With 400 vendors and almost 800 booths, I almost didn't have enough time to check out everything at the 9th Annual V-Twin Expo.
Motorcycle enthusiasts and industry people came from all four corners of the United States and beyond, converging on Cincinnati, Ohio, for the biggest bazaar in the V-Twin trade. Approximately 800 booths crowded the floor of the Duke Energy Convention Center the 9th annual V-Twin Expo, an enthusiastic turnout but well short of last year’s event that spilled over into additional exhibition halls upstairs. But there was still plenty of business to be had, discussions and debates to engage in, and camaraderie to be shared as the need for unity in our industry was palpable.
Motorcycle USA got things rolling before the doors were even open at the Metzeler Executive Roundtable Breakfast. A 10-person panel, including Bert Baker of Baker Drivetrain
, Eddie Trotta of Thunder Cycle Design
and Michael Scaletta of S&S Cycle
talked about how business is shifting away from high-end, one-off customs as more people are looking to do their own upgrades. Revenue and financing for big ticket items is hard to come by, so more motorcyclists are looking at their own bikes and are brainstorming what they can do to add a new twist themselves. It’s back to the basics as riders are going to be using more bolt-on and slip-on stuff. There’s still business to be had, as J&P Cycles President John Parham stated that the quantity of orders for J&P is about the same, but the amount spent per order is smaller.
Bert Baker and Paul Teutul Sr. share a laugh at the OCC booth. OCC was on hand to debut its latest production motorcycle, the 2009 OCC 10th Anniversary Bike.
“Taking care of your customers is more important now than ever,” said custom builder Todd Silicato of Todd’s Cycles
Trotta said that he is making business off of other custom builder’s bikes whose owners are coming in for service and repair. Many of those are the byproduct of the recent glut of overambitious enthusiasts who opened their own shop at the height of the chopper TV craze.
Attracting a younger generation to the V-Twin scene was also one of the hot topics. One of the panelists, Motorcycle USA’s very own VP, Ken Hutchison, spoke about the need to take advantage of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and emphasized the
The Limpnickie Lot is gaining popularity and is helping attract a younger crowd to the V-Twin scene.
importance of maintaining an active web presence. Movements like the Limpnickie Lot
are also paving the way, using mediums like skateboarding, BMX riding and music that speak s a language the next generation understands.
As the session ended, we got a chance to talk to panel member and Dirico Motorcycles’
President, Stephen Talarico. The fledgling motorcycle company out of New Hampshire brought along its newest bike, the 2009 Speedster, a retro roller with deep fenders and a classic front end that looks straight out of the ‘30s. Bolted in its Kraft-Tech Frame is an air-cooled H-D Twin Cam 110B engine. The piece de resistance might be its rear fender, hand-signed by Dirico’s frontman and founder, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith fame. Find out more about Dirico Motorcycles in an upcoming First Look article.
Dirico Motorcycles introduced its vintage-styled cruiser, the 2009 Speedster, at the Expo.
We also ran into Bert of Baker Drivetrains talking to Paul Teutul Senior. Orange County Choppers
was on hand to introduce its 2009 OCC 10th Anniversary Bike. The low-riding rigid chopper has a blacked-out frame, tank, fenders, and oil tank. Its Rolling Thunder frame is similar to the one used on the factory-production bobber, The Greenie, and is powered by an EPA Natural Finish S&S 96 engine. Fork gaiters, 40 spoke chrome wheels front and back and floor boards give it more attitude and less shine than standard OCC fare, an appeal to the younger demographic we were discussing, I’m sure. It also has the lowest sticker price of any OCC production bike at $24,495, a price that puts them on par with its competition.
We got a close-up look at Big Dog's 2009 Bulldog, the companies first factory-custom bagger, at the '09 Expo.
Our next stop was at the Big Dog Motorcycles
booth to get our first look at the 2009 Big Dog Bulldog. The Bulldog is the f irst factory-custom bagger that the Wichita-based manufacturer has built. The motorcycle is impressive, built in typical BDM grand-fashion, a combo of nine feet of stretched steel with long, swooping lines like the award-winning Wolf.
The saddlebags are big and spacious and integrate cleanly into the design. They also serve as a canvas for more of Big Dog’s killer paint and graphics. A stylish narrow, fork-mounted fairing sits high on the bars and should give riders a place to duck the wind. An Alpine audio system, iPod port, and satellite radio come standard. An S&S engine, BDM’s proprietary Balance-Drive system and a 250mm rear tire are the same combo that the 2009 Coyote sports, a bike whose handling impressed us during the 2009 Big Dog intro, so we anticipate the Bulldog will handle well for a big bagger. We look forward to the prospect of putting it to the long-term test in the future.
Sucker Punch Sallys’
booth was also bustling every time we went by.
Tattoo artist and motorcycle enthusiast Ami James hooked up with Sucker Punch Sallys' Christian Clayton to create the LOVE/HATE motorcycles.
Maybe handing out free samples of Sucker Punch’s energy drink had something to do with it, but they also had multiple motorcycles making their debut. Hutch and SPS’s Jose Avilas talked for twenty about the new SPS Sportster. The old school racer look and drop-down bars in a Sporty frame had the track-minded Hutch drooling. And while hanging out at the SPS booth, Ami James and Christian Clayton stopped by to talk about the two custom motorcycles they collaborated on called ‘Love’ and ‘Hate.’ ‘Love’ features a Springer front end, a board track-style tank, and sweet 23-inch hoops front and back. ‘Hate’ has wide, beach-cruiser style bars and a vintage-looking leaf spring fork up front to go along with a big, round gold oil bag and split tanks painted by artist Sara Ray. Ami James, best known as the tattoo artist from the TV show Miami Ink, started Love Hate Choppers with custom builder Marlowe B. last year but is looking to take his motorcycle designing career in a new direction with SPS.
Artist Sara Ray did this awesome paint on the dual tanks of SPS' HATE motorcycle.
was also on hand with its supercharged American-made superbike, the Roehr 1250sc. We got a chance to talk to the brains behind the bike, Walter Roehrich, as he filled us in on the motorcycle’s hopped-up Harley-Davidson Revolution engine and its claimed 180hp. Components like Ohlins suspension, Brembo brakes, and Marchesini wheels round out an overall impressive attempt by the gang from Gurnee, Illinois.
One of the last people we ran into was Exile Cycles’
Russell Mitchell. Russell has been busy working on a complete line of parts for Harley Softails. He said his six-
For every niche, there's a product. This Go-Go Caddy would be a hit for the biker who likes to head out to the links to smash some golf balls.
speed open belt primary drive for H-D’s Twin Cam and his controls have been selling well, sales which support the current move toward do-it yourself stuff. Seems like Mitchell had good foresight with his Softail conversion.
In between checking out motorcycle debuts, we perused seemingly never-ending rows of exhausts, wheels, gadgets and gizmos tailored for the V-Twin crowd. From serious stuff, like Storz Performance H-D XR1200 upgrade, to the gotta-give-him-credit -for-trying category, like Go-Go Caddy’s detachable golf club rack for cruiser motorcycles. He should convert it to an MX bike. It’d add a whole new dimension to the game. We even saw Charles Barkley there trying to say Monkey Butt and talk about chafing without busting out laughing. Turns out it was a promotional gig, we believe for a maker of a powder that is said to help out after a long ride in the saddle. Nonetheless, it was funny to walk up and hear Sir Charles talking about Monkey Butt. All part of the experience that was the 2009 V-Twin Expo. Can’t wait for next year.