You should know key players — because your customers most likely do
sportbike feature anglada friesen colton hayden
IF YOU'VE EVER BEEN to Hollywood, you've probably had a map to the stars' homes waved in your face by a pushy salesman on the sidewalk. As much as I would love to go ring the front doorbell at Johnny Depp's house, I suspect I'd be escorted away before my fingertip ever made contact with the button.
Sportbike celebrities, on the other hand, make up an approachable group that includes builders, stunters and racers. Here's a guide to show you who's who in the sportbike industry, and why we're putting them on the sportbike celebrity map.
Nick Anglada, Custom Sportbike Concepts: Anglada is one of the true celebrities among custom sportbike builders, and he has earned a reputation for his cutting-edge style. Every show bike that rolls out of the CSC shop in Winter Garden, Fla., has at least one component that wows onlookers. Last year, it was clear wheels on a Hayabusa built for the apparel brand L-R-G. The style and the association with L-R-G earned Anglada a plethora of broad exposure, including the cover of Cycle World's Sport Bike 2008. Anglada followed that up with an R1 featuring a rainbow-hued titanium finish, a first in the sportbike scene. (The R1 also had a paisley paint job, and let's face it, not just anyone can make paisley look good.) www.cscbikes.com
Robert Fisher, Roaring Toyz: A roadracer before he ever customized a bike, Fisher favors a blend of performance and style. His signature megaphone exhaust has been a hit with riders for its short, distinct design and monstrous sound. Even hip-hop artist Ludacris is a fan: He turned to Fisher and the Sarasota, Fla.-based shop for a custom Kawasaki ZX-14 in 2007. That project was just one of many done in conjunction with Kawasaki, and chances are you've seen one or two of Fisher's custom Kawis in the manufacturer's displays at Dealer Expo or the International Motorcycle Shows. www.roaringtoyz.com
Rob Uecker, Voodoo Industries: In an industry filled with copycats, Uecker has developed a classic, clean style that is uniquely his. If you visited Suzuki's display at Dealer Expo 2008, chances are you couldn't miss Uecker's bright red Shelby-themed Hayabusa. Clean lines, simple paint instead of busy airbrushing, and the lack of any Voodoo badges are the hallmarks of his style. Among his production aftermarket parts are a successful line of wheels, which feature such names as "Fetish" and "Viper." Working out of his shop in Cleveland, Ohio, Uecker has customers that range from budget-minded riders to UFC fighters. www.voodoomoto.com
Other sportbike builders who bear mentioning are Randy and Ron Kleber at Gator Customs (www.gatorcustoms.net). These are the guys responsible for backlit bodywork panels, but don't forget that they customize everything else on a bike, too. Louis Grasse at H2o Cycles (www.h2ocycles.com) likes to turn heads with unusual touches, like the copper finish he gave a Ninja-themed ZX-14. On the West Coast, Roland Sands has made a name for himself with his Roland Sands Design parts, custom builds and lifestyle (www.rolandsandsdesign.com)
Jason Britton: It's hard to choose any one category for Britton, who has transitioned from stunter to superstar as the host of SPEED's "Superbikes!" and Celebrity Editor of our sister publication, 2Wheel Tuner. Britton draws a crowd at both his autograph sessions and stunt shows with Team No Limit. If you want to stay on top of the latest in the urban sportbike world, then watching his Tuesday-night TV show is your homework assignment. www.jasonbritton.com
Kane Friesen: There aren't many people who can get away with stunting on a pink bike, but Friesen does it with finesse. With sponsorship from such heavyweights as Kawasaki and Joe Rocket, Friesen is as popular within the industry as he is with the fans that turn out to see him perform. www.kaneone.com
Aaron Colton: Few riders have drawn attention like Aaron Colton, who was out-stunting many a rider before he could even legally ride. At 17 years old, Colton is already a veteran of the sport, and he has the talent, professionalism and likability to become a stunt legend. www.aaroncolton.com
Rickey Gadson: No one has combined the urban sportbike scene and drag racing as well as Rickey Gadson, who holds the title as Kawasaki's longest-contracted rider. Gadson's TV show "Motorcycle Talk" recently debuted on Spike TV, but you've probably seen him on other programs, including "Superbikes!" and "American Chopper." Gadson has eight championships to his name, and he imparts his knowledge at his drag racing school. www.rickeygadson.net
Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden: Vale is considered by many to be the greatest roadracer in history, with five MotoGP titles (and counting) under his belt. The Italian's crazy helmet designs and sense of humor add to his popularity. Hayden is the favorite American in MotoGP competition, using his Southern charm and immense talent (he earned the championship in 2006) to win over European fans. www.fanclubvalentinorossi.com and www.nickyhayden.com
Jordan Suzuki: All right, so this isn't an actual person, but an entire AMA Pro Racing team. Owned by basketball legend Michael Jordan, the team is worth mentioning in its entirety because it brings some of the aftermarket sportbike style into the race paddock. From its basketball-inspired team uniforms to paint jobs that could compete in any sportbike show, this team has upped the cool factor in roadracing. www.23race.com
WHAT THEY MEAN TO YOU
Now that you know who some of the major players are, start thinking about how you can use their celebrity status to your advantage. Many of the top builders, stunters and racers have sponsors they want to keep happy, so mutually-beneficial promotional opportunities abound.
If a sportbike celebrity is coming to your area for an event, consider teaming up with them to host an autograph session, stunt show, or even a post-event party. You'll get exposure, not to mention cool points for teaming up with your celeb of choice. And they'll be making their sponsors happy at the same time.
Pretty much everyone has a website these days, so you can snag any contact information from the Web for your celebrities of choice.
Or, if you are planning an event during a race or stunt competition weekend, give the promoter a call to find out what notable riders might be available for promotions. As a former racetrack PR coordinator, I can tell you that event promoters are always happy when local businesses want to help get the word out.
And if your dealership is a little off the beaten path, consider ways that you can make a splash at the next show you attend. If a builder is also attending, ask them for a bike to put in your display. The same goes for those autograph sessions: it's easy to set up a table, chairs and a handful of Sharpies. Enhancing your display or special event is free advertising for the sportbike celeb, and a great hook for you to get aftermarket sportbike enthusiasts to turn out in force. Make sure you have some aftermarket sportbike parts on display so you can turn the fans into customers — after all, you want them to walk away with a lot more than an autograph.