The 36th annual Powersports Dealer Expo in Indianapolis is becoming increasingly important to the ATV market. For the last two years, ATVs have been found in more booths as aftermarket products continue to be developed or improved. From all-new tire designs to exhausts to repackaged “Cannondales,” the quad industry was in full view at Indy.
There were an amazing number of ATV exhausts on display, including pipes from U.S.-based companies and from Europe and other locales. A significant trend in exhausts is controlling sound decibel levels and meeting current 94 and 96 dB guidelines.
HMF Engineering has added a racer “Signature Series” of four-stroke exhausts for ATVs, used by GNCC racers Mike Penland and Bill Ballance, but their signature line of exhausts can have a low-dB quiet core inserted.
Big Gun Exhaust also understands the importance of an exhaust system’s versatility and sound. To better control sound levels, Big Gun introduced its new Vortex Quiet Insert for machines with 250cc or larger engines. Big Gun says the lightweight insert, with proper jetting, can make almost all motorcycle and ATV models meet prescribed 94 and 96 decibel rules with little to no horsepower loss.
White Brothers’ E2 series exhausts are versatile, too and are made to be used in both competition and trail rides while meeting current sound level restrictions.
The hot sport quad models for 2004 include the Yamaha YFZ450 and the Honda Sportrax 450R. Two Brothers Racing has joined the ATV side of pipe building by offering slip-on systems for both quads, while CHM’s brand of Ovate exhaust slip-ons and full systems also are available for the YFZ450 and 450R, and come with an Ovate dB reduction cartridge and a spark arrestor.
BRANDING & BRANCHING OUT
Branching out or diversifying product also appears to be another trend for 2004, with companies realizing the importance of creating more product and establish brand awareness.
Parts Unlimited extended its grasp on the powersports industry with several introductions at Indy. The most noticeable addition was its AMS tire line, which consists of 10 new ATV rubbers. Seven of the tires are for the ATV dune market, while three tires are made for utility ATVs.
Cobra, later this year, will have a line of ATV accessories for dealers, and Jardine Performance has also strayed from producing only exhausts to adding hard parts, like ATV nerf bars, grab bars and bumpers.
One Industries added an all-new helmet to its line of graphics kits, handlebars and grips, and Bridgestone, which has a bigger name in the dirt bike industry, used Indy to introduce the all-new XXtreme Dirthook ATV tires.
Then there are companies that have innovative ways to make existing models or products more convenient. Swisher, Agri-Fab, Warn and Cycle Country are among the companies that have designed products to cater to those who live the ATV lifestyle and need several products for their quad. Of course, the easier the operation, the better. Thus, universal mounts, electonically controlled products, and remote control switches have proved popular.
In recent years, we’ve seen and influx of foreign-produced, U.S.-imported small displacement ATVs on display at the Dealer Expo. The majority of these machines are built in Chinese-owned factories and target the youth and entry-level portion of the market.
Every turn took us to another U.S.-based company that was importing these four-wheeled models. The biggest concerns for all of these small-scale manufacturers and importers are dealer networks, warranties and parts supply, pricing, saturation and safety issues.
OFF-ROAD UTILITY VEHICLES
Another growing segment in the off-road market is the utility vehicle or specialty vehicle genre, which includes machines like the Polaris Ranger, Kawasaki Mule and John Deere Gator.
While Yamaha balks at calling its new side-by-side four-wheeler an ATV or a utility vehicle, the Rhino is arguably one of the hottest and most attractive of these new units.
RESULTS FROM CANNONDALE PURCHASE
Dinli introduced its 500cc version of the Cannodale ATVs it purchased as part of the bankruptcy and buyout, though it was still in its prototype phase. The pre-production ATV was retrofitted with futuristic fiberglass made to look like plastic, Kenda Bear Claws tires, and a new swingarm. One Dinli official said an all-new 500cc engine was being designed by Dinli and other changes were soon to be implemented.
ATK US said it plans to create its own line of models by using the inventory it purchased during the Cannondale bankruptcy.
ATK says it will continue to focus on satisfying customer demands for parts and service, but said that its focus will be on the high-end, high-performance segement with its new models. The first step was to make slight adjustments to the engine to bump its compression to a 450cc.