On the gas, just not full throttle

Powersports Business attended the Parts Unlimited NVP Product Expo in Louisville, Kentucky, Jan. 21 and 22. We’ll recap the event in more detail in our February issue and give some show highlights here.

Back at the Kentucky International Convention Center in downtown Louisville for the first time since a couple of Covid-19 cancellations, the Parts Unlimited / Drag Specialties event covered more square footage and included more aftermarket vendors than ever before.

“The show is going very well overall,” said Mike Collins, Parts Unlimited president, when we sat down on Sunday to talk. “We had high expectations figuring dealers in this area would be hungry to see other people. We had 800 dealers pre-registered, but some of them don’t show, and other dealers come without registering.”

We interviewed dozens of vendors during the weekend event and came away with a few highlights.

Inventory is on everyone’s mind, from vendors to dealers to Parts executives, but for different reasons. Some vendors are still behind with inventory, including Arai Helmets, one of the newest vendors in the Parts / Drag family. The company has 18 months of wholesale orders to fill internationally, “so everyone is fighting for attention,” said Arai’s Brian Watson. And for the distributor itself, inventory remains a top priority. LeMans Corporation Chairman Paul Langley told dealers, “we will make inventory investments so we can get goods to you quickly.” Those investments will include, according to Langley, spending on warehouses as well as technology updates.

S & S Cycles, a company well known to Drag Specialties customers, launched its off-road performance parts at the Parts NVP.

E-bikes and related accessories were quite evident on the show floor. Intense Bikes, led by Jon-Erik Burleson, executive chairman and former KTM exec., showed bikes and provided demo rides inside. Burleson called this “the incubation phase” for e-bikes into powersports dealers. Judging by the number of bike accessory companies present, the incubator is heating up. Dealers at the show got a close look at bicycle clothing, helmets, car carriers, tires, and other gear.

It’s hard to measure attitude, but our barometer showed a high level of positive energy throughout the weekend, and we heard that from others. “The show this year has been very good for us. And we’ve heard no negativity this year,” said Scott Griffin, vice president of the motorcycle business unit for Pirelli. Griffin said the company expanded its booth size to 40-ft. x 40-ft. for this year’s event, up from the usual 10-ft. x 20-ft. booth.

Still, many are cautiously optimistic about 2023, including Langley. “We are going to be conservative but we’re going to stay on the gas, just maybe not full throttle,” he told dealers during an address Sunday morning. Look for the February issue for the complete story and photos from the event.