Gas Gas North America might have been the busiest booth in Indy; at least for quad lovers. Many flocked to its booth to catch a glimpse of its all-new 450cc four-stroke and 330 two-stroke sport quads. The two quads share a similar makeup, but obviously differ in the power department.
Suzuki also had its pre-production Z250 on display. This entry-level sport quad was dressed in several Suzuki accessories, including an optional sticker kit and body armor. The parts, garments and accessories portion of the ATV industry has grown for Suzuki — and many other ATV manufacturers — over the last two years.
Cannondale ATVs were on display this year, but as part of the www.Rad2Go.com booth. Kyle Ray of R & S Performance brought a few models per the request of Global Manufacturing Group, which is considering a possible bid for the motorsports portion of Cannondale as part of the company’s bankruptcy. See Page 3 for details.
Kasea displayed several trick youth models in the RCA Dome. Kasea has a partnership and sponsorship deal with Grand National Championship youth ATV expert Hetrick Racing. Owner Rick Hetrick built two race-ready Kaseas that will compete at the GNC Nationals this year. Trinity Racing, of California, built another fast youth model, which Kasea’s Scott Steffy said could outrun a stock Honda 400EX from a dead start.
Exhaust makers adjust
In the last two years, exhaust system manufacturers have doubled. Part of the reason they are so prevalent is the popularity of four-stroke-powered ATVs. Many of these exhaust manufacturers are building systems for both sport and utility models. The new shift in this business, however, is offering increase performance numbers without being too loud, according to Mike Young at Big Gun Exhaust and Travis Wicks at Pro Circuit.
California’s rigid 96 dB exhaust level has forced these businesses to approach their bolt-on performance abilities differently. Many of these manufacturers have cleverly side-stepped this rule for ATV racing — where noise isn’t a huge concern.
California-based Tsukigi Racing, Inc., and MBRP Performance Exhaust, of Canada, are two of the new pipe builders we found at Indy.
We’ve also noticed a trend of exhaust builders that work with ATV manufacturers prior to a new-model release. Polaris and White Brothers shared engineering tips when designing the Predator 500’s optional pipe upgrade, and White Brothers has its own version of a Predator pipe. Kawasaki said it worked with a pipe manufacturer to build a unique dual exhaust for its all-new V Force 700 sport quad. And Advantage Performance was “hush-hush” about its bolt-on dual exhaust for the same machine.
Radial atv Tires promoted
Two years ago the rage was to build gigantic, snarl-toothed 28-inch mud tires. This year, the trend has slowly shifted to tire manufacturers building radial ATV tires. ITP introduced its new Holeshot ATR before Indy. ITP’s Craig Peterson said the market is shifting, too, to offering strong, multi-purpose 26-inch treads. These tires are slightly larger than stock, but are often more durable — with up to six-ply ratings — and offer better traction in a variety of terrain, including mud, snow and sand.
Maxxis International introduced two additional tires, its new six-ply Bighorn radial — which will be race-tested by Utility Stock class veteran Mike Penland. Maxxis also displayed another radial concept in its booth.
Both American Kenda (new 25-inch Executioner) and Titan — which redesigned its 489 and 589 series tires — have new offerings, too.
The growth of the sport-quad market has also forced many of these companies to design all-new tires or redesign their existing molds.
More competition in ATV Gear
Though ATV riders don’t seem impressed by shiny new gear, the competitiveness displayed by the off-road motorcycle apparel companies has affected the quad business. Fox Racing has converted its SHIFT MX gear to better appeal to ATV riders, and has sponsored some quad racing teams and riders. O’Neal has stepped up its ATV influence with quad-specific advertising using multi-time champion Tim Farr.
We’ve seen a small-but-growing niche in MX gear for women. Sick Racing Gear is new this year and especially designed by women for women. Fox Racing and Acerbis also have developed a line of off-road riding outfits for women.
Fly Racing, distributed by Western Power Sports, Inc., has tripled its apparel and product offerings in 2003. Its MX gear was a small end-cap of its booth last year; while, this year, the gear (boots, helmets, pants, chest protectors) and other ATV and motorcycle accessories (ramps, bars, stands) got its own booth.
Finally, Simpson has returned to the off-road market in 2003 with a new line of helmets and its new GS3 racing gear.
Aftermarket upgrade components, such as handlebars, armor, A-arms and frames, have continued to expand every year at Indy. Motoquad Chassis Components, owned by West Coast Pro Racer Keith Marx, displayed new swingarms, A-arms and foot pegs. G.T. Thunder had new replacement A-arms and performance racing exhausts.
Many chassis component builders displayed all new products. Pro Armor debuted its Polaris Predator 500 body armor and updated Suzuki Z400 nerf bars and bumper. UM Performance Products displayed its custom aluminum airbox upgrades and skid plates. AC Racing and DG Performance also had large displays with nerf bars, bumpers, skid plates, and more.
PRM Products has diversified its ATV armor with offerings in both the utility (Honda Rincon) and sport (Predator) segments. IMS has continued its ATV racing chassis component barrage with several new products, including GPS mounts and nerf bars.
A representative of Cycra plastics said the company will focus on the ATV market more in 2003. It introduced new ATV handguards and is venturing into fender extension for racing. It has hired former Cannondale employee Bill Rudell to help its ATV business.
DP Brakes, which makes Moose Racing’s replacement clutch kits, has introduced its own line of clutches, according to Larry Mills. It has also stepped up its ATV racing sponorship this year. Pivot Works/HotCams continued to build replacement cams and bearings for ATVs, including newly released models. Falicon Crankshaft president Glenn Salpaka says he has seen a high demand for his replacement stroker crank for the Honda CRF450 because many ATV riders use it when they custom-build a CRF450 quad.
Copyright 2003 Powersports Business