Exhibitors offer loads of soft accessories for motorcycles
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — While the 35th annual International Powersports Dealer Expo showcased the usual array of motorcycle accessories — almost anything imaginable for a two-wheeled vehicle— this year, there seemed to be more “soft” accessories rather than hard parts.
There was a noticeable increase in clothing manufacturers, saddlebag and luggage system designers, and simple doo-dads for the bike.
As the motorcycle industry continues to experience steady growth, the need to service the wide and diverse group of riders becomes even greater. A simple leather backrest bag just won’t do anymore. It has to be multi-functional as more and more riders take to the highways. The same goes for their clothing. Jackets must work in all kinds of weather and provide all types of features. In addition, luxury items like GPS holders, alarm systems, and auxiliary lighting have become more important than those custom footpegs or license plate holders.
There was still plenty of shiny stuff available; we just noticed fewer items that were new. The large distributors, like Tucker Rocky and Custom Chrome, did have their usual displays of chrome and billet accessories for the bike, but that’s not the direction in which they steered us. Seems the hottest, newest item in their catalogs is their “bike in a box,” a complete motorcycle that can be bought as a kit for a fraction of the price of one already assembled using the same parts.
Here’s what we found new and interesting in the motorcycle category.
Cobra uses the Dealer Expo each year to unveil the latest creation from its special projects division, and 2003 was no exception. In front of a large assembly of media and convention goers, the cover was taken off of the VN1600 Cobra Stratacruiser— a 2003 Kawasaki Vulcan 1600 transformed into a sleek, rigid-framed custom. Designer Mike Rinaldi and fabricator Denny Berg came up with the all-aluminum, shaft-drive prototype custom that Cobra will use during the year to gauge interest in designing the large array of parts and accessories it manufacturers for Japanese cruisers.
Some highlights of the Stratacruiser include a front headlight borrowed from a 1966 Kawasaki 125, a fuel tank that’s located under the frame, shortened VN1600 front tubes, and shortened VN1600 risers attached to 35-degree drag bars from Drag Specialties. Performance Machine supplied the “Vader” style wheels along with an integrated front and rear braking system utilizing 4-piston caliper brakes. The bike is riding on Metzeler ME880s. Parts borrowed from Cobra’s catalog include the all-new Fi2000 digital fuel management system, the pipes and the tachometer.
Cobra, 23801 E. La Palma Ave., Yorba Linda, Calif., 92887, 714/692-8180, cobrausa.com
Cosmopolitan Motors literally just arrived from Spain with its new 50cc sportbike in time for the show. The 6-speed RS2 Matrix is the younger brother to the more naked, sportier RS1 the company began importing several years ago. The RS2 is an entry-level sportbike with a low seat height designed for people who want to ease into riding on a sportbike. Cosmopolitan Motors is a 53-year-old company selling mostly 50cc scooters and mopeds imported from Taiwan and Spain. This year, the company is expanding by importing 125cc and 150cc scooters.
Cosmopolitan Motors, 301 Jacksonville Rd., Hatboro, Penn., 19040, 800/523-2522, cosmotor.com
Honda Footwear is being manufactured by Double-H Boots, who announced that the ink was still wet on the licensee contract going into the show. Dennis Bleile, v.p. of sales, said Double-H used to license Harley-Davidson footwear, but since the company no longer has that license it decided to go after Honda.
The line has four components: the Transalp group, aimed at the ATV and outdoor crowd; the Sporttracks group, sport related and aimed at younger riders yet still functional with features like a waterproof membrane; the Touring group, boots that are more European inspired but also destined for what will be the Gold Wing collection; and the Black Boot group for cruiser riders, made with zippers and hook-and-loop fasteners for easy access. Right now, mens’ boots only are offered. However, the company is developing a line of women’s boots and sees opportunities for a line of kids’ boots, too.
Honda Footwear (Double-H Boots), 2100 Clematis Ct., McKinney, TX 75070, 972/529-1898, doublehboots.com
Ogio, the international sport bag company that garnered attention recently as an Inc. 500 company, made a showing at Indy this year breaking into the motocross industry with a new line of duffle bags, backpacks and helmet bags. The seven different styled bags, specially designed with input from Ogio’s team of MX racers, include features like pockets to hold goggles, boots, chest protectors, tools and water bottles. These technically-oriented bags are sturdy and durable and come in a variety of colors to appeal to today’s extreme sports crowd.
Ogio International, 149 South Pony Express Rd., Bluffdale, Utah, 84065, 801/619-4100, ogio.com
Panoptx, the first to introduce foam-lined windless eyewear for motorcyclists, is introducing several new styles including the Viento and the Chubasco designed for smaller faces. The Viento is available in a tortoiseshell frame design, popular among women. For those who don’t need the foam lining all of the time, Panoptx now offers convertible versions of some of its styles, allowing riders to remove the foam protector. Finally, the newest feature Panoptx is offering a day/night lens — a clear lens that gets darker with more light and vice versa, so you never have to switch to night glasses.
Panoptx, 1252 Quarry Lane, Ste. A, Pleasanton, CA 94566, 925/484-0292, panoptx.com
Pirelli used the Indy show to introduce its new line of sport tires, three different designs to appeal to a variety of riding styles. The Diablo Corsa is a track-day version of Pirelli’s Diablo street radial introduced in early December. The Corsa’s carcass is slightly different than the Diablo and the compound is more aggressive and stickier yet retains of fast warm-up and wet and dry grip.
Also, the rear Corsa is the first Pirelli motorcycle tire built by the company’s new robotic system called MIRS, resulting in a “perfect” tire. Next in the line is the Scorpion Sync, a new radial designed for owners of the high-performance street bikes otherwise dubbed “hooligan” bikes. Pirelli’s senior product specialist, Jeff Johnston, said Pirelli is creating a whole new category of tire — called “Sport Fun” — with this street performer, positioning it between the supersport category and sport touring.
Finally, the Sport Demon tire is a new bias-ply developed to bring updated performance and handling to sport and sport touring motorcycles of the ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s.
Pirelli, P.O. Box 700 Rome, Ga., 30162-7000, 706/368-5826, us.pirelli.moto.com
Protec Q unveiled its new Mono X2 helmet manufactured by Jarow, an Italian company. The unique feature about this flip-up helmet is the retractable tinted sun shield that pops down with the flip of a button on the side. Only one other helmet manufacturer offers such a feature and, because of its success, Jarow decided to market its own version of the instant sun shield. The X2 also has a fully removable Coolmax lining with different sized cheek pads for a custom fit, a quick-release chinstrap, chin and crown vents, and a fog-free insert. Protec Q also offers its Mono Convertible helmet, a flip-up full face that converts to a 3/4 helmet by removing the front face and chin portion. Both helmets offer the flip-up mechanism with the touch of one button versus two.
Protec Q, 6300-106 Limousine Dr., Raleigh, NC 27617, 866/527-6987, 919/510-0881, protecq.com
Moto Guzzi had a prototype of its ’04 Breva, the 750cc V-twin the company is hoping will bring people back to the Moto Guzzi brand. Executives at the company are comparing the standard style motorcycle to BMW’s 650cc line of motorcycles; indicating, though, that the Breva has a leg up on the competition because it offers a more powerful, smoother ride. Look for the Breva in dealerships this summer.
Moto Guzzi North America, 109 Smoke Hill Lane, Ste. 190, Woodstock, GA 30188, 678/238-0902, motoguzzi-us.com
National Cycle has jumped on the BMW R 1200 CL bandwagon before most people have even had a chance to see the bike by offering a custom sport package from their ZTechnik line to jazz it up. Parts include a lexan tinted sport windshield with fairing lowers to match, burlwood or carbon fiber panel covers for the dash, a chrome exhaust system that, we’re told, greatly improves the sound, and a chrome luggage rack. Also new from ZTechnik is a tire pressure monitoring system called SmarTire. The transmitter is mounted on the wheel and corresponds to an LED display mounted on the dash. It lights up or beeps to warn of low tire pressure.
National Cycle/ Ztechnik P.O. Box 158, Maywood, IL 60153-0158, 866/ZTECHNK, 708/343-0400, ztechnik.com
National Products was showing off its Ram Mounts, a line of mounting hardware designed for motorcycles. The mounts hold everything from cup holders, GPS systems, and cameras, and those three items just happen to be the most popular mounts among motorcycle owners, according to a company spokesman. The company has been manufacturing its mounting systems since 1991, but only started marketing them to the motorcycle industry two years ago. The “secret” to this type of mount is the way the balls are made — they are rubber, which helps isolate and dampen shock vibration. They also provide for a lock-tight grip when tightening the socket around it.
National Products Inc., 1017 S. Elmgrove St., Seattle, WA 98108, 206/763-8361, ram-mount.com
Olympia Moto Sports is a new clothing company launched last year by Kevin Rhea, formerly a vice president with First Manufacturing clothing. Rhea, a veteran of the motorcycle clothing business for 20 years, broke out on his own when he felt there was a void in the market in offering more sophisticated yet functional styles of motorcycle gear for cruiser riders. “There are so many beautiful bikes on the market now. We wanted a jacket to reflect those beautiful bikes,” he said. Rhea licensed the popular Olympia name from the glove manufacturer so he had name recognition going into the endeavor. Within the last 12 months, he’s built up his line to include 14 different styles of mens’ jackets and pants. Some of his leather designs use a combination of different finish leathers for a stylish, high quality look. All his textiles are waterproof and combine technical features riders have come to expect from a textile jacket. Rhea was proud to show off his unique zip-out Flight Jacket system, a military style flight jacket that serves as a Thermolite liner inside the jacket, but when zipped out is stylish enough to wear as a jacket.
Olympia Moto Sports, 10 Bridge Lane, Croton-on-Hudson, NY 10520, 866/473-GEAR, olympiamotosports.comZ
Oxford Sports is the name of a line of soft luggage that is the number one selling brand in Europe. Castle Sales has recently become the exclusive importer of the brand in the U.S. The line of sport and sport-touring soft luggage is very functional with detachable pieces that turn into hip bags and backpacks off the bike. A tankbag, saddlebags and tail pack are offered in a variety of colors. The 1600 Denier woven fabric is heat resistant and is PU coated to provide a level of water repellency.
Castle Sales, 1037 Waube Lane, P.O. Box 10417, Green Bay, WI 54307-0417, 920/336-7800, castlesales.com
Shook Design was showing off its new Speed Pac, a carbon fiber hard-sided tank bag that doubles as a backpack. Designer Jim Shook started designing the Speed Pac for the bicycle crowd, but says the motorcycle guys started showing interest so he tailored the design for sportbikes. The aerodynamic hard shell has cushions on the bottom that protect the tank and also lift it off one’s back when used as a backpack. It can also be attached to the rear fender as a tail pack. It has a small round hole on the side (that’s plugged when not in use) that can be used to insert a water tube or a headset wire from a CD or MP3 player. The Speed Pac has a rubber gasket around its opening and is completely waterproof. And, “It’s even worked as a back protector, too,” Shook says.
Shook Design, 130 Sherland Ave., Mountain View, CA 94043, 650/428-1135, speed-pac.com
Sick Racing Corporation is the name of a new line of women’s motocross apparel launched last April. Co-owner Kimberly Williams started the Santee, California-based company after she and her friends could not find freestyle and recreational motocross clothing for women. Two styles of riding pants are offered, as well as a jersey and a line of casual wear — including sweatshirts, tees, tanks and caps. The pants are made from a heat and abrasion resistant mix of Kevlar and Cordura fabrics. Sizes range from a kids’ size 6X all the way up to a women’s size 18. Williams is finding the large range of sizes is what is attracting most women to the line.
Sick Racing , 8803 Indian Wells Ct., Santee, CA 92071, 888/4-SICKGIRL, sickracinggear.com
Tour Master has three new luggage systems for sport and cruiser riders. First is the Cortech Sportbag System, a complete modular set that includes a tank bag, saddlebags and tail bag, all aerodynamically shaped to match the flowing lines of the bike. Comes in three colors. Next is the Nylon Cruiser II collection, rigid saddlebags, sissybar bags, tool bag, and barrel bag that are made of heavey duty 840 denier nylon with panels of leather-like fabric sewn in for style. The bags have no buckles or clips for closure, rather hook-and-loop fasteners are used to seal the bags. The last set is the Cruiser II collection, a leather-like combination of backrest bags and top cases that are rigid and provide plenty of storage and durability.
Tour Master/Helmet House, Inc., 26855 Malibu Hills Rd., Calabasas Hills, CA 91301, 800/421-7247, tourmaster.com
Tucker Rocky/Biker’s Choice is introducing its brand new “bike in a box” called the Big Easy. And, to show how easy it is to assemble, the company had a display of the frame with the engine and transmission already in place. The rest of the parts were hanging on a 20-foot wall behind it. During the course of the two-and-a-half-day expo, two technicians were to assemble the motorcycle while Expo attendees could watch. According to Skeeter Todd, head of research and development for Biker’s Choice, the assembly was moving along so well and so fast, that he had to encourage the guys to take a few more coffee breaks to slow down the process because he wanted the assembly to last the entire show. Todd says, “Someone asked me awhile back my definition of a complete bike and my definition is every nut, bolt, screw and washer. Even the tie wraps are in this kit. The object of this bike was to bring a realistically price value kit to the marketplace.” The bike sells for $14,595.99.
Tucker Rocky/Biker’s Choice, 4900 Alliance Gateway Freeway, Fort Worth, TX 76177, 800/347-1010, tuckerrocky.com
Vanson Leathers has come out with a medium-weight leather now offered on some of its garments as opposed to the stiff, heavy competition leather previously offered. The new Firenze leather has a 2.5-ounce weight. It’s been tanned for softness and comfort, yet will still offer the same durability as the heavier leather. It feels as if the jackets been broken in. Vanson is also introducing a child’s line of leather jackets, pants and casual wear for the first time, and offers a buy-back program for families who want to trade up to a larger size as their child grows. Finally, Vanson’s other new item is its own version of a Cordura Mesh summer jacket that’s become so popular in the last year. It comes with armor, has an adjustable waist and a strap on each inner sleeve to adjust the fit.
Vanson Leathers, 951 Broadway, Fall River MA 02724, 508-678-2000, vansonleathers.com Willie & Max Saddlebags/
Pinsley Manufacturing executives were demonstrating their new Hooker fastening system, a simple way to strap bungee cords to the bike without scratching the paint. A leather panel with 4 “D” rings attached to it slips under the rear portion of the seat. The “D” rings are exposed on either side allowing a rider to strap cargo to the back of the seat using the “D” rings as a place to hook the bungee cords — as opposed to hooking them under the fender or on a chrome piece. Clever!
Pinsley Manufacturing, 278 Park Ave., Lake Villa, IL 60046, 847-356-7763, willieandmax.com