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15th annual V-Twin Expo: Dialing in the Details

By Ernie Copper

Cincinnati, Ohio, Feb. 7–8—The V-Twin Expo is billed as “the greatest V-twin products show on earth” and it would be difficult to dispute that claim. Exhibitors like S&S Cycle, Küryakyn, Vance & Hines, Bassani Exhaust and Arlen Ness filled the main floor of the Duke Energy Convention Center featuring new products, performance products and appearance enhancement products. Seminars were featured both days allowing dealers to learn more about topics that included social media marketing, flash tuning and diagnostics. The expo is a “dealer only” show where manufacturers and distributors sell parts and accessories to the dealers who sell them to you, but it’s also a chance to see what direction the industry is going for the next 12 months. Everyone leaves the expo with a feel for what’s hot and what’s not.

15th annual V-Twin Expo

15th annual V-Twin Expo

All of that trend setting can make a dealer weary. So there’s also entertainment. Saturday evening was the annual Welcome Party sponsored by S&S, featuring the acoustical song stylings of Jasmine Cain, accompanied by complimentary pizza, beer and salad and, following the V-Twin Industry Awards presentation, a special screening of On Any Sunday, The Next Chapter.

One of this year’s most talked-about exhibits was the HardDrive display. HardDrive is the V-Twin distribution arm of Western Power Sports (WPS) aftermarket parts wholesaler and they hit the exhibit floor at full speed this year, with a well-stocked and well-staffed double-decker booth that featured giveaways and drawings all weekend. WPS is an acknowledged leader in ATV, bicycle, off-road, street bike, water and snow and they’re working hard to earn that status as a V-twin dealer-only wholesaler. They featured a complete line of accessories, including Firebrand Design exhaust.

Love Jugs Cool Master(l.–r.) inventor Dave Sandel, Joanne Curtsinger, Rick Cook and Steve West

Love Jugs Cool Master(l.–r.) inventor Dave Sandel, Joanne Curtsinger, Rick Cook
and Steve West

I spent some time with John Peck, president of Firebrand, talking about the edgy Firebrand FiftyTwo52 performance exhaust featured and installed on a Sportster. The 2-into-1 performance system features a “true merge “collector for better performance and MotoGP-inspired endcaps on the muffler for appearances. The product’s name, FiftyTwo52, is derived from the formula for determining horsepower: hp = (rpm x T) /5252. The system looked racy, included details like 18mm O2 ports with 12mm adaptors and was well received. Products like these are one example of how to attract the younger demographic that we’re always fawning over. Firebrand is also committed to their pledge: “Hand Made in the USA.”

S&S Cycles showed off their T143 engine, a behemoth of a bolt-in performance product designed for ’08 and later H-D touring models with no cutting or frame mods. It features S&S B3 heads, CNC machining with 2-bolt exhaust flanges, T2 crankcases with reed breather valve, three-piece flywheels, high-flow oil pump and cam cover, 635 Easy Start Gear Drive Cams, 1.75:1 rocker arms and Premium High Performance tappets all wrapped up in your choice of wrinkle black or Stone Gray powder-coated finish. A larger-than-life scale model of the T143 proudly sat high atop the S&S booth at the expo, and why not?

Big things happening at the S&S booth

Big things happening at the S&S booth

The T143 isn’t the only thing happening at S&S. How about a 28 hp upgrade for your 110″ CVO? By adding S&S performance exhaust, air cleaner, 585c bolt-in cams and 10.6:1 high-compression pistons, you can bump your 86 hp CVO to 114! The S&S Powertune line of touring mufflers and exhaust headers come in black or chrome finishes, with interchangeable billet tips. Attention to detail, like tapered ends on the headers insure a good fit at the exhaust port. Their TC3 three-stage oil pump and cam plates were also new releases.

The age of the large-diameter front wheel has created a demand for related products. Thunder Max debuted the TracMax ABS Wheel Speed Correction Module. The TracMax allows big-wheel riders to regain working factory ABS and applies to wheel size 21″, 23″, 26″ or 30″, and it’s made in the USA.

Thunder Max’s new TracMax ABS Wheel Speed Correction Module for big-wheel bikes

Thunder Max’s new TracMax ABS Wheel Speed Correction Module for big-wheel bikes

One of the show’s biggest hits was the Chrome Capital RoadHouse. The obvious attraction was the happy hour free beer starting at 2:00 p.m. daily, but the real focus was their lease financing. The leasing concept should make riding an option for more people than ever. Capital’s CEO Peter Wasmer explained their most popular lease is a three-year with unlimited mileage, and they boast a 95-percent approval rating.

Avon Tyres, the only tire manufacturer present at the show, featured their new 21″ wide white Cobra that garnered its share of attention. Also, road hazard warranties have been extended to its entire line of non-racing tires, and a new mileage guarantee is expected soon on the Cobra and Strom 3D X-M ranges and details will be forthcoming.

Drag Specialties has your seat

Drag Specialties has your seat

Marix Stone was showing his BADASS Helmet line. The Steampunk-cum-Mad Max helmet lineup provides a distinctive identity for riders who wear them. Stone, a special effects artist by trade, featured helmets with names like Wired, Road Rage and Road Warrior featuring 3D effects of barbed wire and shredded, hand-hammered metal and rivets accenting a lashed, hand- hammered shell. The helmets are patented and DOT certified. Claiming the smallest, most comfortable DOT head liner ever, and the thin, lightweight certified shell, the helmets provide novelty helmet buyers a safer, stylish alternative. If the story sounds familiar, Stone appeared on an episode of the TV show Shark Tank.

Ultima T-Vo engine packages are an alternative replacement engine for Twin Cam “A” series rubber-mounted engines. T-Vo engines are available in 100, 107,113, 120 and 127 c.i. packages. The unique feature of the T-Vo is that it’s a single-cam replacement engine with the intended benefits of increased durability and performance. Distributed by Midwest Motorcycle Supply, the T-Vo fits all ’99–’06 carbureted “A” motors or applications equipped with Delphi EFI (but not Magneti Marelli). It also features two external oil pumps and reed valve case breathing. The intake flange is designed to fit Twin Cam EFI and carb manifolds and will fit stock chassis.

Firebrand’s MotoGP-inspired FiftyTwo52 exhaust system

Firebrand’s MotoGP-inspired FiftyTwo52 exhaust system

There seems to be a truce in the wheel diameter war for superiority, but that doesn’t mean wheel manufactures are resting on their laurels. Performance Machine debuted two new designs: the Dixon a, modern take on a five-spoke classic, and the Vortex-inspired 10-spoke Supra, both available in 18″ or 21″ front sizes, and contrast cut in your choice of eight colors, polished, or chrome. Naturally, air cleaners, pulleys and rotors are available to match. They also debuted their new MegaBrake, a stylish 16″ floating rotor that, when used in combination with PM’s 8-pot caliper, allow big-wheel touring riders to convert to a single disc setup without changing master cylinders or compromising function.

Nearby, PM’s Xtreme Machine was showcasing their new Cruise wheel. The 30″ wheel displayed on the Street Glide in the Black Cut Xquisite finish garnered a fair share of attention. The bike also featured the new Deviant velocity stack. In contrast was the new Execute wheel, shown in a 23″ size with a chrome finish mounted on an all-black Softail. Renegade featured two new wheel offerings, the Newton and the Logan. Each are available in sizes from 16″–30″ (fronts) and a wide range of anodized finishes. A copper finish is now available from Renegade too.

Marix Stone shows off BADASS Helmets

Marix Stone shows off BADASS Helmets

RC Components revealed their new Patriot forged wheel series, so-named because a portion of proceeds from Patriot sales will be contributed to support select veterans’ services organizations.

Coastal Moto unveiled its new Fuel Wheel package in a black “Stealth” finish. Most of the rim is textured black anodized and features gloss black highlights for a great effect. The finish features a UV coating and will not fingerprint. Coastal Moto ships complete tire/wheel/rotor packages and also has the requisite matching pulleys and air cleaners.

Roadsmith’s new Roadmaster Indian Trike design—looooong!

Roadsmith’s new Roadmaster Indian Trike design—looooong!

Not least in the wheel department is Brock’s Performance carbon fiber wheels. A hands-on demonstration allowed dealers to feel the difference a lighter carbon fiber wheel could have on handling. The wheel was mounted to an axle, and it was like a gyroscope without the gimbal. When it was spun, you could certainly feel the difference between a stock wheel and the carbon fiber offering. Carbon fiber still has a look unlike anything else and the unsprung weight savings are hard to pass up.

Ballistic Cycles displayed their hubless 30″ front wheel, with a segmented perimeter brake, powered by a V-twin and shrouded in an aluminum body with show-stopping paint. The bike was voted the Best Bagger in Sturgis this year. The V-Twin Expo is not a bike show per se, but the engineering and workmanship on this hot bagger can’t go without mention.

Whew, what else is new? Küryakyn featured its Crusher lineup of performance parts including the Maverick slip-ons and complete exhaust systems. Their new line of Bahn products for American V-twin motorcycles seemed to attract just as much attention. The Bahn line of premium forged and machined dress-up parts is expected to top 79 items this year and items are available in chrome or “Tuxedo” finishes, the latter a mixture of black and satin-look machining that creates a contrast that looks a lot like a tuxedo. Bahn featured new accessories for Victory and Indian, like air cleaners, ignition covers, switch housings, shifters, and more.

The Arlen Ness booth was getting a lot of attention with its 10-Gauge engine kit. Everything matches: rocker box top covers, cam cover, pushrod covers, lifter block covers, trans top cover, side cover and air cleaner. As you would expect, it was awesomeNESS personified.

Love Jugs Cool Master is a V-Twin cooling system that utilizes two electric fans to blow air onto the non-exhaust side of your Harley. It’s a simple, patented idea that the designer Dave Sandel and pitchman Steve Wiest believe is without equal. The Cool Master is available in polished stainless steel or black satin or gloss and costs about $400 depending on style. The Love Jugs test shows the Cool Master will knock about 100 degrees off your H-D engine temp in about 3 ½ minutes.

Vance & Hines featured their new Hi-Output Grenades exhaust. The three-step mufflers appear much shorter than traditional muffler styles. V&H’s Tom Trobauagh assured me the sound is awesome and aggressive, just like you want it to be. These ain’t your daddy’s drag pipes, that’s for sure. Other items of interest in their booth were incremental improvements to the Fuelpak FP3, including throttle progressivity, and the Oversized 450 muffler lineup in varying degrees of black and chrome finishes.

Cobra got more than a little attention as it won the Performance Product of the Year award for its Power Port exhaust. Essentially the Power Port is a hidden crossover that allows for 2-into-1 power with the traditional look of a dual exhaust. Cobra got plenty of notice for its Tri-Oval II exhaust featuring an improved deeper sound, and new end caps, featuring “louvial grooves” and a scalloped top line. True dual fishtails for Softails and mufflers built to fit H-D trikes were also popular items. Rinehart Racing featured its Slimline Duals for Slip-Ons in chrome or black finishes. The series features 3-1/2″ or 4″ mufflers, increased horsepower and torque over stock pipes and a choice of end caps.

Barnett featured a new see-through derby cover that showcases their Scorpion Low Profile lock-up clutch perfectly. Bassani featured some cool 2-into-1s for the FXR crowd and nice-looking mufflers for Indian Scout owners. Bone Mountain Motogear featured a backrest storage product that could be converted into a purse, the Boogey Lights boys had an app to control your bike’s accent lighting, Dakota Digital features new gauges, Skwoosh had a great new gel comfort cushion, Hoppe Industries featured new hand controls for onboard sound systems, Fuel Moto offered a new carbon fiber muffler that’s tunable with titanium discs, Roadsmith Trikes had an Indian Roadmaster offering as well as an auxiliary fuel system for their H-D trike, and BadDad Competition Series Stretched bags were hot, as were their speaker bag lids.

Industry after-parties are making a comeback at the V-Twin Expo—notably the S&S party for their dealers held after the V-Twin awards—and the Cincy motorcycling community has embraced the Expo’s presence. The first-ever Garage Brewed Moto Show was planned around the Expo in the city’s “Over the Rhine” neighborhood at the cavernous Rhinegeist Brewery. Good things are happening.

Promoter Jim Betlach has already announced that next year’s V-Twin Expo will be held February 6–7. Dealers can register online at vtwin-expo.com.

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