This year's Dealer Expo was different. First of all, about 40 percent of booths were in the brand-new Lucas Oil Stadium, a few blocks away from the rest the show in the Indiana Convention Center. Luckily, decent weather made the walk bearable for those of us who chose not to use the free shuttle service. I hear underground walkways will be available for the 2011 show.
My editorial duties didn't allow me to examine the stadium much, but several people told me they loved the building itself. I didn't hear any complaints about the splitting of the show.
Advanstar Communications, our owner, hasn't released attendance figures, but the traffic did not seem much different from previous years. Most vendors told me that the number of booth visits was down, but that more serious buyers were stopping by. General managers and owners seemed to be walking the aisles in a greater concentration.
This makes sense. Many dealership principals likely couldn't pay to send employees this year. And owners are keeping a tighter grip on the purse strings. Nobody needs an excited parts manager buying more than can be sold.
I haven't heard yet from dealers what kind of deals vendors were offering. I had predicted in my editor's note for February that terms and prices this year would probably favor buyers (not a bold prediction).
As I said, I didn't get a chance to walk the whole show, but it seemed as if there were fewer booths hawking funny-looking vehicles and knockoff leathers. So the quality of vendors as a group seemed higher also.
One thing about Dealer Expo was the same: There was a plethora of new products, new services and important updates to products and services already in existence. We tried to cover as much as we could in the Show Dailies we produced on-site, as well as in this blog (I noticed Dirt Rider magazine also posted an interesting blog). We're in the process of publishing a roundup in our April issue.
Posted below are a few more products/services.
Rockhard Helmets returned this year with five new designs celebrating Elvis, Evel Knievel and the bands Motorhead, Slipknot and Pantera. I saw the lids at the booth of O'Neal USA (the brand's manufacturer) and the distributor Romaha, which also had at least some of last year's designs: Kiss, Hustler, Slayer, Lyndyrd Skynyrd and AC/DC. Each design is available on a full-face helmet, a dirtbike helmet and a half-helmet. Retail prices are $349.99, $249.99 and $169.99, respectively. Production is reportedly limited to 10,000 each.
Motorcycle-Superstore.com, a major online retailer, had a booth at the show because it was offering a free Preferred Installer Program for dealers. If you sign up, the company will direct its customers to your store for installation of tires and parts. Customers can ship their products directly to your store. You may be asking, "Why in the heck would I want to do this?" According to Motorcycle-Superstore.com, you'll get guaranteed service revenue plus the opportunity to sell the customer additional products and services. The company will build a customized Preferred Installer Web page for your shop containing your business information, Web site and e-mail links, online mapping, services offered, service prices and customer ratings. Customers can find Preferred Installers in their area by entering their zip code. After selecting your store and placing an order, all they have to do is contact you to schedule an appointment.
Dealers may already be familiar with the Ed Hardy helmets made by KBC and distributed by Tucker Rocky. Well, Ed Hardy had much more than helmets at its enclosed booth at Dealer Expo. It displayed leather jackets and pants, women's apparel (including a jacket, pants and a vest), motocross jerseys, textile jackets and pants, denim jackets, a full lineup of gloves, hard parts, customized scooters and even a $20,000 customized ATV. The scooters come with a 150cc or 250cc motor and retail for $2,400 to $3,500. They feature Ed edhardy51Hardy-designed saddlebags, seats and paintjobs, and at least one came with a matching helmet. To give you an idea of the retail prices for the apparel, a nice leather jacket with a zipout hoody had an MSRP of $599. An Ed Hardy rep said that the company was looking for a distributor, and was hoping Tucker Rocky would be it. He said that the company's goal is for dealerships to have an Ed Hardy section in their stores. To that end, the company offers POP displays and a DVD featuring testimonials from Hollywood celebrities.
Shifting to a much lower price point, Galaxy Helmets was displaying a dual-shield helmet that retails for under $100. The sunshield flips down via a lever that does not use a spring. A rep at the booth told me that this allows the mechanism to last longer.
VaVaVroom unveiled its first riding jacket along with at least eight other new items. The jacket has CE-approved armor and a snap-down hood. Last year the company added a scooter lineup to go along with its motorcycle lineup. The brand's Web site, www.vavavroomonline.com, reportedly serves as a community where women who ride can come together to share their stories.
Lockhart Phillips Racelite Speedscreens mount to stock fittings using predrilled holes. The Lexan screens are almost half as thick and heavy as the stock ones, according to Lockhart. They come in a clear version only and were used by last year's AMA Team Kawasaki Racing. Suggested retail is $69.95.
Saddlemen's new teardrop-style saddlebags are designed to accommodate the twin external shocks found on many motorcycles. The bags can therefore be mounted closer to the center of the bike, narrowing the overall width. The bags also require no signal relocation on most bikes, according to the manufacturer. Bag dimensions are 20.5 inches long, 12 inches deep and 6.6 inches wide. Teardrop Shock Cutaway saddlebags are available in regular ($289.95 retail) or with chrome studs ($299.95) from Parts Unlimited or Drag Specialties.
Ideal Computer Systems introduced the latest version of its dealer management system, Ideal 6.3 for Windows. New features allow dealers to digitally capture customer signatures, track technicians' time via an integrated Time Clock, and interface with Google Maps or Mapquest to view customer locations for pickups and deliveries. The new software also allows dealers to improve employee productivity with general time management reports as well as enhanced technician efficiency reports. Dealers may also be able to reduce their inventory costs by using Ideal's "even more advanced" inventory movement reports. Among other performance upgrades are new End of Day reports.
MTC Engineering was displaying the world's first motorcycle to go over 250 mph in a quarter-mile drag race. The company was also talking up its new lock-up clutch, the Gen II Multistage Clutch. According to MTC Engineering, the clutch significantly reduces clutch lever efforts and improves clutch adjustability through its multistage technology. The design runs on engine rpm, and reportedly demonstrates a quicker reaction time and more repeatability between passes. The design also allows for easier dynamic spring replacement with its quick-access cover plate over the springs. Applications include the Hayabusa, Buell bikes, the GS1100/1150, the KX900/1000 and the ZX-14. Others are in the works.
Among several new tools, Motion Pro had these cool Ti Prolight Titanium Wrenches, which it claims are more than 75 percent lighter than standard steel wrenches. Because the wrenches are so light, Motion Pro recommends them for onboard tool kits for dirtbikes and streetbikes. A set of four (including 8mm, 10mm, 12mm and 14mm) retails for $99.99. You can also buy them individually: 8mm ($16.99), 10mm ($21.99), 12mm ($30.99), 13mm ($35.99) and 14mm ($39.99).
Pacific Coast Sunglasses Inc. had several new models of sunglasses: Tribal KD's; the old-school Blackbird sunglasses with two different frame colors, all-black or black arms with a red frame; five new models of Biker Chix sunglasses; and Blue Ice with blue mirror lenses. It comes in polarized also.
Helmet House had two new Italian boots: the TCX SS Sport street boot and the TCX Comp 2 off-road boot. The former is "inspired by the styling of TCX's road racing boots and designed to offer the comfort and functionality of a sport-touring-inspired product while keeping the boot at an entry-level price point." Suggest retail is $199.99, and the boot comes in black or white. The TCX Comp 2 is equipped with the same Torsion Control System found on the brand's Pro 2 boot, but it does not have that model's inner booty. It retails for $269.99.
A former soldier with Britain's special forces reportedly developed UTAG products, which allow riders to carry easily accessible personal and medical details. Two products in the lineup are a standard-sized card and dog tags, both of which incorporate a flip-out USB stick that hold information such as emergency contacts, blood type, current medication, copies of a passport or driver's license, and so on. Sensitive data can be password-protected. The software also features a seven-language translation function, available via clicking on icons of national flags. The card and tags are decorated with the international medical symbol of the snake and staff, as well as with the acronym ICE.
Ashton, Ill.-based Fly N Cycle Inc. distributes the products. The company was also displaying officially licensed MotoGP products made by Bike It in the U.K. The lineup includes teardrop-shaped knee sliders, kneeling pads, a rain cover for bikes, a track pump and key rings featuring the MotoGP logo — or representing riders Capirossi, Dovizioso, Edwards, Hayden, Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Roberts, Rossi, Spencer, Schwantz, Stoner, Toseland and Vermeulen.
CST, a subsidiary of the same Taiwanese company that owns the Maxxis brand, had two new tires. The ABUZZ is the brand's latest ATV tire. CST says the tire is designed for everything from soft to hard pack, and can "roll through the worst a trail can dish out, including mud, sand and rocks." The 6-ply tire is reportedly lightweight for "effortless steering, quick braking and rapid acceleration." Shoulder lugs help with cornering traction while protecting the sidewall. CST designed the Surge S dirtbike tire for soft terrain. It features widely spaced, self-cleaning knobs and a rubber compound "specially formulated for durability."
For many years Champion Trikes has offered trike conversion kits with rigid axles. At Dealer Expo the company introduced a kit with independent suspension, Model gl-1800. Optional shocks and springs can make the ride even more comfortable.
Check out the Fast Pack made by The Cycle Guys. It's a back seat bag that, when not in use, can compress down into a seat pad that never needs to be removed. The FastPack comes in three sizes available to fit most modern sportbikes. Zipped down, it's a carbon-fiber-embossed seat pad. Zipped up, it can reportedly carry more than 8 liters of cargo. Tucker Rocky was displaying the bag at the show.
Buff Headwear says it has refined its Cyclone Buff with Windstopper, a product it released in 2007. The company says it has redone the neckline design so that it fits comfortably under the collar of a jacket. It says it did this by extending the top section of double-layered microfiber fabric by 15 percent, and by making the bottom Windstopper panel slightly longer at the front. Suggested Retail is $38.
StreetGlow had four new lighting products:
- SG Mini LED Pods ($39.99 retail) are six tiny LED lights that create the illusion of white strobe lights. According to the manufacturer, they're "perfect for highlighting engine bays, gas tanks, frames, saddlebags, dashboards, gauge clusters and speaker boxes.
- Neon and LED Shift Rods are shift linkages that are direct replacements for stock shift rod ends found on Harley-Davidsons and custom bikes. StreetGlow wireless controller They've been redesigned with "thicker and bolder" designs in polished stainless steel. The lights are available in numerous colors. Both the Neon and LED versions allow customers to add up to 6 inches in total length using 1- and 3-inch extensions (sold separately). MSRPs: $119.99 (LED shift linkage), $139.99 (neon shift linkage); $39.99 (1-inch extensions) and $49.99 (3-inch extensions).
- LED Tail Light & License Plate Light ($29.99) reportedly fits most state-approved motorcycle plates. The light incorporates red LED brake lights, running lights and white LED lights to illuminate the plate itself.
- LED Wireless Controller ($69.99) — this device can be used to tie all StreetGlow lighting products together. It is a six-port controller that features "10 lighting patterns," controlled by a wireless remote key fob.
Buztronics Inc. introduced a new full lineup of LED accent lighting designed and packaged for the scooter market. Products include:
- ElectroPods consisting of six LEDs arranged in a compact pod (two pods per pack). They come in red, blue or white and retail for $21.99.
- Flex Light Strips — package comes with 24 LEDs embedded into two 4.75-inch flexible strips. Also available in red, blue or white and retailing for $32.99.
- Light Strands — 12 LEDs set into a set of two 4.75-inch low-profile flexible strands. Available in red, blue, white and retailing for $32.99.
- Indicator Light Strips ($32.99) that can be used as indicator lights or accent lighting. They feature 24 yellow LEDs embedded into two 4.75-inch flexible strips.
- Brake Pods ($27.99) featuring six red LEDs in a compact pod.
- Helmet Light ($9.99) with six red LEDs that automatically activate with movement. It affixes to a helmet's exterior with included tape. Batteries come included and are replaceable.
- True Rainbow Micro Tire Technix — motion-activated LEDs that screw onto the wheel valve stem. When in motion, a white light reportedly "breaks out into a multicolor rainbow of LEDs." Each pack contains two lights. Batteries are included and are replaceable.
Buztronics also had similar new products designed and packaged for ATVs and motorcycles.
Metzeler was displaying the second generation of its Roadtec Z6 tire, the Roadtec Z6 Interact. Several tire companies have promoted multicompound technology — i.e., a durable rubber in the tire's center combined with a sticky rubber on the sides. Metzeler takes a different approach with the sport-touring Roadtec Z6 Interact by instead targeting its proprietary zero-degree belt winding process. Instead of varying the tire's compound, Metzeler has varied the tension of the steel belts. As described in the technical release found here: "The new winding process allows to progressively ream stresses in the different areas of the tire; as the result, every single string has been designed with a pre-defined resistance to stress for a specific performance. ... The number of steel strings inside the tire guarantees a homogeneous differentiation of performances, avoiding any 'step effect' typical of multicompound technology. Lower tension creates more flexibility and therefore higher energy absorption; the compound increases the temperature and in a certain sense becomes softer." The Roadtec Z6 Interact retains the same profile and tread pattern as the Roadtec Z6.