We talked to several aftermarket companies for their take on the general health of the sport quad market. The results, though mixed, skewed toward a happy confidence. Following is what a few of the companies had to say, interspersed with shameless product plugs that may provide you with some good stocking ideas.
Acerbis: "We've had the ATV handguards out since the late '80s or early '90s, and sales of our newest bolt-on handguards for the sport market are awesome," says spokesman Brian Fullerton.
Braking: "We have wave rotors and pads for every sport ATV up to date, and I'm seeing a definite increase in requests for product in that market, especially now with the KFX — we're getting a lot of calls for that," says Mike Ivers, who also says Braking is designing some additional rotors and pads for the most recent market entries.
Dubach Racing Development: "The sport quad market is on fire, and some of our top-selling part numbers are ATV exhausts," says Doug Dubach, owner. "The manufacturers are really tapping into the market, but it surprises me that it took them so long. The market used to be much smaller, only including units like the Banshee and the Honda 250, and then the Raptor 660 was introduced, stimulated the market and opened the door for lighter, even better-performing models like the YZF, TRX and LT-R.
"It used to be, if you wanted a really capable sport quad or wanted to race, you'd have to spend $15,000 and build it yourself. Whereas now, while top race teams are still spending those kind of dollars, the average guy can get into a class and race with a really good product under him. For us, in the aftermarket capacity, it's been a tremendous change to the market."
FMF Racing: "The competition market is growing, with manufacturers pulling out more sophisticated machines. On the sport side of it, we're seeing all kinds of different engine displacements and quite a variety of approaches to the segment," says Doug Muellner. "I think there's going to be a little bit of a battle between the OEs for a couple of years until we see if there is an emergent one. One machine may have an advantage over the other, but nobody can rest on their laurels at this point."
Hinson Clutch Components: "ATVs are a huge part of our sales, and the sport market has been really good for us," says Ron Hinson. "We were ATV enthusiasts in the '80s, when they had their initial heyday, but we watched the sport really dwindle. In fact, up until three years ago, the TRX250R and the Banshee clutch baskets were our two top-selling models, and the Japanese factories weren't producing any other real high-performance quads.
"But the consumer was willing to spend good money to keep the sport alive, and if it wasn't for those consumers, the factories would have never jumped back in with the 450s. Now, this year, the sport market is just going nuts."
K&N: "We're seeing a steady increase in the sport ATV market with all of the new bikes coming out," says Nick O'Kane, national account manager. "Our R&D actually took a lot of time to come together, so we've missed a season. Now in '07 we have a lot of new product available for those bikes, and sales are going really well."
Leo Vince had no product for sport quads three years ago but now offers 44 applications. "We're absolutely seeing great growth in the sport ATV market," says Tim Calhoun, U.S. manager of Leo Vince. "I think you're going to see the sport ATV market continue to grow, even though ATV sales are down in general, but with the new racing series coming out and there finally being organizations putting things together, you're seeing a lot of activity there. So now that they have a racing body, and they have somewhere to go and compete, we're seeing a lot more guys building the sport market."
ModQuad sells clutch covers, handlebar adapters, gas caps, steering stems and airflow kits, mostly to dune enthusiasts and cross-country racers. "The sport quad market is really going to expand this year," says the company's Michael Bourne. "Oregon, where we're from, is a big market, and California and Arizona are going to be huge this year. Still, believe it or not, some of our best markets are actually in the east, in Pennsylvania and Kentucky. There are a lot of GNCCers there, so we do really, really well in that region."
Motion Pro: "We support the Yoshimura Suzuki team, and we've seen a lot of growth and excitement from that end of the sport, but saleswise it's a little bit different," says Brandon Baldwin, sales and marketing director. "Certainly there is a lot of enthusiasm, more professionalism, more exposure, and more interest in the racing side of it, but unit sales are a little bit flat. However, since competition breeds excitement, maybe that excitement will translate into more unit sales."
PowerMadd: "Growth in the sport quad market is not like it was, but we are continuing to grow the business," says PowerMadd's Tom Kingsland. "Our new unit sales — handguards and other accessories — keep going out the door as add-on accessories at the time of purchase."
"In the past five years we've been lucky enough to recruit nearly all of the top ATV riders in the U.S. in disciplines ranging from MX, to XC, and even utility ATV racing," adds Johnny Gallagher, a pro GNCC ATV racer in charge of PowerMadd's Ride Support program. "In fact, we're proud to say that PowerMadd products were on the machines of the winner of every single major ATV professional championship at the end of 2006, and we are well on our way to the same in 2007."
PowerMadd also represents Polisport in the U.S. Polisport offers complete kits for the 2004-2007 Yamaha YFZ450 as well as some parts for the Honda TRX450R. "Business is going well on that front, and we're working to educate the dealers and consumers that these parts are available," Kingsland says.
SixSixOne/Sunline: "Everybody we talk to seems to think the sport quad category is very healthy," says Eddie Cole, president and CEO. "The OEMs are developing products, and we all know those guys put a lot of intelligence into it before they go out and spend millions of dollars on tooling. So while this is an area we haven't really had much focus on, we're going to really enter it in an aggressive way with the Sunline brand of bolt-on performance products." Cole says Sunline has new footpegs, handlebars, grips, shifters, sprockets and chains. "And we have guys like Tim Farr and a bunch of Kawasaki factory riders using and developing product for us."
Sunstar offers a steel replacement sprocket and a racing triple star aluminum sprocket. "We've seen increases with all of our distributors selling out, which I think is a great sign considering ATV vehicle sales are pretty much flat," says Sunstar's Cory Jonson. "We're the world's largest OE supplier of sprockets and brake rotors, and fortunately sport quads still have sprockets. In the age of driveshafts, it's good to see the sport market expand because it's really a shot in the arm for us — the only shot in the arm we've seen in the sprocket business in quite some time."
Wiseco: "The 450 market seems to be a little flat right now," says Wiseco's Ed Stewart. "There are certainly more vehicles entering the market, but we'll have to wait to see where they take it. Certainly those riders buying product aren't afraid of spending a lot of money."