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IMS brings hopeful outlook on 2016

By Kate Swanson

New model releases see increased foot traffic

In its eighth stop on the tour, the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows saw record traffic at the Minneapolis Convention Center in February. Despite the show having taken place on Super Bowl weekend, attendance was strong with the total reaching 40,102 people at the three-day show.

Tracy Harris, senior vice president of Progressive International Motorcycle Shows – UBM Americas, told Powersports Business that the Minneapolis stop was well received.

The IMS added Portland and Sacramento stops to the tour this year, in place of Seattle and San Mateo, Calif. The new locations also proved successful. “We saw a higher percentage of younger people at the Portland show than we have historically seen in Seattle,” Harris said. “For the most part, the shows are trending on par with prior years.

The International Motorcycle Show Minneapolis stop saw more than 40,000 people in attendance, despite taking place on Super Bowl weekend. (Photo by Beth Dolgner, courtesy of the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows)

The International Motorcycle Show Minneapolis stop saw more than 40,000 people in attendance, despite taking place on Super Bowl weekend. (Photo by Beth Dolgner, courtesy of the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows)

“The biggest thing we’re seeing this year is that we are trending younger; we are seeing more women, and we are seeing more diversity,” Harris said. “We’re really excited about that because that’s the number one thing that the community has been asking for — more new riders and more diversity in the riding population.”

In 2015, Progressive IMS began using the hashtag #RidersUnite, which Harris explained is a mantra that reinforced the support for more diversity and new riders in attendance at the IMS tour stops: “#RidersUnite began with our 2015 tour, and it’s really an all-inclusive phrase to include all types of riders — all age groups, all ethnicities and all types of riding. It’s a term to say everyone is welcome at IMS.”

Pat “Progressive Pat” Jansen, the emcee of the Progressive IMS Show Tour, has become “the face of Progressive Motorcycle Insurance.” Progressive has been the title sponsor of the International Motorcycle Show for the past three years, and Jansen agrees that this year has been a positive experience.

“It’s been good, and our attendance is up. Over the last three years we’ve seen a steady growth in the Progressive International Shows, so it’s been nice,” Jansen said.

This year’s IMS had a lot to offer its spectators. “Progressive’s involvement has really taken this show to a whole other level. It’s an experience,” he said.

Left: Flo’s Chop Shop offered free beard or mustache trims, straight razor line ups, boot shines or manicures with special Flo nail polish. Right: Representatives pause for a photo in the Kawasaki booth.

Left: Flo’s Chop Shop offered free beard or mustache trims, straight razor line ups, boot shines or manicures with special Flo nail polish. Right: Representatives pause for a photo in the Kawasaki booth.

Progressive’s involvement included the return of the Progressive School of Rock stage, J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Competition, the Progressive Parlor, stunt shows, live art and the Race America Slot Track. “We’ve been writing motorcycle insurance since 1964, so for us we’re really here to do this to say thank you to the motorcycle community for allowing us to be a part of their lives for more than 50 years,” Jansen said.

“What we’re here to do is build a relationship with our consumers,” he added. “We want to tell them that we care about them, and we want to increase their satisfaction with not just their insurance, but with this entire lifestyle. The relationship is really more important at the end of the day than the bottom dollar.”

One the biggest draws for IMS attendants is the ability to see new models and a variety of OEMs all under one roof, including Yamaha, Suzuki, Harley-Davidson, Triumph, Indian, Victory and many more. “IMS is where you go to see the best that the industry has to offer,” Jansen said. “Progressive has been able to partner with the preeminent motorcycle show in the industry and then be able to use that show as a platform to thank our customers.”

Joel Harmon, a regional sales manager for Indian Motorcycles, talked about the latest and greatest that Indian had to offer during the IMS, including several customized bikes that were on display.

“It’s been an excellent IMS show. The reactions to Indian Motorcycle around the country have been nothing but positive,” Harmon said. “‘Here to stay’ — that’s a great line that I’m hearing from people. The power of Polaris Industries partnered with the iconic heritage of Indian Motorcycles … there’s nothing but excitement for the future.”

Indian showcased its limited edition Jack Daniel’s Indian Chief Vintage at the 2016 IMS Show.

Indian showcased its limited edition Jack Daniel’s Indian Chief Vintage at the 2016 IMS Show.

The Spirit of Sturgis, a custom-built Indian Scout, designed by Klock Werks Kustom Cycles to look like the original Scout owned by J.C. “Pappy” Hoel, the founder of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, took center stage at the Indian booth.

“It’s showing the heritage and history of the Scout. … It’s really a way to showcase our past on our new platform and the future of Indian Motorcycles,” Harmon said. “That’s really what we’re trying to do — marry the past to the future moving forward.”

In addition to the range of customized Scouts on site, Indian also exhibited a new Scout Sixty in red. Harmon says that the $8,999 MSRP and size is approachable to a younger demographic.

“To bring somebody into our brand at a younger age, we knew that the price point was crucial to make it affordable to a wider variety,” he added.

The 999cc bike also makes it easier for a rider who is just getting ready to enter the cruiser lineup to make the jump.

“From a Scout perspective, our goal is show how you can customize a Scout. We want to show some of the history of the Scout, and we’re trying to showcase that the Scout is customizable and consumers can make it their own,” Harmon said.

Indian heads into 2016 with a few collaborations on the horizon, including a limited edition Indian Chief Vintage and new motorcycle boot line. Only 150 limited edition Jack Daniel’s Indian Chief Vintage models were made to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Jack Daniel Distillery. Indian also announced its partnership with Red Wing Shoes for a line of boots that will arrive in dealerships in July.

BMW drew quite a crowd with its two-story display, equipped with an upper deck with views of the entire IMS show, and its unique virtual test ride technology. Sara Schilke, BMW’s national marketing manager, said the Eye Ride, a virtual test ride simulator, and the new customizable bikes generated a lot of excitement.

A young IMS attendee gets some seat time in the Honda booth.

A young IMS attendee gets some seat time in the Honda booth.

With the addition of the R19, BMW journeys from its adventure bike background to the touring category. “Both customers and dealers are excited about all the new products that we have and how we’re really expanding our range,” Schilke said. “For me it was interesting that with the R19, people just love that bike, and it comes with all of these ways that you can customize or individualize it from the dealer.”

What’s next for BMW? While it was not present at IMS, Schilke says the OEM will release the G310R naked bike at the end of year: “That is a completely new category for us, so there’s a lot of buzz around, and we’re really excited about that.”

Brian Manning, public relations for Can-Am Spyder, shared in the excitement at this year’s IMS with the expansion of Can-Am’s Spyder line. “To be able to take the Spyder to Minneapolis is always fun. Even though it’s not a 12-month riding reason, there are a lot of passionate riders here,” Manning said.

The Can-Am Spyder F3 was launched for model year 2015, and BRP is using 2016 to showcase the additional F3-T and F3 Limited models. Part of the IMS display also featured the new lineup of the Triple Black Special Series for the F3-T, standard F3 and the Spyder RT.

Manning says the bagger F3-T feedback has been very positive as well, with many consumers responding well to its muscular look and comfort features.

“It’s something that customers were really itching for in terms of being able to improve what they’re perception is of the F3 model lineup,” Manning said. “People really gravitated toward it and love the redesign in terms of a more muscular look and the different way that it handles compare to other models in the lineup.” By adding the bagger version, consumers and dealers both have responded well to the changes in comfort, storage and stereo system.

With record attendance, the lines before the show opened on Saturday morning wrapped around the side of the exhibit hall.

With record attendance, the lines before the show opened on Saturday morning wrapped around the side of the exhibit hall.

BRP also had local dealers help work its corporate booth, a practice that has proven to be good for all sides of the business.

“It’s a great opportunity to work hand-in-hand with the folks that are on the front lines representing the brand and really interacting with customers,” Manning said. “I think it’s mutually beneficial for the dealers as well as us to have a presence there, so we love having the dealer networks be a part of any show where we’re displaying our units.”

From a dealership perspective, Simply Street Bikes of Eden Prairie, MInn., experienced the record foot traffic firsthand. Derek Stutz, SSB’s general manager, said that while Saturday had a lot more traffic, Friday night also hailed a great turnout.

Stutz says the dealership had a booth at IMS in a prime location this year: “The placement of it this year was great because we were right off in front of the Progressive School of Rock stage. The amount of traffic surrounding our booth was just insane.”

Since 2009, SSB has participated at the IMS Minneapolis stop. The 2015 Powersports Business Power 50 dealership chose to bring four units to showcase the variety of pre-owned bikes that are found in its store. The dealership also brought Scorpion helmets and jackets in addition to gear from other aftermarket brands like ICON and Alpinestars.

Throughout the IMS, SSB offered a 20 percent gear discount and a show discount on special orders. Stutz says the goal of the booth was a blend between informing participants about the business and selling its product: “I think next year we’re probably going to try and refocus that to be either more heavily focused on sales or scale it back and make it more of a marketing event for us.”

Overall, the IMS show was a great place for SSB to spread the word about its upcoming dealership events and connect with its local consumers.

“We’re hoping that the powersports industry is going to continue to have an upward go of it. … It’s not going to be about trying to find better marketing strategies, or better sales tricks; it’s going to be about customer service,” Jansen said. “It’s about being fair and treating consumers the way that they want to be treated.”

 

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