New gear bag company gets off to a strong start with Parts/Drag
With less than a year of sales under its belt, American Kargo is certainly one of the newest brands on the powersports scene. But the employees of the Pittsburgh-based gear bag company aren’t strangers to the industry.
“We have our street bike guys; we have our off-road guys; we have our flat track guys; we even have guys who ride mountain bikes,” American Kargo product specialist Dylan Jones told Powersports Business at the Parts Unlimited/Drag Specialties Regional Showcase in Atlanta.
American Kargo officially launched last fall, with Parts Unlimited and Drag Specialties as its sole distributor, but the company’s gear bags had been in research and development for about two years prior.
Though there are other gear bag companies on the market, what makes American Kargo unique is its goal to only make powersports-specific bags — those any rider would want to take along on the street, to a track day, or out in the dirt.
“You’ve got to keep yourself organized, and you’ve got to get from point A to point B, and you’ve got to get your things there with you,” Jones said.
The full line includes performance backpacks, hydration bags, goggle bags, helmet bags and roller gear bags. Most are available in multiple colors, and most integrate with each other. Many also have adjustable padded dividers and Velcro on the outside for placement of number patches, sold separately.
“Being a rider, you want something that you can count on, you can trust,” Jones said. “There’s a ton of people out there that make bags. We’re not a company that’s just going to throw zippers on it with our logo. When you look at the quality of the product and the way that it’s designed, nothing compares to it.”
Each bag comes with a lifetime warranty, so American Kargo has gone to great lengths to assure each bag can withstand the rigors of the powersports world.
“We don’t skimp on materials, and we’re not taking any shortcuts when we produce this stuff. Everything that we sell has the minimum standard of a 600-denier fabric, which is low-end ballistic vest material. Everything’s double-stitched, double-seamed, PVC-backed with a micro-weave construction,” Jones reported.
American Kargo has put each piece through rigorous testing, finding weak points and reinforcing them, so the company can feel confident in its warranty.
“The larger roller bag was one of the biggest pieces that was going to get beat up a lot, at airports, different things like that — that’s why it was one of the last pieces that we launched because it took the longest to test it. We put cinder blocks in this thing and drug it behind us. We threw it off of balconies,” Jones explained. “We just had to make sure to go over and above what the normal person would do to find your weak points and really define that area and just make sure that everything’s just going to work the way you need it to. And if it doesn’t, we’re going to be here to make sure we take care of you.”
American Kargo employees also put the bags into use themselves. Jones says he’s used the backpacks, loaded with 25-30 pounds of cargo, and barely felt the weight, even at highway speeds. He’s also used the smaller hydration bags while mountain biking.
“We went in and out of just trying to do everything we could to make the best product possible, and we constantly want to evolve and continue to come out with the next greatest thing,” he said.
Since the bags launched at the Parts Unlimited/Drag Specialties National Vendor Showcase in August, the dealers who have picked the line up have been impressed with the quality, the stylistic features and the company’s customer service, Jones reported.
“It’s really bringing a new crowd in, and it’s moving, and that just speaks volumes to dealers; that’s what they like to see — sell-through,” he said.
With this spring representing the first on-road riding season for the company, American Kargo is making a big push with advertising and sponsored riders. Rob Carpenter from One Wheel Revolution, Supermoto racer Johnny Lewis and the Canadian Monster Supercross team are among American Kargo partners. With each of them on board, and more dealers learning about American Kargo at Parts Unlimited/Drag Specialties’ recent Atlanta and Arlington Showcases, this year is expected to be big for the company.
“2015 is going to be our year,” Jones said. “We’re coming out strong, making sure we’re at every event possible, supporting the dealers, supporting the consumers, supporting the sport.”