And the lightbulbs just keep on lighting
Creative spirit alive and well in Cincy
Cincinnati, Feb. 7–9—Just because there’s a slowdown in the economy doesn’t mean there’s a lack of creative juices from the most innovative thinkers in the world of aftermarket products. If anything, a slowdown in business gives these guys the chance to kick back and ponder, “Hey, what if we try this?” Here are the results of some of those late-night ponderings revealed at this year’s V-Twin Expo.
In a departure from their characteristic line of recognizable air intake systems, D&M Custom Cycle tapped into the touring market at this year’s Expo, unveiling their new Oil Cooler Floorboards. Resembling something that would be found aboard the Caped Crusader’s Bat-Pod, these billet-machined beauties have internal compartments that add an additional two quarts to a bike’s oil capacity. By using a series of fins and flow-through air vents, oil temperature can be reduced by as much as 25 degrees. The floorboards are linked together and tied into the motor by a spin-on adapter plate that wedges between the engine and your oil filter and features a thermostat. For those riders who like to kick up a few sparks when hammering it through the twisties, titanium wear plates will be added to the bottom “scraping edge” on production units. The product is so new that firm pricing is still being determined but the set should weigh in at around a grand (depending on options) including all required fittings and hoses.
Founded in 1967 by Randy Smith, Custom Cycle Engineering has been a mainstay in the production of heavy-duty triple trees, fork truss, tweak bars and risers for the discriminating rider. During the Expo, CCE gave us our first look at their new Solo Touring Rack. Constructed from thick-walled steel tubing, this platform is expansive and offers ample space to carry everything needed for prolonged time on the road. This rack takes the place of the passenger seat on Harley touring models, moving the weight of your gear directly over the rear axle for more balanced handling. It attaches using Harley’s quick disconnect docking hardware, which allows easy conversion back to two-up riding so you can take mama for a spin when you get home from that lengthy adventure. The Solo Touring Rack comes fitted with a sissy bar that will accommodate any standard H-D backrest and triangular mounting plate (not included). And with a price tag of only $499, an extended stay never looked so affordable.
Another nifty product for Harleys is Fat Baggers Inc.’s bolt-on drop-seat conversion kit for 2009 touring models. After nearly 30 years of using the same basic frame architecture, Harley made a major change for 2009 FLHs and FLTs: a two-piece frame (which, by the way, won the V-Twin Expo Motorcycle Design of the Year award this year) with the tail frame bolted onto the rest of the chassis. Thunder Press North editor Shadow was quite excited about this product. She’s been considering acquiring a Road King, but once Harley added a sixth gear and redesigned the primary, she could no longer sit on the bike flat-footed. FBI’s drop-seat conversion kit lowers the seat by a full 3 inches, making it possible for her 5′4″ frame to handle the Road King with confidence. Not only that, she figured she could easily perform the conversion herself as the kit includes all necessary components and, according to the FBI crew, takes only two hours. This is a product that should appeal not only to women, but also to all riders of shorter stature.
When Jamey Joseph and Alan Gregory kicked off Street Star Designs in their small Willis, Texas garage nine months ago, they never envisioned having a booth at the 2009 V-Twin Expo. But even if they had, there would have been no way they could have prepared for the reception and acceptance of their new product, Loud Lids. Loud Lids replace the stock tops on Harley fiberglass hard bags. They are injection-molded from plastic and have a set of integrated speakers that point toward the rider. And since they basically mount on top of the lids, no internal storage space is lost. Installation requires only that a small hole be drilled in the body of the saddlebag to allow for a speaker wire. The Loud Lids then bolt onto the factory latches and you are ready to rock, with the shape and fit giving the impression that this is a Motor Company product. And speaking of the Motor Company, officials from Harley-Davidson were at the Expo and very interested in what Street Star had to offer. But then so were Arlen and Cory Ness (for possible use in their stretched bags) and J&P Cycles. It looks like Loud Lids will be showing up in a catalog near you soon. While Loud Lids has always used only the finest in marine-grade speakers, they are presently upgrading to their own proprietary LMF speakers, 6 1/2″ units with carbon fiber baskets and 2″ tweeters. The “L” stands for Loud. I’m certain you can figure out the rest. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, these Texans are not new to the business, with Alan having 20 years experience in car audio and Street Star marketing their own line of amps, the AKA—Ass Kickin’ Amplifiers.
The GS Motor Company showed up this year with a bounty of goodies for the eager V-Twin audience. Their Blast Kit offers a frame, a mono-shock swingarm, oil tank, gas tank, seat pan, battery tray, rear fender and controls guaranteed to transform your Buell Blast into the sharpest bobber in the high school parking lot. And all the above will only set you back $2,495. Their new Beehive oil tank is a work of art sculpted from a block of aluminum, while their Shotglass oil filter utilizes an actual shot glass to aid in a quick visual inspection of the slippery stuff. GS Motor states, “When the oil’s fresh, it should look like Jack Daniels. And when it takes on the appearance of Jagermeister, it’s time for a change.” The company also offers a Double Shot taillight that uses a pair of matching shot glasses as lenses.
From across the waters, the Oriental wisdom of AIM-Tamachi was on hand to present their Reverse Gear MAMBA. Designed for H-D 5- or 6-speed transmissions from 1984 to present, the MAMBA comes in two designs. Any 5-speed from ’84 to ’06 (including the 2006 Dyna) will use AIM’s two-piece style that sandwiches between the right side of the transmission case and the stock side cover (formerly known as the “kicker cover”). The 6-speed model is available in either the two-piece style or a monoblock style that completely replaces the stock side cover. Both versions are operated by the clutch and engine and not the electric starter motor used on many reverse drives. The unit may be ordered for either cable- or hydraulic-actuated clutches and the designers profess an easy installation, making this one of those times when “Made in Japan” is a good thing. Pricing ranges from $1,295 to $1,795 depending on options.
A more simplistic approach to music on wheels was the Cranker Tank Bag by Sportech. Although designed mainly for the sport bike crowd, this is a nifty way to carry your tunes while on the go. An EVA shell attaches to the bike by either its powerful magnets or the optional straps. An integrated amplifier and single speaker blasts your music of choice via an MP3 player (not included) that is housed in an internal pocket. A clear plastic widow allows you to view what is presently playing. The unit is powered by the bike’s battery through a power lead or by four AA batteries so you can still jam once at the campsite. There’s not much additional space inside but more than enough for keys, sunglasses and a wallet, with individual pockets for each.
Spruced up everything on your bike except for that dull speedo? Then tap into Harley Gauges by Nu Image for a selection of six custom-etched gauge face kits. Featuring options of Diamonds, Mechanical, Spider Web, Brushed or Skulls and Flames, the company also offers custom bezels and read-out numbers in either red, smoked or white. Simply decide on what combination best suits your attitude, remove your stock speedometer, complete the work order and ship it to the factory. Standard turnaround is 48 hours after receipt unless you opt for their custom paint service. In return, you receive your original part with all those hard-earned mileage figures still intact for a price starting at $150.
Paul Kittrell, president of Lyndall Racing Brakes, is one of the most amped persons in the industry, constantly pushing against the norm and developing revolutionary products with ample whoa-up capabilities. And this year at the V-Twin Expo he once again had a huge number of excited customers reviewing, scrutinizing and evaluating his new brake rotors and pads. What caught my eye was his remake of the standard full-floating rotor, the Lug Drive Rotor. In this revised take, Lyndall eliminates the standard button and wave washer arrangement, substituting a cogged carrier of 6061 T6 aluminum combined with a mating rotor of 4200 high carbon steel. The two pieces are locked together with an expansive, spiral snap ring on the backside. Having the clean look of a solid rotor, this three-piece system can be assembled by hand (which was demonstrated by Paul) with no special tools. In an effort to lessen weight, the company is also offering titanium attachment hardware (bolting). It just doesn’t get much better, or lighter, than that.
So in response to an economy that has folks burying their savings in the backyard and selling blood to make ends meet, I’m proud to say that the V-Twin Expo once again offered some great innovations to the market. Rust never sleeps. And apparently, neither do these guys.