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V-Twin Expo draws a crowd

Cincy show brings dealers who mean business

The 12th annual V-Twin Expo by Easyriders in Cincinnati showed once again that the V-twin market is alive and well.

The three-day event in February that attracted more than 230 exhibitors sparked enough excitement from dealers that renewals following the event were up compared to 2011 renewals.

“The most important takeaway from the event was the real positive vibe from the exhibitors and dealers,” V-Twin Expo producer Jim Betlach said. “People were doing some serious business. They were serious as a heart attack about doing business and finding products that will make their businesses a success once again in 2012.”

Some longtime exhibitors told Powersports Business that the crowd on Saturday was the largest they had seen in the past three years.

“We’re very, very pleased with the success of the show,” Betlach said. “Several exhibitors that had contracted their booth size when the industry contracted have decided to go back and expand their booths for 2013, so we’ll be looking at a new floor plan next year. The dealer engagement was fantastic, and people are counting on 2012 to be a great year.”

Fireball Lighted Wheels returned to Cincy for the first time since 2005, with a lower price point.

Bill Michelotti of Raw Design, whose Fireball Lighted Wheels drew attention from dealers, returned to exhibit at the V-Twin Expo for the first time since 2005.

“It’s been really good here,” he said. “The guys are enthusiastic to see something that they haven’t seen before. LED seems to be kind of a big thing with guys customizing their bikes. This is the next logical step, and then some.”

Michelotti brought a lower price point with him this year ($279 per pair), which also was a hit with dealers.

Duane and Cristene Justus of Adele Motors in Hauser Lake, Idaho, made the trek to Cincy for the first time.

“We were able to establish relationships with four or five target vendors we hope to work with in 2012. We are already excited about next year’s show and have made room reservations,” Duane said.

S&S Cycle marketing manager Bruce Tessmer knows that veterans of the industry have seen the size and scope of the V-twin market shrink since its heyday.


“We’ve always been pleased with the attendance here,” Tessmer said. “We’ve just always had people around here. If you hadn’t been here for four or six years, you’d come in and say ‘Wow, where is everybody?’ There’s a lot less booths and people, that’s true, but most of the ones who are not here are trinket vendors with stickers and stuff like that.

“The guys that are here are the big hitters. The major players? They’re still here. We don’t have the number of attendees that we used to have, but on the other hand, the guys that are here are very serious. They’re out here kicking tires and looking at stuff. They’re looking for ways to bring revenue into their shop, new products that they know can sell, just checking it out to see what’s new and what they can offer their customers.”

Tessmer said that the economy has dictated that manufacturers bring more buyable products to market.

“We’re focusing on a lot of products that people can bolt on to Harley-Davidson motorcycles as opposed to in the past, a lot of the stuff was engines and more focused on building custom bikes,” Tessmer said. “It’s right for the economy. Not everybody can afford to drop the money on a brand new motor.”

New Stealth Air Cleaners and Covers from S&S gave dealers plenty of reason to get excited. The Muscle cover in particular created a lot of buzz. It’s held onto the air cleaner with with miniature hood pins, a la muscle car.

“It looks real good on Sporters and Dynas,” Tessmer said.

The Airstream cleaner cover for baggers features an updated S&S teardrop shape. S&S also introduced an exhaust that features Jet-Hot black coating that won’t discolor or burn.

“It’s a premium ceramic coating for exhaust systems,” Tessmer said. “People are going nuts over it. If you’re looking to add a little more zing, there you have it.”

Pirelli turned to Cincy to unveil new sizings to its line of Night Dragon V-twin performance tires. In fact, Pirelli’s Kevin Allen said company has doubled the amount of sizes for new touring bikes.

Dealers in Cincy were interested in viewing the entire lineup from Bell Helmets.

“We found a lot of people were buying standard motorcycles and then only upgrading the engine and staying with the same tires,” Allen said. “You want to get tires to handle the power of the motorcycle, and tires that have the grip and handling without losing much. The feedback has been very good with the Night Dragon tires. Dealers kept telling us they were selling the product through, so we decided to make additional sizes. And customers love to have another option.”

Avon Tyres also gave the Cincy crowd the first look at its new Cobra whitewall line, and Michelin’s Commander II tires were named New Product of the Year in Cincy.

The 13th Annual V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati is February 2-4, 2013, and it seems the dealer quality in Cincy continues to impress.

“When it comes to trade shows, we look for one thing: quality, established American V-twin dealers. The V-Twin Expo does an outstanding job attracting these dealers into Cincy each and every year. Drag will continue to support the V-Twin Expo in a big way,” said Greg Blackwell, vice president of sales for Drag Specialties.

2012 V-Twin Expo Awards

Industry Leader of the Year: Barry Willey, National Cycle
Industry Trendsetter of the Year: Todd Silicato, Todd’s Cycle
Lifetime Achievement Award: Ron Paugh, Paughco, Inc.
Motor of the Year: Delkron Manufacturing, 120 Square Block Complete
Wheel Design of the Year: Performance Machine, Paramount Wheel
Performance Product of the Year: BUB Enterprises, EPA/CARB-legal CAT System
New Product of the Year: Michelin, Commander II Tires
Value Product of the Year: Saddlemen, S2600 Deluxe Sissy Bar Bags
Tech Product of the Year: Cobra Engineering, Fi2000 PowrPro with CVT Technology
Audio Product of the Year: Hawg Wired, Four In The Face 4-channel Audio System


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