By Guido Ebert, Associate Editor
An informal survey of powersports dealers around the country revealed demand for sport quads and utility vehicles (UTVs) appears to be growing, expanding with units being offered by vehicle manufacturers. Plus, dealers consistently mentioned Yamaha’s side-by-side Rhino as a best-seller.
Power Motor Sports is a 30,000 sq. ft. dealership in Fremont, Mich., carrying Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha ATVs.
Co-owner Matt Isard says his market, while still dominated by utility quads, is responding to the new OEM emphasis on sport models, the Yamaha YFZ 450 and Honda TRX 450 especially.
“We’re gaining speed on the sport side of things with the new models out on the market, but utility quads still account for probably 70% of our ATV sales here and, as far as vehicle sales go, Yamaha’s Rhinos are sold before they even hit the floor,” Isard told Powersports Business.
He said sport enthusiasts are looking for ITP rims, Maxxis and ITP tires, Big Gun and Pro Circuit pipes, axles, handlebars and riding gear, while utility riders are after soft bags (tank, fender and front and rear rack), plow blades and necessary winch kits and windshields.
Owners of the Rhino — Yamaha’s off-road vehicle featuring side-by-side seating and utility capabilities — are now beginning to come into the dealership with requests for add-ons, he said: “They’ve had them a few months, got a little use out of them, and now they’re looking for cabs, plows, winches and a number of other things.”
Baron Horton works parts at Central Yamaha in Plano, Texas, a 20,000 sq. ft. Yamaha-exclusive sister dealership to Central Polaris/KTM of McKinney, Texas. Horton says his dealership’s ATV sales are split 50/50 sport to utility.
Central’s dealership has 2,100 sq. ft. devoted to hard parts and 2,000 sq. ft. for apparel and accessories. Primary distributors are Parts Unlimited and Tucker Rocky.
“People with utility quads are looking at big wheel kits — mostly from ITP — Quad Boss and Moose racks and bags,” Horton said. “ Sport riders are looking at pipes, jet kits, wheel and tire kits, sprockets, anything performance.
Pipes moving out of the Central showroom include Big Gun, FMF, and Yamaha’s GYT.
“People seem to be looking for gear for their Rhinos, too, using Yamaha’s branded accessories — skid plates and big wheel kits mostly,” he said.
The Turning Wheel Sport Center of Leesburg, Fla. is an 18,000 sq. ft. dealership selling Yamaha and BRP ATVs (Yamaha of Leesburg prior to September 2001). Largest-selling segment at the dealership is ATV.
“Everybody in this area rides ATVs,” says Dee Bitting of the dealership’s parts department. “A lot of people who live around here have five to ten acres.”
Bitting says most of the people she deals with race their quads, and most of them are on the new 450 models.
“Racing is big in this area but don’t get me wrong, we deal a lot of the Kodiak, Grizzly and Bruins, too.”
Top requests from the sport quad market, according to Bitting, are FMF pipes, V-Force Delta reeds, ITP Holeshot wheel kits, “and, lately, I’ve had a number of requests for Cool Heads — aftermarket heads by Pro Design.”
Engine parts orders often require a greater boost in service work, she said, “and we do a lot of engine work” — accounting for 25% to 30% of total revenue.
Bitting said consumer requests regarding gear for the Rhino haven’t escaped her attention either. “The Rhino people like to put in speedometer kits and wheel kits,” she said. “I’ve also sold a lot of windshields and mudguards, and quite a few covers — both hard and soft tops.
Another thing that seems to be quite popular with Rhino owners (a number of dealers mentioned it) is upgrading the CDI box with a unit from the Grizzly, although Bitting says it disturbs the speedometer reading.
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Billy Benigno of Hanover Honda-Yamaha in Whippany, N.J. Believe it or not, with all of the models he had available to mention, Benigno highlighted Yamaha’s Rhino as one of his most sought-after units, along with the Rincon 650 and 400EX.
“As far as ATVs go, people seem to be looking for the biggest and the baddest. Right now we’re selling sport quads like crazy, but we’ve also had a lot of interest in the Yamaha Rhino,” he said.
Revenue at Hanover Honda-Yamaha is split into thirds — dirt bikes, street bikes and ATVs.
Top distributors to Hanover Honda-Yamaha: Parts Unlimited, Tucker Rocky and White Brothers. “What we sell will usually depend on what the distributor has in stock,” Benigno said.
He said sport ATV riders are picking up “a lot of big bore kits for the Raptor and 400EX,” exhausts, jet kits, suspension parts and skid plates.
“Some of the nicest skid plates I’ve seen are coming from White Brothers,” he said. Top exhausts? Yoshimura and White Brothers’ E2 series and race series.
“As soon as it cools off, though, we’ll start moving the utility quads and all of the PG&A that goes with them,” Benigno said. “I can’t even tell you how many plows and winches we sold last year. A lot more than we did actual quads.
“The new Warn multi-mount winch is a best-seller, and we’re moving a lot of Cycle Country plows and a lot of wheel kits — mostly ITP, the 589 and that new Mud Lite with the billet wheels.”
He said hard and soft-sided bags also usually prove popular, the softer version aiding in seating. Aftermarket pipes for utility quads are not requested with any regularity.
Educated customers? “I’d say it’s 50/50. There are those who don’t even know what they ride or what they bought, then you get the guys that know the name and description of the product.”
As for the Rhino market Benigno eluded to: “People are looking for product for them, but they’re not finding too much. There’s a 4000 lb. winch from Warn, but other product seems to be limited.
“I know a number of people have asked about plows and roofs. Yamaha has a few things, but they could probably do and be successful with a whole lot more.”
Colorado Powersports - Denver is actually located in Thornton, Colo. “This time of year,” said the dealership’s Mike Klingensmith, “we’re moving more items associated with sport quads. We’ll do most of our utility-associated sales in October.
Leading distributors to Colorado Powersports are Taexas-based Tucker Rocky, Wisconsin-based Parts Unlimited and Idaho-based Western Power Sports.
“But we use Tucker Rocky for as much as we can just because they have a warehouse here in Denver and it makes it really convenient for us,” Klingensmith said.
Colorado Powersports’ PG&A team is moving ramps, Acerbis handguards, Quad Boss tire kits, the Trail Tech Torchlight, K&N products and Warn winches — “with the 2.5 selling a lot better than anything else because people seem to think the 3.0 is a little pricey,” Klingensmith said.
Yet another dealer seeing increased business in utility vehicles and the burgeoning side-by-side market, Klingensmith said Colorado Powersports also is starting to see more interest in vehicles like the Ranger and Rhino.
“Those people have been coming in looking for the big wheel kits, soft and hard tops, and the winches,” he said, calling the wheel kit of choice the ITP 589 C-Series.
Product sales in the sport quad sector is led by DG’s Fat Series protection protects. “As far as pipes, FMF is the brand everybody is going with, by far, and our tire sales are centered around Dunlop product, hands down.” psb