Always regarded as the most “international” of the major motorcycle industry shows, INTERMOT had plenty for the custom market trade visitor in the ‘main’ halls, in addition to the exhibitors in the all-new ‘INTERMOT Customized’ show-within-show concept in the atmospheric Hall 10. Here we present a selection of “mainstream” vendors with product lines for the custom market …
Our involvement with INTERMOT through AMD’s sister ‘Metric’ publication International Dealer News, including the popular International Night networking reception we stage with the support of Koelnmesse and the IVM (the German motorcycle industry trade association), has always meant that we have been in a unique position to be able to distil the four additional halls of over 1,100 exhibitors to be able to highlight parts and accessories that are of interest and relevance to custom shops internationally.
I have always believed that there is much in the “mainstream” of the motorcycle industry to interest V-twin market industry professionals, and that while market-specific expo environments are vital to the market’s core business, “mainstream” market events such as INTERMOT and AIMExpo in the United Sates also have a legitimate place in a well-balanced diet of industry trade show activity for even the most hardened of V-twin purists.
Held every other year, INTERMOT has always been regarded as THE primary international motorcycle industry nexus, and of Europe’s major “mainstream” shows the one that attracts the higher mileage riders and hard parts, performance and technical component exhibitors in the greatest numbers.
Like all shows of all kinds, worldwide, attendance numbers and exhibitor numbers have reflected the rise and, more recently, dramatic decline in the motorcycle industry, they always do – just as the industry’s magazines do.
In Europe that decline started somewhat later than it did in the United States, but has endured for much longer than was the case in North America. While the “recovery” there appears to have stalled, in Europe there is no question that new motorcycle registrations are now gathering pace again, but context is key to appreciating that the mid-single digit growth numbers being seen in the past 24 months matter.
According to ACEM, the Brussels based motorcycle industry trade association for Europe, from just under 2m units in 2002, the all-markets European motorcycle industry peaked at over 2.5m registrations in 2007, then shrank to less than 1.2m units in 2013.
Within those figures motorcycle registrations rose from 1.1m units in 2002 to peak at just under 1.6m in 2008, but collapse to under 800,000 in 2013. The good news is that by the end of 2015 that number was on the rise again, to 885,453 motorcycles.
The even better news is that while the number of mopeds and small displacement machines such as small cc scooters is still in decline, counterintuitively following such a dramatic recession, it is higher value larger displacement motorcycles rather than price point machines that are driving growth.
The best news of all though comes in the custom market, where Harley’s performance, in market share terms and new unit numbers, in Europe is doing much to soften the impact of the domestic sales numbers, with custom-esque machines of various kinds also being among the strongest growth areas for most of the “mainstream” motorcycle manufacturers.
Hence the “double-boothing” that was seen at INTERMOT this year as OEs sought to stake a claim to future exhibit real estate in the new show-within-show ‘INTERMOT Customized’ Hall 10 this year.
With the mid-single digit motorcycle growth being seen now in Europe, and the modest visitor number growth being claimed by INTERMOT (up by around 10,000 from 2014), it has been the advent of ‘INTERMOT Customized’ that has given the show most of its claimed +17 percent increase in exhibiting company numbers, and in the context of the collapse in numbers since 2007, everyone in the industry in Europe will happily take the present modest and early positive indicators “all day long”.
With the uncertainty of unfolding change continuing to swirl about us, any kind of growth is good growth. In European terms, the custom market has emerged from under the wing of the street, sports, naked style, dual-purpose and scooter markets – what was once niche, truly is now starting to define the mainstream.
As long-term market leader, Harley-Davidson always has largely defined the primary business opportunities in the North American motorcycle parts and accessory aftermarket, but increasingly Europe is catching up – albeit with a new definition of what “motorcycles of character” means to the new-generation of Millennial beard wearers and what were hitherto regarded as minority markets.
That definition is already being seen in the U.S. of course, and has been for some years, but in Europe it is also informing OE production capacity priorities – and that is important as a potential game-changer as the Japanese superbike revolution was in the 1970s and 1980s.
In our visits with exhibitors in the “main” halls, our International Dealer News domestic European ‘Metric’ customers, it was startling how many vendors, now more than ever, are keen to know how they can engage with AMD Magazine as the pathway into custom sales, and I was asked about how European vendors can get sales moving in the domestic U.S. custom market at least a dozen times on four days.
There was palpable disappointment at hearing that the channels are just as complex and the market just as crowded for them as a European vendor trying to sell in the U.S. as it is for American vendors trying to gain traction in the European market - but with a relatively healthy domestic European custom market in which to liquidate development costs, few appeared to be deterred.
A few such companies appear in this selection and in my review of ‘INTERMOT Customized’ elsewhere in this edition, but for most of the businesses included here, those that already have brands that can sell across the board, have product solutions specified for the V-twin market, and have mature channels already in place, the opportunities may be morphing, but opportunities they certainly are.
KELLERMANN: The award-winning German originator of the bar-end ‘Bullet’ indicator, recent new products include a new indicator adaptor for their Bullet Extreme and PL designs that allow their indicators to fit the original mount, and the Bullet 1000 PL, with yellow or white park/marker light with white ring light in a choice of finishes; www.kellermann-online.com
PARTS EUROPE: Fred Fox’s European operation continues to gain momentum, with near-market Drag Specialties inventory increasing at their massive state-of-the-art warehouse near Trier in Germany each year. The custom parts and accessories market in Europe is a “crowded and competitive space” in distributor terms. However, with European parts and accessory sales not seeing the softening that has been widely reported in the domestic U.S. market so far this year, Drag Specialties’ vendors should be able to capitalize on the international growth opportunities; www.partseurope.eu
MAROLO TEST: The French workshop equipment manufacturer continues to deepen its relationship with Harley-Davidson dealers, with their worldwide approved modular workshop lifts being officially endorsed by Milwaukee for use in authorized dealer workshops; www.marolotest.com
REMUS: New products from the Austrian exhaust manufacturer include EU compliant replacement 2-into-1 systems for forward or mid-control applications on most Sportster models from 2014 and up. Weighing in at 6.5kg (compared to the 10.4kg of the stock system) and available for use with or without the removable plug-in catalytic converter, it features Remus’ mechanical noise control valve and choice of optional billet end caps. Tests on an otherwise stock Sportster 48 showed horsepower and torque gains throughout the rev range; www.remus.eu
TECMATE: The well-known manufacturer of the OptiMate range of battery chargers, diagnostics and maintenance products has been on a new accessory product blitz recently with cables, plugs and chargers for most of the portable devices that now define life on the road - from smart GPS and cell phone chargers that protect the motorcycle battery from their energy demands, to plugs and applications for most popular makes and models, including Harley tourers; www.tecmate.com
MAG EUROPE: It is already getting on for three years since the Motorsports Aftermarket Group merged with Tucker Rocky/Biker’s Choice. At INTERMOT the group showcased their Vance & Hines, Kuryakyn, Crusher, Mustang seats, Burly and Progressive Suspension brands; www.mageurope.eu