The assembly of innovators that comprises the V-Twin Expo has been busy over the winter months; dreaming, drafting, drilling and deburring. And as in years past, some of their creations are so recent they don’t even have a name or firm pricing yet. And that’s about as fresh as it comes.
Danny Gray was one of the first to leap into the custom aftermarket seat business and has been a mainstay for years, developing an empire based on stitched bovine and exotic hides. For the V-Twin Expo, Gray unveiled his latest creation, a collaboration with another notable in the motorcycle seat industry, Airhawk. These two companies have reached across the aisle and teamed together to produce an air bladder-assisted seat with a Danny Gray signature. Touted to be superior to both foam and gel, the Airhawk Shape Fitting Technology is now integrated with Gray’s sleek designs, producing what should become a sought-after item. Available in both solo and two-up versions, the system utilizes a series of interconnected air chambers embedded under the cover, 12 for the rider and six for the passenger (on two-up seats). According to engineer Lars Roulund, the neoprene rubber air pockets are capable of off-loading the pressure of a rider’s IT bones (the ischial tuberosity, for you anatomy students) and redistributing the pressure. There is a small protuberance on the left side of the seat, a bump that you literally pump to the desired level of comfort. A small push button relief valve is located near the bump to reduce or adjust the air pressure. The systems are separate units on two-up seats, with each rider having the capability to adjust their own degree of buffer. This new design also aids in a cooler ride by providing some “butt-lift,” reducing moisture and body heat while increasing ventilation to your nether regions.
Wimmer Custom Cycle is mostly noted for their line of high-performance air filters and custom velocity stacks. And while they had plenty of those intake systems hanging in their booth, gearhead Lee Wimmer recognized the need for a product to aid in starting big-inch, high-compression motors. The result is a newly designed compression release that does not require head removal or machining and can be installed by anyone with a plug wrench. This nifty gadget mounts between the spark plug and head and uses a spigot with a pop-off valve to release engine compression. The spark plug itself receives an internally machined relief slot that provides the connection between cylinder and atmosphere. (Any brand and type of spark plug can be provided.) Not into high performance motors? A single compression release installed on the rear head of a stock engine will extend starter life. Selling for around $150 each (which includes two machined spark plugs), this item was so new that Wimmer hadn’t named it yet and was offering a free one to anyone that came up with an acceptable tag. But before I left his booth, Lee had named it himself—the Effortless Compression Release.
For 2011 the crew at Convict Custom Cycles has developed the Lockdown Stor-Bordz for riders desiring a bit of secrecy in their packing. Available in either polished aluminum or black powdercoat, the Stor-Bordz feature a keyed access to a hinged internal cavity. They come in specific left and right sets and have a clever inner mounting system so they cannot be removed unless they are unlocked and open. (A protective plastic plug keeps the key lock hidden and free of grime.) Inside the compartment, a removable closed-cell polyurethane insert can be cut to encase an ample amount of tools, a handgun or a variety of oft-used road equipment. Taking the project to the limit, once open, the lids are removable via a sliding hinge and can be used to hold nuts and bolts since the top is a magnetic tray. The front boards retail for $499 a set while a pair of passenger Bordz will cost ya $449. An additional $25 fee will get you the barrel locks keyed to your existing H-D key. That’s slick.
Last year during the Expo, National Cycle unveiled their pocket size Gladiator windshield. This year they expanded their vision into a combination windshield/fairing arrangement dubbed the Stinger. Formed from 4.5 mm FMR hard-coated polycarbonate, the Stinger adopts the “flipped-lip” design to enclose the rider in a capsule of non-turbulent air. Casting a fluid profile and providing any bike with a drastic facelift, it attaches to the bike using National Cycle’s proprietary stainless steel Quick Release Mount Kit that is both height- and rake-adjustable. (The same mount kit also allows you to swap the Stinger with both the SwitchBlade and Spartan windscreens by National Cycle.) Guaranteed against breakage by a three-year warranty, various styles of the Stinger are available for FL Softail, XL, FXD and Road King models.
Also being shown for the first time was the Peacemakers Variable Volume Exhaust Systems by National Cycle. The Peacemakers use an internal diverter valve that, when closed, routes the exhaust through the baffles. But when activated by a handlebar-mounted switch, a signal is sent to a servo motor housed in an attractive chrome canister and attached the right front frame leg. This motor actuates a pair of cables that open the diverter valves, allowing the gases to flow through the center of the muffler and increasing the sound level from 82 decibels to 94. Both horsepower and torque also increase when the diverter valves are open. The Peacemakers are a direct replacement for Harley OEM mufflers and use the stock mounting hardware.
Rockin’ in the free world
A different type of noise was being stirred up at the J&M booth, with their 2011 H-D Street Glide aptly named the Rokker. Laden with J&M’s massive sound system, the finished bike scored the V-Twin Expo’s Accessory of the Year Award. Equipped with a J&M 500-watt RMS 4-channel amplifier, the setup houses two 7 1/4″ mid-subwoofers in the OEM batwing fairing with acoustic foam pads inserted to the inside of the clamshell to tighten bass response at higher volume levels. A midrange driver and tweeter are mounted to each speaker grill. To add more music to the mix, an additional two 7 1/4″ speakers are installed in the Harley lower fairings using J&M custom housings, and also include the grill-mounted drivers and tweeters. The complete system is due for release in late March.
Goodies for the oldies
Bert and the Baker boys had a mighty nice bike that was loaded with new developments. The Tin Type Primary (TTP) is a retro-style aluminum primary patterned after Harley’s classic “diamond-tin” cover that was used from 1936–’64. Designed to fit an alternator left side motor, the TTP comes in either an electric starter or kick-start only version and will fit a variety of motor sprocket configurations. The unit can be run either wet or dry, features a chain adjuster shoe and uses factory H-D 1990–2006 starters. In keeping with the “what’s old is new” program, Baker has also developed a Jockey Top shifter cover. This allows riders to use a traditional tank-mounted shifter gate. In effort to update 1970–’84 Shovelheads, Baker is now offering a splined clutch kit to upgrade the stock tapered mainshaft and clutch. The clutch basket uses nine Kevlar plates and comes in a variety of tooth options to help dial in the exact gear ratio desired. And finally, for owners of alternator left- and generator right-side case motors, Baker has created the Stash Tube. Machined from 6061-T6 aluminum, the Tube mounts in the generator’s location and has a screw-off cap with a 0.200″ diameter o-ring providing a watertight seal. Internal dimensions are 2.5″ ID by 4″ deep.
Get your Apple on
With technology changing faster than a Bonneville Streamliner, it’s hard to keep pace with all the gadgets and gizmos that you can hang off your bike. To help forge a union between your bike’s custom look and your desire to express your inner geek, Sinister Wheel launched their new i-Dash at this year’s Expo. Developed to house either an iPod or iPhone, this very sharp unit fits a wide number of Harleys as far back as 1989 models. So you can now travel in style without sacrificing music or constant contact.
New to the V-Twin Expo, Legends Vintage Motorcycles had a bit of everything. Their most popular item this weekend was a trick Sliding Tour Pack that allows for either a standard or chopped H-D tour pak to be slid forward and act as a backrest when there is no passenger. When installed, it sits 1″ lower than the stock position and is adjustable over a 14″ range in 1/2″ increments. A multi-piece seat is included in the MSRP of $1,349. Legends was also displaying their line of windshields for Road Kings and Softails. Coming with either a short or tall screen, a leather skirt (either black or natural) stretches across the bottom half of the windshield, reminiscent of early Harley baggers and adding a vintage look to any modern bike. Other products being shown included custom brake pedals and extended floorboards, brake levers and shifters.
So once again, the V-Twin Expo showcased the latest, the brilliant and the cutting edge—essential factors that keep this industry novel, vibrant and constantly transforming.