CINCINNATI, OHIO, FEB. 8—Since the V-Twin Expo’s inception in 2001, acknowledgement is given every year for the top products and leaders in the industry. The V-Twin Expo Awards could be considered a bellwether of industry trends, giving the dealers in attendance an idea of what products might be hot sellers during the upcoming riding season. And it’s also the industry’s way of patting itself on the back for innovation, creativity and craftsmanship.
This year’s awards ceremony took place on Saturday night as part of the V-Twin Expo Welcome Party, which was kicked off by the sultry, soulful Jasmine Cain performing a solo guitar and vocals show. After her opening set, Griff Allen took the stage for his first year as awards ceremony emcee. Griff is a well-known and popular producer of motorsports programming for ESPN, Speed, FOX and Discovery, and he also has acting and advisory roles for the upcoming feature film Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
First up was the award for Accessory of the Year, accepted by Mark Ashton of Metalsport for their 3-D Big Homie Wheels. The Big Homie is intended for high-end bikes and carries a price tag range of $2,300 to just over $6,000 per wheel. Metalsport, a first-time V-Twin Expo Award winner, has partnered with some of the top talents in the business, such as Chip Foose, Matt Hotch, Shannon Davidson of the Chopp Shop and Andrew Rumley from Custom Cycles LTD.
In 2011, J&M Motorcycle Audio won the V-Twin Expo Accessory of the Year product for their Rokker Motorcycle Sound System. This year J&M was awarded Tech Product of the Year for the Rokker XTP Amplifier. After the awards I spoke with company co-founder and president John Lazzeroni, who demonstrated the 500w RMS 4-channel amplifier for 2014 H-D Ultra and Street Glide models. According to John, it’s the world’s most powerful amp for Harley baggers and includes a bracket system, mounting hardware and all the wiring.
Daytona Twin Tec, another two-time award winner, took the Performance Product of the Year award, which was accepted by Allen Alvarez. Subsequent to the awards ceremony, Allen described the winning products. The TCFI Gen 5 is an auto-tuning fuel-injection controller for 2012–later CAN Bus, and it has a partner product that was just developed—the TCFI Gen 7 for 2014–later H-D Touring models with the CAN data bus. And the Twin Scan 3 ABS is a diagnostic tool for 2011–’14 Softails, 2012–’14 Dynas and 2014 Sportster and Touring models with CAN bus.
Audio Product of the Year was accepted by Hogtunes owner Mark “Pez” Pesdirz and product designer Cameron Mitchell for the company’s Saddlebag Speaker Lids. The Speaker Lid Kit includes high-impact ABS replacement saddlebag lids and everything else you need to accommodate 6″ x 9″ stereo speakers. This was Hogtunes’ second award as well, having won Accessory of the Year in 2010 for their Hog Pod Tweeter Bar.
Tim Wallingford and Rick Whitehead of Custom Cycle Engineering accepted the Value Product of the Year award for the company’s Steering Damper for Baggers. The product is the first steering damper system for Harley dressers, and it positions a Shindy Steering Stabilizer in such a way as to stabilize the front fork and help eliminate front-end wobble.
Once the product awards had been handed out, Steve Menneto was called to the stage to accept the 2014 Industry Leader of the Year award. Steve became a dirt bike rider and raced motocross and hare scrambles at an early age, eventually starting his career in powersports as owner of a family dealership. He eventually went to work for Polaris Industries where he has held a number of positions, and is now vice president of motorcycles for the company, overseeing the Victory and Indian Motorcycle brands.
The 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Terry Vance of Vance & Hines. Terry also began riding and racing at a young age, winning numerous championships in drag racing. He and Byron Hines, who Terry met at R.C. Engineering, used their combined racing, building and tuning experience to found Vance & Hines in 1980. The duo grew the company to over 550 employees that manufacture exhaust products for street and racing bikes, and the company continues to sponsor racing teams for both street and drag racing.