin vendors as well as more inviting to the dealer traffic flowing through the other part of the show. I still think it's going to be difficult to create interest in Indy because it so closely follows Cincy, and I can't imagine it replacing the V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati.

Just an observation.....CCI exhibited only in Indianapolis, and did not have a booth in Cincinnati this year.

Tamara Smith
James Gaskets, Inc.