You're primarily here at Dealer Expo to see new products, right? That's why show organizers created Kickstart. Now in its second year, the competition recognizes the hottest new products. Any exhibitor that had launched a product after July 1, 2008, was invited to submit pictures and a description. A judging committee whittled down more than 150 submissions to 26 finalists. These companies then submitted actual product for judging. The 10 winners received an opportunity to win a 10'x10' booth space at Dealer Expo 2010, a product display on the show floor, a link on www.dealerexpo.com, and other marketing spiffs. — Arlo Redwine
Here are the winners (in alphabetical order):
Alpinestars Bionic Neck Support (BNS): Neck supports have grown in popularity in recent years, and Alpinestars (Indiana Convention Center, Booth 1726) came to market with its version this past summer. The product is designed to work with an off-road rider's helmet to reduce the risk or severity of a neck injury. The BNS functions by providing an alternative load path for the energy that compresses the neck. Riders can fine-tune both shoulder heights. A magnesium key at the rear allows the convenient front opening of the device, and allows it to be dismantled in an emergency. The support comes in black/red, in sizes S–L. It retails for $679.95 and is distributed by Parts Unlimited.
Acerbis X-Seat: Traditional dirtbike seats are composed of three layers: a fabric on top, foam in the middle and a plastic support on bottom. Unfortunately, the cover often separates from the rest of the seat. The Acerbis X-Seat (Indiana Convention Center, Booth 1919), on the other hand, is a single piece. Its plastic shell is covered with three separate gripping patterns, with a polished finish in-between. For performance, Acerbis has injected-molded foam into the seat. Because of this construction, Acerbis claims, the X-Seat will never deteriorate or absorb water. Riders can wash it with a pressure washer or various solvents — even when it's mounted onto a bike. The seat retails for $199.95, and dealer margin is 53 percent. It's distributed by Parts Unlimited, Tucker Rocky and Western Power Sports. A POP display is available in which the X-Seat is made into a stool. Acerbis says the Yamaha Motocross Team has tested and approved the seat. Consumer ads are running in six nationwide magazines.
EVS RC-Evolution: EVS Sports (Indiana Convention Center, Booth 2645) designed its race collar with help from orthopedic professionals to help reduce neck-compression and neck-extension injuries. The collar uses a combination of absorption, diffusion and deflection of impact energy to protect the wearer. To help riders stay cool, weight and bulk were reduced to maximize flow. The collar comes in red, black, blue, pink and white in youth and adult sizes. It retails for $170, and the dealer margin is 38 percent.
Gibson Side X Side Exhaust Systems: Unlike streetbike riders, UTV riders often want their vehicles to be as quiet as possible. Enter Gibson Performance Exhaust (Lucas Oil Stadium, Booth 8260). The manufacturer claims its exhaust systems for side-by-sides produce more power than stock while being the quietest systems on the aftermarket. The bolt-on mufflers use a mechanical baffle with no muffler packing to get soggy during wet excursions or washings. Made in the U.S., the systems come with a black ceramic or satin stainless steel finish, a USFS-approved spark arrestor, and a polished stainless steel end cap. Applications include the Kawasaki Teryx 750, the Polaris Ranger XP 700 and RZR 800, and the Yamaha Rhino 700 and 660. The systems retail for $532, and the dealer margin is 30 percent.
Hardline Products Speedyhitch Camera System: This product from Hardline Products (Indiana Convention Center, Booth 1237) makes hooking up a trailer a one-person operation by allowing people to see their hitch while sitting at the wheel. Customers connect the system's wireless video camera to the back of their truck using a magnetized mount. The camera then transmits images to a handheld LCD color monitor that customers can monitor while hooking up their trailer. The plug-and-play system comes with a 12-volt charger, a rechargeable battery, a spare battery and a carrying case. MSRP is $299, and the dealer margin is 35 percent.
Helmet Flag: Many off-road areas require that riders attach safety flags to their vehicle. Some of these whip flags tend to break. To give these folks a better option, Helmet Flag Inc. (Lucas Oil Stadium, Booth 8167) designed a flag that can attach to most helmets. The company says it's had success in several industries where helmet users want to be more visible. The Helmet Flag retails for $19.99, and dealer margins range from 30 percent to 40 percent. Dealers can also sell the Helmet Flag to riders who just want to attach it their bike, ATV or side-by-side.
Joubert Smart Bungee System (20-Piece Assortment): This product comes with seven bungee cords and 11 connectors and hooks. People can connect the cords to a desired length and then cap them off with one of the hooks. All the couplings and hooks connect to the cords through a twist-and-lock mechanism. According to the manufacturer, Joubert (Indiana Convention Center, Booth 5819), its bungee cords are four times stronger than conventional ones. The 20-piece assortment comes in "Try Me!" interactive packaging that's made for hanging. Also available is an interactive display demonstrating the connectors and hooks. MSRP is $14.97, and the dealer margin is 50 percent. In addition, Joubert offers 12-, 24-, 36- and 48-inch-long cords in two-packs. All the connectors and hooks also come in two-packs except for the three-way connector, which is available singularly.
PC Racing FLO Oil Filter (Spin-On Version): PC Racing (Indiana Convention Center, Booth 5553) says this product's "stainless steel micronic filter cloth" consistently filters across its entire surface and has a flow rate nearly seven times greater than paper filters. The FLO filter also features a gun-metal-anodized aluminum case that doubles as an oil cooler. A progressive-rate bypass (combined with the high-flow characteristic) avoids unfiltered oil bypassing the filter during a cold startup and high rpm. A drilled wrench nut allows for both easy removal and the safety wire required at most tracks. Because the filter is reusable, PC Racing says it pays for itself after only a few oil changes. A simple twist-lock take-apart design allows for easy cleaning and inspection. MSRP is $99.95, and the dealer margin is 35 percent. It's distributed by Parts Unlimited, Tucker Rocky and Western Power Sports.
Risk Racing Magnetic LED Light-MINE: a portable spotlight with a bright, wide-angle LED and 12 magnets that allow technicians to aim the light in any direction while working. The light's small size (smaller than a golf ball) enables it to fit into small spaces in motorcycles and other vehicles. Customers can use the easily stowable light as a flashlight on the road. Because of the Light-MINE's magnets, it also can be used to retrieve dropped screws and other hardware. The light runs on three alkaline batteries (included) and comes packaged in an illustrated sandwiched blister card made for hanging. The light sticks through the front and back of the card so that customers can touch it. Risk Racing (Indiana Convention Center, Booth 5860) also offers a POP counter display holding six lights. MSRP is $7.99, and the dealer margin is 50 percent.
VCAN Bluetooth Integrated Communication (BLINC): VCAN Sports (Indiana Convention Center, Booth 3912) offers helmets with a fully integrated Bluetooth module that allows for a helmet-to-helmet intercom and wireless streaming of information (music, phone calls, radio, audio GPS, etc.) into the helmet from an MP3 player or cell phone. Each helmet comes with a rechargeable battery and charger. There is no need to install anything. Battery life reportedly supports four hours of talk time, and a complete recharge takes six hours. Once out on the road, if the user is ever disconnected from his or her partner, the module automatically relinks when in range. The communication system is upgradable. The latest upgrade module, for example, supports VOX activation.